Science and Technology

Masters degree to answer big data questions

Whether we are aware of it or not, data is all around us. But what role does big data play in our lives and how could it help create a better world?

The University of Queensland’s new Master of Data Science course aims to answer these questions by providing a cross-disciplinary degree with direct industry contact and practical experience.

School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering Head Professor Michael Brünig said the degree was the first of its kind in Australia.

“This is the first time an Australia institution will offer a specially tailored data science degree that combines computing, statistics and business skills,” he said.

“Data underpins the digital economy, and is increasingly important across all industry sectors.

“There are enormous opportunities for data scientists to revolutionise the way we work, live and do business through informed decision-making based on advanced data analytics.”

The new postgraduate coursework degree launching in 2017 incorporates elements from science, engineering, information technology, business and law and will include opportunities for engagement in research and industry projects.

School of Mathematics and Physics Head Professor Joseph Grotowski said the program was designed to produce industry-ready data scientists.

“Our graduates will be ready to become leaders in this exciting and rapidly changing field,” he said.

“This degree will empower individuals with cutting-edge technical knowledge and skills, learned within a context of solving industry and public-sector problems.”

Business School Acting Head Associate Professor Len Coote said the program’s structure, which allowed students the flexibility to take elective courses from a variety of disciplines, enabled students to apply creative thinking in a relevant context.

“This, together with a focus on business communication, is an important design aspect of the program because, ultimately, data scientists need to understand context to generate and effectively communicate insights from the data,” he said.

“It is an opportunity to create positive business change through implementing disruptive and innovative ways of using data.”

An accelerated program will be available from 2018, for students with data science study experience.

UQ is also increasing its investment in this area by offering four new academic positions with a focus on data science, with implications for health, data, automation and energy research and teaching.

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