Statistics Science

Statistics Science

Statistics has been described as the science of making conclusions in the presence of uncertainty. There is a current shortage of well-trained statisticians, both in Australia and worldwide, meaning you’ll graduate with a wealth of career opportunities.

At Macquarie you’ll learn how to collect, analyse and interpret data to make informed decisions in all areas of business and government.

Why Study Statistics?

Statistics is a very pragmatic field, investigating real problems in the practical world. It has applications in:

  • Bioinformatics;
  • Biology (biostatistics or biometrics);
  • Climatology;
  • Computing or computer science (statistical computing is a highly sought-after skill);
  • Economics (econometrics);
  • Finance (financial statistics);
  • Psychology (psychometrics);
  • Physics (statistical physics is a modern discipline in physics);
  • The health industry (medical statistics).

Statistics has been described as the science of making conclusions in the presence of uncertainty. Despite the affinity of statistics with real situations, it has a strong mathematical foundation. Careers can be found in business, government and defence organisations and graduates are in high demand all over the world.

Studying statistics provides a wealth of career opportunities and there is a current shortage of well-trained statisticians, both in Australia and world-wide.

Applied Statistics

Most employment opportunities for statisticians require the applicant to have a postgraduate degree in statistics. The majority of students who enrol in the Master of Applied Statistics program join with the intention of becoming professional statisticians. A sizeable minority, however, are already working in other roles and find they require a deeper knowledge of statistics than they gained from their earlier training. Also, a number of students come to the course without a major in statistics but with a degree in another area. In most of these cases it is necessary to take some qualifying courses to bring the candidate’s knowledge of statistics up to a suitable level.

The emphasis of the program is on the application of contemporary statistical methods and the use of the latest computational techniques. Rapid developments in computer technology have had a major impact on the nature and extent of statistical work in both the public and private sectors. Hence developments of relevant computing skills form an integral part of the course.

Amongst the currently enrolled students, there are students from the insurance industry, the building materials industry, banking, forestry, some have come directly from the undergraduate program, and a number are working part-time to support themselves through the course. Recent overseas graduates have come from Brunei, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kenya, Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Thailand.

The programs are offered in distance mode as well as face-to-face.


Due to an increasing demand for well trained biostatisticians, a group of senior academic biostatisticians around Australia have collaborated to mount this distance education program. This group is known as the Biostatistics Collaboration of Australia (BCA), with representatives from major Australian universities with medical statistics expertise, pharmaceutical companies, government and non-government organisations, all as major employers with a valued stake in the future of biostatistics.

The courses are designed to be studied part-time and all units are delivered by distance learning methods.

The program has been designed to provide advanced biostatistical training for a diverse range of students. It is primarily aimed at those wishing to become highly trained professional biostatisticians. Candidates should possess an aptitude for advanced mathematics, and a desire to learn biostatistics.

The Master of Biostatistics is accredited by the Statistical Society of Australia.

Careers in Statistics

Students with a statistical background are highly sought after. Students with Majors in Statistics or the Decision Sciences, or Masters degrees, are especially needed, and job vacancies often not filled. A recent article on, a career guidance website, reports that jobs in Mathematics and Statistics are the third and fourth best jobs of 2015.

Statistics is used in a wide range of jobs, e.g. Business Analyst, Information Management, Data Mining, Market Analyst, Medical & Health Science, Sport and Gambling, Environment, Legal Studies, Business Management, Quality Control, Banking and Finance, Election Forecasting, Strategic Planner to name a few. Examples of employers are: NRMA, QBE and other insurance companies, large banks, TAB, Telstra, Sydney Water, Energy Australia, AC Nielsen and other marketing research companies, large hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, government departments.

Statistics provides the tools which are essential in all areas of scientific research. A person with qualifications in statistics has opportunities in many areas. Read the Key Findings and Recommendations of the National Strategic Review of Mathematical Sciences Research in Australia: December, 2006.

Mathematics and Statistics: Critical Skills for Australia’s Future
“The future of Mathematical Sciences in Australia is in jeopardy …”
Short versionFull Version

The Australian Government Australian Careers website quotes career prospects for statisticians as very good. Employment in statistics (6900 in February 2006) rose strongly in the past five years, and rose very strongly in the long-term (ten years).

