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Department of Mathematics & Statistics

STAT371 Bayesian Data Analysis

Second Semester
18 points

One of the transformative changes in statistics in recent times is the widespread practical application of Bayesian statistics. Advances in computing allow practitioners to fit models to data in an intuitive way that previously would have been virtually impossible. Our goal is to showcase some of the exciting modelling techniques that can be done using Bayesian methods, while providing a solid theoretical basis along with knowledge of computational techniques that allow practical application.

Paper details

In this course we introduce theory, application, and computing relevant to Bayesian inference. We will initially look at using Bayesian methods to solve the types of problems encountered in STAT110 and STAT210. We will then extend the methods to more complex data structures and models. This includes hierarchical models where random processes occur at different levels and depend on each other, and models that account for data collection. Models will be fitted using modern Bayesian software including JAGS and R.

Main topics

Potential students

This course is aimed at students with a good understanding of intermediate probability and inference (STAT 270) with an interest in applied statistical modelling and computing. The course shows how Bayesian modelling can be used to fit realistic statistical models to a wide range of data.


STAT 260, (STAT 261 or 270)


Matthew Schofield, Peter Dillingham


5 Assignments (25%), Test (15%), and Exam (60%)

Terms requirements

Students must achieve a minimum of 40% on the Assignments and 40% on the Exam in order to pass the paper.

Final mark

Your final mark F in the paper will be calculated according to this formula:

F = 0.25A + 0.15T + 0.60E


and all quantities are expressed as percentages.

Linked paper: STAT498: Special Topics

STAT498 in 2021 will comprise the material from STAT371 plus an independent project and presentation. The project will take approximately 60 hours to complete, and will comprise background reading, developing an advanced Bayesian model, and putting it all together in a report and presentation. It will represent 10% of the overall grade, with the final grade determined by 5 Assignments (15%), Test (15%), Project (10%) and Exam (60%), or F = 0.15A + 0.15T + 0.10P + 0.60E. A minimum score of 50% on the project is required in order to pass the paper.

Students must abide by the University’s Academic Integrity Policy

Academic integrity means being honest in your studying and assessments. It is the basis for ethical decision-making and behaviour in an academic context. Academic integrity is informed by the values of honesty, trust, responsibility, fairness, respect and courage.

Academic misconduct is seeking to gain for yourself, or assisting another person to gain, an academic advantage by deception or other unfair means. The most common form of academic misconduct is plagiarism.

Academic misconduct in relation to work submitted for assessment (including all course work, tests and examinations) is taken very seriously at the University of Otago.

All students have a responsibility to understand the requirements that apply to particular assessments and also to be aware of acceptable academic practice regarding the use of material prepared by others. Therefore it is important to be familiar with the rules surrounding academic misconduct at the University of Otago; they may be different from the rules in your previous place of study.

Any student involved in academic misconduct, whether intentional or arising through failure to take reasonable care, will be subject to the University’s Student Academic Misconduct Procedures which contain a range of penalties.

If you are ever in doubt concerning what may be acceptable academic practice in relation to assessment, you should clarify the situation with your lecturer before submitting the work or taking the test or examination involved.

Types of academic misconduct are as follows:


The University makes a distinction between unintentional plagiarism (Level One) and intentional plagiarism (Level Two).

  • Although not intended, unintentional plagiarism is covered by the Student Academic Misconduct Procedures. It is usually due to lack of care, naivety, and/or to a lack to understanding of acceptable academic behaviour. This kind of plagiarism can be easily avoided.
  • Intentional plagiarism is gaining academic advantage by copying or paraphrasing someone elses work and presenting it as your own, or helping someone else copy your work and present it as their own. It also includes self-plagiarism which is when you use your own work in a different paper or programme without indicating the source. Intentional plagiarism is treated very seriously by the University.

Unauthorised Collaboration

Unauthorised Collaboration occurs when you work with, or share work with, others on an assessment which is designed as a task for individuals and in which individual answers are required. This form does not include assessment tasks where students are required or permitted to present their results as collaborative work. Nor does it preclude collaborative effort in research or study for assignments, tests or examinations; but unless it is explicitly stated otherwise, each students answers should be in their own words. If you are not sure if collaboration is allowed, check with your lecturer..


Impersonation is getting someone else to participate in any assessment on your behalf, including having someone else sit any test or examination on your behalf.


Falsification is to falsify the results of your research; presenting as true or accurate material that you know to be false or inaccurate.

Use of Unauthorised Materials

Unless expressly permitted, notes, books, calculators, computers or any other material and equipment are not permitted into a test or examination. Make sure you read the examination rules carefully. If you are still not sure what you are allowed to take in, check with your lecturer.

Assisting Others to Commit Academic Misconduct

This includes impersonating another student in a test or examination; writing an assignment for another student; giving answers to another student in a test or examination by any direct or indirect means; and allowing another student to copy answers in a test, examination or any other assessment.

Further information

While we strive to keep details as accurate and up-to-date as possible, information given here should be regarded as provisional. Individual lecturers will confirm teaching and assessment methods.