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This interactive online MSD Skills training course is aimed at MSD postgraduate research students and staff with some programming experience in R who want to expand their skills in order to create reproducible analysis workflows and publication quality figures from biological data. In order to register to this course you are required to complete a short pre-course quiz on Canvas using your SSO login (please see How it will work section).

Which course is for me?

MSD Skills runs several courses in statistics that have similar titles to this course. Here is a short description of this course vs other available courses to help you decide if you should sign up:

Fundamentals of statistical software and analysis (FoSSA): Runs ONLINE, at your own pace. Gives a brief overview of statistical theory and how to carry out a wide variety of statistical tests in R, Stata, or SPSS. 

Introduction to Statistics: Runs IN PERSON over 4 days. Gives an in-depth understanding of fundamental statistical theory. Does not use any software. Students may want to take this course prior to signing up for FoSSA.

Intro to R for Biologists: Runs ONLINE over 2 days. Gives a more in-depth understanding to use the software R and make basic plots. Covers some basic statistical tests. You could take this course before or after taking FoSSA; FoSSA will show you how to run a wider variety of statistical tests in R.

Data analysis & visualisation in R for biologists (this course): Runs ONLINE over 3 days. This is a more advanced course covering programming, data wrangling and visualisation in R. It does not cover statistical tests but shows how statistical information can be visualised in plots.



You are required to attend 3 sessions:

  • Tuesday 20 February, 9:30 - 13:00
  • Tuesday 27 February, 09:30 - 13:00
  • Wednesday 28 February, 09:30 - 13.00

By the end of this module, you will be able to perform end-to-end analysis of your own data including statistics and advanced visualization using the third-party packages, which extend the functionality of the base R.

Please make sure you read all of the sections below relating to how the course will work, and the survey and attendance certificate policy.

By the end of this course, you will learn:

how to find and install the third-party packages relevant for your analysis

how to perform advanced data wrangling

how to create your own functions

how to create graphs and figures for publication

how to visualise more complex data and relationships within the data


The course is structured into 3 half-day sessions as follows:

Session 1 - filtering, merging, grouping, aggregating data - Introduction to common packages such as dplyr and data.table

Session 2 – visualising data and statistical information with ggplot2 and its extensions

Session 3 – advanced visualization and plots for high-dimensional data (heatmaps, PCA), interactive plots with Shiny/Plotly




In order to register to this course you are required to complete a short pre-course quiz on Canvas using your SSO login. Please click on Canvas link. This quiz is intended to assess your knowledge of basic R concepts to make sure you are at the right level to attend this course. Upon the successful completion of the quiz you will redirected to the course registration page.

For each session, you will be sent a link along with joining instructions. Each 3-hour session would consist of a mix of teaching and hands-on training, with a feedback from the tutors and Q&A at the end. You are expected to interact with the instructors and other course participants during the sessions for problem-solving and assignments. The code and worksheets for this course will become available at the first session and can be accessed anytime during and after the course.


Software requirements:

•         R (version 4.0 or higher) which you can download using this link.

•         Rstudio (Desktop free version), which you can download, using this link:

Any installation questions could be addressed to

Hardware requirements:

It is highly recommended to have an access to the microphone and ideally a second screen during the sessions.



In order to receive a certificate of attendance, participation in all three sessions is mandatory. Once you have completed the course, you will be sent an email with a link to the overall course feedback survey. When you have filled in and submitted the survey, you will be sent an email with a link to your attendance certificate. Survey results are downloaded and stored anonymously.



Where there is no cost in the shopping trolley, no deposit is required. However, more than two consecutive non-attendances or late cancellations without good reason will be logged and may mean you cannot attend any further MSD training that term. Please refer to our Terms and Conditions for further information.