MSc in Statistical Science

About the course

The MSc in Statistical Science is a twelve-month full-time taught master’s degree running from October to September each academic year. The MSc has a particular focus on modern computationally-intensive theory and methods.

The MSc in Statistical Science will aim to train you to solve real-world statistical problems. When completing the course you should be able to choose an appropriate statistical method to solve a given problem of data analysis, implement the analysis on a computer and communicate your results clearly and succinctly.

The MSc offers a broad high-level training in applied and computational statistics, statistical machine learning, and the fundamental principles of statistical inference. Training is delivered through mathematically demanding lectures and problems classes, hands-on practical sessions in the computer laboratory, report writing and dissertation supervision. You will have around three months to work on your dissertation with guidance from your supervisor.

You will be assessed on your performance in two written examinations around May, through your work in the assessed practical problems set during the year, and by the quality and depth of your dissertation.

The Department of Statistics has made some changes to the content and delivery of the course and the revised MSc programme ran for the first time in 2016-17. There is now more emphasis on computational statistics and statistical machine learning, more opportunity for students to take courses from the MMath Mathematics and Statistics degree, and enhanced class support. The assessment structure remains the same as in previous years. The course is now known as the MSc in Statistical Science (previously the MSc in Applied Statistics) to better reflect its content.

Students take four, or exceptionally five, courses each term. Three courses each term are core courses and students must complete the practical sessions in these courses.

Course modules

The options available will vary from year to year. The core courses available each year may also vary. In 2018-19, the core courses are:

  • Applied Statistics
  • Foundations of Statistical Inference
  • Statistical Programming
  • Computational Statistics
  • Statistical Machine Learning
  • Bayes Methods.

In 2018-19, the options are:

  • Stochastic Models in Mathematical Genetics
  • Probability and Statistics for Network Analysis
  • Graphical Models
  • Algorithmic Foundations of Learning
  • Topics in Computational Biology
  • Advanced Topics in Statistical Machine Learning
  • Advanced Simulation Methods
  • Actuarial Science.

Graduate destinations

Graduates of the MSc find employment in financial, economic, governmental, scientific and industrial areas. The MSc can also be a useful stepping stone for doctoral studies, with around a third of students on the course taking this route.

Other courses in this area

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2019-20

Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in a degree course with advanced mathematical and statistical content.

However, entrance to the course is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.6 out of 4.0.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

Other appropriate indicators will include:

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process.  

When held, interviews may be in person, or by telephone or by Skype, normally with two interviewers. Interviews are used only when the department needs to gather more information to fully assess an application before deciding whether to make an offer of a place.

Publications

Publications are not required.

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.

3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places

The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • The ability of the Department of Statistics to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work
  • Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.

The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Department of Statistics and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff
  • Under exceptional circumstances, a supervisor may be found outside the Department of Statistics.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.

4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.

Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.

5. Assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

6. Other information

Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.

Resources

This is an exciting time for the Department of Statistics. In 2016, the department moved to occupy a newly-refurbished building in the centre of Oxford. 

The principal computing resource for the MSc in Statistical Science is the IT teaching suite. You will be able to use this to run software packages such as R, MATLAB and Python, as well as to prepare documents and reports. The IT suite provides students with an excellent environment for training in computational statistics and statistical programming, as well as being a quiet place to work outside lectures. The building has other newly refurbished spaces for study and collaborative learning, including the library and the large open social area, both on the ground floor.

You will also have access to the Radcliffe Science Library and other University libraries, and the centrally provided electronic resources.

Funding

There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.

For students applying to programmes within the MPLS Division at Oxford, Research Council and other funding opportunities available, subject to eligibility. These opportunities are included in the Fees, funding and scholarship search.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2019-20