Epidemiology and Biostatistics
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Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics


MSc Biostatistics​

MSc in Biostatistics Programme Outline  >

Biostatistics Yearbook 2017 - 2021​  >


Nature and objectives of programme

The objectives of the programme are to:

  • develop highly qualified and skilled biostatisticians with the technical competence to contribute significantly to addressing the public health problems and challenges of their communities;prepare students who aspire to move to a higher level of academic research work for doctoral studies and to promote an approach based on academic integrity and professional ethics;
  • contribute to the pool of academics and professionals with the competence and critical intellectual abilities to ensure advancement in the field of biostatistics and to fulfil the need in the country for a skilled scientific workforce of the highest calibre;prepare students who can apply principles of statistical reasoning in addressing critical questions in public health and biomedical science; and
  • educate and train individuals who are independent thinkers and lead the data management and statistical analyses of research studies to advance knowledge and guide policy.

Upon completion of the programme, students shall have:

  • developed a sound understanding of epidemiological study design and the theory and application of the major areas of biostatistics relevant to professional practice;
  • acquired skills in complex statistical analyses to handle a variety of practical problems using modern statistical techniques and software;acquired skills in data collection and data management, including quality control procedures and the ethical handling of data;
  • developed skills to identify the relevant statistical issues in practical problems in medical/health settings and to propose and implement an appropriate statistical design and/or analytical methodology;developed skills and gained experience in discussing biostatistical issues with clinical/health personnel and in the presentation of statistical results in a format suitable for publication in health-related journals or professional reports;
  • acquired the technical skills to be able to read methodological papers in the biostatistical literature and apply the methods described in those papers to practical problems;developed the practical and technical skills to commence professional careers as independent biostatisticians and/or to progress to further postgraduate research studies; and
  • developed problem-solving abilities in biostatistics, characterised by flexibility of approach. 

Structured modules

Compulsory modules

  • Mathematical Statistics
  • Principles of Statistical Inference
  • Linear Models
  • Fundamentals of Epidemiology
  • Data Management and Statistical Computing
  • Categorical Data Analysis and Generalised Linear Models
  • Analysis of Survival Data
  • Analysis of Observational Data: Causal Inference
  • Longitudinal Data Analysis
  • Biostatistical Consulting
  • Practical Assignment  

Elective modules (choose two)

  • Bayesian Data Analysis
  • Clinical Biostatistics
  • Design and Analysis of Clinical Trials
  • Multivariate Statistics
  • Bioinformatics 


Specific admission requirements

The Master of Biostatistics programme targets students with either mathematical/statistical or biomedical backgrounds. To be admitted, students shall hold the National Senior Certificate with Mathematics (or equivalent) and one of the following:

  • an honours degree in Mathematics or Statistics;an honours degree in a field related to the Biomedical Sciences;
  • a medical degree (MB, ChB); or
  • any other qualification deemed adequate by Senate.

Depending on the field of study, additional work and/or proof of competency may be required. An average mark of at least 65% must be obtained for the last qualification. All students will be required to show competence in algebra and calculus by completing a short course with an average mark of 65%. National applicants can apply online at www.maties.com by 30 September of the previous year. Applications for prospective international students close on 31 August.

Applications should include:

  • Completed application formLetter of motivation
  • Academic Record
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Matric certificate (Secondary qualification)
  • Proof of English Proficiency (applicable to international applicants)
  • SAQA certificate (applicable to international applicants) 


  For enquiries contact:  Liesel Floor (lieselfloor@sun.ac.za)