Linear statistical modelling

This module covers statistical modelling where a response variable depends on one or several explanatory variables: such as how well patients respond to a treatment, given their age and disease severity; or how different strains of wheat compare when grown in various conditions. Taking a practical approach, you'll use real problems and data to stimulate analyses and their interpretation. Statistical tools are introduced, and use of the statistical software package, GenStat (supplied) is taught. You need a reasonable understanding of basic statistical ideas, as developed by Analysing data (M248). You'll learn to use the most important methods of analysing data – a skill that too few people have.

Course facts
About this course:
Course code M346
Credits 30
OU Level 3
SCQF level 10
FHEQ level 6
Course work includes:
6 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
No residential school

What you will study

This module is about the statistical modelling of situations in which a response variable depends on at least one explanatory variable. It offers a practical treatment of an important area of statistical methodology, applicable in a wide variety of situations. For example, it enables us to deal with questions such as how cavity wall insulation will affect the total energy consumption of a house; or how the probability of a successful bone marrow transplant is influenced by the ages of the donor and recipient, and other factors; or how loss due to abrasion might depend on the hardness and tensile strength of samples of rubber.

Linear statistical modelling uses real problems and data to stimulate analyses and their interpretation. Technical background is not ignored, but the main emphasis is on the knowledge needed to analyse data effectively.

The module begins with a general introductory unit, including a review of the general statistical methods and concepts that will be used later. The next unit gives a complete introduction to using the statistics package GenStat for Windows (which is supplied). We then move on to the basic linear regression model, extensions of which are the core of this module.

Subsequent units introduce a wide variety of linear statistical modelling tools: one-way analysis of variance, multiple regression, more general analysis of variance and designed experiments. All these are widely applicable cases of the normal linear model.

Further units develop linear modelling in the more general framework of the generalised linear model: binary regression; the full generalised linear model; diagnostic checking; and log-linear modelling.

A closing unit applies the methods you have learnt to the analysis of further data sets.

The GenStat package is extensively used throughout the module to perform the necessary calculations and analyses.

You will learn

Successful study of this module should enhance your skills in analysing and interpreting data.


You need no pre-requisites to study Linear statistical modelling. However, we recommend that you're familiar with the following mathematical topics:

  • mathematical notation
  • following short algebraic arguments
  • handling the logarithmic and exponential functions
  • using formulae

We recommend you also have previous basic knowledge of statistical science; we'll include some revision of the following topics:

  • histograms, boxplots and scatterplots
  • normal, Poisson and binomial distributions
  • the central limit theorem
  • confidence intervals
  • hypothesis testing
  • simple linear regression
  • correlation

We also recommend that you have some experience using a statistical software package.

Check you're ready to study Linear statistical modelling with our self-assessed quiz.

Talk to an advisor if you're still not sure if you're ready.

Preparatory work

Linear statistical modelling Analysing data Analysing data

If you have a disability or additional requirement

Some students may find using some of the study material challenging. Diagrams and data tables are used extensively in the module, both in text and on computer screens, and you will be asked to interpret graphs. If you have a visual impairment you may need assistance from a sighted helper for working with GenStat and looking at its graphical output.

You will need to spend considerable amounts of time using a personal computer.

Study materials

What's included

Module books, website, and online forums.

You will need

Calculator (basic mathematical functions would be useful).

You require access to the internet at least once a week during the module to download some essential module resources and to keep up to date with module news.

Computing requirements

A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

Any additional software will be provided from a hardware device e.g. DVD drive or USB stick or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a desktop or laptop computer with Windows 7 or higher

The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones.

Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the module.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You can choose whether to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) on paper or online through the eTMA system. You may want to use the eTMA system for some of your assignments but submit on paper for others. This is entirely your choice.

Future availability

Linear statistical modelling starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2018. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2021.

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2021.

Professional recognition

This module may help you to gain membership of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA). For further information, see the IMA website.

This module may also help you to apply for the professional award of Graduate Statistician conferred by The Royal Statistical Society (RSS).