Introduction to Quantitative Methods for the MPA Programme

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Gregory Fischer


This course is compulsory on the Master of Public Administration. This course is not available as an outside option.

Also available to other MPhil/PhD students with the agreement of the course tutor.

Course content

An introduction to basic mathematical and statistical concepts for use in MPA courses in economics and quantitative approaches. The course covers the following topics: Statistics: Discrete and continuous random variables, jointly distributed random variables, the Normal distribution, sampling and the Central Limit Theorem, properties of estimators, introduction to hypothesis testing. Mathematics: Linear functions, quadratic, logarithmic and exponential functions, the derivative of a function and rules of differentiation, unconstrained optimization with one variable, functions of several variables and their differentiation, unconstrained optimization with several variables, constrained optimization.


The course runs over 8 days, during the two weeks prior to the start of the Michaelmas Term. In total, students will attend ten lectures and six classes during the two weeks of the course.

Indicative reading

Notes covering the course material will be made available at the beginning of the course. Students are strongly encouraged to read Charles Whelan's Naked Statistics prior to the start of the course.  It provides a readable and accessible background to the statistics portion of the course.  Two widely used introductory statistics books that can be used as background reading for the statistics part are Newbold, Carlson and Thorne Statistics for Business and Economics (6th edition) and Wonnacott and Wonnacott Introductory Statistics for Business and Economics (4th edition). However, there are also many other introductory statistics textbooks that cover the same material.


Two widely used introductory mathematics books that can be used a background reading for the mathematics part are Ian Jacques Mathematics for Economics and Business (5th edition) and Wisniewski's Introductory Mathematical Methods in Economics (2nd edition). Also in this case there are a large number of excellent alternative textbooks that cover the same material. Those who want a more advanced treatment of the same material can use Simon and Blume's Mathematics for Economists, but this treatment is more formal than what we require for this course. We do not recommend buying a new textbook for this course, if you already own a textbook that covers similar material.


Exam (100%, duration: 1 hour) as part of modular teaching.

The course will be assessed with a one hour test at the end of week two. The test result does not count towards the MPA final degree, but will be used in advising students on suitable option course choices.

Key facts

Department: Economics

Total students 2015/16: Unavailable

Average class size 2015/16: Unavailable

Controlled access 2015/16: No

Value: Non-assessed

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information