Spring School

Programming with Python for Social Science Bootcamp


This bootcamp will take place online over a five-week period, and is aimed at academics and postgraduate researchers across the social sciences wishing to build skills with computer programming as a research method.


The event will provide participants with not only programming skills (i.e. the “how” of programming) but also explore Python as a tool that can be creatively applied to problems in the social world (i.e. the “why” of programming as a social researcher). It aims to provide participants with a core set of Python programming skills, and kickstart collaborations and projects that will both foster an emerging network of social science programmers and provide opportunities for them to continue developing their skills beyond the event itself.

It’s not a comprehensive training course covering every possible thing you could possibly do in Python (which is huge!) rather it has been designed to be an intensive experience which will help you develop a programmer’s mentality and be confident in using Python as a social scientist.

To ensure this happens the programme needs participants to engage in multiple ways during the bootcamp (and the week before it starts). The programme is built on group work and a community involvement in the tasks that will be set. It is vital therefore that you are able to commit at least 6 hours a week to this and we ask that you consider your ability to make that commitment before submitting your application for a place.



Each week of activity in this bootcamp will comprise a range of components, some synchronous (e.g. workshop sessions led by the instructors and delivered over Zoom) and some asynchronous (e.g. video-recorded talks, contributing to discussion boards, completing work independently/in small groups, etc). Each week you will be:


  • joining one synchronous session of between 1 and 2 hours on each Wednesday afternoons from 31st March 2021 - 28th April 2021.
  • engaging in set tasks to support the learning for that week (at a time convenient to you).
  • actively participating in group work during the week.


A solid commitment to all of these components is a requirement, this will be between 6-7 hours each week.


We are providing this training free of charge to a maximum of 25 researchers working in UK based organisations. Applications are made via Eventbrite and will close at 4pm 12th February 2021. We will aim to inform all applicants of the outcome by 26th February 2021. This is to allow those that are successful time to clear any schedules and participate in the pre-sessional discussions and preparation.



Week One
Independent Activity: Bootcamp prep (see above)
Video-Recorded Talk: Introduction: Coding and Digital Social Science
Zoom Session: An introduction to Python, Plus Q&A
Discussion Board: Discussion 1: Domain Expertise and Potential Projects

Week Two
Independent Activity: Small-Group Technical 1: Comparison, Equality & Flow Control
Independent Activity: Small-Group Technical 2: Structuring Objects
Zoom Session: Technical Show-and-Tell / Surgery Session

Week Three
Independent Activity: Small-Group Technical 3: Functions, Loops, Lists
Discussion Board: Exercise: Designing Things
Independent Activity: Exercise: Building Things
Zoom Session: Technical Surgery / Exercise Show-and-Tell

Week Four
Video-Recorded Talk: Programming-as-Social-Science: Some Example Projects
Independent Activity: Small-Group Project: Programming-as-Social-Science
Zoom Session: Project Surgery Drop-In

Week 5
Independent Activity: Small-Group Project: Programming-as-Social-Science
Discussion Board: Discussion 2: Where Have We Got To? Where Might We Go?
Zoom Session: Open Session and Coding Clinic
Video-Recorded : Closing Session and Next Steps


For any inquiries, please contact Claire Spencer (NCRM Training and Events Co-ordinator).


If you would like to learn more about the subject the tutors for this course Mark Carrigan and Phil Brooker discuss Phil’s new book ‘Programming with Python for Social Science’.

Information about previous NCRM residential schools:

Building quality in inclusive, particpatory and emancipatory research. NCRM Summer School: 3-5 July 2019

Visualisation and the Visual Field. The 2018 Autumn School

Or view a full listing of NCRM residential schools