Nuffield Research Placements 2018


Nuffield Research Placements (NRP) provide over 1,100 secondary school pupils each year with the opportunity to work alongside professional scientists (including quantitative social scientists), technologists, engineers and mathematicians.

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, Outreach and Placements Supervisor, Research Consultant;
  • 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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