Information about Studying Statistics

Are you interested in understanding how to model the random behaviour of the world we work and live in, whether it be the environment, the economy or society?

Then study Statistical Science at UNSW and learn how.

How to study Statistics at UNSW

Major in Statistics within the Science or Advanced Science Degree Program or choose the Advanced Statistics study plan within the Advanced Mathematics Degree Program.

Administered by the School of Mathematics and Statistics, these Mathematics and Statistics degrees are designed to provide graduates with a thorough training in modern statistical science.

The Science Degree Program is a three-year course with an opportunity for students with excellent results to enrol in the BSc Honours Program (an additional year) and obtain an Honours degree. The Advanced Mathematics and Advanced Science Degree Programs are four-year programs where the final Honours year is compulsory.

What does a Statistical Scientist do?

The process of posing questions and then seeking to answer them by collecting and analysing suitable data is an essential component of research in a remarkably diverse array of fields. This includes agriculture, medical research, industrial research, forensic science, market research, environmental science and quality assurance. This mode of inquiry also features prominently in the decision-making processes of both commerce and government. The role of the Statistician is to determine, for a given question, the type of data that is needed, the way it should be collected and how it should be analysed in order to best answer that question.

The data may result from a planned experiment designed to investigate certain specific things. This sort of data, experimental data, is common in such areas as agricultural and biomedical research. The concern of the Statistician is not just the analysis of the data from someone else's experiment, but is also about designing the experiment in the first place, to ensure that resources are used efficiently and that the questions being asked can be answered by the experiment.

Other types of data arise from observational studies: investigators go out and see what is actually there. Censuses of the population, hospital data bases, Gallup polls, traffic data, consumer data bases, market and media research are samples of these. Survey and questionnaire design are important issues in many of these examples. Yet another area of recent interest is the use of statistical science in financial market analysis.

You might also like to look at the Statistics section.

What kind of jobs can I obtain when I graduate?

Statisticians are employed as biometricians (statistical scientists specialising in biology related applications) in government agricultural departments, and as consultants in a number of government, quasi-government and private research firms. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Mathematics and Information Science Division employs a number of statisticians. The research and development units of some larger corporations, larger hospitals and health departments employ statistical consultants. The Australian Bureau of Statistics employs many statisticians in the area of civil statistics, and various government departments in finance and industrial relations areas have statisticians working with economic data. There are opportunities for statisticians to work in quality improvement initiatives within industrial and commercial organisations. Statistical graduates also work in commercial firms in analysing data for management. Market and media research organisations and financial institutions employ statisticians in specialist roles. Please see Careers for more information.

What will I study?

In first year you will study the core mathematical topics that any student at UNSW needs if their degree involves mathematics. You may choose your elective courses from several other Schools so that you can follow or cultivate other interests.

The Major in Statistics has been designed to ensure that graduates are well trained in three key areas: probability and stochastic processes, statistical inference and modelling, and modern statistical computing methods. Third year electives allow students to further develop their statistical capabilities according to their own interests. Computing has become firmly entrenched in modern Statistics and our courses take full advantage of our excellent computing facilities. This will only enhance the portfolio of skills that you bring to your career.

To find out the formal requirements (in terms of courses that you have to study), see Mathematics and Statistics Majors in Science for the Statistics Major in the Science degree program and Mathematics and Statistics Plans in Advanced Mathematics and Advanced Science for the Statistics study plans in the Advanced Mathematics and Advanced Science programs.

For more details of individual courses, see Mathematics and Statistics courses.

Statistics can be studied at the Ordinary level or at the Higher level depending on your interests and abilities. Study at the Higher level is generally required if you are enrolled in the Advanced Mathematics or Advanced Science Programs.

In the final year of the Advanced Mathematics of Advanced Science programs, or if you do the Honours Science program (an extra year), you will do some course work but will also spend time writing a thesis. The aim of the thesis is for you to become involved in an active area of research of your choice. You could even discover something new, which is not as uncommon as you might think!

What are the entry and continuation requirements?

You must meet the appropriate ATAR cut-off. Please see the UAC website where ATAR cut-offs are listed for each program.

  • The Statistics study plan within the Advanced Mathematics Degree is listed under UAC code 429300 (BSc (Adv Maths) (Hons)).
  • The Mathematics major within the Advanced Science Degree is listed under UAC code 429350 (B Adv Science (Hons)).
  • The Statistics major within the Science Degree is listed under UAC code 429000 (BSc - Science).

In addition, you will need to have a certain level of prior knowledge of Mathematics. To find out the level of knowledge required for first year Mathematics courses, see Assumed Knowledge.

To remain within the Advanced Mathematics Program, you are required to maintain an average of 70 in each year.

Which course should I choose?

It is harder to be accepted into the Advanced Science Program, but this is highly recommended where possible. Why not achieve your highest potential while at university? It may be possible to transfer to the Science Program further into your studies. On the other hand, transfering from the Science Program to the Advanced Science Program requires you to re-apply for admission.

How do I get further information about studying statistics?

School of Mathematics and Statistics
phone: (02) 9385 7111
fax: (02) 9385 7123
email: ug.MathsStats followed by @unsw.edu.au