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Students studying data science

BSc (Honours) Data Science

Data plays an important role in almost all private and public sector employment. The need to understand how to use data to inform decision making in many occupations has never been more important. This qualification equips you with the key skills to explore and analyse complex data sets, and to solve practical problems using applied mathematics, statistics and computing. You’ll gain a good grounding in mathematical and statistical methods, which provide a foundation for data analysis; together with the essential computing skills needed to use them to solve practical problems, including elements of machine learning and artificial intelligence. You’ll also gain experience of using statistical software packages.

Key features of the course

  • Develops familiarity with mathematical, statistical and computational data modelling techniques.
  • Builds expertise in a range of appropriate software, including the widely used Python and R languages.
  • Provides experience communicating and critically commenting on the results of data analysis.
  • Increases employability prospects in a wide range of sectors, including finance, government, health, education, the voluntary sector, business and commerce.

Course Summary

+Shortlist Course

Degree

Degree

  • Also known as an undergraduate or bachelors degree.
  • Internationally respected, universally understood.
  • An essential requirement for many high-level jobs.
  • Gain a thorough understanding of your subject – and the tools to investigate, think critically, form reasoned arguments, solve problems and communicate effectively in new contexts.
  • Progress to higher level study, such as a postgraduate diploma or masters degree.
Course code
R38
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
360
How long it takes
Part time – 6 years
Full time – 3 years
Time limit – 16 years
Study method
Distance learning

Course details

This degree has three stages, each comprising 120 credits.

  • Stage 1 has one 30-credit mathematics, one 30-credit statistics and two 30-credit computing & IT modules.
  • Next, in Stage 2, you’ll study one 30-credit applied mathematics module, two 30-credit statistics modules and one 30-credit computing & IT module.
  • Finally, in Stage 3, you’ll study one 30-credit statistics module and one 30-credit computing & IT module, and choose two more 30-credit modules from a selection of computing & IT, statistics and applied mathematics modules.

Prepare for OU study with an Access module

We offer two starting points depending on how confident you are or how long it’s been since you last studied. Choose to dive straight in with an OU level 1 module, or if you’d prefer some extra preparation, you can get started with an optional Access module. See Entry requirements for more details.

Stage 1 (120 credits)

You’ll start by studying a range of fundamental topics in mathematics, statistics and computing.

Stage 2 (120 credits)

You’ll deepen your understanding of statistics, learn about a variety of mathematical methods, and become a computational thinker.

Stage 3 (120 credits)

You’ll deepen your understanding of building both statistical and computational models, and choose from a range of other subject areas.
ModulesCredits
You'll study both of the following:
Applied statistical modelling (M348) – planned for October 202230
Machine learning and artificial intelligence (TM358) – planned for October 202130
You'll choose two from:
Applications of probability (M343)30
Data management and analysis (TM351)30
Graphs, networks and design (MT365)30
Interaction design and the user experience (TM356)30
Mathematical statistics (M347)30
Optimization (M373)30
1Full-time study of Stage 3 will not be available until October 2022.

We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 17 March 2020.


Accessibility

We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The BSc (Honours) Data Science uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:

  • studying a mixture of printed and online material – online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
  • using mathematical and scientific expressions, notations and associated techniques
  • using and/or producing diagrams and/or screenshots
  • undertaking practical work
  • using specialist software, including tools for programming languages
  • finding external/third-party material online.

For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit Disability support to find more about what we offer.


Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:
  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills

The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; elearning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.

Read the detailed learning outcomes here

Credit transfer

If you’ve already completed some study at another university, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – reducing the number of modules you need to study.

You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. Just tell us what you studied, where and when, and we’ll compare this against the learning outcomes for your chosen course.

For more details and an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.


Classification of your degree

On successfully completing this undergraduate course, you'll be awarded the BSc (Honours) Data Science degree. The class of degree (first, upper second, lower second or third-class honours) depends on your grades at Stages 2 and 3.

