Home » Research Review 2020-21 » Research Review: Developing a new generation of data scientists

Developing a new generation of data scientists

The CDRC is committed to developing and upskilling the UK data science workforce. This creation of data-literate individuals is responsive to the national and global need for such skills, as highlighted in the UK Government’s National Data Strategy.
The CDRC has a proven track record of successfully working across disciplines, fostering collaboration between different subject areas and faculties, as well as national and international organisations with different disciplinary focuses.  
Our training sessions highlight the diversity of our stakeholders and have included participants from the public sector (especially the NHS) and the private sector. This ensures we are also providing continuous professional development for all researchers interested in the application of data science. 

Short Courses 

The CDRC has developed training courses for Python, R, QGIS and data analysis skills.  

Between March 2020 and March 2021, the CDRC was able to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic and continue to deliver its training virtually. As a result, we saw a total of 161 participants across five training sessions, focusing on postgraduate researchers and data science interns, in order to continue our commitment to training and upskilling the next generation of data researchers.  

Online tutorials are also available, for anyone to access at any time. 

Masters Dissertation Scheme (MDS) 

The MDS has been supported by over 25 companies and the Data Analysts User Group (DUG) since it was introduced in 2012. The programme offers an exciting opportunity to connect students on Masters courses, and their university supervisors, with leading retail companies. The projects are devised by retailers and enable students to work directly with an industrial partner and link their research to important retail and ‘open data’ sources. 

The programme supports the ESRC’s aim of developing its engagement between academia and the private sector, particularly in the field of large data sets. It provides a unique and invaluable opportunity for Masters students to work on large commercial datasets which would otherwise be unobtainable or extremely costly. It also provides opportunities to conduct research on real-world problems faced by large businesses.  

Consequently, the MDS has had positive implications for graduate recruitment. Most students have immediately gone on to work in the data industry (some at their sponsor companies). In addition, at least 10 students have joined the CDRC as research students – some of whom are pursuing PhDs with the support of their original sponsors from the Masters Dissertation Scheme. 

For more information, see the presentations and slides from their 2021 Celebration Event, read the project abstracts or hear from five participants about their experiences.

MSc in Consumer Analytics and Marketing Strategy (CAMS)  

CAMS is a Masters course run in collaboration between the University of Leeds’ Business School and School of Geography. It focuses on consumer and predictive analytics and data visualisation. The programme enables students to develop the softer skills required to analyse consumer data and emerging trends in marketing using a different set of methodologies. These skills enable students to use the results of analyses to inform decisions about marketing strategy, consumer behaviour, decision science and digital and interactive marketing. 

With the aim of enriching students’ analytical and forecasting skills, and providing live data projects, CAMS collaborates with various companies as well as the Centre for Spatial Analysis and Policy, the CDRC, LIDA and the Leeds Data Science Society. 

The CAMS programme’s collaboration with the CDRC provides students with access to data to practice and apply their analytical skills in making forecasts regarding consumer decision-making, marketing strategies and consumer behaviour. 

MSc Urban Data Science and Analytics  

This Masters degree in Urban Data Science and Analytics offers students the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge of the methods and approaches of data science, and learn how to apply them in understanding cities and setting urban policy. 

The course combines technical training in the latest data science techniques – from data wrangling, to machine learning, to visualisation, and beyond – with the critical thinking needed to interrogate and understand complex urban and mobility challenges. 

Researchers at the University of Leeds are finding novel data-driven solutions to tackle challenges such as traffic congestion, social and economic equality, pollution and competition for resources. At the heart of the course is a commitment to tackling the real-world challenges facing cities. 

LIDA Data Science Internship Programme

LIDA’s Data Scientist Internship programme was launched in September 2016 and enables 10-14 interns each year to work alongside University researchers and external organisations on two six-month-long projects. 

The Internship Programme provides the opportunity for interns to: 

  • Own delivery of a data science project and get hands-on experience using real data 
  • Establish links with project partners and work to provide solutions to real-world challenges 
  • Build skills and knowledge in advanced analytics 
  • Participate in on-site and external training opportunities in statistical analysis, visualisation, research methods and computer programming 
  • Work alongside leading scholars and gain valuable work experience 

As with the CDT (below), the Internship programme also provides external partners with: 

  • Dedicated resource that can help to tackle specific, time-bound data or analytical problems 
  • An opportunity for direct knowledge exchange between their sector and academia 
  • An opportunity to begin building a professional relationship with a graduate with data science competence and expertise 
  • An opportunity to utilise existing CDRC data assets, and/or pilot targeted research into their own consumer data 

Centre for Doctoral Training – Data Analytics and Society 

The Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) offers an exciting opportunity to undertake a 4-year funded integrated PhD and MSc in Data Analytics and Society.  It is an ESRC funded Centre and provides postgraduate research and training through a partnership between the Universities of Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield. 

The Centre is focused on: 

  • Promoting the creation and analysis of new longitudinal and streamed data resources for socio-economic investigations 
  • Creating new methods (e.g. scaling up existing methods for real time big data analytics) 
  • Investigating social processes (e.g. virtualisation of retailing, data-driven decision making and social behaviours) 
  • Facilitating interventions (e.g. resource targeting, network planning, social media apps for diet, travel, lifestyle planning)