MSc Data AnalyticsSally Buchanan

Choosing Strathclyde

Previously, I completed a BSc Actuarial Science at Heriot Watt University where I was drawn to the data analysing and statistical side of the degree. Through thorough research into degrees which would allow me to explore this side, I decided that the University of Strathclyde’s MSc Data Analytics degree would be the best fit for me to enhance my numerical and analytical skills whilst having the opportunity to work on real-life problems. The course includes classes from the Schools of Computer & Information Sciences, Mathematics & Statistics and Management Science, so it provides a broad range of education whilst also allowing the opportunity to delve deeper into an area of interest with the choice of electives. Additionally, the University of Strathclyde is one of Scotland’s leading universities and has multiple industrial links to help prepare its students for their future career. I also have friends who have studied there previously who praised their experiences at the university.

My experience of the classes

Due to Coronavirus restrictions, my time studying at Strathclyde involved both in-person and virtual learning. Regardless, I found that although each lecturer set work which was challenging, they ultimately want to see you succeed and therefore offer help and support (via groups or individually) at every opportunity.

A key requirement for analytical careers is the knowledge of programming languages, and this degree offers experience with a range of software packages. These include, but are not limited to R, Fico Express, Net Logo, SQL, Python, and Microsoft Excel. During the classes, a software would be introduced thoroughly by lecturers using practical tutorials and then tested through projects. The projects would involve analysing data by using the techniques from the classes and writing a report including the findings. I found these projects (although on a much smaller scale) to be good practice for the dissertation carried out during semester 3.

The course also included areas of groupwork within the majority of the classes. I found this to be a great opportunity to meet and network with fellow students in the degree and develop the essential teamworking skills needed for a successful career.

A key class included in this degree is Data Analytics in Practice which is based on a series of semi-or unstructured problems presented by representatives of some of the University of Strathclyde’s industrial links. My clients were from the following organisations: EY, Capita, SyncOrg, and Glasgow City Council. This class is group based and gives you the opportunity to develop leadership, teamwork and presentation skills along with utilising the analytical skills gained from other classes in a real-life context.

This degree also gives you the opportunity to gain industrial experience by completing the summer dissertation with an external organisation arranged by the University. This allows the analytical skills gained from the course to be applied and built upon in a professional context. Personally, it also allowed me to enhance my project planning and organisational skills whilst remaining flexible and adaptable when handling issues which arose. Communication is another skill which I built upon during the dissertation process where essential contact with both my academic supervisor and external client ensured the work I completed aligned with their expectations and protocols.

Preparing for a future career

The course has refined and improved my analytical and problem-solving skills whilst expanding my knowledge and confidence to analyse large datasets using a range of techniques. I believe it is the perfect stepping-stone into a data analysis role. The experience with real-life contexts and problems seen in the Data Analytics in Practice class and during the summer dissertation has prepared me and made me feel more confident about starting an analytical career.

Student life

I have found that it is essential to have a balance between studying and socialising. The University of Strathclyde has a broad range of clubs and societies to join. These can be used as a time to meet new people or try a new activity or simply to provide a slight distraction from the challenges and fast pace of a postgraduate degree.

Students at the Union 1600x600

Advice for prospective students

My advice would be to go in with an open mind and take every opportunity that arises to get involved within the course and societies. Also, buy a diary/planner to keep organised with deadlines and events. Plus it creates a good habit for your future career!