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Department of Computer Science and Technology

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Accelerate-Spark 'Data for Science' Residency Programme

We are offering PhDs and postdocs in science disciplines across Cambridge University a free 'Data for Science' training course in February. Aimed at helping participants to apply data science tools to their own datasets and research problems, the course runs over five weeks, starting on 1 February 2021.

This structured five-week Accelerate-Spark Data for Science Residency Programme will equip scientists with modern practical data analysis skills using Python in a virtual instructor-led accelerated masterclass.

The course is part of the new Accelerate Programme for Scientific Discovery, led by Professor Neil Lawrence, DeepMind Professor of Machine Learning, which is designed to equip researchers with the skills they need to use machine learning in their research.

"Machine learning and AI are increasingly part of our day-to-day lives, but they aren’t being used as effectively as they could be, due in part to gaps of understanding between different research disciplines," says Neil. "This programme will help us to close these gaps by training physicists, biologists, chemists and other scientists in the latest data science techniques, giving them the skills they need to advance the excellent research already taking place here at the University."

The course will be run by Cambridge Spark and will provide scientists with the skills they need to successfully use data science methods in their own research.

As well as learning how to apply data analysis to their own datasets and problems, virtual residents on the course will collaborate on real-world data science challenges in teams as part of two hackathons and join a world-leading community of scientists and researchers working at the interface of data science and science.

Application requirements

Participants will be current PhD students or researchers at the University of Cambridge, who are working in science disciplines and have basic programming skills. Applicants are asked to commit to dedicating at least 30 hours per week to the course over the five weeks from Monday 1 February. Places are limited and participants will be selected based on a technical assessment and alignment with the aims of the programme.

To apply, candidates should complete an application form by 9:00 am on Wednesday 9 December. You can fill in the form here (logging in with your Cambridge University email address).

To find out more about the Accelerate Programme and the Accelerate-Spark Data Science for Science Residency, candidates are invited to attend a one-hour Zoom Webinar that will introduce the work of the Programme and content of the Residency. This will take place on 4 December at 11:30am at this link:


What are the entry requirements?

Participants should be current PhD students or researchers at the University of Cambridge in science disciplines with basic programming fundamentals (e.g. excel, matlab, R or Python).

Participants should be available from 1 February to 5 March and would expect to spend 30 hours on the programme each week, including timetabled sessions and periods of independent study.

What will the course cover?

On the course, residents will:

  • Learn how to apply data analysis on your own datasets and research challenges;
  • Collaborate on real-world data science challenges in teams as part of two hackathons;
  • Join a community of scientists and researchers working at the interface of data science, machine learning

Residents will cover 6 modules over a period of 5 weeks. These modules include material on:

  • Introduction to Python (preparatory module)
  • Data Processing with Pandas
  • Data Visualisation
  • Web Scraping, JSON and APIs
  • Introduction to machine learning
  • Hackathon & presentation

Each participant will be assigned a technical mentor during the programme to provide technical guidance and help participants adapt the methods they learn on the course to their research challenges.

How do I apply?

Candidates should complete the application form at this link by 9am on 9 December. You can fill in the form here (logging in with your Cambridge University email address). 

After completing the application form, candidates will be asked to complete a short programming exercise, which is intended to give a sense of their current programming abilities. This exercise will take approx. 3 hours to complete, and the deadline for completion will be 9:00 am on Monday 21 December. Further details will be emailed to candidates after the deadline to complete the application form.

Candidates should ensure their supervisors or managers are content for them to join the course before applying.

How will the course be delivered?

The course will be delivered by Zoom, with sessions delivered by Cambridge Spark and their community of mentors.

If I have further questions...?

Please contact the Accelerate Programme Manager, Jessica Montgomery, by emailing

Published by Rachel Gardner on Friday 27th November 2020