1. home
  2. courses
  3. msc data science details

MSc Data Science

Why we're great

  • We are committed to developing the mathematicians of the future.
  • The real-world application of our research expertise is fundamental to our mission.
  • We have active links with industry to broaden your employment potential and placement opportunities.

Course options2017-18

MSc Data Science Full-time

Duration: 1 year
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Mathematical Sciences
Fee (Home/EU): £6,125
Fee (International): £14,950
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
PGT fees information

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 872719
Live chat

Delicious Save this on Delicious

About the course

The techniques we use to model and manipulate data guide the political, financial and social decisions that shape our modern society and are the basis of growth of the economy and success of businesses. Technology is growing and evolving at an incredible speed, and both the rate of growth of data we generate and the devices we use to process it can only increase.

Data science is a growing and important field of study with a fast-growing number of jobs and opportunities within the private and public sector. The application of theory and methods to real-world problems and applications is at the core of data science, which aims especially to use and to exploit big data.

If you are interested in solving real-world problems, you like to develop skills to use smart devices efficiently, you want to use and to foster your understanding of mathematics, and you are interested and keen to use statistical techniques and methods to interpret data, MSc Data Science at Essex is for you. You study a balance of solid theory and practical application including:

  • Computer science
  • Programming
  • Statistics
  • Data analysis
  • Probability

Our Department of Mathematical Sciences has an international reputation in many areas including semi-group theory, optimisation, probability, applied statistics, bioinformatics and mathematical biology.

You also benefit from being taught in our School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, who are ranked Top 10 in the UK in the 2015 Academic Ranking of World Universities, with more than two-thirds of their research rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (REF 2014).

The collaborative work between our departments has resulted in well-known research in areas including artificial intelligence, data analysis, data analytics, data mining, data science, machine learning and operations research.

Our expert staff

Our Department of Mathematical Sciences is a small but influential department, so our students and staff know each other personally. You never need an appointment to see your tutors and supervisors, just knock on our office doors – we are one of the few places to have an open-door policy, and no issue is too big or small.

The academic staff in our School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering are conducting world-leading research in areas such as evolutionary computation, brain-computer interfacing, intelligent inhabited environments and financial forecasting.

Specialist staff working on data analytics include Dr Paul Scott, who researches data mining, models of memory and attention, and artificial intelligence, and Professor Maria Fasli, who researches data exploration, analysis and modelling of complex, structured and unstructured data, big data, cognitive agents, and web search assistants.

Specialist facilities

  • Unique to Essex is our renowned Maths Support Centre, which offers help to students, staff and local businesses on a range of mathematical problems. Throughout term-time, we can chat through mathematical problems either on a one-to-one or small group basis
  • We have our own computer labs for the exclusive use of students in the Department of Mathematical Sciences – in addition to your core maths modules, you gain computing knowledge of software including Matlab and Maple
  • We have six laboratories that are exclusively for computer science and electronic engineering students
  • All computers run either Windows 7 or are dual boot with Linux
  • Software includes Java, Prolog, C++, Perl, Mysql, Matlab, DB2, Microsoft Office, Visual Studio, and Project
  • You have access to CAD tools and simulators for chip design (Xilinx) and computer networks (OPNET)
  • We also have specialist facilities for research into areas including non-invasive brain-computer interfaces, intelligent environments, robotics, optoelectronics, video, RF and MW, printed circuit milling, and semiconductors
  • We host regular events and seminars throughout the year
  • Collaborate with the Essex Institute of Data Analytics and Data Science (IADS) and the ESRC Business and Local Government (BLoG) Data Research Centre of the University of Essex
  • The UK Data Archive and the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) at Essex contribute to our internationally outstanding data science environment

Your future

With a predicted shortage of data scientists, now is the time to future-proof your career. Data scientists are required in every sector, carrying out statistical analysis or mining data on social media, so our course opens the door to almost any industry, from health, to government, to publishing.

Our graduates are highly sought after by a range of employers and find employment in financial services, scientific computation, decision making support and government, risk assessment, statistics, education and other sectors.

We also offer supervision for PhD, MPhil and MSc by Dissertation. We have an international reputation in many areas such as semi-group theory, optimisation, probability, applied statistics, bioinformatics and mathematical biology, and our staff are strongly committed to research and to the promotion of graduate activities.

We additionally work with our Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Previous Next

Example structure

Most of our courses combine compulsory and optional modules, giving you freedom to pursue your own interests. All of the modules listed below provide an example of what is on offer from the current academic year. Our Programme Specification provides further details of the course structure for the current academic year.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.

Year 1

How do you apply multivariate methods? Or demographical and epidemiological methods? And how do you apply sampling methods? Study three application areas of statistics – multivariate methods, demography and epidemiology, and sampling. Understand how to apply and assess these methods in a variety of situations.

Humans can often perform a task extremely well (e.g., telling cats from dogs) but are unable to understand and describe the decision process followed. Without this explicit knowledge, we cannot write computer programs that can be used by machines to perform the same task. “Machine learning” is the study and application of methods to learn such algorithms automatically from sets of examples, just like babies can learn to tell cats from dogs simply by being shown examples of dogs and cats by their parents. Machine learning has proven particularly suited to cases such as optical character recognition, dictation software, language translators, fraud detection in financial transactions, and many others.

