Statistics in Government

Course information

The course provides an overview of issues, legal frameworks, ethical considerations, and dissemination practices of official statistics from the UK Government. Comparisons will be made to the collection and delivery of official government statistics in the devolved nations, the European Union, and elsewhere. Modern topics and controversies such as data visualisation, trust in official statistics, “big data,” and the organisational evolution of the Government Statistical Service are discussed in the second half of the course.

Prerequisite Knowledge

Elementary knowledge of the types of government statistics available to end users and have an interest in the practical, organisational, and ethical issues around the production of official government statistics.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course learners will be able to:

  • Understand the UK Government’s historical role in collecting and developing official statistics;
  • Describe a broad overview of the fundamental issues underlying the organisation of official statistics;
  • Understand the Code of Practice for statisticians in Government and Quality Assurance Practices;
  • Discuss the pertinent national laws and legislation surrounding official statistics;
  • Demonstrate a critical awareness of standards, frameworks, codes of practice of official statistics.
  • Apply best practices to disseminate official statistics;
  • Recognise data management practices in government;
  • Express an understanding of ethics in the collection, analysis, and dissemination of official statistics;
  • Understand emerging issues around data visualisation and "big data";
  • Recognise issues around data confidentiality.


Week 1

  • Historical Setting
  • Census, Health Statistics and Pre-War Efforts
  • The Central Statistics Office and its Evolution

Week 2

  • The Legal Framework
  • Frameworks on Statistics
  • Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007, Digital Economy Act of 2017 and their Impact

Week 3

  • UK Code of Practice for Statisticians
  • Assessment of National Statistics
  • The Path to National Statistics Designation

Week 4

  • The Statistical Production Process
  • Measuring, Improving, and Managing Quality
  • Quality Assurance for Surveys and Administrative Data

Week 5

  • Professional Practice and Groupings
  • Vision of the Government Statistical Service
  • National and International Ethics Frameworks

Mid-term week break

Week 6

  • Issues in Statistical Literacy
  • Data Visualisation
  • Dissemination of National Statistics

Week 7

  • Trust in National Statistics
  • Misinterpretation and Politicisation Issues
  • Legislative Scrutiny and Government Reviews

Week 8

  • "Big Data" and Government
  • Novel forms of Qualitative Data
  • Representativeness of New forms of Data

Week 9

  • Organising Data Teams
  • Organisational Issues in the UK
  • Comparative Government Statistics Agencies

Week 10

  • Data Sharing
  • Data Confidentiality
  • International Standards of Classification


To take our courses please use an up-to-date version of a standard browser (such as Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge) and a PDF reader (such as Acrobat Reader). Learning material will be distributed through Moodle. We encourage all learners to install R and RStudio and we provide detailed installation instructions, but learners can also use free cloud-based services (RStudio Cloud). Learners need to install Zoom for participating in video conferencing sessions. We recommend the use of a head set for video conferencing sessions.