Back to top

MSc FAQs

What knowledge of statistics do I need for this course?

The following is the prerequisite knowledge expected from students before starting the course:

General mathematics
Matrix algebra – inverse, transpose, orthogonal, symmetric
Matrix operations – multiplication, solution of linear system of equations
Eigenvalues, eigenvectors
Eigendecomposition and singular value decomposition of a matrix
Integration/Differentiation
Taylor series expansion
Difference equations

Probability
Combinations and permutations
Random variables – discrete and continuous
Independence, expectation, variance, conditional distributions
Method of change of variables using Jacobian
Moment generating functions
Convergence of random variables
Basic properties of discrete-time Markov chains and Poisson processes

Theoretical Statistics
Maximum likelihood estimation
Estimation, unbiased and consistent estimators
Central limit theorem
Delta method, asymptotic normality of maximum likelihood estimator
Multivariate normal distribution – basic properties
Basic Bayesian statistics – conjugate prior/posterior, MAP and expected posterior estimates, credible/HPD intervals

Applied Statistics
Common exploration plots (such as QQ plots, histograms, boxplots)
Confidence intervals
Hypothesis testing, types of error, including t-tests (basic, paired, two sample)
Likelihood ratio tests, applications to contingency tables, χ2 goodness-of-fit tests
Basic single and multiple linear regression

If you have not done any programming then it would be desirable to gain some familiarity with the basics of programming, in either R or Python, before the start of the MSc.

The MSc in Statistical Science is an intensive and demanding course and moves at a rapid pace. A good understanding of the prerequisite topics will be assumed on starting the course.

MSc Prerequisites [PDF]

What are the entrance requirements for the MSc and PgDip in Statistical Science?

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 substantial advanced mathematical and statistical content. Some highly quantitative courses in science, social science (notably economics) or medicine may be appropriate if they meet this criterion.

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

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).

There are also English language requirements at higher level for applicants who do not have have English as their first language although these may be waived if applicants have studied their undergraduate degree in English.

Please see the graduate prospectus entry for further details.

Can I visit the Department before I apply?

The Mathematical Sciences Postgraduate Open Day will be held on the afternoon Wednesday 16 November 2016. This will include the chance to visit the Department of Statistics’ new building at 24-29 St Giles’.

By which deadline should I apply?

The three deadlines for applications for entry in October 2017 are 16 November 2016, 20 January 2017 and 10 March 2017. All completed applications received by these deadlines are then considered together by the admissions tutors.

If you need a decision on your application by January 2017, you should apply by the 16 November deadline. To be considered for university scholarships, you would normally need to be apply no later than the 20 January deadline.

We would expect to make fewer offers of places for those applying by the March 2017 deadline, as most offers are made in the first two deadlines.

Which college should I apply to?

A list of colleges which accept students for the MSc in Statistical Science can be found in the graduate prospectus entry.
You may choose to either (i) indicate that you have no preference, in which case a college will be selected on your behalf, or (ii) state a college preference. You will not be able to amend your choice after submitting your application. Whether or not you state a college preference will not affect how your department assesses your application and ultimately whether or not they decide to make you an offer.If you are offered a place on a course by a department or faculty then you will be guaranteed a place at a college or hall. Please note, however, that this may not necessarily be your preferred college.

Do you have any funding available?

The Department of Statistics does not offer funding for students on the MSc/ PG Diploma in Statistical Science.

Details of funding opportunities for graduate students can be found on the Fees and Funding webpages.

You normally must apply no later than the January deadline for most funding administered by the Student Funding Services.

What careers do your alumni follow?

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.The University’s Careers Service provides data on the types of careers students follow after graduation.

If you have specific questions about the MSc or PG Diploma in Statistical Science, please email graduate.admissions@stats.ox.ac.uk