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Degree Apprenticeships

Research Scientist (MSc Data Science Professional) Degree Apprenticeship

Final award: 

  • IfATE Level 7 Research Scientist Apprenticeship Certificate
  • Years one and two - work towards a PGDip qualification
  • Year three - MSc  Data Science (Professional)
Duration 3 years
Entry point(s) Jan 22 (one off intake) Sept
Application deadline

Dependent on employer, see How to apply. Deadline for January 2022 intake Friday 17 December 2021.

Campus Exeter and distance learning

Greg Salmon
Web: Enquire online
Phone: 01392 726995


  • Industry focussed 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 the 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 2021 Entry

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10th in the UK for Computer Science

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021

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

Excellent facilities spanning a wide range of machine types and software ecosystems

Courses designed to launch and develop careers for those working in or entering data and technology-driven roles



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 the Python programming language. The expected competency level for Maths and Python is indicated via self-assessment worsksheets 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 apprenticeships in discussion with the University.

Candidates for this programme should be in a current job role that will allow them the opportunity to experience project management and leadership, and in addition:

  • Work on a significant work-based Data Science project
  • 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.  

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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. 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.

The third year 60 credit research project, which can lead to the award of the MSc Data Science Professional, is not part of the apprenticeship. There is currently no additional fee for this element. 

See further information on the Apprenticeship Levy funding.

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 will undertake a 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. Our model is designed to be flexible around the needs of apprentices and workloads. No weekly day-release is required, mitigating disruption of their daily role and ensuring maximum flexibility.

Our blended learning format incorporates:

  • One three day on camou teaching block each Term (September in Term 1, January in Term 2 and May in Term 3)
  • 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

Our dedicated Degree Apprenticeship partnerships team liaise closely with employer partners throughout the programme to ensure ongoing support. Each apprentice is allocated a Workplace Mentor and an Academic Mentor to help ensure their successful completion of the programme.

Apprenticeship Standard 

Alongside working towards their level 7 Research Scientist Apprenticeship, gained after completing the Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours of the apprenticeship standard; apprentices also studying for an PGDip/MSc in Data Science (Professional) award.


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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.

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.

Updated employer brochure coming soon.