Visit the Macquarie University Career Development Office for access to more information on statistics from this site and others that provide industry career profiles. Also on the site is useful career planning and job application information, resume advice, interview strategies, information on assessment centres and psychometric/aptitude tests, and schedules of workshops provided by the university and large employers.

Of great importance to penultimate and final year students is the graduate recruitment section which outlines graduate recruitment programs, the graduate recruitment process, what employers seek and how to market yourself.

Contact the Career Development Office staff for more information or advice.

Further Information



Professional Experience

Take your studies overseas with Macquarie University's unique PACE program where you can gain important industry knowledge and experience working with international communities and partners.

Through PACE, statistics students travelled to India to work with NGO Restless Development on their action beyond borders Indo-Nepal initiative. With a goal to develop new processes in consulations and to initiate youth-led research, the team team of students used their theortectical statistic knowledge of quantitative and qualitative tools to draw outcomes from discussions and group-activities. The data collected included the knowledge, attitude and practices around different gender issues, which will help to generate evidence on cross-border issues among young people contributing towards social research fraternity.

“My PACE activity in India was a life-changing experience for me. It taught me to change my perspective about a lot of things, and to really value the opportunities that I have been given. Being in India made me challenge myself in ways that I never would have otherwise. I learnt that social inclusion and ethics are fundamentally important when internationally communicating. I have learnt skills that I most certainly will use for the rest of my life.”– PACE alumna, Jessica Sachse

PACE activities not only prepare you for your future career, they provide experiences that can make a difference in the world. Learn more about the opportunities available through PACE.

Student Experience

The Department of Statistics at Macquarie University has produced alumni who have succeeded in industry and research, both overseas and within Australia. Some comments are provided below:

From the Master of Applied Statistics Program

Huiquan Bi, a Senior Research Scientist in the forest industry, conducts scientific research in forest ecology, silviculture, stand dynamics, forest mensuration, growth and yield modelling.

“The course broadened my statistical horizon and so I have become better equipped to deal with a wide range of statistical problems in my research.”

Seong Woh Choo, Head of Research, NRMA Insurance Limited

“I regard the program highly, it prepares a person for work in industry. A large component of the program consists of practical applications, such as data management, which really make it stand out. Candidates who come in with a quest for knowledge and with a sense of curiosity about the subject matter will particularly benefit. I highly recommend the program.”

Bettina Pon, a Data Warehouse Analyst/Developer with a large telecommunications company, analyses information from the billing system, develops reporting software applications and code for building the extraction transformation loading (ETL) of the Data Warehouse.

“The program consisted of courses in information management, multivariate analysis and statistical graphics which have given me the statistical tools required as an analyst in the telecommunications industry. A good basic foundation in the practical use of statistical software packages in all subjects is given to students.”

Mark McClatchey, Head of Quantitative Services, HSBC James Capel Australia Limited

“I felt that many courses in financial analysis lacked an adequate statistical base. The MAppStats solved this problem by providing a strong understanding of statistical theory and illustrated some important issues in practical applications. There were outstanding courses in statistical theory, time series and multivariate analysis which provided me with some powerful tools that are required as a quantitative analysis in the Australian stock market.”

Michael Thompson has provided statistical consulting to the Government, the private sector and other organisations by offering advice on data analysis, sampling, questionnaire design and survey development.

“The course gave me a much better ability to be able to actually apply statistics to practical situations. This has opened up many more opportunities to do interesting work than otherwise would be available. There are many people who recognise the graduates of this course for their practical skills. There is a lack of people with such expertise in the economy and it is important that we continue to train more people in these important skills.”

Nora Bodkin, the Information Management Specialist at the NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages, is responsible for developing organisational performance measures as part of a management reporting system.

“The Master of Applied Statistics improves employment opportunities by providing a good balance of theoretical with practical learning. The information management component is particularly useful in the work that I do.”

Peter Mackay, in his analytical roles at several major financial institutions, has had to assist internal customers to work through a range of solutions to business/marketing problems using data modelling, analytics and software to deploy the solution.

“It is one of the few courses offered in the evening, making it possible for working students to attend. It is applied and practical in nature, which is suitable for a marketplace seeking statistical expertise with a theoretical understanding but an emphasis on the application of techniques.”

