Social Networks

Class meetings: Wednesdays, 2-5pm Demography Seminar Room
Office hours: by appointment (please send me an email and we can find a time)
Email: [email protected]

Piazza page


This course provides a broad introduction to the empirical and theoretical study of social networks. We will cover classic and contemporary studies, beginning with fundamental definitions and models, and then moving through a range of topics, including models of network formation and structure (homophily, foci, communities); dynamic processes on networks (contagion, influence, and disease models); collaborative networks; personal networks; online networks; and network sampling and data collection. The course material is intended to be of interest to students from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds, including demography, sociology, statistics, computer science, and related fields.

Please re-check the syllabus before you start each week's reading; it will be updated as the semester progresses

Requirements and assignments

The requirements of the class are designed to achieve two goals: the first goal is to become familiar with some classic and contemporary research about social networks through reading papers and discussing them; and the second goal is to write a research paper. You should think of the research paper as the first draft of a project that you might be able to continue working on beyond this class.

NB: Please read each week's articles in the order they are listed on the syllabus

Grading scheme

The assignments are described in the Requirements section, above. The final grade will be a weighted average of the scores on those assignments where the weights are:

Week 1 (1/23): Fundamentals and background

Read for background:

Readings to discuss:

We won't explicitly discuss chapter 7 of the Newman book in class, but it's also worth reading at some point; it describes several different network measures that are often mentioned in the literature.

OPTIONAL: The papers at the end of the syllabus give a good overview of the study of social networks. We won't explicitly discuss them in class, but they would be helpful to read at some point during the semester.

Related, but we won't have time to discuss in class:

Week 2 (1/30): Sampling, data collection, statistics

Readings to discuss:

Background and related (we won't discuss):

Week 3 (2/6): Sampling, data collection, statistics

Readings to discuss:

I'll talk a little bit about random graph models; if you want extra background, the Newman chapter is a good reference:

Related (we won't have time to discuss):

Week 4 (2/13): Network models, connectivity, and small worlds

Readings to discuss:

Background and related:

Week 5 (2/20): Communities, social capital, SOWT

Readings we will discuss:

Also interesting (but we won't have time to discuss in class):


Week 6 (2/27): Communities, social capital cont.

Also interesting (but we won't have time to discuss in class):

Week 7 (3/6): Network formation, homophily

Also interesting, but we will not have time to discuss:

Week 8 (3/13): Network formation, time

Some recent online discussions of the power law debate (not required reading):

Also interesting (but we won't have time to discuss in class):

Week 9 (3/20) : Network formation, collaboration and cooperation

Also interesting, but we will not have time to discuss:

3/27: Spring break

Week 10 (4/3): Contagion and influence - simple contagion and epidemics; methodological challenges

Also interesting, but we will not have time to discuss:

4/10: PAA (no class)

Week 11 (4/17): Contagion and influence - complex contagion

Also interesting, but we will not have time to discuss

Especially relevant for demography:

Week 12 (4/24): Contagion and influence - peer effects

Also interesting, but we won't have time to discuss:

Week 13 (5/1): Mini-conference

Final paper due

Optional wrap-up readings (we won't discuss in class):

Religious Accommodations

Requests to accommodate a student's religious creed by scheduling tests or examinations at alternative times should be submitted directly to the instructor. Reasonable common sense, judgment and the pursuit of mutual goodwill should result in the positive resolution of scheduling conflicts. The regular campus appeals process applies if a mutually satisfactory arrangement cannot be achieved.

Statement on Academic Freedom

Both students and instructors have rights to academic freedom. Please respect the rights of others to express their points of view in the classroom.

DSP Accommodations

Please see the instructor to discuss accommodations for physical disabilities, medical disabilities and learning disabilities.

Student Resources

The Student Learning Center provides a wide range of resources to promote learning and academic success for students. For information regarding these services, please consult the Student Learning Center Website:

Academic Integrity

The high academic standard at the University of California, Berkeley, is reflected in each degree that is awarded. As a result, every student is expected to maintain this high standard by ensuring that all academic work reflects unique ideas or properly attributes the ideas to the original sources.

These are some basic expectations of students with regards to academic integrity: