Statistical Data Science - MSc

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The MSc in Statistical Data Science is excellent preparation for careers in any field requiring a strong background in data science, with particular emphasis on statistics.

Overview

The programme, which has recently been updated, trains data scientists for posts in any of the multitude of companies and organisations that make use of data. Core modules give a thorough grounding in modern applications of statistics to data science and there is the opportunity to choose additional topics to study.

Statistical Data Science at Kent provides:

  • a programme that gives you the opportunity to develop practical, mathematical and computing skills in statistics, while working on challenging and important problems relevant to a broad change of potential employers
  • teaching and supervision by staff who are research-active, with established reputations and who are accessible, supportive and genuinely interested in your work.
  • advanced and accessible computing and other facilities
  • a congenial work atmosphere with pleasant surroundings, where you can socialise and discuss issues with a community of other students.

About the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science (SMSAS)

The School has a strong reputation for world-class research and a well-established system of support and training, with a high level of contact between staff and students. Postgraduate students develop analytical, communication and research skills. Developing computational skills and applying them to statistical problems forms a significant part of the postgraduate training in the School.

The Statistics Group is forward-thinking, with varied research, and received high rankings in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 for research for power and quality.

Entry requirements

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You are more than your grades

For 2022, in response to the challenges caused by Covid-19 we will consider applicants either holding or projected a 2:2. This response is part of our flexible approach to admissions whereby we consider each student and their personal circumstances. If you have any questions, please get in touch.

Entry requirements

A minimum of 2.2, with a substantial amount of mathematics at university level.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, students who require a student visa to study cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

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Course structure

Duration: 1 year full-time

You undertake a substantial project in statistical data science, supervised by an experienced researcher. Some projects are focused on the analysis of particular complex data sets, motivated by the supervisor's current research projects, while others focus more on methodology.

You gain experience of analysing real data problems through practical classes and exercises. The programme includes training in the computer language R.

Modules

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.

Compulsory modules currently include

The curriculum introduces (and revises for some students) the essentials of probability and classical (frequentist) statistical inference.

Probability: review of elementary probability, concept of random variable, discrete and continuous probability distributions, cumulative distribution function, expectation and variance, joint distributions, marginal and conditional distributions, generating functions and transformation of random variables.

Statistics: sampling distributions, point estimation, method of moment and maximum likelihood estimation, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, association between variables and linear regression.

Linear model. Least squares. General linear model; simple and multiple regression, polynomial regression. Model selection, residuals, outliers, diagnostics. Analysis of variance. Generalised linear model.

Discrete data analysis. Review of Binomial, Poisson, negative binomial and multinomial distributions. Properties, estimation, hypothesis tests.

Contingency tables. Tests for independence. Measures of association. Logistic models.

Multidimensional tables. Log–linear models; fitting and model selection.

Bayes Theorem for density functions; Conjugate models; Predictive distribution; Bayes estimates; Sampling density functions; Gibbs and Metropolis-Hastings samplers; Winbugs/OpenBUGS; Bayesian hierarchical models; Bayesian model choice; Objective priors; Exchangeability; Choice of priors; Applications of hierarchical models.

Introduction: Machine learning and data visualisation with R.

Classification and prediction: Generalised linear model (GLM), linear discrimination analysis (LDA), k-nearest neighbors (KNN). R-based worked examples.

Resampling methods: Cross-validation (CV) and bootstrap. R-based worked examples.

Regression tree-based methods: Classification and regression trees (CART), bagging, random forests and boosting. R-based worked examples.

Support vector machines (SVM): Support vector classifier, regression SVM. R-based worked examples.

Machine Learning in Action:

(a) Biomedical and health data analysis;

(b) Bond default data analysis;

(c) Insurance data analysis;

(d) Financial data analysis;

(e) Other big data analysis.

Multivariate normal distribution, Inference from multivariate normal samples, principal component analysis, mixture models, factor analysis, clustering methods, discrimination and classification, graphical models, the use of appropriate software.

Statistics methods contribute significantly to areas such as biology, ecology, sociology and economics. The real data collected does not always follow standard statistical models. This module looks at modern statistical models and methods that can be utilised for such data, making use of R programs to execute these methods.

