How does the department of Statistics define a research led environment?
Looking closely at the language used by the department, they seem to draw a link between successful research, good facilities and the quality of their degree programmes.
“The Department of Statistics is internationally renowned for innovative, wide-ranging research, and for its high-quality degree programmes.”
Here they clearly associate the research done by the department with the success of the degree programmes it runs.
“The Department is one of the largest UK concentrations of researchers in statistics and probability
The research environment is vibrant, with a large and active community of PhD students and postdoctoral researchers, excellent library, computing and other research support facilities, and sustained programmes of research seminars, workshops and international visitors. There are strong research links with other disciplines both at Warwick and externally.”
Here there is a claim of good facilities, worded in a way that associates it with the research success of the department and also there's a mention of interdisciplinary research.
In the course aims listed in the handbook is to: "Provide an intellectually stimulating environment," and to "stimulate interest in mathematical concepts."1.2 Aimshttp://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/statistics/courses/handbooks/morse_08-09.pdIt seems that the Statistics department thence aims to encourage students to develop their own interests, which is the first step to being able to perform research.
The Statistics department's view of learning in a successful research led environment therefore seems to be one in which a combination of good facilities, research informed teaching and encouraging students to develop their own interests forms the basis of their pledge to undergraduates.
What provisions are made for students to engage in research?
I will speculate that it may be difficult for undergraduate Statistics students to become directly involved in cutting edge research until they reach their later years of study, because of the large amount of technical knowledge and skills required to understand the complicated mathematics involved.
Nevertheless there are some course modules that allow undergraduates to undertake completely original research. There is an optional first year essay or project, as well as an optional third year essay/project for students taking the four year degree MMathStat or MMORSE degrees. This is in addition to the dissertation that makes up 25% of the credit for the final year for all students including those on three year courses. Details are as follows:
ST105 Essay or Project
“Under the supervision of a member of staff in any one of the four departments: Mathematics, Business Studies, Economics or Statistics.
If you are interested in this option discuss it first with your personal tutor in the Autumn term.”
ST300 Third Year MMathStat Project
“A list of titles of topics in Probability and Statistics will be available at the beginning of the academic year. Other titles are possible by individual arrangements.”
ST313 Third Year Essay/Project
“This involves undertaking an individual project under the supervision of a member of staff, which will be assessed by means of a substantial written report.
Usually students must develop their own proposal for a project, which they should discuss with their personnel (sic) tutor before approaching a member of staff to supervise it. There is no guarantee that a supervisor will be available.”
Available to students on the four year course as well with reduced credit (15 instead of 30 CATS)
ST415 Statistics Masters Dissertation
“A list of titles of topics in Probability and Statistics will be available at the beginning of the academic year. This will include both individual titles and group projects (where students work together on a related theme). Other titles are possible by individual arrangements."
Thinking about what isn't included in the website or course handbook, there is no mention of URSS. This is perhaps a missed opportunity in regards to promoting undergraduate research.
To my mind the description of ST105, the first year Essay or Project, is quite lacking. This lack of detail or guidance can only serve to put off students who might otherwise be interested. Perhaps personal tutors/staff are somewhat reluctant to shoulder the burden of individually supervising first year undergraduates unless they are especially keen.
The department is very proud of its research aspect and seems to try and link the quality of the research done by staff with the quality of the degree courses run by the department. Despite potential barriers to undergraduate research it offers optional modules for those interested to do essays or projects in areas that interest them.
Further investigation may be needed about the uptake of these options and whether the modules are as much original research as claimed.