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Studying at master’s level

What is studying data science at master's level like? What will I be doing?
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0

You might have worked with data in some capacity in your undergraduate degree. What is different about studying at master’s level?

Master’s students are expected to build on both their previous experience of independent learning and their life experience, covering their work, interests and professional networks. As a master’s graduate you should be able to progress to senior levels throughout your career – developing inspirational leadership skills, flexibility, resourcefulness in your approach to problem solving and strategic decision-making.

The educational consortium SEEC developed a useful set of level descriptors that define how you should be working at Level 7 (master’s). They are all directly relevant to the profession of data science. They include:


  • Having a deep understanding of your specialism
  • Being critical about current approaches to problems and suggesting new ones
  • Combining knowledge in new ways to generate innovative and transformative solutions
  • Analysing incomplete or contradictory evidence/data and arriving at a judgement


  • Acting on your own initiative and taking responsibility for what happens
  • Improving and evaluating organisational performance
  • Working “autonomously” or independently and adapting to new situations
  • Being aware of the ethical aspects of your practice

Relating to others

  • Working effectively as a team member or team leader
  • Reflecting on your actions and adapting and changing as needed
  • Maximising the value and quality of communication in your specialist area

You should aim to use your masters’ course as a playground to develop these skills and qualities. Of course, your tutors and coursemates will be there to support you, but it is ultimately about your own development. You will know you are succeeding when you can tell them things they didn’t know, or show them better ways of doing things.


SEEC. (2016). Credit level descriptors for higher education – 2016.

© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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