You'll have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website. 


Compare this course

Entry requirements

There is no formal pre-requisite study, but you must have the required mathematical skills to study the compulsory module Essential mathematics 1 (MST124), including:

  • algebraic manipulation and solving equations
  • quadratics and parabolas
  • geometry and trigonometry
  • exponentials and logarithms.

You can check you’re ready for MST124 and see the topics it covers here.

If you don’t feel you have the required mathematical skills, you can study an additional module, Discovering mathematics (MU123), to give you the knowledge and skills you need. Contact us to find out more.

Ideally, you’ll also have some basic knowledge of computing.

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

How much time do I need?

This depends on your level of prior knowledge of mathematics and, in general, it is recommend that you build up your pace of study slowly to ensure you gain a good understanding of the more basic topics. How many credits you can complete in a year will depend on your study situation, and this qualification is designed to enable you to vary your study intensity from year to year.

  • Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year.
  • This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.

Find out if you have enough time to study with our time planner

Preparing for study with an Access module

Students who start their study with an Access module are more likely to be successful when they advance to an OU level 1 module. They’re specially designed to give you a gentle introduction to OU study, boost confidence in your study skills, and help you gain a broad overview of your chosen subject area.

You’ll also benefit from:

  • feedback from your tutor through regular one-to-one phone tutorials
  • support from a dedicated team throughout your study
  • detailed written feedback on your work.
The Access module we’d recommend studying in preparation for this qualification is our:

Science, technology and maths Access module

What you will study

This multidisciplinary module is an ideal starting point if you have little or no previous knowledge of the sciences, technology and mathematics. It'll help develop your study skills in advance of your OU qualification, and you get to explore a number of STEM subjects including science, engineering and design, environment, mathematics, and computing and IT.

View full details of Science, technology and maths Access module

In this section:
How much will it cost?
Ways to pay for your qualification and other support

How much will it cost in England?

We believe cost shouldn’t be a barrier to achieving your potential. That’s why we work hard to keep the cost of study as low as possible and have a wide range of flexible ways to pay to help spread, or even reduce, the cost.

  • Fees are paid on a module-by-module basis – you won't have to pay for the whole of your qualification up front.
  • A qualification comprises a series of modules, each with an individual fee. Added together, they give you the total cost.
  • If, like most OU students, you study part time at a rate of 60 credits a year, you'll take six years to complete an honours degree.
  • Our current fee for 60 credits is £3,096*.
  • Our current fee for 120 credits – which is equivalent to a year's full-time study – is £6,192*.
  • At current prices, the total cost of your qualification would be £18,576*.
  • .

*The fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2021. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees.

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a computer, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

If your income is not more than £25,000 or you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit, you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after you start studying.


Skills for career development

The ability to analyse complex data sets is a much sought after skill in the modern workplace. The degree will equip you with knowledge of data analysis and modelling from statistics, applied mathematics and computer science. In addition, you’ll develop important transferable skills such as communication, time management and problem solving.

Career relevance

Data scientists are highly sought after in virtually all work places. The use of data science in social media, online commerce and government has revolutionised the digital economy, with employers across both the public and private sectors now recruiting data scientists to identify and solve complex business problems. Data scientists are at the heart of supporting strategic and operational decision making. They are needed in all areas of employment including business intelligence, management, biology, economics, education, engineering, environment studies, finance, government, logistics, medicine, meteorology, market research, sport and multinational businesses.

Exploring your options

Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice – including online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.

In the meantime, if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point (note that some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree):

  • applied mathematician
  • business analyst
  • business manager
  • chief data officer
  • computer scientist
  • data analyst
  • data architect
  • data engineer
  • data scientist
  • information manager
  • machine learning application developer
  • marketing and commerce practitioner
  • statistician

Register for this course

Start dates
Credit transfer: apply by 17/12/2020
Credit transfer: apply by 11/02/2021

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