About the course
The Postgraduate Diploma in Statistical Science is a nine-month taught course, running from October each academic year. It is similar to the MSc in Statistical Science but there is no dissertation. The course has a particular focus on modern computationally-intensive theory and methods.
The PGDip aims 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 course 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 and report writing.
Students take a mixture of core courses and optional courses. The core courses are compulsory and involve practical components that students must complete.
The core and option modules may vary from year to year, and the lists below may provide an idea of a typical offering.
The core courses available for entry in 2023-24 were:
- Applied Statistics
- Foundations of Statistical Inference
- Statistical Programming
- Computational Statistics
- Statistical Machine Learning.
The option modules available for entry in 2023-24 entry were:
- Stochastic Models in Mathematical Genetics
- Probability and Statistics for Network Analysis
- Advanced Topics in Statistical Machine Learning
- Advanced Simulation Methods
- Graphical Models
- Bayes Methods.
Please note that the modules listed may not be the same for 2024-25 entry.
Pattern of learning and teaching
You will attend nine units worth of courses (with one unit corresponding to a 16-hour lecture course or equivalent). Depending on how the courses you take split between terms, you can expect to attend four or five (or, in exceptional cases, three or six) courses per term. Most courses have two one hour lectures per week supplemented by four classes (or the equivalent) per term, though for some courses there are associated practical sessions instead of, or in addition to, lectures or classes. The remainder of your study time in Michaelmas, Hilary and most of Trinity Term should be spent on self-study, consolidating on the material covered in lectures, working through the assignments set for each class and working on practical assignments. Students are expected to write reports on practical assignments during part of the Christmas and Easter vacations, as well as revising the material covered the previous term.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course 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.
You will be assessed on your performance in a number of written examinations in May/June, and through practical coursework set during the year.
Graduates find employment in financial, economic, governmental, scientific and industrial areas.
Changes to this course and your supervision
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. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic, epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.
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 illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.
Entry requirements for entry in 2024-25
Proven and potential academic excellence
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours 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 your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.
GRE General Test scores
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience
Publications are not required.
English language proficiency
This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.
|Test||Minimum overall score||Minimum score per component|
|IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713)||7.5||7.0|
TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'
(Institution code: 0490)
*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
†Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)
Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.
Declaring extenuating circumstances
If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.
You will need to register three referees who can give an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for the course. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the types of reference that are required in support of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the supporting documents that are required as part of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview
Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process.
When held, interviews may be in person or online, 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.
How your application is assessed
Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements published under that heading.
References and supporting documents submitted as part of your application, and your performance at interview (if interviews are held) will be considered as part of the assessment process. Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
An overview of the shortlisting and selection process is provided below. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about how applications are assessed.
Shortlisting and selection
Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, sexual orientation, as well as other relevant circumstances including parental or caring responsibilities or social background. However, please note the following:
- socio-economic information may be taken into account in the selection of applicants and award of scholarships for courses that are part of the University’s pilot selection procedure and for scholarships aimed at under-represented groups;
- country of ordinary residence may be taken into account in the awarding of certain scholarships; and
- protected characteristics may be taken into account during shortlisting for interview or the award of scholarships where the University has approved a positive action case under the Equality Act 2010.
Processing your data for shortlisting and selection
Admissions panels and assessors
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
Other factors governing whether places can be offered
The following factors will also govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the About section of this page;
- the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
- minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.
Offer conditions for successful applications
If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about offers and conditions.
In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also be required to meet the following requirements:
If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.
Disclosure of criminal convictions
In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.
The department occupies a building in the centre of Oxford.
The principal computing resource for the Postgraduate Diploma 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 teaching 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 spaces for study and collaborative learning, including a library and a large interaction and social area.
You will also have access to a number of University libraries, and the centrally-provided electronic resources.
The University's Department of Statistics is a world leader in research in probability, bioinformatics, mathematical genetics and statistical methodology, including computational statistics, machine learning and data science.
