The course will address a shortage of big data skills in the UK

Health Data Research UK to fund Exeter Masters programme in health data science

A newly funded Masters programme at the University of Exeter will equip health professionals with the skills to use big data in the NHS.

Exeter is one of just six universities to win funding from Health Data Research UK for a new Masters-level programme in Health Data Science. The funding is designed to help address a shortage of big data skills in the UK.

Programme lead Professor Tim Frayling said: “This award means Exeter will be superbly placed to contribute to the “big data” opportunities in health research. Our new MSc course will train a new wave of scientists with strong computing skills to improve health by investigating health services, millions of genome sequences, clinical trials, and NHS medical records”

Professor Peter Diggle, Director of Training at Health Data Research UK, said: “The UK has a rich and diverse scientific talent base, thanks to the strength of the NHS academic institutions and innovative scientific and digital industries. At Health Data Research UK, we have an ambition to harness this talent and create a community of health data scientists with new skills that will dramatically change medical research and open up new, faster, smarter pathways to patient care.

“Our aim is to develop great people by identifying those with curious minds, technological appetites, and a keenness to be at the forefront of revolutionising patient care, creating new syllabuses, from school-leaver to doctoral training, to address health data science needs of the 21st Century. These will include the new Master’s-level degree programmes in health data science.
Following an open competition to UK universities and a selection process that included an independent panel of academics, health professionals and a patient representative, the following universities have been selected to lead the master’s programmes.”

As one of the successful institutions, Exeter demonstrated scientific excellence, a track record in postgraduate training, innovative approaches to further education and strong institutional commitment. They will be funded to deliver a three-year student intake between 2020 and 2023.

Professor Peter Diggle added: “We are delighted to support these six universities to develop these vital programmes, which will enable life sciences or quantitative sciences graduates to be effective members of health data research teams. The programmes will genuinely integrate statistics, informatics and health science and will be aimed at medical students and life sciences graduates who are keen to develop their quantitative skills, or at core maths, physics, statistics or computing graduates who want to move into the health science arena. This brings us one step closer to building a community to lead the health data science revolution.”

Applications will open in the Autumn and the eligibility criteria are as follows:

Students will have, or be predicted, at least a 2:1 degree in a strongly numerate subject (e.g. computer science, mathematics, physics) OR a 2:1 in a health/life sciences degree AND demonstrate good programming ability in a modern computer language. Candidates with equivalent professional experience in place of the degrees will also be considered. Students will be:

i) Graduates with a computer science, physics or maths degree, but no prior lifesciences or health experience; or

ii) Life/health science graduates with proven basic computer programming skills; or

iii) Graduates with a strongly numerate degree AND working as analysts in the NHS or other health organisations.

Date: 26 June 2019

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