STATS 779 : Professional Skills for Statisticians


2024 Semester One (1243) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Statistical software, data management, data integrity, data transfer, file processing, symbolic manipulation, document design and presentation, oral presentation, professional ethics.

Course Overview

STATS 779 aims to introduce software tools which are useful in applied statistics and statistical research. Many of these tools use a command line approach rather than a graphical user interface. The emphasis is on software which enhances productivity and improves the quality of statistical work. The skills are commonly used in the workplace, but also will be useful for producing academic work such as a dissertation or thesis.  While there are no explicit prerequisites, the course is designed for students with basic knowledge of statistics and the R programming language. This can be acquired through many routes; successful completion of STATS 20x would be one option.  Students without this knowledge prior to the course will need to attain it through extra study. 

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: 15 points from ENGSCI 314, STATS 201, 208, 707

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 3: Knowledge and Practice
Capability 4: Critical Thinking
Capability 5: Solution Seeking
Capability 6: Communication
Capability 8: Ethics and Professionalism
Graduate Profile: Master of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Produce graphical displays that account for what humans can perceive most accurately. (Capability 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  2. Communicate statistical concepts in non-technical language, both verbally and in writing. (Capability 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  3. Produce code so that results can be easily reproduced by another party, and can easily be re-run in case of changes in the data. (Capability 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8)
  4. Summarise unstructured data via processing using regular expressions. (Capability 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  5. Identify examples of unethical conduct. (Capability 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8)
  6. Demonstrate an understanding of relational databases and their usage. (Capability 3, 4, 5 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Practical 30% Individual Coursework
Test 1 35% Individual Test
Test 2 35% Individual Test
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6
Test 1
Test 2
The average on tests must be 50%, as well as attaining 50% overall. 


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Key Topics

  • Writing documents and giving presentations
  • Software that can 1) make things look nice and 2) ensure your results are reproducible
  • Referencing 
  • Data curation
  • Store, retrieve, manage and manipulate data within a database management system

Special Requirements

Both tests will be in class. Dates and times TBC. 
Attendance in person will be required for on campus tests.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 150 hours over the course of the semester for each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, a typical weekly workload includes:

  • 2 hours of lectures
  • 2-hour practical, which may be split into 2 1-hour sessions
  • 2 hours of reviewing the course content
  • 6 hours of work on exercises for practicals, quizzes, and/or test preparation

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at scheduled activities including labs to receive credit for components of the course.
Lectures will be available as recordings. Other learning activities including labs will be available as recordings, but do not fully replicate the in-person experience.
The course will not include live online events.
Attendance on campus is required for the two tests.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Course Resources:

  • Documents on Canvas
  • Access to several computer programs is required: Excel, R and associated packages, RStudio, LaTeX (eg TeXLive), TexStudio
  • These are available in campus labs and installable at home

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

  • We have removed Word from the curriculum as students found this did not add value to their existing knowledge, and we concurred with this view.
  • We have removed assignments from the internal assessment.
  • Internal assessments will take the form of online quizzes which will be available for a 1-hour window at the end of each week.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed for potential plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct, using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 31/10/2023 10:54 a.m.