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We are increasingly becoming a data-driven society with advances in technology and the accumulation of massive data in many fields. Statistics is the profession associated with making meaningful sense of data. Statistics is a rapidly advancing science with many avenues open for study and work. These range from statistical theory to its application in biology, medicine, the social sciences, engineering, physics and economics. In fact, there are few disciplines that do not use statistics in some form.

Modern mathematicians and statisticians are being asked to develop new tools and techniques to deal with problems in areas from business management to biology. New insights are also being developed in the more traditional areas of physical science and engineering. All this activity leads to new applications of mathematics and statistics, as well as new theoretical work on the structure of the mathematics and statistics involved.

Statistics can be used to answer some very important scientific, social and commercial questions. The challenge in statistics is to use appropriate logic, apply the correct methodology and interpret the results accurately.

Some projects involving statisticians include:

  • measuring the rate that cystic fibrosis develops in lung tissue
  • describing the spatial distribution of wood fibre lengths in trees
  • monitoring endangered animals to detect critical rates of decline
  • measuring the impact of government policy on education
  • estimating the working life of mechanical equipment before it requires repair
  • measuring the extent to which participation in group-therapy anger-management sessions reduces the chance of re-offending.

A large number of students benefit from taking an introductory course in Statistics because it is used in so many subjects, including Engineering, Physics, Computer Science, Biological Sciences, Psychology, Forestry, Geography, Communication Disorders and Management.

Why study Statistics at UC?

UC is ranked in the top 200 universities in the world for Statistics and Operational Research (QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2017).

Every year the School of Mathematics and Statistics welcomes visiting scholars on the Erskine Fellowship Programme. Students benefit greatly from their teaching and the alternative perspectives they offer.

The school is active in supporting and promoting undergraduate research through summer projects and honours dissertations, with some of our recent budding scholars heading to Oxford, Harvard and Yale for postgraduate work.

Here at UC we also have a thriving culture that encourages meeting up with like-minded students through clubs, including MATHSOC.

Entry into the 100-level Statistics course is open to all students with entry to the University. Logical thinking, a flair for numbers, curiosity and the ability to live with uncertainty are the qualities that combine to make a good statistician. In school, it is important to do as well as possible in Year 13, particularly in statistics and/or calculus.

Students who have performed very well in Year 13 statistics and/or calculus may be eligible for direct entry into a 200-level Statistics course.

UC offers Headstart summer preparatory courses in January/February for students who have not studied mathematics or statistics for some time or who lack confidence in their skills.


See all Statistics courses

100-level courses

The introductory Statistics course STAT101 Statistics 1 is designed to provide students with a solid background in statistics, critical thinking and in the use of computers. Students use computers to graph and analyse data. Even if you are not majoring in Statistics, learning how to use Excel spreadsheets will still be a very useful part of your education at UC. This course is taught using a novel approach, with fewer classroom-style lectures and more computer-based learning through online tutorials. There is a strong emphasis on using computers to work with data. Student feedback on this approach to learning has been very positive.

If you are planning to major in Statistics, it is recommended you take STAT101 and some 100-level Mathematics in your first year (depending on which degree you wish to obtain – see the regulations for the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Science).

200-level and beyond

Five 200-level courses are offered, covering a range of topics from data analysis through to inference and probability. If you are majoring in Statistics, you need three courses from STAT201–294 and four courses from STAT 310–394; MATH103 Mathematics 1B or MATH199 Advancing in Mathematical Sciences is also required. (Note that MATH199 is a STAR course only available to secondary school students.)

If you are unsure which courses best suit your needs, contact a Student Advisor. It is good to include other subjects at 200-level. Popular choices include MathematicsManagementEconomicsPhysicsChemistry, and Computer Science.

Further study

Higher level study is available in Arts or Science from honours to doctoral level. Study can be in Mathematics, Statistics, mathematics and statistics, computational and applied mathematical sciences, economics and mathematics, finance and mathematics, finance and statistics, mathematics and philosophy, and mathematical physics.

Career opportunities

Statistics is an integral part of many industries, management and scientific research programmes. Statistics demands the ability to use analytical techniques, statistical methods and information technology for the manipulation and interpretation of information. There is a growing demand for statisticians and biometricians (people who conduct research and advise on experimental design, data collection and data analysis in biology).

Many of our graduates are employed by Stats New Zealand as statisticians and in other organisations as research officers, analysts and statistical programmers. The Crown Research Institutes also employ a large number of statisticians, particularly biometricians. Other graduates are employed in the financial sector and by insurance companies, and industrial and commercial companies. Many large companies employ statisticians to deal with the increasing demand for the collection and interpretation of data.

Many other jobs, while not requiring people with a degree in Statistics, need employees with a working knowledge of statistics, in particular competence in using statistical software packages.

Find out more about what you can do with a degree in Statistics.

More information

School of Mathematics and Statistics

Phone +64 3 369 4141

Visit the School's website for up-to-date location details.

Postal address
College of Engineering | Te Rāngai Pūkaha
University of Canterbury | Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha
Private Bag 4800
Christchurch 8140
New Zealand

Catherine cumpstone

Catherine Cumpstone

'‘I feel the real use of my degree is the critical thinking ability that I learned...'

Michelle dalrymple

Michelle Dalrymple

'Some of my best memories of my time at UC are from my postgraduate study...'