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Student and tutor module reviews

Mathematical statistics

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  • Points: 30
  • Code: M347
  • Level: 3

Student reviews

I am really pleased I did this module.
Seeing the mathematical underpinnings of statistical methods made them make so much more sense to me!
I also really enjoyed learning about the Bayesian approach which was new to me.
The module also benefits from an excellent set of additional resources in the "wiki" including screencasts and past paper solutions.
This is a mathematical module (as the name suggests) so expect to need to be fluent with calculus, in particular.

Course starting: October 2017

Review posted: May 2019

By far the hardest of the modules in my BSc maths/stats. The material is very intensive and whilst well written was a slog. The lack of a handbook in the exam (instead a formula sheet was given) was sorely missed compared to previous maths modules. In fact the chapter summaries combined would have made an excellent handbook and im unsure why this is not admissible. Im not a fan of the CMAs (multiple choice). As others have stated, no method marks are available in this section and so your reasoning can be 80%+ correct but, say with a minor slip up and its still worth no marks...

Course starting: October 2017

Review posted: September 2018

This was the final course I took, and as I had done mostly stats and probability courses I thought this would be a nice way to round my degree off.

This was by far the most challenging of all the courses I had done, it was also by far the most satisfying, the content is clear in it's presentation, the course staff are supremely helpful and the icmas are ideal for revision.

I liked the online nature of the course, being able to access the units anywhere was a distinct plus. The exam was not as bad as I thought, it was thoroughly doable and I had a few d'oh moments where I'd wished I paid more attention to detail in the revision.

Overall I would recommend this course to anyone who has more than a passing interest in stats, have completed M347 and M343, and would like to understand how the whole stats subject ties together.

Matthew Moseley

Course starting: February 2012

Review posted: September 2013

This is a well-written course that presents the mathematical ideas underpinning statistical theory. Each unit comes with loads of excellent examples and practice of the concepts, and the TMAs get you to consolidate the material. iCMAs also offer valuable material, although they are a little frustrating at times, since a single slip-up can lead to a poor grade in them.

The exam is fair, and very approachable if you've completed (and understood) the sample and past exam papers. However, half of the marks in the exam are given to multiple choice questions, which I'm not a fan of, as you cannot receive partial credit for your answers. A lot of emphasis is given to the likelihood (or log-likelihood) function, so make sure that you understand this, and differentiation thereof, as you go through the course.

I found it easier to print off each of the units instead of using the online versions, which was both costly and time-consuming. I would have preferred to have paid a little more for the course for text books to have been produced.

I recommend the course, but you'll have to work at it.

Neil Reynolds

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: August 2013

I took this course having done quite a lot of pure maths, but no statistics before at all. I would not recommend this approach although I did pass the course!

I was grateful to have a good understanding of calculus, without which I would certainly have struggled MUCH more. The course is certainly not an easy option but it is achievable.

I would recommend this course if, like me, you want to do a course that explains the theory behind the stats rather than learning about statistical software packages. I did find it interesting and rewarding.

The tutors were very knowledgeable and helpful, and extremely quick to respond to any pleas for help and clarification.

I found the course to be clearly written given the difficulties of many of the concepts.

Although it took me a long time to wade through each unit, I found it relatively easy to do well in the actual assignments, since they were often very similar to examples given in the text. Unfortunately, although you have to submit and pass a certain number of assignments, these do not contribute towards your final grade, which is fully based on the final exam.

I found the exam much harder than the coursework. This was partly because 50% was multiple choice (no method marks), and partly because I ran out of time in the exam whereas for the coursework I could mull things over for as long as I needed.

With hindsight, I could have done better in the exam if:

1) I had done ALL the extra questions set during the course as I went along. I left these to the end, thinking I'd do them as revision exercises, but in a week of study leave I didn't find I had time to revise everything and complete all the exercises, which was a shame as they were actually very useful.

2) I'd paid much closer attention to the past exam papers. I did waste time revising things that were unlikely to come up in the exam instead of focusing on these.

There is no course handbook and I didn't personally like the everything-online format. I did print out the majority of the course.

I was also disappointed that online tutorials were not recorded and made available afterwards, which they were for another OU course I took. I therefore missed many of the tutorials due to the time they were presented.

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: August 2013

The module is a large collection of disparate bits of maths put together as required for the different statistical methods it introduces. Such methods are those many will have met (or will meet) in other OU statistics modules. So whilst it is useful to get a better understanding of these methods it does tend to mean that the different bits of maths don't always build on each other.

The course material is well written. Whether you find the online presentation an issue will depend on you. Personally, I didn't like it but that's because I don't like staring at a computer screen for long periods. The module content is available via PDF's and a few people printed out the whole course at their own expense.

Be aware that there isn't a handbook for this course. This is felt most keenly when exam time comes around. For the exam, a formula sheet is provided on the day. The unit summaries are useful and indeed would have made a good handbook.

Half of the marks in the exam come from multiple choice questions. Different people have different views on whether this is good or bad. It does mean, though, that there is no opportunity for getting any method marks for half the exam.

It was a tough course. Many of the ideas aren't straightforward and it takes a fair amount of time to learn them securely. There is a lot of fairly complicated algebra and you will need to make sure your calculus is up to scratch. However, the assignments and exam weren't anything like as difficult as the course material.

I found much of it interesting but a little frustrating at time too.
The moderators on the forum were always very helpful.

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: August 2013

Please note

Each of the views expressed above is an individual's very particular response, largely unedited, and should be viewed with that in mind. Since modules are subject to regular updating, some of the issues identified may have already been addressed. In some instances the faculty may have provided a response to a comment. If you have a query about a particular module, please contact your Regional Centre.


Module satisfaction survey

The figures below are taken from a survey of students who sat the exam/completed the end-of-module assessment for the October 2016 presentation of M347. The survey was carried out in 2017.

68 students (a response rate of 35.8%) responded to the survey covering what they thought of 10 aspects of the module.

Please note that if the percentage of students who responded to this module survey is below 30% and/or the number of responses is below 23 it means that only a small proportion of students provided feedback and their views as shown here may not be fully representative of all students who studied the module.

See this page for the full text of questions and more information about the survey.

% Count
Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of this module 51.5 35
Overall, I am satisfied with my study experience 40.3 27
The module provided good value for money 43.3 29
I was satisfied with the support provided by my tutor/study adviser on this module 76.1 51
Overall, I was satisfied with the teaching materials provided on this module 41.8 28
The learning outcomes of the module were clearly stated 71.2 47
I would recommend this module to other students 30.3 20
The module met my expectations 40.3 27
I enjoyed studying this module 27.9 19
Overall, I was able to keep up with the workload on this module 50 34
Faculty comment: "For the previous year, the mode of delivery of the module was changed; in the corresponding satisfaction survey, this met with considerable approval. This year was the same, so it is unclear why satisfaction with the module is less good. Perhaps students' views were coloured by their less positive impressions of the exam ? although student performance was the same in both years. We advise that, before registering, students carefully check the module description so that they know what to expect, especially regarding mathematical background. We're happy that satisfaction with tutor support is very good on this module."
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