Practical modern statistics
The module introduces four major topics of modern applied statistics: medical statistics, time series, multivariate analysis, and Bayesian statistics. It’s ideal if you’ve already studied a general introductory statistics module and wish to broaden your knowledge of the field. The module emphasises underlying principles and practical applications rather than technical details. Use of a computer is an essential component – the module includes SPSS and WinBUGS software, which you’ll use to analyse data and develop your understanding of statistics. To study this module you should have a sound knowledge of basic mathematics as provided by the appropriate OU level 1 module, and statistical competence at the level developed by the appropriate OU level 2 study.
What you will study
The module begins with an Introduction to statistical modelling in which the statistical prerequisites are reviewed and the statistical software package SPSS is introduced. Then the four topics of the module are introduced in successive books, each with associated computer material.
Book 1 Medical statistics
The first book describes how to identify factors associated with disease, and includes topics such as cohort and case-control studies; investigating sources of bias; randomised trials; and meta-analysis.
Book 2 Time series
The next book covers methods for analysing data collected over time, and forecasting future values using exponential smoothing and ARIMA models.
Book 3 Multivariate analysis
discusses statistical methods for presenting and analysing data on several variables, with sections on principal component analysis and discrimination.
Book 4 Bayesian statistics
Book 4 introduces the Bayesian approach to statistics, in which expert knowledge can be incorporated into statistical models. This approach has become very popular in recent years, in part owing to the availability of special statistical software such as WinBUGS, which is used in this module.
The final unit takes a look back at the module as a whole.
The module is illustrated with practical examples and real data sets from a range of subject areas, including epidemiology, economics, education, genetics, and environmental science. Numerous activities and exercises, also based on real data, are used to illustrate the methods and develop statistical modelling and critical assessment skills.
You will learn
Successful study of this module should improve your skills in analysing and interpreting data, communicating statistical ideas clearly and succinctly, and in using professional software.
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).
You need no pre-requisites to study Practical modern statistics. However, we recommend that you have a good knowledge of introductory-level statistical ideas and methods and that you are familiar with the following mathematical topics:
- mathematical notation
- following short algebraic arguments
- handling the logarithmic and exponential functions
- using formulae
We recommended you also have previous introductory-level statistical knowledge; we’ll include some revision of the following topics:
- graphical and numerical data summaries
- the basic statistical distributions
- confidence intervals and significance tests
- correlations and contingency tables
Check you’re ready to study Practical modern statistics with our self-assessed quiz.
Talk to an advisor if you’re still not sure if you’re ready.
Essential mathematics 1 (MST124) is ideal preparation to reach the mathematical competence level we recommend for studying Practical modern statistics.
Introducing statistics (M140) teaches many of the statistical ideas and methods we recommend you to be familiar with before starting Practical modern statistics.
If you’re planning to study Analysing data (M248), take it before or alongside Practical modern statistics.
You can download the first unit of Practical modern statistics before you register.
Module books, DVD-ROM, website, and online forums.
You will need
A calculator with basic mathematical functions (log, exp, etc.), but not necessarily with statistical functions.
You require access to the internet at least once a week during the module to download some essential module resources and to keep up to date with module news.
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 from a hardware device e.g. DVD drive or USB stick 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 desktop or laptop computer with Windows 7 or higher.
The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.
To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones.
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.