CIPFA Certificate in Data Science

Delivered in partnership with the Southampton Data Science Academy (SDSA), this flexible online course explores the art of data science and requires just four hours of study a week

CIPFA members are entitled to a 10% discount.

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New course dates will be announced soon. To register your interest, email

About the course

Data plays an increasing role in both organisational operations and our everyday lives. Understanding key concepts in data science, including how and when best (or best not) to apply them, should be cornerstone knowledge for those working in public sector finance.

The CIPFA Certificate in Data Science explains how to work effectively with data, unlock its value, and communicate insight – enhancing your career prospects in the process. It offers the flexibility to learn at times that suit you and requires around four hours a week of study.

This course is delivered by and was developed in partnership with the Southampton Data Science Academy (SDSA), a partnership between the Web Science Institute at the University of Southampton and Cambridge Education Group.

The course also complements CIPFA’s range of data tools. We hold the most comprehensive, independent source of data about local government and its services in the UK. Our CIPFAstats+, Social Care Enhanced Insights and Financial Resilience Model provide the data-driven insights local authorities need to support their decision-making.

Who is the course aimed at?

The course is aimed at professionals who want to develop the knowledge and practical skills needed to work more effectively with data. You will learn how to talk about data to those with, and without, technical knowledge.

Interactive exercises will enable you to experience real examples of the techniques and concepts covered in the taught material. The course will empower you to make better-informed business decisions grounded on data evidence. No coding skills are required, but ideally, you'll be comfortable using Excel.

Course outline

  • Week one – Introduction to data science: what data science is, why it's important, creating impact, data storytelling, gathering data, understanding your data usage rights, and unlocking value from open data
  • Week two – Cleaning and visualising hospital data: the four steps of data science, organising and cleaning data, choosing and designing schemas, annotating and describing data, open data and open standards, data formats and structures, exercise focussing on cleaning and visualising hospital data
  • Week three – London Fire Brigade case study, part one: filtering and pivot tables, introduction to quantitative data analysis, introduction to qualitative data analysis
  • Week four – London Fire Brigade case study part two: data visualisation formats and best practice, mapping open data, narrating your story, visual description, practical data visualisation
  • Week five – Building a business with live data: from spreadsheets to web-based identifiers, having a REST with API design
  • Week six – Applications: how data science creates value, the benefits of and business opportunities for applying data science within your organisation

Learning outcomes

After successfully completing the course, you'll be able to:

  • explain the key concepts of data science and its real-world application
  • classify the different types of data available and usage rights
  • implement an effective data collection and management strategy
  • prepare data for analysis
  • analyse a large amount of data to gain valuable insights
  • create data visualisations
  • effectively work with live data and understand the opportunities presented by cloud services
  • critically evaluate the challenges and opportunities arising from utilising data science within your organisation


You will benefit from:

  • engaging and interactive course content to help you learn and master the skills you need to become proficient in data science methods and techniques
  • real-life business examples to demonstrate how you can immediately harness and apply the power of data science to your work
  • a practical, hands-on approach to learning data skills – enabling you to immediately apply the concepts and techniques covered in the course material to your work
  • expert tutors that are world-leading authorities in data science to guide your learnings, helping you with any questions or difficulties you might have along the way
  • a cutting-edge online learning platform which you can easily access via smartphone, tablet or desktop – anytime, and from anywhere in the world
  • access to a global online network of like-minded professionals plus group discussions, Q&A sessions and video tutorials

Course delivery and duration

The course will take eight weeks to complete and will begin with a virtual launch meeting. In the first six weeks, you will work through the six modules, studying online at your own pace. Each module is supported by a weekly group tutorial on Thursdays at 10am BST/GMT, with an archive available if you can't attend live.

You will then have an additional two weeks to submit your final assignment. You will also be able to book a 1:1 tutorial at a time that suits you.

You will need to invest approximately 30 hours in total (around four hours a week) for the course, including study time, the assignments and tutorials.

Course content will be available for six months from the start date.


You will be assessed on three separate assignments, with your tutor providing feedback on each. Assignments are typically around 1,500 words in length (33% each of the total mark), plus a set of discussion forum contributions. Results are released three to four weeks following completion of the course.  


On successful completion of the course, you will receive a downloadable electronic certificate of completion from CIPFA and the Southampton Data Science Academy, recognising your achievement and CPD hours.

CPD hours

This course carries 30 CPD hours.

All CIPFA training counts towards your continuing professional development (CPD). If you are a CIPFA Chartered Member, you are required to undertake a minimum of 20 hours of relevant CPD activity each year as part of maintaining your professional competence and to develop skills and knowledge.

Find out more about CPD requirements


£1,500 +VAT

CIPFA members are entitled to a 10% discount.

Your data

By purchasing the product you consent to CIPFA supplying your name, organisation name and email address to SDSA and their constituent partner organisations (as described above) for the sole purpose of enrolment, delivery of learning and accreditation.

Micro Modules

Our micro modules are free of charge and offer quick introductions to selected topics. Prepared by CIPFA’s subject matter experts, they deliver key information in an easily digestible, online format.

View our micro modules on:

For the full list of our available micro modules, visit