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Data Science

Course overview

(MSc) Master of Science
Data Science
University of Essex
University of Essex
Mathematical Sciences
Colchester Campus
MSC G30424

A degree with an overall mid 2.2 in one of the following subjects: Mathematics, Statistics, Operational research, Finance, Economics, Business Engineering, Computing, Biology, Physics or Chemistry.

Will consider applicants with a unrelated degree but which contained at least three modules in calculus, algebra, differential equations, probability & statistics, optimisation or other mathematical modules.

Applications from students with a 2:2 or equivalent will be considered dependent on any relevant professional or voluntary experience, previous modules studied and/or personal statement.

IELTS 6.0 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.

External Examiners

Prof Fionn Murtagh
Professor of Data Science

External Examiners provide an independent overview of our courses, offering their expertise and help towards our continual improvement of course content, teaching, learning, and assessment. External Examiners are normally academics from other higher education institutions, but may be from the industry, business or the profession as appropriate for the course. They comment on how well courses align with national standards, and on how well the teaching, learning and assessment methods allow students to develop and demonstrate the relevant knowledge and skills needed to achieve their awards. External Examiners who are responsible for awards are key members of Boards of Examiners. These boards make decisions about student progression within their course and about whether students can receive their final award.

eNROL, the module enrolment system, is now open until Monday 21 October 2019 8:59AM, for students wishing to make changes to their module options.


Core You must take this module You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options You can choose which module to study
Compulsory You must take this module There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Compulsory with Options You can choose which module to study
Optional You can choose which module to study

Year 1 - 2019/20

Exit Award Status
Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits PG Diploma PG Certificate
01 MA902-7-FY Research Methods Compulsory 15 Compulsory Compulsory
02 MA200-7-AU or option from List A Compulsory with Options 15 Compulsory with Options Compulsory with Options
03 CE705-7-SP or option from List B Compulsory with Options 15 Compulsory with Options Compulsory with Options
04 CE706-7-SP Information Retrieval Compulsory 15 Compulsory Compulsory

Year 2 - 2020/21

Exit Award Status
Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits PG Diploma PG Certificate
01 MA981-7-FY Dissertation Core 60 Compulsory
02 MA317-7-AU Modelling Experimental Data Compulsory 15 Compulsory Compulsory
03 CE802-7-AU Machine Learning and Data Mining Compulsory 15 Compulsory Compulsory
04 MA321-7-SP Applied Statistics Compulsory 15 Compulsory Compulsory
05 Option from List A or List B Optional 15 Optional Optional
06 MA199-7-FY Mathematics Careers and Employability Compulsory 0 Compulsory

Exit awards

A module is given one of the following statuses: 'core' – meaning it must be taken and passed; 'compulsory' – meaning it must be taken; or 'optional' – meaning that students can choose the module from a designated list. The rules of assessment may allow for limited condonement of fails in 'compulsory' or 'optional' modules, but 'core' modules cannot be failed. The status of the module may be different in any exit awards which are available for the course. Exam Boards will consider students' eligibility for an exit award if they fail the main award or do not complete their studies.

Programme aims

The course aims to educate and to train data scientists, who are in demand for a fast growing number of jobs and opportunities within the private and public sector. The theory and methodology of Data Science can be described as an intersection of computer science, statistics and operations research. The application of theory and methods to real world problems and applications is at the core of Data Science, which aims especially to use and to exploit Big Data, where appropriate and useful.

The course is for students, who are interested in solving real world problems, like to develop skills to use smart devices and computer science efficiently, want to use and to foster understanding of mathematics and are interested and keen to use statistical techniques and methods to interpret data. A balance of solid theory and practical application, this course builds on knowledge in relevant areas of computer science, statistics, data analysis and probability.

If a student has a weak background in statistics, the course offers a conversion module to assist the student to get sufficient knowledge. If a student has a weak background in programming, the course offers a conversion module to assist the student to get sufficient knowledge.

Learning outcomes and learning, teaching and assessment methods

On successful completion of the programme a graduate should demonstrate knowledge and skills as follows:

A: Knowledge and understanding

A1 Knowledge and understanding of some statistical modelling methods and techniques, such as sampling schemes, multivariate techniques, regression modelling and stochastic modelling.
A2 Knowledge and understanding of some data analysis methods for analysing statistical models, such as graphic visualisation, statistical estimation and hypothesis test.
A3 Knowledge and understanding of how to develop and to apply machine learning methods.
A4 Knowledge and understanding of how to develop and to apply text analytics methods.
A5 Knowledge and understanding of how to apply computational and statistical techniques into different areas, such as business, economics, finance, epidemiology and medical research.
Learning Methods: Lectures are the principal method of delivery for the concepts and principles involved in A1 – A5. Students are also directed to reading from textbooks and material available on-line. In some modules, understanding is enhanced through the production of a written report.

