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Social Network Analysis

Course Dates and Times

Date: Monday 5 – Friday 9 February 2024
Duration: 3 hours of live teaching per day
Time: 08:45 – 12:00 CET

Silvia Fierăscu

Universitatea de Vest din Timisoara

This virtual course will provide you with a highly interactive environment designed for personalised learning. It is capped at a maximum of 16 participants so that the teaching team can cater to the specific needs of each individual.

Purpose of the course

This course is designed to enable theory-driven research questions with scalable computational tools and empirical data, for researchers interested in conducting applied social network analysis in various social scientific disciplines and practices. 

ECTS Credits

4 credits - Engage fully in class activities and complete a post-class assignment

Instructor Bio

Silvia Fierăscu holds a PhD in Comparative Politics and Network Science from Central European University.

Her research focuses primarily on quality of governance, political-business relations, and statistical analyses of network data.

Silvia is involved in various interdisciplinary projects, translating complex problems into real-time applications for organisational management, political communication, and better governance.


Key topics covered


You will start by learning why and how network analysis matters in social research and in practice.

This session will cover social and political network analysis, organisational network analysis, and social movements. 

You will join the group in unpacking theories of tie formation, and mechanisms at work in networked phenomena (trust, formal and informal interactions, popularity, brokerage, reciprocity, transitivity, assortativity, preferential attachment, clustering, etc). You will then make the transition from research questions and theory to appropriate data and research designs. 


You will connect network structures and processes with social functions (measures at the network level; null models and rewiring), test hypotheses about how relational mechanisms work, and discuss the empirical implications in different contexts (inequality, competition, influence, etc).

You will be ecnouraged to use your own data or make your own data collection strategy during the class. 


This session will focus on group formation theories and measurement techniques (measures at the community level; clustering, transitivity, community detection and motif discovery algorithms). You'll learn how cohesive groups form in different contexts, and what implications clustering has for community building, belief reinforcement and change, information transmission, etc.


You will connect actors’ network positions with importance and roles (measures at the individual level ꟷ centrality measures), and test how different node-level mechanisms work in different contexts (brokerage, popularity, influence, etc) and the implications they have for strategic behaviour (structural holes, structural folds, boundary spanners, influencers, etc).


This sessions wraps everything up into a discussion on complexity theory (emergent phenomena and unintended consequences), regression models for networks (ERGMs & SAOMs), opportunities and challenges in network inference (social selection vs social influence) and a short showcase of the measurable impact of SNA solutions in organisations.

How the course will work

This course is the perfect opportunity to make the best of student-centred teaching and learning. Its design has everything you need for an enriching and empowering learning experience:

Pre-course materials to prepare you for the live sessions

  • Readings
  • Guided tours of software use and functionality
  • Options for dataset hunting and data collection

Live sessions with dynamic content

  • Conceptual discussions
  • Class exercises
  • Group activities
  • One-on-one research problem consultations
  • Multimedia content

Independent class participation

  • Practical homework assignments
  • Fun quizzes
  • Final projects on data and topics of choice

The materials we share are designed to create and engage a long-term community of learners, which should give you support to rely on long after this course has ended. 

The technical and project management skills and instruments you will learn and use are an added bonus to your substantive learning experience.

In this class, we will use Gephi and R & RStudio (Posit). Please have all three software installed and working by the time we begin. If you will use a university or work laptop, please check whether new software can be independently installed on your machine or if you need the IT Department to allow some permissions. 

None for this class. We welcome researchers and practitioners with any disciplinary background or work experience.