The department offers an MSc by Research in Statistics, a DPhil in Statistics and a DPhil programme in statistical science, the latter delivered by the department's EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Statistical Science in Statistics and Machine Learning (known as StatML CDT). The department also admits graduates from the Mathematics of Random Systems CDT, Health Data Science CDT, and the Sustainable Approaches to Biomedical Science CDT, as well as other CDTs and Doctoral Training Programmes (DTPs).
As a research student you will be actively involved in a vibrant academic community by means of seminars, lectures, journal clubs, and social events. Research students are offered training in modern probability, stochastic processes, statistical methodology, computational methods and transferable skills, in addition to specialised topics relevant to specific application areas.
The department also offers a taught twelve-month MSc in Statistical Science, with a particular focus on modern computationally-intensive methods and their use in data analysis, which includes a dissertation component.
Much of the research in the Department of Statistics is either explicitly interdisciplinary or draws motivation from application areas, ranging from genetics, immunoinformatics, bioinformatics and cheminformatics, to finance and the social sciences.
In 2016 the department moved to a newly-renovated building in St Giles, providing excellent teaching facilities and creating a highly visible centre for statistics in Oxford. Oxford’s Mathematical Sciences submission came first in the UK on all criteria in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF).
For details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information on external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources. We would suggest that you review this information carefully, as not all funding opportunities are available for students applying to postgraduate diploma and postgraduate certificate courses.
For details of any college-specific funding opportunities please visit individual college websites using the links provided on our college pages or below:
Please note that not all the colleges listed above may accept students on this course. For details of those which do, please refer to the College preference section of this page.
Annual fees for entry in 2024-25
Annual Course fees
Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.
Information about course fees
Course fees are payable each year, for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on changes to fees and charges.
Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.
There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees and living costs. However, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Please note that, depending on your choice of topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.
In addition to your course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.
For the 2024-25 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,345 and £1,955 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our living costs page. The current economic climate and high national rate of inflation make it very hard to estimate potential changes to the cost of living over the next few years. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2024-25, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of around 5% each year – although this rate may vary depending on the national economic situation. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.
Students enrolled on this course will belong to both a department/faculty and a college. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 43 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as societies and permanent private halls (PPHs).
If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. Before deciding, we suggest that you read our brief introduction to the college system at Oxford and our advice about expressing a college preference. For some courses, the department may have provided some additional advice below to help you decide.
The following colleges accept students on the PGDip in Statistical Science:
Before you apply
Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide. If it's important for you to have your application considered under a particular deadline – eg under a December or January deadline in order to be considered for Oxford scholarships – we recommend that you aim to complete and submit your application at least two weeks in advance.
Application fee waivers
An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:
- applicants from low-income countries;
- refugees and displaced persons;
- UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and
- applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.
You are encouraged to check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver before you apply.
Do I need to contact anyone before I apply?
You do not need to make contact with the department before you apply but you are encouraged to visit the relevant departmental webpages to read any further information about your chosen course.
If you have any questions about the course, you should contact the course administrator in the first instance, using the contact details provided on this page.
Completing your application
You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents.
For this course, the application form will include questions that collect information that would usually be included in a CV/résumé. You should not upload a separate document. If a separate CV/résumé is uploaded, it will be removed from your application.
If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.
Three overall, at least two of which must be academic
Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.
At least two academic references are required. A professional reference is acceptable as the third reference in the exceptional case that the referee is able to offer comparable information on your background and suitability for the course to an academic referee.
Your references will support your intellectual ability, academic achievement, academic potential and motivation, particularly with regard to the mathematical sciences.
Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.
More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.
A maximum of 1,000 words
Your statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford and your relevant experience and education. You should explain why you are interested in studying the course. The statement should summarise your background as it relates to applying for the PGDip and the advanced mathematical and statistical content you have covered (or are in the process of covering, if you are currently completing a degree).
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
This will be assessed for your reasons and motivation for applying; evidence of motivation for, and understanding of, the broad area covered by the PGDip; capacity for sustained and intense work; reasoning ability; the ability to absorb ideas at a rapid pace.