Indicative module content: Motivating examples; model fitting through maximum likelihood for specific examples; function optimization methods; profile likelihood; score tests; Wald tests; confidence interval construction; latent variable models; EM algorithm; mixture models; simulation methods; importance sampling; kernel density estimation; Monte Carlo inference; bootstrap; permutation tests; R programs.

In addition, for level 7 students: advanced EM algorithm methods, advanced simulation methods, writing R programs for advanced methods and applications.

This is a practical module to develop the skills required by a professional statistician (report writing, consultancy, presentation, wider appreciation of assumptions underlying methods, selection and application of analysis method, researching methods).

Software: R, SPSS and Excel (where appropriate/possible). Report writing in Word. PowerPoint for presentations.

  • Presentation of data
  • Report writing and presentation skills
  • Hypothesis testing: formulating questions, converting to hypotheses, parametric and non-parametric methods and their assumptions, selection of appropriate method, application and reporting. Use of resources to explore and apply additional tests. Parametric and non-parametric tests include, but are not limited to, t-tests, likelihood ratio tests, chi-squared tests, Mann Whitney U-test, Wilcoxon signed rank test, McNemar's test.
  • Linear and Generalised Linear Models: simple linear and multiple regression, ANOVA and ANCOVA, understanding the limitations of linear regression, generalised linear models, selecting the appropriate distribution for the data set, understanding the difference between fixed and random effects, fitting models with random effects, model selection.
  • Consultancy skills: group work exercise(s)

In addition, for level 7 students:

  • Advanced presentation of data, such as visualisation of data points on a map
  • Further extensions to Linear and Generalised Linear Models, such as hierarchical generalised linear models.

The module enables students to undertake an independent piece of work in a particular area of statistics, or statistical finance/financial econometrics and to write a coherent account of the material.

There is no specific syllabus for this module.

Optional modules may include

Introduction Deeplearning with python.

Backgrounds of python software: Basic knowledge of python, as wellas python deep learning library, for example Keras, Tensorflow.

Fundamentals of deep learning: What is deep learning? Concept ofneural network.

Neural network: Feed Forward Neural Networks (FFNN), ConvolutionalNeural Networks (CNN), Recurrent Neural Networks (RNN), Deep SequenceModelling, Deep Generative Models.

Algorithms: Backpropagation, Stochastic Gradient Descent (SGD).

Applications: Image Recognition, Mortality Forecasting, Insuranceand Finance.

This module is designed to cover: Ethics and compliance of data science. Impact of international regulations. Appropriate handling of data. Simple random sampling. Sampling for proportions and percentages. Estimation of sample size. Stratified sampling. Systematic sampling. Cluster sampling. Data streams. Finding frequentist items. Estimating the number of distinct elements. Sparse recovery. Weight-based sampling. Real time analytics. Network data: Density, clustering coefficient, centrality and degree distribution. 

Teaching

Teaching and assessment

Assessment is through coursework involving: complex theoretical questions, analysis of real-world data using appropriate computing packages over a range of areas of application; written unseen examinations; dissertation.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • To give students the depth of technical appreciation and skills appropriate to masters' level students in Statistical Data Science.
  • To equip students with a comprehensive and systematic understanding of theoretical and practical Statistical Data Science, and of ethical considerations related to the subject.
  • To develop students' capacity for rigorous reasoning and precise expression.
  • To develop students' capabilities to formulate and solve problems relevant to Statistical Data Science.
  • To develop in students appreciation of recent developments in Statistical Data Science, and of the links between the theory of Statistics and their practical application.
  • To develop in students a logical, mathematical approach to solving problems.
  • To develop in students an enhanced capacity for independent thought and work.
  • To ensure students are competent in the use of information technology, and are familiar with computers, together with the relevant software.
  • To provide students with opportunities to study advanced topics in Statistics, engage in research at some level, and develop communication and personal skills.
  • To provide successful students with the depth of knowledge of the subject sufficient to enter a career as a professional statistician.
  • To provide successful students with eligibility for exemptions from examinations of the Royal Statistical Society.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • Systematic understanding of probability and statistics and the range of principles involved.
  • Awareness of links between different statistical concepts and methods.
  • Advanced information technology skills relevant to statisticians.
  • A comprehensive range of methods and techniques appropriate to statistics and data science at the postgraduate level.
  • The role of logical mathematical argument and deductive reasoning.
  • Appreciation of particular subject areas to which statistic and data science are applied, and the importance of the role of statistics in those areas.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • Ability to demonstrate knowledge of advanced statistical concepts and topics, both explicitly and by applying them to the solution of problems.
  • Ability to demonstrate knowledge of statistical modelling techniques and their application.
  • Ability to abstract the essentials of problems so as to facilitate modelling, statistical analysis and interpretation.
  • Ability to present statistical analyses, including model-fitting, and draw conclusions with clarity and accuracy.

