Data Science

for ecologists and environmental scientists

A free and flexible online course to develop programming skills relevant for careers in the environmental sector

A new Coding Club course, coming your way in January 2020!

Scientists in environmental fields increasingly need strong data manipulation, analysis, and visualisation skills, but are not always taught data science in their degrees. Our online course is made by ecologists, for ecologists, and focuses on giving you the skills you need for your studies or career. Depending on your chosen path, you will learn to use R to manipulate, graph and analyse ecological data, or build on your existing skills to create advanced data visualisations or master new analysis techniques such as mixed-effect modelling, ordination, etc.

By the end of the course, you will be able to undertake one (or more) of our case-study challenges, using open data to answer questions about Scottish environmental issues, giving you a flavour of real-life applications of data science.

This course is supported by The Data Lab.

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Our tutorials cover the following key skills we think should be in an ecologist's toolbox:

  • The basics of functional and object-oriented programming
  • Data manipulation and organisation
  • Data visualisation and graphics
  • Development of workflows for quantitative analysis
  • Reporting findings, critical thinking and testing hypotheses
  • The linear model
  • Hierarchical linear models (mixed-effects models)
  • Geospatial analysis
  • Bayesian statistics
  • Version control, collaborative coding and coding etiquette

Is this course for me?

We think so - it's for everyone! Our course is predominantly aimed at environmental scientists wishing to improve their programming and quantitative skills. That said, anyone with an interest in coding and data science can participate! It just means that our examples are drawn from nature (we are proud tree-huggers), and the tutorials are focused on answering ecological questions (but most techniques also apply in other disciplines like social sciences).

What's special about this course?

Our course is designed to give you the data science skills you want and need. As such, we propose three different streams aimed at different interests and levels of ability. However, the set-up of our course is highly flexible, so that you can pick and choose from each stream to create your own learning path, 100% tailored to your needs. At the end, it is the tutorials and challenges that you have completed, rather than the course stream, that will appear on your certificate. Oh, and it’s completely free!

Stream 1: Stats from Scratch

Stream 2: Wiz of Data Viz

Stream 3: Mastering Modelling

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How it will work

1. Make up your own path

We have created three course streams catering to different programming interests and abilities. You can decide to do a full stream, or handpick tutorials you want to do across different streams.

2. Sign up

We host everything on a GitHub platform and use open data from environmental organisations, so everything is free and openly accessible. We'll just ask you to create a username and password to access the course quizzes and challenge assessments, in order to track your progress.

3. Learn (and have fun!)

Learn along our popular tutorials, updated and enriched with brand new content for the course! Each tutorial ends with a mini-challenge that will test your new skills (example solution provided), and a short quiz to record your successful completion of the tutorial.

4. Challenge yourself

You will be able to choose from three case-study data challenges where you will get to creatively answer some questions about environmental issues, using real-life data and your new coding skills!

5. Get your certificate

All done? We record all the individual tutorials and challenges you complete during the course. When you have completed everything you want, you can request and download your certificate.


Interested? Sign up to receive an alert when we launch

Yes please!