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Analysing data

This module explores the fundamental statistical techniques and ideas used for analysing and interpreting data, covering models for data, estimation, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing and regression. The emphasis is on the practical side, although some of the underlying theory is also included. The statistical software package Minitab is supplied with the module and use of a computer is essential: you’ll receive detailed guidance for all the computer activities. This module is ideal if you would like to develop the skills to make sense of data. It also provides the necessary foundations required for studying further modules in statistics.

What you will study

This module builds on the statistics introduced at level 1 through the OU module Introducing statistics (M140). The module will investigate a greater range of statistical techniques than those introduced at level 1, and will also provide a deeper understanding of the techniques that were introduced.

In this module you will explore the fundamental statistical techniques which can be used to analyse data to answer real, practical, questions such as ‘Does drug A work better than drug B?’ and ‘How often do major earthquakes occur?'.

The starting point for answering such questions is to model the variation in data: some of the most commonly used models for variation are considered in the first part of the module and some of their properties are investigated. The module then goes on to develop statistical techniques for using data and models of the variation to draw conclusions and answer questions of interest: the specific statistical techniques studied in the module include estimation, confidence intervals, hypothesis tests and regression.

An important skill for any statistician is the ability to communicate their statistical analysis clearly to others, both statisticians and non-statisticians. Statistical report writing is considered in one of the final units of the module.

In addition to the module texts, student learning is supported throughout by short video presentations, computer animations and online interactive practice quizzes.

Read the full content list here.

You will learn

Successful study of this module should improve your skills in analysing and interpreting data.

Professional recognition

This module may help you to gain membership of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA). For further information, see the IMA website.

This module may also help you to apply for the professional award of Graduate Statistician conferred by The Royal Statistical Society (RSS).

Entry requirements

There is no formal pre-requisite study, but you must have the required mathematical and statistical skills.

You can check you’re ready for M248 and see the topics it covers here.

Talk to an advisor if you’re not sure you’re ready.

Preparatory work

You should aim to be confident and fluent with the concepts covered in the Are you ready? quiz here, and follow the advice in the quiz.

The key topics to revise include:

  • algebraic manipulation
  • logarithmic and exponential functions
  • differentiation and integration.

Essential mathematics 1 (MST124) is ideal preparation, and Introducing statistics (M140) is also useful.

What's included

You'll have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific module materials
  • audio and video content
  • assessment details, instructions and guidance
  • online tutorial access
  • access to student and tutor group forums.

You'll be provided with printed module books, each covering one block of study, with many worked examples and exercises. You'll also receive a printed module handbook.

You will need

A scientific calculator, but not one that is designed or adapted to offer any of the following facilities: Algebraic manipulation, differentiation or integration, language translation or can communicate with other devices or the internet. It also cannot have retrievable information stored in it such as databanks, dictionaries, mathematical formulae or text.

Computing requirements

A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

A desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (a Mac is unsuitable – Minitab, the supplied statistical software package, will not run properly)

The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout your module studies, you’ll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They’ll help you by:

  • Marking your assignments (TMAs) and providing detailed feedback for you to improve.
  • Guiding you to additional learning resources.
  • Providing individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills or specific module content.
  • Facilitating online discussions between your fellow students, in the dedicated module and tutor group forums.

Module tutors also run online tutorials throughout the module. Where possible, recordings of online tutorials will be made available to students. While these tutorials won’t be compulsory for you to complete the module, you’re strongly encouraged to take part. If you want to participate, you’ll likely need a headset with a microphone.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You can choose whether to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) on paper or online through the eTMA system. You may want to use the eTMA system for some of your assignments but submit on paper for others. This is entirely your choice.

Although your scores on the TMAs will not contribute directly to your final grade, you will need to complete most of them. However, the total workload for all TMAs is less than four standard TMAs. You will be given more information when you begin the module.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying M248 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Analysing data (M248) starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2020.

We expect it to start for the last time in October 2026.

Course work includes:

6 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
Examination
No residential school

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