Data Science Graduate Programme Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

This page contains some frequently asked questions about the Data Science Graduate Programme, which you may find helpful. For detailed information about the programme, visit the Data Science Graduate Programme page.

The general questions section is relevant to all participants. All other sections are only relevant to participants joining the Graduate Programme via the centralised recruitment campaign and do not apply to current civil servants or public sector workers who are joining the programme while continuing in an existing role.

For information about modules and course structure, go to the Data Science Graduate Programme Curriculum page.

General questions

Note: this section is relevant to all participants in the programme.

Do I have to attend lectures and events on specific days?

Yes, the dates are set at the beginning of the programme. In the first year, each module is covered over three consecutive days, once a month. There is an agreement with the home organisations that graduates will be released to undertake learning for these set days and will attend all sessions. Similarly for the second year, dates will be set for events taking place. In general, this is expected to be one day per month.

Is the Graduate Programme delivered online or in person?

The programme is delivered online.

Do I get a certificate of completion at the end of the programme?

Yes, you will receive a certificate of completion after completing the programme. Please note that this programme is not currently accredited by an external body.

Is there a preference for using R or Python?

You can choose to undertake your learning in either R or Python during the curriculum programme.

What level of programming skills and statistics knowledge would be expected to be able to participate in the programme?

A basic level of statistics and programming skills is required, however both will be covered by the curriculum to an intermediate level.

Joining the programme as a graduate data scientist

Note: this section is only relevant to participants joining the Graduate Programme via the centralised recruitment campaign.

What is the minimum number of days you must work?

This will be discussed at offer stage with the organisation or department you are joining. These positions can potentially be part-time, if required.

How does flexible working work in practice? Is this more on-site, remote or a hybrid approach?

Flexible working will be in line with the business needs and policies of the organisation you are appointed to; this will need to be discussed once an offer is made.

Are graduates based in teams with other data scientists? What support is available on the placements we are allocated?

In general the positions are based in teams with data scientists or analysts who will be able to offer support. The organisation you are joining is responsible for ensuring adequate support is available. You will also receive the support of your line manager to develop and grow into the role of a data scientist. 

When will the roles start?

The start date is set by the organisation you are joining. All candidates should be in their roles before the Graduate Programme induction, which usually takes places in October.

When allocating placements, can candidates express preference for a particular organisation (not just location)?

If we have multiple organisations offering positions in your chosen location, we can discuss preferences at offer stage. We will try to match you to your preference, if that option is available, but this is not guaranteed and will depend on the location that you have stated on your application form.

Interview and application process

Note: this section is only relevant to participants joining the Graduate Programme via the centralised recruitment campaign.

What adjustments can be made for applicants with disabilities?

You will have the opportunity to mention details regarding disabilities under the Disability Confidence Scheme in your application form. Please see the job advert for information and the application form for links and guidance. If you need any support through the process, you can contact the Graduate Programme team.

Can a candidate be considered too experienced to take part in the Graduate Programme?

No. Candidates will be scored during the assessment, which consists of a sift and an interview. Offers will be made to candidates that have been successful at the interview stage, in merit order, until all places have been filled. Our assessment process is an open and fair competition.

What clearance level will the positions be?

The most common clearance level for a graduate position is Security Check (SC), which is a high level of security clearance. Depending on the projects that each organisation is involved with, some offers may only require a basic level of security check (BPSS) and some may require Developed Vetting (DV). Please refer to the candidate pack attached to the job advert for more information.

As part of the security clearance checks, you may be asked for details of any countries you have lived or worked in over the past five years as a minimum.

Is the Graduate Programme open to overseas candidates?

You must meet the requirements for legally living and working in the UK before accepting a formal offer to take part in the Graduate Programme. These requirements may differ between the organisations involved in the programme.

Currently, there are no opportunities to participate in the programme if you are based outside the UK.

Skills, experience and degree requirements

Note: this section is only relevant to participants joining the Graduate Programme via the centralised recruitment campaign.

How are the core programming skills assessed in the application process?

They will be assessed at the sift stage based on the information you provide in your application form. You must show evidence of your skills in line with the essential criteria listed in the job advert. Programming skills will also be assessed at the interview stage.

What programming knowledge is expected for an interview task?

You are expected to have basic programming experience, but there is no requirement to use a specific language for the task. You get to choose what tools and techniques you use for the analysis of the data and you will be asked to describe your approach during the presentation.

Do I need a masters degree to apply?

No, you don’t need a master’s degree to apply for the graduate programme.

Is the programme open to recent masters’ graduates, whose undergraduate degree was completed some years ago?

The programme is open to anyone with a 2:1 undergraduate degree or above in a discipline with numerical or statistical elements, or equivalent experience.

Contacting us

For any further queries please email the Graduate Programme team or visit the Data Science Graduate Programme page.