Nuffield Research Placements

Nuffield Research Placements provide over one thousand students each year with the opportunity to work alongside professional scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians - and also social scientists! Further information is available on the Nuffield Foundation's website. The Queen's Q-Step Centre have organised placements over the summer, allowing students to gain experience of carrying social science research, as well as tasting university life.

Using historical census data to explore land poverty

Dr Eoin Flaherty, Lecturer in Sociology, hosted a fifth-year student during summer 2014 as part of the Nuffield Research Placement Programme. The student compiled a dataset using data from the annual Irish Agricultural Censes of 1847-1850. Combining data from other sources, we discovered that regional-level measures of crop production and land poverty were strongly associated with the uptake of relief rations during the peak famine months of 1847. These results suggest there may be strong geographical patterns not only in the distribution of distress across the island, but in the relative strength of different factors at different locations.

Researching obesity using surveys

Dr Vikki O'Neill, Q-Step Lecturer in Statistics, also hosted a student as part of the programme in summer 2014. The student explored the topic of obesity and considered the use of surveys to investigate this topical research area. A poster about the project can be downloaded here.

Understanding population change

In July 2015, Q-Step Lecturers Dr Eoin Flaherty and Dr Cate McNamee worked with a student to create an extensive dataset from an original series of surviving census enumerator’s books of the 1821 Census of Ireland. One of few surviving census records of the time, the enumerator’s books provide valuable data on family structure, household composition, employment, land tenure and local economy. The data will be an invaluable aid to ongoing work at Queen’s on historical demography and will allow insights into the relationship between landholding and family structure, which are central to our understanding of historical patterns of population change. The student worked with copies of the original books held at the National Archives in Dublin and the final dataset now contains information on over 300 households and 1000 individuals.