The UNSW Big Data in the Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES3041) and BEES9041 course teaches you to analyse and interpret real and challenging data. This 10-week course combines theory with practice, allowing you to conduct a research project supervised by our course lecturer. All our lecturers are world-leading scientists and are ready to impart their knowledge and experience.

Students and researchers in Environmental Sciences have a wide range of quantitative skills in analytical and data processing software. Environmental statistics are used in many fields, from health and safety to research institutes and government. Today, there’s an increasing need to present transparent data supported by statistical analysis. This course will ensure that you can apply statistical methods to environmental sciences and justify scientific research and conclusions.

During Statistics in Life and Environment, we’ll introduce you to techniques for data organisation, graphics and statistical analyses. Upon course completion, you’ll be ready to organise, interpret and visualise data.

Term offering: Term 2

Course attendance: In person

Level: Undergraduate - Third year


  • Biology
  • Climate Science
  • Earth Science
  • Geography

Course code: BEES3041

Course breakdown

By attending a weekly tutorial, you’ll learn how to apply programming languages. This includes using an integrated development environment like R and RStudio and geographic information systems (GIS). You’ll also analyse high-quality documents, reports and dashboards with RMarkdown, a lightweight markup language. At the end of the course, you’ll showcase a research proposal, presentation and project paper.

Lecture and practical’s topics include:

  • systematic reviews, meta-analysis and meta-research
  • geographic data analysis and mapping
  • Phylogenetic methods (building phylogenetic trees or applying comparative methods)
  • modelling the dynamics of systems (populations, climate and genetics)
  • computational simulations of biological worlds.

Conditions for enrolment

Big Data in the Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences is intended for third-year students who have completed at least 48 units of credit (UoC). It's assumed you have working knowledge in R before the course.

If you're planning to further your studies with honours, then this course is highly recommended and is your stepping-stone into a career as a data scientist.

Career opportunities

Data science and statistics is a multidisciplinary field of study that blends mathematical methods, statistics, computing, business decisions and communication. Data scientists translate user data into insights that help companies understand their audience and personalise their products or services. Uncovering new insights and predicting trends has become vital in the retail, environmental, not-for-profit, IT and professional services sector.

Career opportunities in Data science and statistics span across many industries from startups to established corporations including Coles, Airbnb, Spotify, Netflix and Greenpeace, to name a few. As a Data Scientist, you might be asked to calculate the price of new products for the market, determine warehouse or retail employee schedules, make predictions of environmental phenomena or model the spread of new diseases.

Relevant roles:

  • Data scientist
  • Data analyst
  • Risk analyst
  • Database administrator
  • Business systems analyst
  • Forecast modeler
  • Market and survey researcher
  • Mathematician
  • Statistician
  • Big data engineer

Find out more

For more information, please contact Professor Shinichi Nakagawa.

E: s.nakagawa@unsw.edu.au

T: +61 2 9385 9138