Social Science Hackathon (Seminar)

Lecturer (assistant)
  • Jan-Hendrik Passoth
  • Peter Kahlert
Duration2 SWS
TermSommersemester 2019
Language of instructionEnglish
Position within curriculaSee TUMonline


Admission information


The course is open to students with no or limited experiences in social science research as well as for students from a social science and humanities background. The goal of the course is to create an understanding of social sciences and humanities research using a “hands-on-approach”. After completing the course students are able to join research teams with social scientists and humanities scholars and to design, build and adapt solutions and tools for specific social science and humanities research problems. The course will be in English or German, depending on the skills and qualifications of students.


Like many other disciplines social science became more digital, more data driven in the last years. As more and more data on “real time social activities” is gathered using popular digital platforms such as Twitter, Facebook or location-based services such as Foursquare or Yelp, scholars are exploring ways to understand and utilize this data for social science research. Both the methodological debates as well as the tools developed are changing the traditional ways in which research in the social sciences (and of course: in all humanities) is done. There is still a long way to go – especially for developing new tools for traditional qualitative approaches like narrative interviews, oral histories, archival research, visual analysis or participant observation and fieldwork – but the turn to “inventive”, “computational”, “tool-based” and “live” approaches challenges traditional social science methods. This course is designed to be an opportunity for students in computer science to get familiar with the current developments in social science and to gain the skills and understandings to help exploring new forms of digital social science research. In four days (9-15h) we will first explore and test popular digital tools of social research (such as Scraper-Wiki, Google Scraper, Netvizz, Gephi, d3js, Graph Commons) and examine how these can be made useful for the needs of qualitative researchers doing interviews, fieldwork or archival research. On the second day we will use concrete research projects and their empirical data to design use cases for new qualitative social research tool. On the third day we will try to find solution for the use cases by workshopping existing tool sets such as the d3js library for manipulating data driven documents. On the fourth day we will use the workshopped tools to reflect on the methodological challenges and to design a sketch for a project that can serve as a starting point for an IDP. Together with a course in Science & Technology Studies (3 ECTS) this course can serve as the groundwork for an IDP in this area.