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • Problem-solving skills; ability to work independently to solve problems involving qualitative or quantitative information.
  • Communication skills, including the capacity to report to others on analyses undertaken.
    Computational skills.
  • Information-retrieval skills involving a range of resources.
  • Information technology skills including scientific word-processing.
  • Time-management and organisational skills, as evidenced by the ability to plan and implement efficient and effective modes of working.
  • Skills needed for continuing professional development.

Fees

The 2022/23 UK fees for this course are:

  • Home full-time £9300
  • EU full-time £13000
  • International full-time £17400

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact information@kent.ac.uk.

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

Additional costs

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 

Funding

Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:

We have a range of subject-specific awards and scholarships for academic, sporting and musical achievement.

Search scholarships

Independent rankings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science was ranked 25th in the UK for research power and 100% or our research was judged to be of international quality.

An impressive 92% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF and the School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.

Research

Research areas

Statistical Ecology

There has been research in the area of statistical ecology at Kent for many years. We are part of the National Centre for Statistical Ecology (NCSE), which was established in 2005. For details of the work of the NCSE, see www.ncse.org.uk

Bayesian statistics 

The research conducted in this area at Kent is mainly on Bayesian variable selection, Bayesian model fitting, Bayesian nonparametric methods, Markov chain Monte Carlo with applications.

Biological and health statistics 

Research is focused on statistical modelling and inference in biology and genetics with applications in complex disease studies. Over the past few decades, large amounts of complex data have been produced by high through-put biotechnologies. The grand challenges offered to statisticians include developing scalable statistical methods for extracting useful information from the data, modelling biological systems with the data, and fostering innovation in global health research.

Machine learning 

This theme encompasses both theory and applications. Theory is involved with supervised and unsupervised learning, matrix factorisation, modelling of high-dimensional time series, differential privacy, deep learning and networks, shape analysis and statistics on manifolds, and neuroimaging. Applications in biology, industry, medicine and psychiatry. Often new computational methods are the key to analysing complex big data problems.

Nonparametric statistics 

In order to describe the data, it is common in statistics to assume a specific probability model. Unfortunately, in many practical applications (for instance in economics, population genetics and social networks) it is not possible to identify a specific structure for the data. Nonparametric methods provide statistical tools for addressing inference in these situations.

Economics and finance

At Kent there is particular interest in the use of nonparametric methods including quantile regression and Bayesian nonparametric approaches. Application areas include modelling of the business cycle and capacity utilisation, calculating sovereign credit ratings, modelling of stock return data, and predicting inflation.

Careers

Students often go into careers as professional statisticians in industry, government, research and teaching but our programmes also prepare you for careers in other fields requiring a strong statistical background. You have the opportunity to attend careers talks from professional statisticians working in industry and to attend networking meetings with employers.

Our graduates have started careers in diverse areas such as the pharmaceutical industry, financial services and sports betting.

Professional recognition

The taught programmes in Statistics and Statistics with Finance provide exemption from the professional examinations of the Royal Statistical Society and qualification for Graduate Statistician status.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

Kent’s Computing Service central facility runs Windows. Within the School, postgraduate students can use a range of UNIX servers and workstations. Packages available include R, SAS, MATLAB, SPSS and MINITAB.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Annals of Statistics; Biometrics; Biometrika; Journal of Royal Society, Series B; Statistics and Computing. Details of recently published books can be found within our staff research interests.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Apply now

Learn more about the applications process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.

Once started, you can save and return to your application at any time.

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United Kingdom/EU enquiries

MSc at Canterbury

Admissions enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 768896

E: information@kent.ac.uk

Subject enquiries

Claire Carter

T: 44 (0)1227 824133

E: smsaspgadmin@kent.ac.uk

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International student enquiries

Enquire online

T: +44 (0)1227 823254
E: internationalstudent@kent.ac.uk