LJ Spurling

Course: Graduate Certificate in Statistics

"I started the Graduate Certificate with the intention of getting a bit more knowledge of statistics to help with little research projects at work. Little did I know that four years later, I would have finished the whole MSc course.

"The Grad Cert course has three modules that run concurrently. The first is mathematical methods that includes the calculus and linear algebra that is vital for the MSc. The probability module teaches you the theory that underpins the statistics module. In the stats module, you will see an introduction to the commonly used statistical methods and learn to apply them in the R language. Learning to use R is not immediately intuitive, but, once you are up to speed with it, a massive step up from using Excel. Overall, it is a very self-contained course with each module building nicely on the others.

"The support from tutors is great. We used an online learning portal with the ability to post questions. Answers came quickly, often the same day, and any follow-up questions addressed too. Seeing what other people asked was very useful. Often, I may not have realised I had missed some subtlety until reading these.

"Assessments come regularly for each module. The timing of each is generally staggered to avoid overloading you with work. They are a compulsory part of the course and count toward the final marks. This does encourage you to keep up with the pace – falling behind with the work load can be hard to catch up with, but the tutors all know we are working full time jobs and studying part time. They are very reasonable and accommodating if an extension is required.

"Fitting the course around work takes some planning and dedication. Everyone is different, but speaking to my course mates, the ones who managed this best all studied little but often.

"When reading this, it is worth noting that I had minimal mathematics exposure since A levels. With that in mind, the Grad Cert is a great course in its own right, but, if like me, you wish to take it further, the course prepares you well for the full MSc. In this, most of my course mates were mathematicians by background, however, given the quality of the materials, video lectures and help from tutors that is available, this was never a disadvantage."