Interactive Visualization with R for Social Scientists

Next course runs from 18 September 2017 - 15 October 2017



Interactive Visualization with R for Social Scientists

Next course runs from 18 September 2017 - 15 October 2017

Course overview

This course introduces you to techniques and tools for presenting data in visually attractive and interactive ways using the R programming language. By the end of the course, you will be familiar with the workflows for producing visualizations and be able to produce a range of visualizations from data. At the end of the course you will create a report that tells a story from data using appropriate interactive visualizations.

Course objectives

By the end of the course you will be able to:

  • Understand the need for interactive visualizations and reports, and the associated workflows
  • Produce a range of visualizations relevant to the available data
  • Produce and publish a report that contains appropriate interactive visualizations to tell a story about the data


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Interactive Visualization with R for Social Scientists

Approximately 6 hours of learning including activities. It is recommended that you spend around 1.5 hours per week.
This course assumes a basic level of comfort with the R language, this means that you understand what the following three code snippets do:
  • my_vector <- c(1, 3) my_vector[2]
  • iris$Sepal.Length
  • install.packages(“ggplot2”) library(“ggplot2”)
This course does depend heavily on the pipe operator (%>%) and it is briefly explained in the course. However, it’s a good idea to read through the following overview
Martin John Hadley and Professor Richard Traunmüller
In association with
Royal Statistical Society
Start date:
Start date:

Course Instructors

Course Instructors

Course Instructors


How it works

How it works

How it works

The course is organised into a set of interactive learning modules. You should work through the modules sequentially.

The interactive learning modules contain a number of topic pages. Each topic page has a video to walk you through the concept, and interactive text such as guide questions and knowledge check, to reinforce what was covered in the video.
There are three additional types of activity in your course to facilitate deeper learning. These are presented in the relevant topic pages.

  • Match: These activities require you to have a go at a task offline, then select the correct solution
  • Guided: These are multi-part match activities, where so you do a part of the task then submit your solution, which unlocks feedback on your attempt and the next part of the task
  • Structured: This is a more complex offline task. To see the tutor’s solution you need to share your attempt at the task and your reasoning. You also get to see other participants' attempts and are encouraged to engage in discussion. The tutor will then share further feedback

 The vast majority of topics in the course are fundamentally practical. You are strongly encouraged to recreate and run the code as you work through them, complete knowledge checks and activities.

This course comes with learner support for the dates this course runs. After the course ends, you’ll still have access to the course materials but you won’t receive support from the instructor. 

It is recommended that learners:

  • Complete Modules 1 & 2 in week 1
  • Complete Module 3 in week 2
  • Complete Module 4 in week 3 
  • Complete Module 5 in week 4




Module 1



Module 1 gives an overview of interactive visualization, and explains how to set up the various toolkits you’ll be using throughout the course

Module 2


Getting ready

  • Typical workflow for interactive visualizations and reports

Overview of the workflow for putting together an interactive visualization and report

  • Planning a story

What needs to be considered when planning visualizations and reports

  • Getting data ready

Coverage of defined tidyverse packages to get data ready for visualization, along with a simple exercise

  • A simple example of a workflow

Preparing data using tidyverse and producing a simple bar chart with plotly

Module 3


Interactive charts and maps

  • Producing charts with plotly

More in depth look at using htmlwidget plotly to make a chart

  • Producing charts with highcharter

Making a chart with highcharter and comparison to plotly

  • Making an interactive map with leaflet and plotly

Creating a map with interactive markers

  • Producing a network chart

Creating a network chart using tibbles and visNetwork

Shiny basics and R markdown

  • Charts in shiny

Outputting htmlwidget charts in shiny

  • Controls and UI

Adding and configuring controls

  • Reactivity and publishing

Controlling when variables update, and publishing your app

  • Creating an RMarkdown document

Creating the right type of document for your report

  • Adding charts and code

Adding charts, code chunks and shiny apps

  • Publishing

Publishing Rmarkdown documents

Module 4


In association with

In association with

developed in association WITH

This course was first delivered by the Royal Statistical Society at the International conference in 2017. This course is online course is an expanded version of that course.



Frequently Asked Questions

Please see below answers to some of the most frequent questions we get about this course

What software do I need for this course?

It’s a good idea to install R Studio prior to starting this course as this will be used throughout the course (this should take about 10 minutes to do). There are a number of R libraries that are required but these will be discussed and can be installed via R Studio.

Do I need to buy any of this software?

No, they are either open source or have community (free) versions.

What do I need to participate on this course?

A computer or laptop with the suggested software and a modern browser e.g. Internet Explorer 10+ or the latest versions of Chrome and Firefox.

Can I do this course on my mobile device?

While you can access the course on your mobile device, go through the content and answer questions, you will need a desktop or laptop computer to practice and complete the activities that require you to write and/or test code.

How long will I have access to the course for?

The course will be run over 4 weeks, during which you will have access to learning support provided by the course instructor. After the 4 weeks, you will still have access to the course materials for another 2 months, but you will not be able to receive learning support from the instructor, and if there is a course forum, you will not be able to ask any questions.

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