|Ray Chambers (UK)||R.Chambers@soton.ac.uk|
|James Brown (UK)||firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Chris Skinner (UK)||email@example.com|
|The Masters in Official Statistics (MOffStat)
is a modular MSc programme that has been developed jointly by the University
of Southampton with the UK Government Statistical Service (GSS) to cover
the core skills and knowledge needed by professional government statisticians.
The programme is designed to provide students with the specialist skills
and knowledge which are central to the conduct of professional statistical
work within a government context, and has a primary target audience that
consists of those currently employed in the UK Government Statistical Service
or equivalent organisations overseas.
The modular structure of the programme is designed to enable students to tailor their individual scheme of study to fit in with their professional commitments and is aimed at enabling them to strengthen and update their professional skills and knowledge. Many of the skills taught on the programme, such as survey methods and data analysis, are also in great demand by employers outside government and it is intended that the programme provides relevant training for professional positions in a wide range of organisations conducting large-scale statistical work.
The degree comprises an instructional component and a Master's dissertation based on supervised research. The instructional component requires the completion of 16 units. Each unit is taught over one week and comprises three days full-time study including lectures, sessions for discussion with the presenters together with time for private study and, for certain units, computer-based workshops. There is the opportunity for students to continue with private study for the remainder of the week, with access to computing and library facilities as appropriate. At the end of the week a feedback session is conducted, allowing students to discuss any issues arising from the material covered during the week.
Units in sample survey methodology forms a major component of the degree and are organised into two strands. The first is the Survey Methods strand. This includes four units on a wide range of theory and practice in the operation of large official sample surveys, including methodologies for data collection, questionnaire design, question testing, data quality assessment and survey error reduction. The second is the Survey Sampling and Estimation strand. This includes units in both basic and advanced survey sample design and estimation theory, covering design-based, model-assisted and model-based approaches, as well as methods for dealing with nonresponse and measurement error as well as case studies of "real life" large scale survey design and estimation strategies employed in the GSS.
In this paper we describe the MOffStat programme in more detail, focussing in particular on the modular nature of the units and their "intensive" method of presentation. Our experience in running this programme is that there are advantages and disadvantages in the way it is currently structured. Our paper aims to provide a discussion of these issues.
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