Understanding is reinforced by means of classes (A1 – A5), laboratories and assignments (A1 – A5).

Assessment Methods: Achievement of knowledge outcomes is assessed primarily through unseen closed-book examinations, and also, in some modules, through marked coursework, laboratory reports, statistical assignments, project reports and oral examinations (A1-A5).

Regular problem sheets provide formative assessment in all modules.

Methods employed to assess knowledge and understanding statistics include: class presentations; written coursework, project work and class tests.

B: Intellectual and cognitive skills

B1 Identify an appropriate analytical, mathematical and/or statistical model for a specific quantitative question.
B2 Analyse a given quantitative problem and select the most appropriate computational and statistical tools for its solution.
B3 Use critical computational, statistical and mathematical properties to evaluate statistical methods and results.
B4 Perform analytical and statistical data analysis.
B5 Use analytical and statistical models and methods for research strategies.
Learning Methods: The basis for intellectual skills in in computer science, statistics and operations research modules is provided in lectures, and the skills are developed by means of recommended reading, guided and independent study, assignments and project work.

B1 - B4 are developed through exercises supported by classes.

B1 - B4 are all-important aspects of the projects that constitute a part of some modules, and the optional final year project.

B5 is acquired through CE902/MA902 projects and CE901/MA981.

Assessment Methods: Achievement of intellectual skills in computer science, statistics and operations research modules is assessed primarily through unseen closed-book examinations, and also through marked assignments and thesis project work.

Methods employed to assess knowledge and understanding computer science, statistics and operations research include: presentations; written coursework, project work and class tests.

C: Practical skills

C1 Use programming languages and computational tools and packages.
C2 The ability to apply a rigorous, analytic, highly quantitative approach to a problem.
C3 Managing, organising and presenting data.
C4 Gathering and processing information from different sources.
C5 Searching literature.
C6 Preparing report.
C7 Giving presentation.
Learning Methods: The practical skills of computer science, statistics and operations research are developed in exercise classes, laboratory classes, assignments and project work.

C1 is acquired through the learning of at least one programming language and the use of a number of computer packages, as a part of the teaching of modules for which they are relevant.

C2 is acquired and enhanced throughout the course.

C3 is acquired through such methods as group discussion of topical themes and analysis of authentic materials in class; laboratory work involving use of dedicated software and Web materials; and staff advice, feedback and interaction with students.

C4 is acquired and enhanced throughout the course.

C5-C7 are acquired and enhanced through MA902 and MA981 projects.

Assessment Methods: Achievement of practical skills C1 and C2 is assessed through marked coursework, project reports and oral examinations.

Methods employed to assess practical skills C3 and C4 typically include: class presentations; written coursework; written exams; class tests; web-based assignments.

Methods employed to assess practical skills C5-C7 include: writing thesis reports and thesis viva.

D: Key skills

D1 Writing statistical arguments, ideas, outputs and other information clearly into a report.
D2 Use appropriate IT facilities as a tool for developing computer programmes, data analysis and in the analysis of mathematical problems, word processing, finding modern language materials etc.
D3 Use and interpret statistical techniques correctly.
D4 Analyse complex problems and find effective solutions.
D5 Improve own learning and performance from feedback.
D6 Working autonomously showing organisation, self-discipline and time management
Learning Methods: D1 is practised throughout the course in the writing of thesis reports, solutions to mathematical problems.

D2 is developed through the use of programming languages and computer packages in a number of statistics modules.

D3 and D4 are developed and enhanced in all statistics modules.

D5 is developed in various statistics modules, through exercises and assessments.

D6 is developed and enhanced throughout the course.

Assessment Methods: D1 is assessed through viva, coursework and oral examinations.

D2 is assessed primarily through coursework.

Assessment of the key skills D3 and D4 is intrinsic to subject based assessment in statistics.

D5 is assessed through learning feedbacks from student’s supervisor in the period of thesis writing.

Assessment of key skill D6 is mainly through successful submission of coursework etc.


The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

Should you have any questions about programme specifications, please contact Course Records, Quality and Academic Development; email: