I wrote you on 3 June 2020 outlining how the College’s plans for teaching will be adjusted due to the restrictions caused by COVID-19 during the Autumn 2020 term. I am writing to you today to provide more details about the delivery of the MSc in Statistics programme and to again emphasise that we are committed to providing the same world-leading education whatever happens.  

Although the MSc in Statistics would normally be delivered in-person on campus, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020-21, it will be delivered via multi-mode that combines both on-campus (face-to-face) and remote (online) learning activities. An important component of Imperial’s plans and of the MSc in particular is the guarantee that if you do not wish or it is not possible to join us on campus during the academic year 2020-21,  you will not be disadvantaged in your learning experience. This means that if you are unable to come to Imperial you will still be able to engage fully with your studies by participating to the on-campus activities online.  

Below I am outlining the main modifications for the MSc in Statistics for the academic year 2020-21.  

 

Institutional guarantees 

All on campus provision will be subject to the requirements of the current Public Health advice from the UK Government, College guidelines on social distancing and any additional health and safety measures. In the event that there is an escalation of the current outbreak or a new outbreak of COVID-19 during your programme then, in line with Public Health Advice from the UK Government, we may be forced to suspend on-campus activity. This may be in connection with either national or local requirements. Since we will already be delivering the taught elements of your programme remotely to some students as part of the multi-mode format, we will continue to be able to deliver these elements to all students remotely.  

The College will deliver your programme to ensure the approved learning outcomes are met and will take steps to make alternative arrangements in any extreme circumstances where this is not possible. The College is also developing community building activities to support the multi-mode experience for students.  

College-wide induction and enrolment activities will operate in a remote format at the start of the academic year and there will be no requirement to visit the campus in-person to begin your studies.  

 

Programme Induction week 

A mixed-mode induction will be delivered that will include live sessions with the myself and other MSc teaching staff, training courses and student group activities.  

The induction week will focus on introducing the programme degree and good academic practices. Training workshops on R (programming language) and Latex (type-setting environment) that you will be using throughout the course will be offered. Different College services, including library, careers, enterprise, will be introduced during the induction week. Training courses on different tools, including the virtual learning environment (Blackboard) of the College and Microsoft (MS) Teams will run, enabling you an effective participation in the degree.  

The format of these training courses will be composed of pre-recorded videos accompanied by live sessions and activities. It is our intention for students to be able to attend the live sessions in person on campus, whilst giving remote students access to participate online. Some of the live sessions might run completely remotely. All sessions will be recorded and made available to watch afterwards. If required, additional sessions for remote students will run. 

The induction week will focus on building relationships amongst the students and academics of the programme through on-campus and remote social events and meetings, amongst other events. The aim is to create strong cohort bonds from the outset.  

Further details will be provided nearer to the start of the programme. 

 

Content of the programme 

The College has reviewed the learning outcomes for the programme to ensure these can be taught and assessed in a multi-mode format. No changes to the module learning outcomes have been made as a consequence of moving to the multi-mode delivery format.  

There are some small changes to the lists of elective modules offered as part of the MSc degree: 

 

  • The two data science modules (Data Science I and Data Science II) are merged into a single module named “Data Science” 

  • A new module is introduced: Deep Learning with TensorFlow 

  • The Advanced Statistical Theory module is re-named Contemporary Statistical Theory 

  • The Advanced Simulation Methods is re-introduced  

  • The Quantitative Methods in Retail Finance, Computational Stochastic Processes and Non-Parametric Smoothing and Wavelets modules will not run  

 

Some changes to the module selection for the following specialisation streams are also introduced: 

 

  • Theory and Methods: Students need to complete at least 10 ECTS from the four elective modules each worth 5 ECTS: Advanced Statistical Theory, Advanced Simulation Methods, Multivariate Analysis and Bayesian Methods. The remaining 20-22.5 ECTS can be completed by taking any other elective module.  

  • Data Science: Students need to complete all four modules: Data Science, Machine Learning, Big Data and Deep Learning with TensorFlow. The remaining 10-12.5 ECTS can be completed by taking any other elective module.  

  • Biostatistics: Students need to complete both Biomedical Statistics and Statistical Genetics and Bioinformatics modules. The remaining 20-22.5 ECTS can be completed by taking any other elective module.  

  • Statistical Finance: Students needs to complete both Introduction to Statistical Finance and Advanced Statistical Finance modules. The remaining 20-22.5 ECTS can be completed by taking any other elective module.  

A comprehensive list of the core and elective modules of the MSc can be found on the programme webpages.

We do not plan to change the outline schedule of when modules will be taught. The four core modules of the MSc will be delivered in the Autumn term and the elective modules will be delivered in the Spring term, except the Time Series and the Algorithmic Trading and Machine Learning elective modules that will run in the Autumn term. 

