Skip to main content

Unit information: Arts Students Count in 2016/17

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Arts Students Count
Unit code AFAC10004
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. James Freeman
Open unit status Open




School/department Arts Faculty Office
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

'Measurement is a necessary but not sufficient condition for civilisation to exist' (Brignell 2000, p. 7). Numbers envelop us, but too many who consider themselves otherwise well-educated are not comfortable with that embrace. This unit introduces arts and humanities students to essential skills in numeracy first by investigating the ‘numerical turn’ (beginning with the Victorian ‘statistical movement’) in various arts subjects, enabling students to understand why quantification became important for the development of these disciplines. Students will then have an opportunity to work in small groups with a tutor on a project which assembles a dataset and uses basic statistics to answer a research question. Students will be familiarised with important resources such as the the British Historical Statistics Project.

The unit aims:

  • to instruct students in how and why the liberal arts became numerical;
  • to enhance students ability to comprehend numerical data and numerical discourse; and
  • to develop good practice in data mining, processing and analysis.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the unit students should have acquired the following:

  • knowledge and understanding of why arts and humanities disciplines experienced a numerical turn in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries;
  • knowledge of basic statistics, their derivation and how and when to apply;
  • development of EXCEL skills;
  • an improved critical ability to evaluate numerical discourse; and
  • independence in designing a data-based project to answer a research question

Teaching Information

Weekly 2-hour lecture response session; nine one-hour project workshops which will include instruction and practice of Excel skills.

Assessment Information

1. EXCEL competency test (10%)

2. Data-based group project and presentation (40%)

3. 1,500-word written follow-up report on the group project and presentation (50%)

Reading and References

Brignell, J.E. (2000) Sorry, wrong number!: the abuse of numbers. Stockbridge: Brignell Associates

Crook, T. and O’Hara, G., (ed.) (2011) Statistics and the public sphere: numbers and the people in modern Britain, c.1800-2000. London: Routledge

Freeman, M. (2010) Quantitative skills for historians. Warwick: Higher Education Academy

Hudson, P. (2000) History by numbers: an introduction to quantitative approaches. London: Edward Arnold