Can you calculate confidence intervals for parameters and prediction intervals for future observations? Represent a linear model in matrix form? Or adapt a model to fit growth curves? Learn to apply linear models to analyse data. Discuss underlying assumptions and standard approaches. Understand methods to design and analyse experiments.

We live in an era in which the amount of information available in textual form - whether of scientific or commercial interest - greatly exceeds the capability of any man to read or even skim. Text analytics is the area of artificial intelligence concerned with making such vast amounts of textual information manageable - by classifying documents as relevant or not, by extracting relevant information from document collections, and/or by summarizing the content of multiple documents. In this module we cover all three types of techniques.

The aim of this module is to provide students with an understanding of the role of artificial neural networks (ANNs) in computer science and artificial intelligence. This will allow the student to build computers and intelligent machines which are able to have an artificial brain which will allow them to learn and adapt in a human like fashion.

What do you understand about Bayes’ theorem and Bayesian statistical modelling? Or about Markov chain Monte Carlo simulation? Focus on Bayesian and computational statistics. Understand the statistical modelling and methods available. Learn to develop a Monte Carlo simulation algorithm for simple probability distributions.

In this module you will not only learn what underpins the algorithms used where variables are integer, but also apply these algorithms to solve integer and mixed integer problems with cutting-plane algorithms.

When a program ran too slowly, it used to be the case that one could simply wait a few months and improvements in the speed of processors would make it run quickly enough. Sadly, that is no longer the case and programmers must take a different approach -- and that leads us into the realm of high-performance computing. In this module, the jargon of and approaches to high-performance computing will be introduced. Lectures will cover the principles and theory of the subject, giving you knowledge of things like how to calculate how many processors will be needed to perform a particular task, while the companion practical sessions give you the chance to build a compute cluster and write programs to run on it and on the module's dedicated 100-node cluster.

As humans we are adept in understanding the meaning of texts and conversations. We can also perform tasks such as summarize a set of documents to focus on key information, answer questions based on a text, and when bilingual, translate a text from one language into fluent text in another language. Natural Language Engineering (NLE) aims to create computer programs that perform language tasks with similar proficiency. This course provides a strong foundation to understand the fundamental problems in NLE and also equips students with the practical skills to build small-scale NLE systems. Students are introduced to three core ideas of NLE: a) gaining an understanding the core elements of language--- the structure and grammar of words, sentences and full documents, and how NLE problems are related to defining and learning such structures, b) identify the computational complexity that naturally exists in language tasks and the unique problems that humans easily solve but are incredibly hard for computers to do, and c) gain expertise in developing intelligent computing techniques which can overcome these challenges.

How do you apply an algorithm or numerical method to a problem? What are the advantages? And the limitations? Understand the theory and application of nonlinear programming. Learn the principles of good modelling and know how to design algorithms and numerical methods. Critically assess issues regarding computational algorithms.

The aim of this module is to provide an introduction to computer programming for students with little or no previous experience. The Python language is used in the Linux environment, and students are given a comprehensive introduction to both during the module. The emphasis is on developing the practical skills necessary to write effective programs, with examples taken principally from the realm of data processing and analysis. You will learn how to manipulate and analyse data, graph them and fit models to them. Teaching takes place in workshop-style sessions in a software laboratory, so you can try things out as soon as you learn about them.

Looking to build your research capabilities? This module will equip you with the principal research tools for your postgraduate course in Mathematical Sciences, including practice in the mathematical word-processing language LaTeX.

This module will enable you to expand your knowledge on multiple statistical methods. You will learn the concepts of decision theory and how to apply them, have the chance to explore “Monte Carlo” simulation, and develop an understanding of Bayesian inference, and the basic concepts of a generalised linear model.

Ever considered becoming an Actuary? This module covers the required material for the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries CT4 and CT6 syllabus. It explores the stochastic process and principles of actuarial modelling alongside time series models and analysis.


  • Core components can be combined with optional modules, to enable you to gain either in-depth specialisation or a breadth of understanding
  • Learn to use LATEX to produce a document as close as possible to what professional mathematicians produce in terms of organisation, layout and type-setting
  • Our postgraduates are encouraged to attend conferences and seminars on a Thursday afternoon


  • Courses are assessed on the results of your written examinations, together with continual assessments of your practical work and coursework


  • You will be provided with a list of dissertation titles or topics proposed by staff and it may be possible to propose a project of your own
  • Most dissertations are between 10,000 and 30,000 words in length. However, these are guidelines, not mandatory word counts
  • Close supervision by academic staff

Previous Next


UK entry requirements

A degree with an overall high 2:2.

International and EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Email for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the undergraduate qualification you have already completed or are currently taking.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.0 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Previous Next


You can apply for our postgraduate courses online. You’ll need to provide us with your academic qualifications, as well as supporting documents such as transcripts, English language qualifications and certificates. You can find a list of necessary documents online, but please note we won’t be able to process your application until we have everything we need.

There is no application deadline but we recommend that you apply before 1 July for our taught courses starting in October. We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

Visit us

Open days

We hold postgraduate events in February/March and November, and open days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.


Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

Previous Next

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its course finder is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep prospective students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.