University of Leeds joins Q-Step

09 September 2014

The University of Leeds will receive £718,980 to deliver a step-change in its social science teaching as part of an ambitious intervention to address the critical shortage of quantitatively skilled social scientists. It will join a network of ‘Q-Step Centres’ across the UK, all of which have received funding from Q-Step, a programme designed to promote a step-change in quantitative social science training for undergraduates.

Q-Step is funded by the Nuffield Foundation, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). The £19.5 million funding partnerships is the largest in recent times – between a research council, a funding council and a private foundation – focussed on undergraduate social science education in the UK.

The University of Leeds will deliver a programme of Q-Step activities, including:

  • New modules in quantitative methods (QM) in its undergraduate social science courses. These will form part of new quantitative methods ‘pathways’ through undergraduate degrees, enabling students to graduate from a ‘with QM’ degree.
  • Courses will be available across a range of disciplines, including education, human geography, demography, management studies, business studies, political studies, international relations, social policy, socio-legal studies and sociology.
  • Summer schools for sixth form students (Years 12 and 13) to provide a taster of quantitative social science, and for undergraduates at the end of their first year who would like to transfer to a QM pathway.
  • Introduction of a new four-year Integrated Masters degrees in Business disciplines Provision of work placements for undergraduates.
  • Two new teaching posts.

Although targeted at undergraduates, Q-Step aims to promote quantitative skills training across the course of the education system, from recruitment of school students to specialist training for those going on to postgraduate work. An accompanying support programme shares expertise and resources developed by the Centres across the higher education sector and forges links with schools and employers.

Sharon Witherspoon, Director of the Nuffield Foundation said: “The Nuffield Foundation, ESRC and HEFCE are delighted that the University of Leeds will become one of our Q-Step Centres. Its planned programme of activities will be an important contribution to our goal of promoting a step-change in quantitative skills training in the social sciences.”

Alan Langlands, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds, said: "I am delighted that the University is to be part of the Q-Step programme. Working with the Nuffield Foundation, ESRC, HEFCE, and our partner universities we see this as a unique opportunity to achieve a step-change in the teaching of social sciences.

"We look forward to developing a suite of new programmes across the social sciences that will provide graduates with the quantitative skills that are so in demand in today's job market. The new programmes build on a great tradition of education in quantitative methods in Leeds and will draw on the cutting-edge research being undertaken here at Leeds, particularly that emerging from the ESRC-funded work on big data analysis."

More information about Q-step is available at


1.The call for applications for Q-Step funding was made in October 2012. At that time, the funding secured was £15.5 million, which has now increased to £19.5 million (£7.5 million from the Nuffield Foundation, £7 million from the ESRC and £5 million from HEFCE).

2. Fifteen Q-Step Centres were selected from a total of 48 applications following an open competition. The decision was made by a Selection Board appointed by the three funders, and the successful Centres were announced in October 2013. The University of St Andrews has since withdrawn from the programme, due to changes there, and the University of Leeds, whose application was ranked as the next strongest at the time of the selection meeting, was asked to submit an updated proposal. That proposal passed a further review process and the University of Leeds is now a funded Q-Step Centre.