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Research Software Learning Online: SQL

SQL Software

SQL (Structured Query Language) is a programming language that is used for managing and interrogating data stored in relational database systems. It is most useful for managing large datasets where the data are held in multiple linked tables. There are a wide range of free and proprietary SQL user interfaces.

SQLite and MySQL are both open source software packages that can be downloaded and used for free. SQLite can run on your own device whereas MySQL requires a server to run. You can download DB Broswer for SQLite and MySQL. If you need guidance on choosing and installing an SQL user interface you can contact your local IT supporter. 

Please note that O'Reilly deletes content in December and June. If you are linking to courses on this platform we advise that you check that they are still running in January and July of each year. 

Searching for more courses on SQL

You can search for more courses and resources for learning SQL on O'Reilly Learning. Enter 'SQL' into the search bar on the home page. We recommend that you filter the results: 

  • use the 'Format' filter to filter by resource type: courses are listed as 'Learning Path' or 'Video'
  • use the 'Topic' filter to filter for courses specifically on SQL

If you cannot see 'Learning Path' and 'Video' as an option under the Format filter you should delete the site cookies and refresh the page. 

Getting started courses

These courses are suitable for researchers who are completely new to using SQL. Courses that require you to install SQL interface software will go through the steps to install the relevant programme. If you are using a University-managed PC please see the access information at the top of this page. 

SQL Commands, Joins and Views. (1hr 30 mins)

This is short introductory Learning Path course that covers:

  • Getting started with databases and SQLSQL commands and joins course
  • Using SQL to select and filter data
  • Joining tables
  • Data modification
  • Creating and altering database objects 

Learning SQL (3 hours)

This is a video course for those new to SQL. However, much of the teaching is on SQL Server rather than one of the free downloadable platforms. Nevertheless, the course is clearly taught and will take you through the basic syntax needed for you to get started with using SQL for your research. The course covers: 

  • Introduction to SQL and relational databasesLearning SQL
  • Retrieving data with SELECT
  • Sorting your data with ORDER BY
  • Filtering data using WHERE
  • Advanced data filtering and using wildcards for filtering
  • Creating calculated fields
  • Using data manipulation functions
  • Working with subqueries
  • Joining tables and different types of joins
  • Combining queries using UNION
  • Inserting, updating and deleting data in tables

SQL Fundamentals – LiveLessons (8 hours)

This is a video course for those who already have access to an SQL programme. We would recommend this as a second 'getting started' course, or one that you dip into to learn to use specific commands as you might not need to use all of the skills presented within this course.  The course using the MySQL software that you can download. You will need to ask your IT supporter to load this onto your device if you are using a University manager PC or laptop. The course covers: 

  • Introduction to MySQL interfaceSQL fundamentals LiveLessons
  • Extracting data from the database
  • Data management
  • Aggregation and grouping
  • Working with multiple tables 
  • Altering data in tables
  • Some advanced functions

Intermediate and advanced courses

For those who already have a basic understanding of SQL there are a range of learning path and video courses to expand your skills and knowledge of SQL. Many of these are quite ‘techy’ in nature and some concentrate more on database design and management than on using SQL for manipulating data. The courses below provide you with some hands-on skills for using SQL for your research and you can search for other learning path and video courses using the search function on the platform

SQL: Beyond the Basics (4.5 hours).

This video course assumes a basic knowledge of SQL and will increase your knowledge and skills base to improve your SQL programming. The course covers: 

  • Converting datatypesundefined‚Äč
  • Using indexes to speed up your queries
  • Using subqueries and finding duplicates
  • Using the CASE statement
  • Using functions
  • Creating and using views
  • Creating a stored procedure

Intermediate to Advanced SQL: Move Beyond the Basics to Master Complex Concepts (1.5 hours)

This is an intermediate to advanced course for experienced users of SQL. It has a strong focus on working with data from multiple tables with a variety of different join statements. The course covers: 

  • The use of BETWEEN, IN, LIKE, NOT LIKE Intermediate to advanced SQL
  • The use of HAVING, ORDER BY 
  • A wide range of advanced join statements including:
    • Cross joins
    • Natural joins
    • Condition joins
    • Column name joins 
    • Self joins
    • Inner and outer joins