Frequently asked questions

Q. What are Q-Step Centres and Affiliates?

There are 15 Q-Step Centres based within UK universities, and all of them offer social science degree programmes with an emphasis on quantitative skills. The Q-Step Centres are part of a unique UK-wide programme of investment in quantitative social science training for undergraduates and have received funding to enhance their social science degree programmes and recruit additional specialist teaching staff.

Q-Step Centres were selected following an open competition because of their ability to provide dynamic, exciting and rigorous programmes of study that equip students with the quantitative skills that are increasingly in demand across many different careers.

Funding for Q-Step comes from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) – the UK’s largest funding body for social science research – as well as the Nuffield Foundation – one of the UK’s largest independent funders of social science research – and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

In addition to the 15 Q-Step Centres, there are three Q-Step Affiliates, also based at UK universities. Although Q-Step Affiliates have not received the same level of funding as Q-Step Centres, they have demonstrated their commitment to delivering a step-change in quantitative social science training for undergraduates, which is the main aim of Q-Step. 

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Q. What subjects are offered at Q-Step Centres and Affiliates?

Q-Step degree programmes are available in area studies, criminology, education, environmental planning, human geography and demography, linguistics, management and business studies, political science, population health, international relations, social analytics, social anthropology, social policy, social sciences, social work, socio-legal studies and sociology.

Not all subjects are available at all Q-Step Centres/Affiliates. A full list of all Q-Step degree programmes and their UCAS codes can be found here.

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Q. How do I apply?

The application process for a Q-Step degree programme is through UCAS. A full list of all the Q-Step Centres and Affiliates, the degree programmes they are offering, and their UCAS codes can be found here. This information will also be available in each individual university prospectus and on their website.

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Q. What are the entry requirements?

Entry requirements for a Q-Step degree vary according to the subject and Q-Step Centre/Affiliate. Our Q-Step Centres and Affiliates page includes a link to each universities website where you can find detailed entry requirements. 

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Q. How long does it take?

Like most undergraduate degree programmes, the majority of Q-Step degrees are three years. The exceptions are those offered by the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, which are four years (like all undergraduate degrees offered by Scottish universities).

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Q. Do I need to be studying a social science subject at A or AS level (or equivalent)?

No. You don’t need to be studying a social science subject at A or AS level (or equivalent) to apply for a Q-Step degree course.

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Q. Do I need to be studying maths to apply?

All Q-step Centres/Affiliates encourage applications from students who enjoy maths and/or other science and technology subjects, but only the University of Edinburgh Q-Step Centre requires applicants to have A or AS level or Scottish Higher maths (or equivalent). If you can understand a percentage or a proportion, and make sense of a simple graph, you have the skills you need to start.

In common with studying most subjects at degree level, you will usually need to have at least a grade C in GCSE maths (or the equivalent for other qualifications). The GCSE/National 5 or Standard Grade level required may vary between Q-Step Centres/Affiliates, so check the entry requirements on the relevant website. 

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Q. I’m studying advanced maths – will a Q-Step degree enable me to use and develop my maths skills?

Yes, it will. The quantitative element of Q-Step courses is different to learning maths at school or college, but you will use and develop some of the same skills in order to apply your knowledge in a practical context. For example, you’ll use numbers to develop logical, consistent rules for evaluating evidence in your chosen field of study.

If you enjoy maths and want to continue to develop and apply your quantitative skills, then Q-Step offers the perfect opportunity to do that in a social science context. It’s also a good option to consider if you want to continue using maths in a less abstract way than at A level (or equivalent). Similarly, if you are studying science and technology subjects and enjoy designing experiments and working with numbers, then a Q-Step degree programme will have a lot to offer you. 

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