Understanding small areas: spatial analysis of population and neighbourhood data (bookings closed)


27/09/2018 - 28/09/2018

Organised by:

The University of Manchester


Dr Alan Smith
Dr Andy Newing


Intermediate (some prior knowledge)


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


View in Google Maps  (CF10 3EU)


Training Room 1, 3.02 3rd floor Room Julian Hodge Building


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 workshops 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 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.


Hands on training introduces participants to powerful spatial analysis software (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.

Participants also have the chance to discuss their own related research or applications with other participants and the course tutors.

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.


Day 1 (10am – 4pm)

Workshop 1: Introduction to population data analysis

Workshop 2:   Spatial analysis of population data

Workshop 3: Area classification


Day 2 (10am – 4pm)                            

Workshop 4: Advanced spatial analysis of population data

Workshop 5: Novel analysis of individual level population data

Population data challenge

Surgery and advice session



No prior knowledge of statistical or spatial analysis is required. 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 are provided during the course.


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. 


£30 per day for UK/EU registered students
£60 per day for staff at UK/EU academic institutions, UK/EU Research Councils researchers, UK/EU public sector staff and staff at UK/EU registered charity organisations and recognised UK/EU research institutions.
£220 per day for all other participants.




Small Area Estimation, Spatial Data Analysis

Related publications and presentations:

Small Area Estimation
Spatial Data Analysis

Back to archive...