Understanding small areas: spatial analysis of population and neighbourhood data (join a waiting list)


31/05/2018 - 01/06/2018

Organised by:

The University of Manchester


Dr Alan Smith (University of Plymouth) & Dr Andy Newing (University of Leeds)


Intermediate (some prior knowledge)


Claire Spencer, 0161 275 4579, claire.spencer@manchester.ac.uk


View in Google Maps  (M13 9PL)


Cathie Marsh Institute
Humanities Bridgeford Street
University of Manchester


This two day workshop equips participants with conceptual understanding and technical skills to obtain, analyse and visualise spatial data related to populations and neighbourhoods. Using freely available data related to the UK, a series of guided practicals enable participants to:

  • obtain census and survey data related to geographic areas
  • visualise, map and explore spatial patterns within individual and neighbourhood data
  • apply a suite of powerful spatial analysis tools and techniques to address real-world policy relevant questions at the small area level
  • uncover spatial and temporal characteristics and properties of small area data
  • understand how to convert data between different geographic boundaries used for data dissemination and the limitations of doing so
  • classify small areas and individuals based on their characteristics and understand their widespread application in neighbourhood analysis
  • explore novel near-real time user-generated data from social media
  • appreciate the technical, ethical and legal challenges and opportunities for working with individual level population data.Participants also have the chance to discuss their own related research or applications with other participants and the course tutors.
  • Hands on training introduces participants to powerful statistical and spatial analysis software (SPSS and ArcGIS) as well as the programming language R. Practical sessions are interspersed with lecture and discussions to contextualise and consolidate learning. Examples are drawn from the UK and are applicable in an international context and in a variety of application areas at different spatial scales.

Population and neighbourhood data are widely used by the academic, policy-making and commercial sectors.

They drive resource allocation, decision making and policy evaluation. On completion of this course participants will be able to:

  • identify the population and neighbourhood data required to develop or enhance their application interests.
  • apply and critique relevant spatial analysis techniques to geolocate, explore and visualise these data.
  • communicate insights gained to support policy-evaluation, commercial decision making or address research questions.
  • Prerequisites:

    • No prior knowledge of statistical or spatial analysis is required. SPSS, ArcGIS and R will be taught from scratch with a focus on learning the essential skills required to handle, visualise and analyse data related to populations and small areas. This course is not designed to provide comprehensive training in programming using R.However, it will equip participants with tools grounded in R to execute advanced analytical tasks relating to the acquisition, processing and representation of social media data using a live, real-time data feed from Twitter as an example. Participants will leave with detailed training materials allowing them to confidently apply these tools independently.
    • Participants must be willing to sign up for a Twitter account but are not required to populate it with any personal information. They will need to use their account to pre-register to use the Twitter API. Full instructions will be provided on registration.
    • Recommended Reading:
    • Participants may find it helpful to familiarise themselves with the excellent NCRM resources introducing geographical referencing found online at:http://www.restore.ac.uk/geo-refer/resources.php
    Additional reading material and web-based resources will be recommended during the course.


For UK registered postgraduate students £30 per day
For staff at UK academic institutions, ESRC funded researchers and registered charity organisations £60 per day
For all other participants £220 per day

Website and registration:


North West


Survey Research, Secondary Analysis, Analysis of existing survey data, Analysis of social media, Small Area Estimation, Spatial Data Analysis, Area-based analysis, Geographical Information System (GIS), Spatio-temporal analysis, ArcGIS, Research Ethics, Regulatory and Legal Aspects

Related publications and presentations:

Survey Research
Secondary Analysis
Analysis of existing survey data
Analysis of social media
Small Area Estimation
Spatial Data Analysis
Area-based analysis
Geographical Information System (GIS)
Spatio-temporal analysis
Research Ethics
Regulatory and Legal Aspects

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