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Introducing statistics

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Today, more than ever, statistics is part of our lives. From this key introductory module you will learn how to use basic statistical tools and quantitative methods that are useful in business, government, industry, medicine, the economy, and most academic subjects. Topics covered include: summarising data; examining relationships; randomness and sampling distributions; probability; testing hypotheses; and estimation. Using data from a range of applications, you’ll learn practical statistical techniques and fundamental principles, as well as using software and a calculator to analyse data. The skills introduced will be ideal if you plan to study more mathematics modules or if you encounter data in another subject or your daily life.

What you will study

This key introductory statistics module is designed for people who have not studied statistics before. It focuses on the application of statistics, adopting the attitude that statistics is about solving problems. The module is data driven. We collect relevant data and we analyse them to answer the problems. The methods that are covered are not specific to one field of application alone, but apply to all areas in which statistics is used.

The text contains many exercises that you should work through to help you learn and to monitor your own progress. Most exercises involve calculations that you will do by hand (or by calculator), but some you will do by computer, using the software package Minitab, which you will be taught to use and which is supplied with the module. You will be encouraged to develop skills in interpreting and communicating your results and this will be assessed in assignment questions.

Providing you have the appropriate background knowledge (see Entry Requirements) you should expect to study for about nine hours a week. Many of the topics covered in the module depend on your understanding of topics in earlier units. So, if you have not adequately understood earlier material, you may find later material difficult and time consuming.

Read the full content list here.

You will learn

Successful study of this module should begin to develop your statistical skills and enable you to analyse common forms of data so as to address practical problems.

You will learn about:

  • key ideas in statistics
  • statistical vocabulary and notation introduced in the module
  • selection and use of statistical techniques for exploring data
  • interpretation of results in the context of real life questions
  • communication of results
  • use of statistical software
  • use of relevant ICT tools for learning.

The module contains many data from real world situations based around three themes: economics, education and health.

Professional recognition

This module may help you to gain membership of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA). For further information, see the IMA website.

This module may also help you to apply for the professional award of Graduate Statistician conferred by The Royal Statistical Society (RSS).

Entry requirements

There is no formal pre-requisite study.

You can see the topics M140 covers here.

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

What's included

You'll have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific module materials
  • relevant computer software and associated guidance,/li>
  • audio and video content
  • assessment details, instructions and guidance
  • online tutorial access
  • access to student and tutor group forums.

You'll also be provided with printed module books, a module guide and a handbook.

There may an option for registered students to access materials via an Early Start Programme. This programme is tutor supported and enables you to make a start up to three months before the main presentation start.

You will need

A scientific calculator – we recommend any one that has basic statistical functions, such as mean and standard deviation, and that you know how to use it before the module starts. You will need a few household items to carry out a small experiment for one of the units of study.

Computing requirements

You'll need a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of 64-bit Windows 10 (note that Windows 7 is no longer supported) and broadband internet access.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile App will operate on all current, supported, versions of Android and iOS. It's not available on Kindle.

It's also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook, however, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you'll also require a desktop or laptop as described above.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout your module studies, you’ll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They’ll help you by:

  • Marking your assignments (TMAs) and providing detailed feedback for you to improve.
  • Guiding you to additional learning resources.
  • Providing individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills or specific module content.
  • Facilitating online discussions between your fellow students, in the dedicated module and tutor group forums.

Module tutors also run online tutorials throughout the module. Where possible, recordings of online tutorials will be made available to students. While these tutorials won’t be compulsory for you to complete the module, you’re strongly encouraged to take part. If you want to participate, you’ll likely need a headset with a microphone.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You can choose whether to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) on paper or online through the eTMA system. You may want to use the eTMA system for some of your assignments but submit on paper for others. This is entirely your choice. You must submit parts of the end-of-module assessment (EMA) online.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying M140 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Introducing statistics (M140) starts twice a year – in February and October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2021 and February 2022.

We expect it to start for the last time in October 2025.

Course work includes:

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
3 Interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

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