Teach with real data

Using real research data

Use real research data to bring social science learning to life.

Most of our data collection can be used in teaching. We also have dedicated teaching datasets and resources to support teaching and learning.

This section gives information about accessing and sharing data for teaching, teaching datasets, and resources.

Looking for ways to bring more data into the classroom? For an overview, view our brochure on Data-driven learning and teaching (PDF).

Looking for what’s available for students?

Accessing and sharing data for teaching

Arrangements for using data for teaching and learning depend on the licence terms and conditions. In most instances, you can use data classed as open or safeguarded but there are steps to follow when sharing data with learners. Special licence and controlled data cannot be used for teaching and learning.

Our Accessing and sharing data for teaching information sheet outlines everything you need to know.

Teaching datasets

Explore our teaching datasets

Our teaching datasets are based on real data but in a more accessible form for teaching and learning.  Whether looking for something user-friendly, interesting, or easy to share with students, you can find a range of datasets designed with teaching in mind.

To see what’s available, our online guide to our teaching datasets previews our:

  • User-friendly and reliable core teaching datasets.
  • Open access teaching datasets.
  • Special topic datasets based on unique surveys relating to ethnicity, experiences of the covid-19 pandemic, and sexual attitudes and lifestyles.
  • Census microdata data teaching files.

You can also search for teaching datasets in our data catalogue.

Make your own

You can also make your own teaching datasets using data from the UK Data Service, click below for more information.

Making your own dataset

Teaching resources: qualitative data

The UK Data Service has put together teaching resources exploring how qualitative data can give detailed insights into social life and illuminate lessons about research.

Some are based on a single collection and help to break down key theoretical perspectives. Others incorporate excerpts from a range of collections to compare different ways of doing research.

All teaching resources come with background information about the topics covered, snippets of real data from our collections, discussion questions, and further observations and notes to help aid discussions.

These teaching resources can be used in a classroom or in self-directed study. All of the materials needed to complete the activities are contained within the resource. If you wish to examine any of the collections mentioned within the resource in more detail, you can download the dataset through our data catalogue.

Teaching resources: quantitative data

We have a range of resources to support the teaching and learning of quantitative data analysis.

Data skills modules

Designed for self-study, the data skills modules provide a valuable resource for teaching. There are modules on survey, longitudinal and aggregate data and topics covered include sampling, survey weights, bivariate analysis and mapping data.

Students can access all elements of the resource freely and lecturers can signpost to specific sections including the supporting playlists on our YouTube channel.

Teaching ideas

Our Teaching ideas are short guides to help plan teaching on data analysis skills. You can find ideas for a research question to frame the analysis along with details of a dataset and variables to use. There is a list of potential exercises for students and a snapshot of the results.

Quantitative Methods e-books

Our Quantitative Methods e-books include worksheets and quizzes for direct use in teaching or student self-study. Using an open access version of the Living Costs and Food Survey, they offer an introduction to quantitative methods and SPSS. Topics include descriptive statistics, correlation, regression and multiple regression.

Using survey data

The Using survey data guide is for those starting out on small research projects and dissertations. From research questions to presenting results, the guide offers advice, worksheets for getting started, and questions to think about through the research process. Access the guide and accompanying worksheets from our Resources for dissertations web page.

Teaching resource: 1970 British Cohort Study Malaise Inventory

Using one of the cohort studies, the Teaching resource: 1970 British Cohort Study Malaise Inventory (PDF) is a step-by-step resource focusing on psychological distress or depression in teenagers and adults. It includes an introduction to the data and data analysis exercises using SPSS.

Recommended resources (external)

Looking for more? Visit our list of external resources for teaching and learning about quantitative data and methods.

Got any great ideas you’d like to share with others?

We are interested in sharing ideas and good practice. Please get in touch if you would like to share case studies, ideas or resources. We acknowledge all contributions and we promote their use through various networks.

Teaching resources: data management

Our resources relating to data management include tools and templates and training exercises.


We are looking at how we can introduce students to the data and the data skills needed to help understand the world we live in.

Our extensive collection of data provides unique insight into society and can support learning in relation to social science subjects as well as mathematical and data skills.

Below we provide links to freely available resources based on our data, some made by us and some made by other organisations. This is work in progress and we’ll be adding more soon.

Resources for schools

Schools are free to use our Britain by numbers teaching resources. The interactive activities can support teaching and learning in both social sciences and maths.

Visit Edinburgh Q-Step Centre’s website for Scotland by Numbers interactive teaching resources looking at social and demographic trends in Scotland.