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Data Science: Frequently asked questions


About the course:

Why would I choose Data Science rather than MathStat, MORSE, Mathematics or Computer Science?

Data Science at Warwick exploits the strength and well-established, high reputations of those other degree courses, to provide a blend of study and training that is uniquely tailored to the burgeoning needs of employers of data scientists, as well as to the interests and aptitudes of mathematically able students who are keen to engage with solving real-world problems. It is perfectly possible to secure a graduate job as a data scientist without having taken the Data Science degree: any of the other courses mentioned here would also be very attractive to the same employers. But Data Science is the only one of these courses to provide systematically the combination of mathematical, statistical and computing expertise that is so much in demand at present (and for the foreseeable future!)

Will employers know about Data Science?

Certainly! The demand for data scientists is currently insatiable in just about every area of industry, commerce, finance, science, government, etc. Graduates of Warwick's Data Science degree course will be specialists, trained to an exceptionally high level in both Computer Science and Statistics, a combination of knowledge and skills that is both massively in demand and in very short supply.

Will BSc Data Science be recognised by leading graduate schools?

Yes. The core elements, Computer Science and Statistics, are two of Warwick's strengths and are recognised as such worldwide. Their combination is reflected increasingly in MSc and PhD programmes at leading universities. This results in a very wide array of possibilities for further study.

Is it possible to take an intercalated year?

Yes. Many students have enjoyed this option. If you opt for an intercalated year it takes place after your second year, so when you come back you will be in your final year at Warwick. The benefits of spending an intercalated year in industry include the opportunity to gather in-depth experience which helps in making decisions about later career choices and provides the opportunity to build up contacts and open doors for finding a job after graduation. The Careers Office offers support in planning such a year. Spending a year at an overseas university provides a unique opportunity to get to know a different education system and to widen your horizons by living in a different culture and acquiring a foreign language. ERASMUS, a European Union educational scheme, supports Warwick students to participate in such a program; for more information see here.

Is this a single honours course, or joint honours?

Data Science at Warwick is a coherent, single honours degree programme, organised jointly by the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Statistics.

Is there a 4-year integrated masters version of Data Science?

No. This is a 3-year BSc Honours degree course (with the aditional possibility of an intercalated year, see below). BSc Data Science provides an excellent foundation for many one-year Masters courses, though (for example, in Business Analytics, to name just one such possibility).

Where can I find lists of modules I would be able to take in the course?

In Section 8 of the course guide (handbook) available, for example, at the page about our Undergrad degrees in a solid blue box on the right hand side under "Mainly for current students".

Application and admissions:

Do I need A-level Computing?

No. We do not require or assume any previous formal training in computing. Clearly essential, though, is a strong interest in learning about computer science (including programming, data structures, etc.) at university level.

I am wondering how best to present my UCAS Personal Statement, because some/most of the other courses I'm considering are straight Maths or straight Computer Science. What advice can you give?

Don't worry! We realise that if you apply for Data Science at Warwick then your other applications will most likely be for courses elsewhere with different aims. If your personal statement emphasises mainly or exclusively Maths or Computer Science, for example, that's fine. When we read your personal statement we look mainly for evidence of mathematical interest and a strong commitment to study, as well as broader interests.

I am interested in all of Data Science, Mathematics and Statistics and MORSE. Should I apply for more than one of these?

No. Admission criteria are similar for these three courses, and it is possible to change your registration at any time up to arrival at Warwick. If you receive an offer, this could be a suitable topic for discussion at one of our offer-holder visit days.

What kind of conditional offer can I expect?

We aim to make conditional offers that can be met in a variety of ways, but all with clearly demonstrated ability in Mathematics as a core element. The precise offer made will depend on the qualifications being taken by each applicant. Information about typical current offers

Does it matter whether I apply before or after October 15th?

Not to us: we treat each application on its merits. Date of application is not one of our criteria. Applying very late in the UCAS season, though — close to the January deadline — is likely to be stressful for you!

Why should I do a STEP or an AEA paper?

Students planning on entering any of our degrees are strongly encouraged to take a STEP paper or an AEA paper, for reasons quite separate from our conditional offers. Mathematics at university is more complex and rigorous than mathematics in most schools. Any time that you spend preparing for such papers will help you with this transition. At the same time, after having practiced these harder questions, you should feel even more confident in answering standard A-level questions, thereby boosting your A-level performance. Last but not least, if you do very well on one or more of the STEP papers you may receive a Warwick Statistics Undergraduate Entrance Prize.

What is a STEP and how can I prepare for it?

STEP, or Sixth Term Examination Papers, are usually required for admission to the University of Cambridge and set by Cambridge Assessment. There are 3 papers: STEP I, STEP II and STEP III. STEP I is regarded as easier than STEP II, and STEP III requires knowledge of the Further Mathematics syllabus. More information about the papers and material helpful in preparing for it can be found here. The tab "Test Preparation" at the link above provides past papers with answers, and also downloadable booklets of past questions with detailed answers. It also has links to other web resources, an important one being the "Onward and Upward" section of the Ask NRICH "Ask a Mathematician" forum where questions on STEP problems can be submitted. If your school is unable to help you to enter for STEP, or if you are outside the UK, here is where you can find an examination centre for STEP.

What is an AEA paper and how can I prepare for it?

The Advanced Extension Award in Mathematics is a 3-hour examination paper on the pure mathematics syllabus of the single A level in Mathematics. It contains harder questions than those in the A level mathematics examination. The AEA paper in Mathematics is set by the Edexcel examination board on behalf of all the A-level examination boards. It should be available in all examination centres. Further details about the examination and a specimen paper can be found at http://www.edexcel.com/quals/gce/aea/9801. To help students prepare for the AEA in Mathematics, Warwick Statistics has prepared some extended solutions to past AEA papers.

Will I be interviewed?

No. If you are offered a place you will be invited to take part in one of our offer-holder visit days. (Most likely to take place in March).

After getting an offer:

(or, perhaps, before you even apply!)

Can you recommend some preparatory reading?

Many new students find that the mathematical parts of our degrees are surprisingly different from the sort of maths they have done previously at school. Reading through this book will help you make the transition to university level mathematics by gently (and humorously) introducing you to rigour and abstraction:

For an overview of data science and some major applications: