Britain by numbers

What proportion of the British public opposes capital punishment? How have attitudes about gender roles changed over the last 30 years? How have levels of crime changed in the last few decades?

Introduce the data and data skills that can help us understand society today with the Britain by numbers teaching resources:

  • Interactive and fun sessions allow students to learn about different data sources, including social surveys and the census, and see how they help us understand our changing world.
  • A quiz and hands-on activities get students engaged and enable them to make hypotheses about social science questions, as well as analyse, visualise and interpret data.
  • Use independently, or combine to create a package of sessions, to get students to think about data and numbers to interpret, analyse and visualise data.

This quiz gets students thinking about the population and population change. Questions cover a wide range of social themes including demographics, housing, health and social attitudes. Give students around 15 minutes to complete the quiz sheet. You can then use the slides to present the answers and highlight data sources. Students will learn about key social science data sources and review ways of presenting data, for example charts, graphs, and percentages.

Resources include:

With a pack of evidence from the Crime Survey for England and Wales, students examine data to develop an understanding of crime. Introduce the activity by getting students to make predictions about crime with the suggested questions for students to think about. Give students about 15 minutes to interpret the data and answer the questions. Ask students to feedback on their answers, noting anything they found surprising.

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This activity gets students thinking about how representative they are of society in their attitudes and behaviours. You will need to survey students using questions from a national representative survey. Students then compare how their class and a representative sample of the broader population responded to the same questions.

The resources use questions from the British Social Attitudes Survey relating to interest in politics and media consumption (but it could be adapted to include any questions). Though it will take a bit of time to set up, this resource provides the basis for learning on a variety of topics including differences between population groups, surveys and survey questions, representative samples and bias in research, large scale social survey programmes and data handling.

Resources include:


Jennifer Buckley, Ana Morales and Richard Wiseman (2018) Britain by Numbers: Teaching Resources, UK Data Service.

Copyright © 2019 University of Manchester and Jisc. Created by Cathie Marsh Institute for Social Research and Jisc, UK Data Service.

Britain by Numbers: Teaching Resources by the UK Data Service is licensed under a Creative Commons License Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).