Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

*Course full* This interactive online MSD Skills training course is aimed at MSD postgraduate research students and staff with minimal or no programming experience who want to perform basic data analysis in R and get familiar with programming environment.

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 (this course): 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: 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 expected to attend 2 sessions:

  • Wednesday 22 November, 09.30 - 13.00
  • Wednesday 29 November, 09:30 - 13.00

This course is aimed at those with minimal or no programming experience to perform basic data analysis in R and get familiar with the programming environment. By the end of this module, you will be able to explore your own data in R including basic statistics, plotting, and data reorganisation.

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 set up your R environment, how to handle simple biological data, and how to look for help

how to load and clean your data and perform basic statistical analysis

how to reorganise and summarise your tabular data

how to create simple graphs to explore your data



The course is structured into 2 half-day sessions as follows:

Session 1 - Setting up your R environment, reading and writing data files, looking at and filtering the data

Session 2 - Data exploration - conditionals, loops, basic graphs and basic statistics, loading and installing packages






It is highly recommended to go through the material up to and including the 'data types and structures' lesson on the R for Data Science LinkedIn course ( before the first session on 19th January. Access to this material is free through your Oxford single-sign on (SSO) account.

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 both sessions is mandatory. Once you have completed the course, you will be sent an email with a link to the overall course survey, where you can propose the topics, which you would like to be covered in a follow-up advanced module - Data analysis & visualisation in R.

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.