Schools & departments

Nuffield Research Placements


The Q-Step Academy at Edinburgh Q-Step Centre is pleased to offer a number of four-week Nuffield Research Placements (NRP) for secondary school pupils each year. Nuffield Research Placements provide talented school pupils with the opportunity to work at Edinburgh Q-Step Centre alongside social scientists during the summer break and to undertake a small scale research project involving quantitative data analysis. To find out more about this programme, please read the student projects below or get in touch with our team: 

Nuffield Research Placements (NRP) 2019


Edinburgh Q-Step hosted four highly talented S5 NRP pupils in summer 2019.

Zohaib, Aneeka, Julia and Toqa, who were chosen for the prestigious NRP project from hunderedes of applicants across Scotland, spent 4-weeks working alongside the centre's researchers. The first week of their placement involved intensive data analysis training in Excel, R and SPSS. To complete their training, the pupils participated in a range of research methods workshops on ethics and scientific resources. Before starting to work on their individual research projects in the second week, Zohaib, Aneeka, Julia and Toqa also participated in team building activities with other NRP pupils from Glasgow University's Q-Step centre. The third week was all about data analysis and, as such, included mastering data management techniques, devloping coding skills and producing data visualisation outputs. In their final week, the pupils engaged in extensive review of relevant academic and policy literature, refined their analyses, and wrote up a summary report. They all did brilliantly! We are pleased to be sharing their research projects and read their academic reports below.

Project supervisors:

  • Dr Alan Marshall, Q-Step Director, Senior Lecturer in Quantitative Methods;
  • Dr Helen Packwood, Q-Step Outreach Fellow
  • Dr Eloi Ribe, Career Development Fellow
  • Sohaib Ashraf, Q-Step tutor and Research Assistant.

Q-Step support team:

  • Dr Gitit Kadar Satat, Q-Step Outreach Fellow
  • Dr Alice Dias-Lopes, Career Development Fellow



  • Student: Julia Kolasa
  • Mentor: Dr Alan Marshall
  • Abstract: Life expectancy has been steadily rising for the past century. Yet, recently a new trend has emerged; since around 2011, the increase in life expectancies of some countries have stalled or in some cases declined. In the United Kingdom there has been an unexpected slowdown of the increase of life expectancy as the annual average increase has more than halved, with an improvement in life expectancy of 17 weeks between 2011- 2006 compared to only 4 weeks between 2016-2011. Although many other countries share this stall in life expectancy it is far from universal; in Japan, Norway, and Italy the opposite trend has been identified, with increases in life expectancy continuing throughout this period. The driver of the stall in life expectancy, only recently accepted by National statistical agencies in the UK, is contested. This research will be investigating which countries experienced the stall in life expectancy and whether they share particular contextual characteristics that might plausibly have a causal role.  
  • Julia's Reportdownload


  • Student: Toqa Abdel Motalab
  • Mentor: Dr Eloi Ribe
  • Abstract: Population ageing in high income countries has led to new challenges on social and health care systems. Self-rated health as a measurement of health status is a reliable predictor of functional impairment and strongly linked to medicalization and needs of social and health services. My aim was to identify gender and income inequalities that help predict self-rated poor health in elderly population in England. Using bivariate and logistic regression analysis using the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, I tested differences between men and women in later life by income groups in self-rated poor health, while also looking at disability, mental health, long-standing chronic illness and marital status. Women with income below the poverty line reported lower odds of self-rated poor health compared with the reference group of women with income above the median income, although this relationship was not found for men. Income inequalities are predictive of later life poor health among women even controlling for other health-related difficulties. The results may be useful in tackling health inequalities across gender lines. Further research is needed to explore life-course experiences and events that may help explain poorer health outcomes in later life.  
  • Toqa's Reportdownload


  • Student: Zohaib Rehman
  • Mentor: Dr Helen Packwood
  • Abstract: Globally, criminal conviction rates are significantly higher for men than for women, a trend which is also evident in the UK. This project set out to investigate crime and social justice in Scotland, with a specific focus on the role of gender. Police statistics on criminal convictions are a useful tool but have also been criticised for failing to provide important details about the context of crimes and the impact on victims. This study uses official crime statistics alongside a national household survey to examine attitudes and experiences of crime among men and women in Scotland. Detailed analysis of the Scottish Crime and Social Justice Survey 2016-17 (n=5,567) provides a number of new insights. The research highlights the importance of gender when considering crime and social justice. Women were found to have lower conviction rates than men, consistent with the global trend. Men and women reported similar levels of harassment and conflict with neighbours. In addition, the analysis examines the differences between women to highlight that they are not a homogenous group. For example, the results reveal the important role of social economic class, age and ethnicity. In conclusion, this project illustrates the need to further explore the connections between gender and crime, but to do this alongside other factors such as social class, ethnicity and age.  
  • Zohaib's Reportdownload


