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This MSD Skills training course consists of four half-day sessions, and is suitable for all MSD postgraduate research students and postdoctoral early career researchers using and interpreting statistical data.

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 (this course): 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: 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.


COURSE AIM for intro to stats

You are required to attend 4 sessions on:
  • Tuesday 21 February, 09:30 - 12:30
  • Tuesday 28 February, 09:30 - 12:30
  • Tuesday 7 March, 09:30 - 12:30
  • Thursday 16 March, 09:30 - 12:30

This course provides a basic introduction to statistics, covering the key concepts that form the basis of computer statistical software. It assumes no prior knowledge of statistics. With the help of real data from published medical studies, and by generating your own data from pre- and in-class experiments, you will explore the core concept of the sampling distribution, which in turn leads to hypothesis testing and confidence intervals, ideas which form the basis of many statistical tests.

Obtaining a deep understanding of these “basic” concepts not only satisfies scientific curiosity and de-mystifies statistics, but more importantly is crucial to aid decision-making with regard to which techniques and tests to perform, and also in how to interpret statistical results in scientific literature and in your own research. No statistical software will be used, but a scientific calculator is required.



The course will cover: data distributions; averages; sampling distribution; standard deviation and standard error; sampling variation; statistical inference; the null hypothesis and hypothesis testing; statistical significance and confidence intervals; relative risk and odds ratios; chi-squared tests; anova tests, and power calculations, of particular importance for researchers writing grant applications.

Other topics not covered in the workshops are covered as supplementary material in the workbooks, including correlations, confounding, and an introduction to linear regression.



This course will enable you to:

  • To get a grounding in the theory and core concepts of statistics
  • How to perform some key of the statistical tests on both continuous and binary data
  • When you might need to use non-parametric tests, and how to do them
  • How to interpret the statistical results that you have produced
  • How to do sample size calculations on both continuous and binary data



The sessions are workshops not lectures, and as such are interactive, with questions welcomed, and several exercises to do in each session. There are also in-between workshop questions at the back of each workbook to practise what was covered, with solutions available on request.



A scientific calculator



It is now a requirement that you complete the three short questions in the survey you receive after attending the course. Once you have submitted the survey, you will be sent an email with a link to your attendance certificate. This is to ensure we receive the feedback we need to evaluate and improve our courses. Survey results are downloaded and stored anonymously.



Where no cost is indicated in the shopping trolley, no deposit is required. However, two or more 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.