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Degree Partnerships

Research Scientist (Data Science Professional) Apprenticeship

Final award:

  • IfATE Level 7 Research Scientist Apprenticeship Certificate
  • Years one and two - Postgraduate Diploma qualification in Data Science
  • Year three – Optional MSc Data Science (Professional)
Duration 3 years
Entry point(s) September
Application deadline

18th August 2023

Campus Streatham Campus, Exeter and Online Learning

Greg Salmon / Claire Clark
Web: Enquire online
Phone: 01392726695 or 01392725909


  • Industry-focused programme designed to shape the strategic development of data science within your organisation
  • Taught by world-leading experts in their field. Course content delivers technical, analytical and professional skills with direct application to data science in business
  • Developed for aspiring tech leaders looking to bring benefit to their business by promoting organisational data science developments using new and innovative mathematical and computational techniques 
  • Benefit from an excellent technical education delivered by a Russell Group University as part of the South West Institute of Technology
  • An opportunity for apprentices to gain two formal qualifications (at no cost to themselves), while earning a wage and gaining valuable work experience

View 2024 Entry

Enquire now

Download our employer brochure

Open days and visit us

Download our programme flyer


Web: Enquire online

Phone: +44 (0)1392 72 72 72

Top 20 for Computer Science

20th in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024

Gain an award in Data Science from a Russell Group University

Learn from highly experienced academics who are leaders in the field

Partner to the Alan Turing Institute and home to the Institute of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence


Excellent technical education delivered through the South West Institute of Technology.

Entry requirements

A good honours degree in a numerate subject and sufficient competency in Maths and Python. The expected competency level for Maths and Python is indicated via self-assessment worksheets that are shared with candidates at the application stage.

Level 2 Maths and English will need to be evidenced prior to end-point assessment (EPA). Individual employers will set selection criteria for their apprentices in discussion with the University.

Candidates for this programme should have 2-3 years’ experience in a role that involves data analysis. Whilst on the programme, they will also be expected to be given the following opportunities by their employer as part of their role:

  • Work on a significant work-based Data Science project
  • Organise resources, budgets, tasks and people, and co-ordinate team activities to meet project requirements and quality processes
  • Lead on a process or project that involves a variety of internal and external stakeholders, from different levels within the organisation
  • Coach and/or mentor colleagues

Applicants must have a valid and eligible residency status to gain entry onto the apprenticeship – please see the ESFA guidance for further information.

Applicants whose first language is not English need to meet IELTS requirements of at least 7.0 overall and no less than 6.5 in any other section.

How to apply

All candidates for the programme must be in employment when the programme starts. Candidates already in an appropriate job will require their employer’s approval to undertake the programme. Once an employer agrees, candidates will then submit an application to the University.

Application links will be shared with an employer for candidates to complete. If successful, the applicant will be offered a place on the programme. Once this offer has been accepted we will send further information about how to enrol as an apprentice.


Full programme cost: £18,000

The first two years of the programme align to the Research Scientist apprenticeship and can be entirely funded through an Employers’ Apprenticeship Levy or Government Co-Investment. Successful completion of the first two years of the programme will also allow apprentices to accumulate the 120 credits required for a Postgraduate Diploma qualification. The employer fully covers the cost of the apprenticeship; apprentices do not pay for any of the eligible training costs. The apprentice will be an employee of your organisation, gaining an apprenticeship certificate and a University of Exeter award alongside working and earning a salary.

Apprentices that choose to complete the optional year 3 will undertake a 60 credit Research Project to enable them to gain enough credits to achieve the full MSc Data Science Professional qualification. The optional third year 60 credit research project is not part of the apprenticeship. There is no additional charge for the optional 60 credit Research Project. 

Employers who do not pay the Levy will be able to claim 95 per cent of the cost of the apprenticeship from the Government. Up to 100 per cent Government contribution may be available if the employer has fewer than 50 employees and:

  • Recruits an apprentice aged 16-18
  • OR an apprentice aged 19-24 who has previously been in care or who has a local authority education, health and care plan

Employers must pay their apprentices a salary at least consistent with national legislation.

Funding eligibility criteria

  • To be eligible for funding you must meet the criteria listed in the ESFA guidance. Full guidance is available here.
  • You must have a valid and eligible residency status to gain entry onto the apprenticeship – please see the ESFA guidance for further information.

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Course content

This programme has been designed to fill a critical skills gap by providing outstanding training in data science tailored to commercial and public sector contexts.

During the first two years of the programme, apprentices will accumulate 120 credits and work towards a PGDip qualification. During the third year, apprentices may undertake an optional 60 credit Research Project to achieve the full MSc qualification.

Course content covers:

  • The fundamental mathematical and computational techniques underpinning data science applications
  • Extensive coverage of machine learning and statistical modelling
  • Tools for handling large and complex datasets
  • Image and text analysis
  • Digital media
  • Social and legal context for data analytics


Approximately 20 per cent of an apprentice's contractual working time will be given over to study. The optional 60 credit Research Project sits outside of the apprenticeship period so an agreed completion date must be agreed between the apprentice and employer. Our model is designed to be flexible around the needs of apprentices and workloads.

Our blended learning format incorporates:

  • One three-day on campus teaching block each Term - Term 1: September, Term 2: January, Term 3: May*. (Although face to face attendance is recommended for the on campus teaching, apprentices are able to live stream into these sessions if they cannot attend in person)
  • A day a week distance learning in Terms 1, 2 and 3
  • Off the job programme engagement during the summer period 
  • A range of online resources to support face-to-face teaching
  • Dedicated tutorial support for optional year 3 Research project

*There is no 3 day on campus teaching block in Year 2 Term 3 as apprentices will be focusing on their Work Based Project module.

Our dedicated Degree Apprenticeship partnerships team liaise closely with employer partners throughout the programme to ensure ongoing support. Each apprentice is allocated an Academic Mentor by the university, and a Workplace Mentor by their employer (we strongly recommend that this is their Line Manager) who will meet with them regularly and support them throughout the apprenticeship.

Apprenticeship Standard

Alongside working towards their level 7 Research Scientist Apprenticeship, gained after completing the Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours of the apprenticeship standard in years 1 and 2; apprentices also study for a Postgraduate Diploma in Data Science. 


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Employer information

Data Science is changing the way people do business. Mountains of previously uncollectable data, generated by huge growth in online activity and appliance connectivity, is becoming available to businesses in every sector. The opportunities for businesses and individuals who can manage, manipulate and extract insights from these enormous data sets are limitless.

Apprentices on this programme will develop technical, analytical and professional skills with direct application to the data science sector. They will be in roles where they can lead on business-critical projects; manage the design and implementation of projects and disseminate findings to key stakeholders to help improve your organisations performance.

Download our Research Scientist brochure


The demand for data experts is at an all-time high. The need for skilled professionals currently outweighs supply which presents opportunities for excellent career development.

By the end of the programme you will have developed your knowledge and skills in a variety of key areas, including: the power of data, cross-disciplinary problem solving; evidence-based practice and stakeholder engagement. Equipped with the key data science knowledge and skills, you will be better able to tackle complex contemporary challenges and add lasting value to your organisation.

The University’s Careers Service provides a range of support to help apprentices develop skills attractive to employers. Visit our careers service pages for more information.