History of the Department
The Department of Mathematics was one of the founding departments of the University, opening to students in October 1964, just one month after the Royal Charter of the University was sealed.
From the beginning, the emphasis was on Pure Mathematics, with interests in analysis, geometry, algebra and probability theory, with expertise in Statistics being added soon afterwards. By the late 1970s Statistics within the Department had been strengthened substantially, and the Centre for Applied Statistics (CAS) was formed as an independent statistical research unit. CAS focussed on social statistical research and statistical software development supported by funding from the ESRC, and provided statistical support and consultancy across the campus. During the 1990s a Medical Statistics Unit was established within the renamed Department of Mathematics and Statistics. In 2006 CAS rejoined the Department as an Applied Statistics Section. In 2010, the three statistics groups were merged into a single Section alongside the Pure Mathematics section.
Within the Pure Mathematics Section, the principal research activity over the last 20 years has concerned analysis, and a strong international reputation has been established in this field. During the last five years, an algebra group of similar size and strength has been created as new posts have been filled.
The three strands that have formed the current Statistics Section have brought with them three different and complementary strands of research activity. A key strength lies in computationally-intensive methods of analysis motivated by applications to image analysis, the study of extreme events and ecology. The focus of the Medical Statistics group was initially on spatial methods in epidemiology, and more recently expertise in the design and analysis of clinical trials has been added. Staff of the Centre for Applied Statistics brought with them interests in the application of statistics to sociology, criminology and public health.
Undergraduate teaching within the Department centres on the single subject degree in Mathematics with smaller numbers of students following Mathematics and Statistics degrees, Statistics degrees and joint degrees that include mathematics. Since 2000, there has been a considerable increase in the numbers of students registered for these degrees. In 2000-01, new UG registrations from home/EU students stood at 48. By 2005-06, this had risen to 64. In 2011-12 and 2012-13 the figures were 147 and 146. With overseas numbers also increasing, and more students choosing mathematics as a minor subject, class sizes in the first year have reached 250. Staffing levels in the Department have also increased: in 2000-01 there were 19 members of academic staff, while there are now 34.
The MSc in Statistics was established in 2000, although the precise title of the degree has varied over the years. The emphasis has been on medical applications, but other interests are catered for. Currently, there are 24 students on the programme, 10 of whom are supported by full MRC, NIHR and EPSRC studentships. An extensive Short Course programme in Statistics was established by the Centre for Applied Statistics, and continues within the Department. The quality of the provision of postgraduate training in Statistics at Lancaster was recognised in 2005 when the Department was awarded the status of being a HEFCE Centre of Excellence in Teaching and Learning in Postgraduate Statistics, together with £5million funding. This award brought with it partial funding of the building now known as the Postgraduate Statistics Centre which was opened in 2008, and for the appointment for five years of seven members of academic staff.
In 2010 the first cohort of ten students arrived for the EPSRC-funded Doctoral Training Centre known as STOR-i. The Centre is for Statistics and OR with industry, the latter providing top-up funding for students and direct input to the research programme. It is a joint enterprise between Mathematics and Statistics and Management Science. Students spend their first year following an MRes programme, half of the taught modules being taken jointly with students on the MSc in Statistics.
The Department's archive of annual photographs will also appear here in due course.
The above information is drawn from a number of sources but especially "Shaping the Future: a history of the University of Lancaster 1961-2011" by Marion McClintock (University of Lancaster, 2011; ISBN 978-1-86220-286-3).