  • Student: Aneeka Aslam 
  • Mentor: Dr Alan Marshall
  • Abstract: Over the past century, life expectancy has increased steadily, yet recent years have witnessed a stall in that improvement in the UK and many other countries. Since 2010, national life expectancy improvement has slowed, halted or even reversed in many developed countries and this become an increasing concern for media, politicians, academics and the public. What is not clear is whether the stall in life expectancy occurred only in some parts of Britain or whether it is a more widespread demographic trend experienced over the whole of the UK. Spatial patterns in the extent of stall in life expectancy may provide clues as to the underlying causes that remain contested. This research project quantifies the stall in life expectancy in districts across the UK using a time series of mortality statistics then examines whether area characteristics are predictive of the kinds of places where people are living shorter lives.    The key finding is that the stall in life expectancy is widespread across areas within the UK and not clearly related to area characteristics such as indicators of area deprivation.
  • Aneeka's Reportdownload


Nuffield Research Placements (NRP) 2018

Edinburgh Q-Step hosted three highly talented S5 NRP pupils in summer 2018. Jake, Erin and Katelynn, who were chosen for the prestigious NRP project from hunderedes of applicants across Scotland, spent 4-weeks working alongside the centre's researchers. The first week of their placement involved intensive data analysis training in Excel, R and SPSS. Before starting to work on their individual projects in the second week, Jake, Erin and Katelynn also participated in workshops on data management and ethics. Their third week was all about data analysis and, as such, included a lot of coding and prolem solving. In their final week, the pupils worked on data visualision and wrote up a summary report. They all did brilliantly! We are pleased to be sharing their research projects and read their academic reports below.

Project supervisors:

  • Dr Alan Marshal, Q-Step Director, Senior Lecturer in Quantitative Methods;
  • Dr Gitit Kadar Satat, Q-Step Outreach Fellow;
  • Dr Alice Dias-Lopes, Career Development Fellow;
  • Sean Leonard, Tutor and Research Assistant.


  • Student: Katelynn Pringle
  • Mentor: Dr Alice Dias Lopes
  • Project: Higher Education Inequality in Brazil
  • Abstract: In the early 2000s, the Brazilian government implemented policies aiming to expand access to higher education to students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. Using the dataset from Higher Education Exam, this placement analysed the change in the socioeconomic profile of students finishing four undergraduate courses (Medicine, Law, Computer Sciences and Math) from 2004 to 2016. The student also examined whether the change in the socioeconomic profile depended on the administrative type of the higher education institution or the time of the day that the course was offered. The student performed descriptive statistics and contingency tables of students’ socioeconomic background throughout the years. The results demonstrated that the expansion of higher education increased the number of students from more disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds in Law, Math and Computer Sciences. However, students in Medicine continued to be from a more advantageous socioeconomic background. Moreover, when considering the type of higher education institution and time of the day the course was offered, students from an advantaged socioeconomic background finishing a Law degree tend to study in the morning and in the prestigious public higher education institutions in Brazil. 
  • Reportdownload


  • Student: Erin Hogg
  • Mentor: Dr Gitit Kadar-Satat
  • Project title: Are young people’s relationships with their fathers associated with educational outcomes? 
  • Abstract: This research project is a collaboration between the University of Edinburgh Q-Step Centre and Fathers Network Scotland (FNS), a young, dynamic and respected charity with a passion for dads. The purpose of this research was to find out more about parent-child relationships, particularly father-child relationships in Scotland. Specifically, we focused on exploring whether or not secondary school pupils’ relationship with their fathers has an effect on their academic development and their attitude towards education. We analysed data from the Scottish sub-sample of the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS), a nationally representative longitudinal survey of families living in various locations across the UK. We used data from wave 6 of the MCS, when the cohort members were 14-years-old. Our findings show that 14-year-olds who are closer to their father (and mother) will have a better Academic self-concept (a composite measure that takes into account their perception of how good they are in Maths, Science and English). Furthermore, 14-year-olds who are closer to their father (and mother) also have a better attitude towards education. Fathers and mothers have an impact on young peoples’ academic self-concept and attitude towards education even when gender and household income are taken into account.
  • Report: download


  • Student: Jake Pugh
  • MentorDr Alan Marshall
  • Project title: Local demographic change in Scotland
  • About the project:  Demographic data on births, deaths and migration is regularly updated and made available online. This project used recent demographic data to present and reflect on the diversity of demographic profiles, the likely future change and the associated challenges across Scotland. Six council areas were examined as case study areas: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Eilean Siar, Orkney, Highland and Fife. These areas councils were chosen to reflect the diversity in the types of areas across Scotland including both urban and rural areas, differing extents of area deprivation and both rural places that are remote and close to urban centres.
  • Reportdownload

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