The Department of Statistical Sciences at the University of Cape Town is committed to the development of the statistical sciences within and beyond the university. In its teaching, the department recognises that there are needs both to train professionals in the statistical sciences, and to provide quantitative and decision-making skills to students in other disciplines. In its research, the department seeks to maintain a balance between the development of theory and applications of that theory.
The Department of Statistical Sciences was established in 1965 as the Department of Mathematical Statistics under the headship of the late Professor Cas Troskie. It assumed its current name at the beginning of 1991 to reflect its broader teaching and research activities. The research within the department covers mathematical and applied statistics, operations research, biostatistics (including medical statistics, statistical ecology and statistical genetics), and financial statistics (including econometrics, portfolio management and general business statistics). The department has 22 full time academic staff from lecturer to professor level.
The department is responsible for teaching 16 undergraduate courses. We have undergraduate streams in mathematical statistics and in applied business statistics, in addition to service courses to students in the biological and health sciences, business management and marketing, and engineering. Numbers in the introductory statistics courses, taken mainly by students in the Faculties of Commerce, Science, and Engineering and the Built Environment, exceed 1400 students, well over 50% of the University's annual first-year intake. The department is involved in the Commerce Education Development Unit for disadvantaged students and provides additional teaching programmes for first-year BBusSc and BCom students identified as having potential. About 100 students take the third-year level statistics courses in the mathematical statistics stream, and about 80 take the third-year level courses in the applied statistics stream. The courses offered by the department are recognised by the Institute of Actuaries.
At postgraduate level, we offer a BSc/BCom Honours degree in Statistics and the option to do a MSc/MCom degree either by dissertation only or by coursework and half dissertation. The honours and coursework masters degrees aim to give students a strong theoretical foundation in statistics and operations research, as well as training in the application of statistics in various fields through elective modules. Both degrees have a large statistical computing component. Students receive research training through an honours project that counts 25% towards the total credits and through the masters dissertation. Project and dissertation topics are closely aligned with the research interests of the academic staff. Students who are interested in pursuing careers in research can then progress to a PhD. The number of Honours students is around 20 per year and at any one time there are 15 to 20 masters and doctoral students.
We are located in the south wing of the PD Hahn building on the beautiful upper campus of UCT at the foot of Table Mountain.