UBDC Summer Training 2017: Principles of Visualising Data with R and ggplot

Friday 11 August 2017
10:00 – 16:30 BST
Jura Teaching Lab, Level 4 Annexe, University of Glasgow Library, Hillhead Street, Glasgow G12 8QE

This is a one-day workshop on visualising data with R and ggplot.

R is an excellent tool for wrestling data into useable shapes for visualising, but it has a steep initial learning curve with a lot of pitfalls along the way. This workshop aims to help you hit the ground running as painlessly as possible, providing a basis for creating the visualisations you want.

You will be introduced to some of the standard ways of using R to tidy, re-arrange and format data, and then how to put this data into graphic form using ggplot. We will look at a typical data preparation and visualisation workflow, using Land Registry house price data as an example. The aim of the day is to make the underlying principles of tidy data and ggplot as clear as possible, so that you can make full use of its flexibility in deciding how to visualise your own data.

As well as learning the technical skills required to prepare data and visualise it, we will also look at the difference between visualisation for communication (e.g. in journal articles) and the vital role visualisation can play in deepening your own insight into data (including how programming choices differ for these two).

The course will assume you know the basics of Rstudio and R's data types. If you don't know these but still want to apply, a short self-learning document (3 to 4 hours) built especially to lead into this course can be provided.

Course instructor

Dan Olner, Sheffield Methods Institute, University of Sheffield

Course duration

1 day (Friday 11th August 2017, 10:00am – 4:30pm)

Course location

Jura teaching lab, Level 4 Annexe, Glasgow University Library


PhD / postdoc / public with interest in data


  • £35 - For UK registered students
  • £60 - For staff at UK academic institutions, Research Council UK funded researchers, UK public sector staff and staff at UK registered charity organisations
  • £100 - For all other participant

Pre-requisite knowledge

Basic descriptive statistics. Basics of Rstudio and R's data types covered in Introduction to R. A self-learning document can also be supplied in advance of the course on request.

Course content

  • Preparing "tidy data" ready for visualisation
  • Using ggplot to visualise your tidy data
  • Understanding the principles that underpin ggplot
  • Thinking about the different roles of visualisation
  • R programming tips and tricks