Statistics is a rapidly advancing science. It is a very broad subject with many branches. These range from statistical theory to its application in biology, medicine, the social sciences, engineering, physics and economics. In fact there are few disciplines that do not use statistics in some form.
Some projects involving statisticians include:
- measuring the rate that cystic fibrosis develops in lung tissue
- describing the spatial distribution of wood fibre lengths in trees
- monitoring endangered animals to detect critical rates of decline
- measuring the impact of government policy on education
- estimating the working life of mechanical equipment before it requires repair
- measuring the extent to which participation in group-therapy anger-management sessions reduces the chance of re-offending.
All students benefit from taking an introductory course in Statistics because it is used in so many subjects, including Engineering, Physics, Computer Science, Biological Sciences and Management.
Statistics can be used to answer some very important scientific and commercial questions. The challenge in statistics is to use appropriate logic, to apply the correct analysis procedure and to interpret the results accurately.
Here at UC there is a strong interest and expertise in statistical application in ecology, forestry, medicine, industrial engineering and the social sciences, as well as in advances in theoretical and applied statistics and economics.
Entry into the 100-level Statistics course is open to all students with entry to the University. Logical thinking, a flair for numbers, curiosity and the ability to live with uncertainty are the qualities that combine to make a good statistician. From school, it is important to do as well as possible in Year 13, and in particular in mathematics with statistics and/or mathematics with calculus.
Students who have performed very well in Year 13 mathematics with statistics and/or mathematics with calculus may be eligible for direct entry into a 200-level Statistics course.
UC offers Science Headstart summer preparatory courses in January/February for students who have not studied mathematics or statistics for some time or who lack confidence in their skills. Further information about these courses is available from the department or from Bridging Programmes.
The introductory Statistics course STAT 101 is designed to provide students with a solid background in statistics, critical thinking and in the use of computers. Students will use computers to graph and analyse data. Even if you are not majoring in Statistics, learning how to use Excel spreadsheets will be very useful for studying at UC.
Introductory Statistics is now taught in a new way at UC, with fewer classroom-style lectures and more computer-based learning through online computer tutorials. There is more emphasis on using computers to work with data.
If you are planning to major in Statistics, it is recommended you take STAT 101 and some 100-level Mathematics in your first year.
Five 200-level courses are offered, covering a range of topics from data analysis through to inference and probability. If you are majoring in Statistics, you need three courses from STAT 210–294 and four courses from STAT 310–394; MATH 103 or MATH 199 is also required. Note that MATH 199 is a STAR course only available to secondary school students.
In exceptional situations students can get direct entry from Year 13 into the 200-level courses. If you are unsure which ones best suit your needs, contact one of the department's course advisors. It is good to include other subjects at 200-level. Popular choices include Mathematics, Management, Economics, Physics, Chemistry and Computer Science.
Statistics is an integral part of many scientific research programmes, particularly where large data sets are analysed in environmental, biological and social sciences. Statistics demands the ability to use analytical techniques, statistical methods and information technology for the manipulation and interpretation of information. There is a growing demand for statisticians and biometricians (people who conduct research and advise on experimental design, data collection and data analysis in biology).
Many of our graduates are employed by Statistics New Zealand as statisticians, research officers, analysts and statistical programmers. The Crown Research Institutes also employ a large number of statisticians and, in particular, biometricians. Other employers are banks, insurance companies, and industrial and commercial companies. Many large companies employ statisticians to deal with the increasing demand for the collection of data.
Many other jobs, while not requiring people with a degree in Statistics, need employees with a working knowledge of statistics, in particular competence in using statistical software packages.
For further career information, please go to www.canterbury.ac.nz/careers