Short course ‘using sensors in social research’

The two-day course Using Sensors in Social Research will provide research practitioners with the latest knowledge in the use of digital sensors for research.

Through a mix of short presentations, interactive hands-on and exploratory sessions, group work and discussions, the course will provide a good understanding of the technologies and operating processes required for effective inclusion and management of these new social research tools.

The course will take place at the University of Surrey, Stag Hill campus in Guildford (see Google map), building AD, room 40 AD 03.


Course Agenda – 10 September

12:00 – Session 1

Welcome and introductions

Introduction to the range of available sensors, what they can capture, what to expect in terms of accuracy and access to the data and what the options might be in gathering sensor-generated data for research purposes.

13:00 – Lunch

13:45 – Session 2

Continue with a practical session of setting up sensors and observing data:. Introduction to data communications. Options in data collection, data organisation, transfer and other matters of data management.

15:15 – Coffee / Tea break

15:45 – Session 3

Ethical considerations: confidentiality, consent, privacy and data security.

Discussion session to follow

– – – Dinner (details TBA) – – –

Course Agenda – 11 September 2018

09:00 – Session 4

Practical issues and tips (e.g. sampling study participants, installing sensors, motivation and rewards, monitoring the equipment in the field, and more)

Data analyses and drawing conclusions (e.g. using data visualization, activity recognition, and triangulating with other data sources)

10:40 – Coffee / Tea break

11:10 – Session 5

Continue in practical session of using data analyses/visualisation software

Group work:  Exploring how sensors could be useful in addressing your research questions

12:45 – Lunch

13:30 – Session 6

Reporting back from group work, conclusions and next steps.
– –

The course is classified as ‘entry level’, meaning that we do not expect participants to have any prior experience of using digital sensors. However, we have designed the course for active researchers with dedicated research interests and broad experience in social science research methods.

Learning outcomes

*  Understanding the nature of the technology and what it takes to operate various types of digital sensors for research purposes

*  Knowing if and how sensors could be useful in your research

*  Understanding the ethical, consent, data security, confidentiality and other pastoral issues involved in fieldwork with sensors

*  Understanding basic analytic tools and techniques

Lunch and snacks are included for both days, and dinner on the 4th. Participants will receive a certificate of attendance at the end of the course.

Registration fees

*  £60 – UK/EU registered postgraduate students

*  £120.00 – staff at UK/EU academic institutions, Research council UK/EU funded researchers, UK/EU public sector staff and staff at UK/EU registered charity organisations

*  £440.00 – other participants

To register (places limited) please use the online registration form.


The AD building, room 40 AD 03, University of Surrey
The University of Surrey on Stag Hill is within walking distance from Guildford town centre (20 minutes) and the Guildford railway station (15 minutes).

For those who would rather take a bus, Arriva provides a regular service between the town centre and the university, for example (Guildford town circular).


For budget accommodation (£60-70 per night), we can suggest The Albany (B&B), 80 Sydenham Road, Guildford GU1 3SA.

There are also reasonably priced hotels in Guildford town centre, for example:
*  The Mandolay Hotel on 36-40 London Rd, Guildford GU1 2AE

*  The Angel Hotel on 91 High St, Guildford GU1 3DP

Toward the North side of town, but of similar distance to Stag Hill are:

*  Travelodge Guildford on Woodbridge Meadows, Guildford GU1 1BD

*  Acacia Villas Guest House on 29 Woodbridge Rd, Guildford GU1 1ED