Nurmuliani, Lecturer in Agricultural Economics, University of Mataram, Lombok, Indonesia

“I found the course very practical with immediate applications to my work in Lombok, Indonesia. As a lecturer of agricultural economics I am now able to help other teachers with their analysis of field data by providing the models, using the statistical theory underlying the analytical work and by applying the appropriate information management techniques. A variety of statistical software packages is presented and students with some competency in the use of computers will find the program very stimulating.”

An Honours Graduate

Chris Howden completed an honours degree in statistics at Macquarie University. As well as having being employed as tutor for Macquarie University statistics department, Chris works as a project based statistician.

“The only non-biological organisation I’ve worked for is the Bureau of Crime Statistics.

The biological organisations I’ve worked for include:
Biotrack lab, Macquarie University. I give statistical advice to postgraduate students, as well as setting up sampling designs and doing the analyses. I also develop project specific analyses. The most recent project I’ve been involved in was assessing the biological width of riparian (river) zones in the Pilliga forest in northwest NSW. …The problem is that in the Pilliga all the vegetation looks the same, so we sampled invertebrates along transects aligned perpendicular to the rivers. I then looked for differences in the invertebrate assemblages to show where the riparian zone existed.

I am also working for the Department of Land and Water Conservation. I have been hired to provide statistical support on a project conceptually similar to the one being conducted in the Snowy mountains which aims to get the Snowy River running again. However, my project involves every other major river in NSW. …the purpose being to identify the amount of environmental flow required to maintain a rivers’ natural biodiversity.

I have also been involved with a number of projects which have investigated how species evolve. Basically this was done by measuring body characteristics and using factor analysis to group specimens. These groupings were then compared to the specimens geographic distribution and molecular genetics.

And lastly I have been doing genetic linkage analyses on rare diseases with Dr. Jenny Donald of Macquarie uni and a major Sydney hospital.

And that’s about it. Except of course the fantastic time I had at Macquarie Uni working as a tutor.”

Scholarships and Prizes


A number of general Macquarie University scholarships are available. Unit specific scholarships are also available to students enrolled in the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

TressCox Lawyers Scholarship in Law

This scholarship is available to full-time students enrolled in the BA LLB, BA-Psy LLB, BSc-Psy LLB, BAppFin LLB, BBA LLB, BCom LLB, BCom-Accg LLG, BCom-ActStud LLB, BCom-Mktg LLB, BEc LLB, BMedia LLB, BsocSc LLB, or BSc LLB, BEnvMgt LLB, BEnvSc LLB degree programs. The scholarship will be awarded on the basis of academic merit, financial need and the personal circumstances of the applicant. Candidates for the scholarship must be permanent residents of Australia. The scholarship is valued at $2,000 and will normally be tenable for one year only. Application forms are available from the Executive Officer, Faculty of Law; Tel: 02 9850 7682.

The Alf and Pearl Pollard Memorial Prize

Awarded to the most outstanding student in the fourth year of undergraduate study at the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

The Don McNeil Prize for Introductory Statistics

Open to all students proceeding to the degree of Bachelor. Awarded for proficiency in the unit STAT170 Introductory Statistics.

The Ho Kam-chiu Statistics Prize for overall proficiency in 300 level statistics

Open to all students proceeding to the degree of Bachelor (other than candidates for an honours degree). Awarded for overall proficiency at 300-level statistics to a student who meets the requirements of a degree with a major in Statistics.

The Ho Kam-chiu Statistics Prize for overall proficiency in 200 level statistics

Open to all students proceeding to the degree of Bachelor (other than candidates for an honours degree). Awarded for overall proficiency at 200-level statistics who has taken at least 9 credit points in 200-level Statistics units in the previous two years of study.

The Michael Bullock Memorial Prize for Operations Research

Open to all students proceeding to the degree of Bachelor. Awarded for proficiency at 300-level in the area of operations research.

The Michael Bullock Memorial Prize for Statistical Computing

Open to all students proceeding to the degree of Bachelor. Awarded for proficiency at 300-level in the area of statistical computing.


The Julian Leslie Prize

Is awarded for overall excellence in 800-level Statistics or Macquarie Registered BCA units.

Julian Leslie died on 15th October, 2010, after a long illness, and while still a member of staff. He was a dear friend and colleague to all of us.

Julian is largely responsible for many of the units and courses we offer.

He was a brilliant lecturer and administrator. Julian was appointed as a Senior Lecturer in 1991, after many years at Birkbeck College, University of London, and was appointed Associate Professor in 2003.

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