´╗┐´╗┐ GESIS Training Courses

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Marlene Mauk
Tel: +49 221 47694-579

Administrative Coordination

Claudia O'Donovan-Bellante
Tel: +49 621 1246-221

Automated Image and Video Data Analysis with Python

Mannheim B6, 4-5
General Topics
Course Level
Software used
Students: 500 €
Academics: 750 €
Commercial: 1500 €
Additional links
Lecturer(s): Prof. Dr. Andreu Casas, Felicia Loecherbach

About the lecturer - Prof. Dr. Andreu Casas

About the lecturer - Felicia Loecherbach

Course description

Social scientists have long argued that images play a crucial role in shaping and reflecting political life. This role is heightened by the bombardment of images that people experience today through many communications channels, from television to social media. Digitization has both increased the presence of images in daily life and made it easier for scholars to access and collect large quantities of pictures. However, using images collected in observational settings as data for social science inference is an arduous task. Fortunately, recent innovations in computer vision, the subfield of computer science concerned with automated image analysis, can reduce the costs of using images as data.
In this course, we'll dig into the necessary theoretical and methodological expertise needed to apply machine learning methods to address social science questions. We will combine theoretical sessions where we'll discuss research using computer vision methods for the study of politics, communication science, etc.; with sessions where we'll cover in detail key methodological advances needed to fully understand state-of-the-art computer vision methods (deep learning, neural networks, convolutional neural networks, etc.), as well as practical sessions where we'll go over several python tutorials implementing different computer vision techniques, for image processing (e.g. splitting videos into analytical frames), object and face detection, image (supervised and unsupervised) classification, facial trait analysis, etc.
Students with basic programming skills/experience in python and some machine learning background will get the most out of the course. However, we'll also take the time to briefly review some key machine learning concepts necessary to implement machine learning methods, and students will be provided with clear and easy-to-follow sample code for each of the practical tutorials. By the end, students will have a good understanding of the kind of research questions that can be answered using computer vision methods, as well as a good understanding of several techniques and how to apply them for their own research.
For additional details on the course and a day-to-day schedule, please download the full-length syllabus.

Target group

  • PhD student, early career scholars, industry professionals, and anyone interested in using computational methods to automatically analyze large quantities of video/image data.

  • Learning objectives

    By the end of the course participants will:
  • Have a good overview of the existing images-as-data literature in the social sciences
  • Have a good understanding of key deep learning concepts relevant for the implementation of computer vision methods
  • Have a good understanding of several computer vision techniques (object and face detection/recognition, image classification, facial trait analysis, etc.)
  • Have a good understanding of the many options and techniques available to store and compute visual data
  • Be able to implement different computer vision techniques in python
  • Be able to use/adapt different computer vision techniques for their own research projects
    Organizational structure of the course
    The course will be organized around three different types of sessions:
  • Lectures in which the instructors will present relevant literature, theory, concepts, and methods; and discuss them with the students.
  • Tutorials in which the instructors will provide, run, and discuss, sample code designed to implement different computer vision techniques. Students will also run the code on their own and have the ability to ask as many clarifying questions as needed.
  • Consulting sessions in which students will work on implementing the learned techniques on new data and projects. The instructors will provide students with new sample data and will help them adapt the sample code from the tutorials so that it works for the new data. During these sessions, students can also bring their own data and ask questions about how to adapt the sample code for their own project, or what additional computer vision methods can help them answer their substantive questions of interest.
    The lectures will take place in the morning of the first three days (Monday-Wednesdays). Tutorials will take place in the afternoon of the first three days, as well as at different times during the last two days. The consulting sessions will also take place at different times during the last two days.


  • Basic programming skills/experience in python
  • Basic machine learning knowledge
  • A Google account: we will use Google Colab in the course Tutorials.
    Software requirements
    This course uses Python but will run everything on Google Colabs, so there is no need for students to install Python on their own machine. It is, however, necessary for everyone to have a Google account.
    Participants should bring their own laptops and pre-install the following software/packages:
  • Google Colabs
  • Google account
    Recommended related courses
  • Introduction to Computational Social Science with Python (Fall Seminar, Mannheim, Week 1)
  • Automated Web Data Collection with Python (Fall Seminar, Mannheim, Week 2)
  • Big Data Management and Analytics (Fall Seminar, Mannheim, Week 2)