Amidst growing concern about the shortage of social science undergraduate students with even basic quantitative methods skills, student apprehension is recognised as a barrier to learning quantitative methods. A recent ESRC-funded project has sought to overcome such fear and anxiety through the design of a cross-disciplinary social sciences unit for first-year undergraduates. The unit aimed to capture students’ imaginations by the use of ‘quantitative narratives’ – descriptions of current social issues or controversies that allow quantitative concepts to be introduced in a contextualised way. This paper presents findings from the qualitative evaluation of the unit. It considers the attitudes and experiences of students who covered a spectrum of social science subjects, self-cited levels of confidence and prior experience of statistics. A typology of students taking the course is presented, revealing the challenge of meeting the needs of all students. Conclusions consider the implications of this evaluation both for the development of quantitative methods curricula and wider considerations for cross-disciplinary teaching in higher education.