Social Data Science

Social Data Science is a newly emerging area, which combines social science and computer science and develops data driven solutions for social issues. Dr. Taha Yasseri, Course Instructor, Oxford Internet Institute and Alan Turing Institute has described it thus: “It’s not data science applied to social data, it’s a data science that is social” (https://campus.sagepub.com/blog/what-is-social-data-science).

Based on a search through the internet, it appears that this course is predominantly available in UK universities with the course duration being one year; some universities are using particular programming languages and some are giving their focus on the society in particular.  The London School of Economics and Political Science has an MSc in Applied Social Data Science, which imparts “training in fundamental aspects of applied data science, computation and programming and quantitative methods” and also focuses on “variety of programming languages and applications, particularly R and Python” “to create and manipulate large databases” and to “think creatively about how to deploy these skills in the context of specific projects” (https://www.lse.ac.uk/study-at-lse/Graduate/Degree-programmes-2020/MSc-Applied-Social-Data-Science). The University of Essex runs an MSc in Social Data Science, which develops skills in “advanced data science and artificial intelligence” and emphasises “on big data, new forms of data, and computational methods to work with such data – all within a strong framework of social science applications and research design principles.” (https://www.essex.ac.uk/courses/pg01314/1/msc-social-data-science) University of Exeter offers an MSc in Applied Social Data Science, which equips students “with the technical understanding of a range of social data science techniques and the practical software and programming skills to implement these methods”. (https://www.exeter.ac.uk/postgraduate/courses/politics/appliedsocialdatasciencemsc/)

The University of Sussex runs an MSc in Human and Social Data Science, which explores “modern information and communication technologies, the python programming language, probability theory, statistics, linear algebra and calculus, machine learning techniques, ethics and interpretability”. (https://www.sussex.ac.uk/study/masters/courses/human-and-social-data-science-msc) Manchester University  offers an MSc in Data Science (Social Analytics) which aims to “develop an agile, skilled data scientist, and be prepared for the challenges and rewards of interdisciplinary teamwork” (https://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/masters/courses/list/11424/msc-data-science-social-analytics/course-details/#course-profile) University College London has an MSc in Social and Geographic Data Science, which “combines a rigorous treatment of underlying theory for, and methods of implementing and exploiting, spatial analysis, decision support, and data science. Optional modules provide the opportunity to develop expertise in modelling and analysis in one or more areas of social and environmental science with social and policy dimensions.” (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught-degrees/social-and-geographic-data-science-msc) University of Oxford offers a Master’s in Social Data Science, which “provides the social and technical expertise needed to analyse unstructured heterogeneous data about human behaviour”. (https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/graduate/courses/msc-social-data-science)

Few universities also offer it for a duration of approximately one or one and a half year.  Lund University offers a Master of Science in Social Scientific Data Analysis which gives “extensive and intensive training in the process of conducting social research, research design, methodology, qualitative and quantitative methods (students are taught to analyse using state-of-the-art programming language ‘R’), as well as applied theory, theory building, and relevant interdisciplinary theories. (https://www.graduateschool.sam.lu.se/academics/SSDA) Tilburg University has a Master’s in Data Science and Society, which is a multidisciplinary program with four tracks – “Business, Governance, Media or Health” by which students can “a) identify patterns and gather insights from large and complex datasets” b) “translate those insights into actionable solutions and recommendations” c) “learn to take ethical issues into account, such an issues regarding privacy, accountability or human autonomy into decision making”.(https://www.tilburguniversity.edu/education/masters-programmes/data-science-and-society)

The University of Copenhagen offers an MSc in Social Data Science, which “combines state-of-the-art data science techniques, including machine learning, predictive analytics and natural language processing with core sociological, economic, anthropological, political science and psychological theories and methods to equip students with the competences to identify, assess and solve societal and business problems in the digital age”. (https://studies.ku.dk/masters/social-data-science/) Aalborg University runs a Master’s in Social Data Science, which focuses on “cutting – edge skills in data driven analytics and how to apply them in real world issues.” (https://www.en.aau.dk/education/guest-exchange/social-data-science/)