Introduction to SQL

Date: 25 February 2019
Time: 9.45am–5pm
Instructor: Peter Smyth
Level: Introductory
Fee: £120

CMI offers up to five subsidised places at a reduced rate of £60 per course day to research staff and students within Humanities at The University of Manchester. These places are awarded in order of application. 

Humanities PGR students at The University of Manchester can apply for a methods@manchester bursary to help cover their costs. All applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis and applicants will be required to provide a supporting statement from their supervisor.

Please click here to make a booking. If you are applying for a subsidised place, select the £60 University of Manchester option on the booking form. For queries about methods@manchester bursaries, contact (please note, you must have a confirmed place on the course before requesting a bursary application form). For any other queries about short courses, please contact

Please note: this is not guaranteed and is considered on a case by case basis. Please contact us for more information.


Part of Social Data Science Week, a collaboration between the Cathie Marsh Institute and methods@manchester. These courses have been designed for postgraduate researchers, giving you the tools to make use of free and open-source software, and techniques from the cutting-edge new discipline of social data science.

This ‘Introduction to SQL’ workshop is for any researcher who has a larger amount of data they want to pre-process (store, clean, reduce, summarise),  before further analysis. No prior computational experience is required. This hands-on workshop provides an introduction to SQL using MySQL and the MySQL Workbench environment, both freely available.  As well as illustrating how SQL and Relational databases can be used directly, we will also illustrate how to access the data from a programming environment such as Python or R or an application such as Excel.

Course objectives

On completion of this workshop, the participants will be able to:

  • Install MySQl and the MySQL workbench environment on their own machine
  • Understand what a database is
  • Know what the key components of a relational database are
  • Create their own database tables and load data into them
  • Use SQL queries to retrieve data from database tables
  • Use SQL queries summarise or aggregate data from database tables
  • Perform basic data analysis using SQL commands
  • Perform joins on two or more tables and understand the results
  • Understand different storage approaches used in databases
  • Access a database table directly from Python, R or Excel

After completion of this workshop, the participant will be in a position to create their own Relational databases by importing simple CSV files of data. Perform basic data cleaning, manipulation, reduction and summaries of their data using SQL statements.  Prepare large datasets for use in other programming environments.



About the instructor

Peter Smyth is a Research Associate at the University of Manchester, based in the Cathie Marsh Institute. He has spent 35 years working in IT at various large and small commercial organisations before taking an MSc in Big Data Analytics at Sheffield Hallam University and moving into academia. In his previous roles, he used any convenient programming environment to hand to solve problems. Now he teaches a variety of programming languages to help others to do the same.

He is a qualified Data and Software Carpentry instructor.