Advanced Survey Design

Course code
Course fee
Course Level

This course in ‘advanced survey design’ takes students beyond the introductory courses and discusses the state of the art in both the design and the analysis of modern survey data, with a focus on new types of data. We present new ways to analyse modern surveys, including non-probability survey designs, smartphone data collection, digital trace data and data collected via apps. Course participants must be proficient working with the statistical software package R at the level of at least knowing Tidy and multivariate regression in R.

This five-day course in survey design takes students beyond the introductory courses offered in BA and MA programmes, and discusses current issues in one of the most important data collection methods: surveys. Specifically, it focuses on doing surveys in the Internet-era. It will show how to collect data in online surveys, using smartphones, and mixing surveys with Big data, such as digital behavioral data, smartphone sensors or administrative data. It combines short one-hour lectures with exercises on most of the topics discussed. Course participants must be proficient in working with statistical software. Course materials are prepared for working with R.

The course is interesting for social scientists or statisticians at the PhD level or beyond, working on academic research projects. Two courses are offered in the Utrecht Summer School that slightly overlap with this course: S15 - Survey Research: Design, Implementation and Data Processing and S16 -Survey Research: Statistical Analysis and Estimation. The current course is more advanced and more focused on survey research within the academic (university) setting, as well as focused on current issues related to mobile surveys and Big Data.

We expect students to have quite extensive knowledge of survey research (for example by using survey data extensively or conducting survey research in their daily work) and have knowledge of statistics at the MSc level for social scientists (the general linear model). Note that you have to upload a brief motivation letter (up to 300 words) with your application, in which you write a short list of your experience with surveys and statistical analyses. Please include in the motivation letter what software you are proficient in, and what courses related to survey design you have taken.

IOPS students do not have to do this.

Note: Participants need to bring a laptop computer to the course with R ( installed and the ability to download packages (Internet access is provided). Exercises are designed to be conducted in R. Users may use their own software of choice (e.g. Python, Stata, or SAS), but we do not provide solutions for these programmes.

Course outline:

Day 1: mixed device and push-to-web surveys (mode in the 21st century)

  • Total Survey Error in the context of the era of ‘Big data’
  • Design-based and model-based inference
  • Survey modes including mixed-mode and push-to-web surveys  
  • Brief overview of probability sampling methods, and the survey package in R.
  • Exercises on modern sampling with R

Day 2: Modern survey fieldwork

  • Adaptive survey design
  • Mixed-device surveys
  • Mobile communications: text messaging, apps
  • Ecological Momentary Assessment
  • Exercises on designing data collection for mobiles.

Day 3: Designed big data: digital data

  • Trust, consent, ethics
  • Digital trace data and surveys
  • Data donation
  • Exercises on data donation (do it yourself), and working with digital trace data (in R)

Day 4: Designed big data: smart surveys, apps and sensors

  • Browser-based sensor data collection
  • Data collection through smartphone apps and wearables.
  • Exercises on working with geo-location and other sensor data (e.g. pictures, accelerometer data)

Day 5:  Data integration

  • Multi-source statistics
  • Models of data integration and data fusion
  • Consultations about your own research project

Please note that there are no graded activities included in this course. Therefore, we are not able to provide students with a transcript of grades. You will however obtain a certificate upon completion of this course.

Day-to-day_S11_ 2023.pdf
Course director
Dr. Peter Lugtig


Dr. Bella Struminskaya, Dr. Peter Lugtig

Target audience

If you want to know the current state of the art in survey data and survey data analysis, this is a course for you. This course assumes minimally MSc level knowledge of methods and statistics. In the course R will be used extensively, and knowledge of R is presumed. The course is intended for PhD students, and others at the postgraduate level who wish to know more of survey data and its collection in the 21st century. A maximum of 50 participants will be allowed in this course. IOPS students will get priority.

For an overview of all our summer school courses offered by the Department of Methodology and Statistics please click here.

Aim of the course

The aim of this course is to provide an overview of theory and practice of modern survey design and analysis, particularly focusing on modern methods of web surveys and the analysis of new types of data (e.g. sensor data). This course is useful for more experienced students. After the course, participants are ready to apply the learned towards their own data collection, are able to critically assess existing surveys and survey documentation and analyse survey data themselves successfully.

Study load

The course consists of one-hour lectures mixed with one-hour exercises using the computer, to apply the tools presented in the lectures. A typical course day starts at 9.30 and ends at 16.30 with breaks for coffee, lunch and tea (included in the course fee). Everyone actively participating on all five days of the course will qualify for ECs. (2 EC). Certificates of attendance will be handed out at the end of the course. There is no reading required before the start of the course. However, we will provide an overview of further reading with every formal lecture on a topic.


Course fee:
Fee covers
Course + course materials
Extra information about the fee

The tuition fee for PhD students from the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences from Utrecht University will be funded by the Graduate School of Social and Behavioural Sciences. PhD candidates from IOPS will be covered by IOPS.

There are no scholarships available for this course.

Additional information

We also offer tailormade M&S courses and in-house M&S training. If you want to look the possibilities, please contact us at


Extra application information

Please upload a brief motivation letter (up to 300 words) with your application, in which you write a short list of your experience with surveys and statistical analyses. Please include in the motivation letter what software you are proficient in, and what courses related to survey design you have taken. IOPS students do not have to do this, you can upload a blank document.

For this course you are required to upload the following documents when applying:

Motivation Letter

Contact details

Team M&S Summer School | E:

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Application deadline: 
Registration deadline
14 August 2023