 

Programme delivery 

The MSc in Statistics is usually delivered through face-to-face lectures coupled with a range of other activities, including computing sessions, on-line quizzes, office hours and discussion forums. Some of these will continue in a similar form next year, with the following changes: 

Lectures will be replaced by high-quality, pre-recorded videos that will cover the content of each module. These videos will be accompanied by Live Sessions in the form of group tutorials, problem classes and Q&A sessions that will provide an interactive environment to apply and consolidate understanding of the module’s material. The live sessions will run by the module lecturers with the help of graduate teaching assistants. If conditions allow most of the live sessions will run on campus, while some of them will be delivered remotely. Remote students will be able to participate to the live sessions online and will be able to engage with both the module lecturers and on-campus students. All sessions will be recorded and be available to watch afterwards by all students.  

Each one of the four 7.5 ECTS core modules of the Autumn term will have on average 14 hours of live sessions. The number of hours of live sessions for the 5 ECTS MSc modules ranges from 5 to 10 hours for the five weeks that each elective module runs. More applied and computational modules have fewer live sessions as they include Computing Sessions. Computing sessions will run under the guidance of the module lecturers (and/or graduate teaching assistants) who will be available to answer questions and foster further discussions. The exam number of live and computing sessions per module will be announced at the start of each module.  Modules will also be supported using office hours and discussion forums. 

Along with module specific support from lecturers, during the Autumn term peer tutorials are also offered by former MSc students (current PhD students), where advice and help on the core modules and the MSc degree in general will be offered in a friendly informal environment. These tutorials will run either on campus or remotely depending on student preferences and if conditions allow.  

Other activities of the MSc include meetings with personal tutors, specialisation stream leaders, and project supervisors. These activities will run on campus if relevant parties are available and health and safety conditions allow; otherwise they will be conducted remotely: 

  • Personal tutor meetings focus on discussing how your studies are going, module and project selection, future career aspirations and well-being. There will be a mixture of individual personal tutor meetings and meetings alongside other MSc students.  

  • Specialisation Stream Leader meetings focus on discussing stream module and project selection and future career opportunities in the specialisation area and general discussions about Statistics. There will be a number of group meetings offered throughout the academic year.  

  • Project Supervisor meetings focus on discussing the scope of your project and other related discussions. These meetings usually start after the end of the Summer term examinations and run through the summer months.  

It is important to note that in the event of a suspension of on-campus activity during the academic year all live sessions will be delivered remotely. 

In addition to your strictly academic activities, a number of social events will run over the academic year that will provide an informal environment for building relationships with fellow MSc students and academics of the Statistics Section. Moreover, you will have the opportunity to participate to a wide range of student led-activities running at the Department of Mathematics like the Women in Maths and the student Mathematical Society – MathSoc.  

To access the content of the programme remotely you will be expected to have access to a computer, reliable internet connection and be able to use Microsoft Teams. Your College IT account will provide you with free access to the Office365 suite of tools, and further information about how to use Microsoft Teams is available online. Training and support for how to use the required software will be provided during the programme induction. 

 

Programme assessment 

The MSc modules will be assessed through a combination of open book timed remote assessments, oral examinations, group assessments, courseworks and quizzes. The assessments are designed to be suitable for both remote and on-campus students. All students participating in a piece of assessment will complete it in the same way, whether they choose to come to campus or study remotely. 

The Statistics Research Project will be assessed via a thesis (90%) and an oral presentation (10%) as usual.  

Details of individual assessments will be provided in the Programme Handbook.  

 

Length of the programme 

We anticipate you will be able to complete the programme by September 2021.  

  

Additional costs 

To study remotely you will be expected to have access to a computer and to a reliable internet connection, and you will need to cover any associated costs for these. There are no other expected additional costs (beyond those previously advertised) to participate in the programme if you choose to study remotely. 

 

Access to a webcam and a headset with microphone would be beneficial for interaction in Live Sessions. Access to a graphics tablet and stylus would be beneficial for active participation in the Live Sessions and will encourage active learning with asynchronous videos by annotating lecture notes and filling in gapped lecture notes.  The latter should also be achievable with pen and papers for students with access to a printer. 

 

Professional accreditation  

The MSc in Statistics is currently accredited by the Royal Statistical Society. We are currently in discussions with the Royal Statistical Society for the accreditation of the MSc programme for the next academic year.  

 

Location 

On site in-person teaching will still be delivered at the South Kensington campus, or in accommodation within the South Kensington neighbourhood. 

 

Student Experience  

Your experience at Imperial goes beyond just your academic studies. With the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19), Imperial has been working with your Union to ensure that we are able to provide, enhance and facilitate all areas of your student experience under all eventualities.  We identified key pillars of the wider student experience:  academic experience; research culture and environment; amenities and accommodation; student community; wellbeing support; co-curricular activities and extra-curricular activities.   Information on how we will deliver these, along with information on our Library Services, considering current social distancing restrictions, as well as a full lockdown, are set out on our website.

The modifications outlined above will enable a safe delivery of the MSc during the academic year 2020-21. I want to reassure you that by joining the degree you will receive outstanding training in Statistics and enhance several transferable skills, including computational, presentation, writing and time management skills.   

I wish you all the best to you and your loved ones. If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact us at  statsmsc@imperial.ac.uk.   

  

Marina Evangelou  

Director of MSc Programme in Statistics