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Statistics AN Part 1


Admission requirements



In the era of data science the responsible, principled and accurate use of statistics is of very high importance. You will learn about the foundations of probability theory and statistics with a special focus on applications to astronomical research.

This course introduces the basic concepts and language of probability theory, statistical models, and the basics of estimation and uncertainty quantification. The course lies the foundation for advanced topics in statistical modeling, which are covered in the follow-up course Statistics AN II.

You will apply the new theory during practical classes by solving exercises using both analytical computations and programming with Python.

The course covers the following themes:

  • Basics of probability theory

  • Statistical models and distributions

  • Estimation methods

  • Uncertainty quantification (confidence intervals)

Course objectives

The main objective of this course is to give you an overview of the basic concepts of statistics and probability theory. After this course, you will be able to:

  • Speak, understand, and reason in probabilistic language

  • Answer basic questions on the following statistical topics: estimation methods, uncertainty, confidence intervals

  • Carry out a preliminary analysis of astronomical data using analytical computations and the programming language Python.

  • Develop critical thinking about statistical data analysis (e.g. you will be aware of possible pitfalls and be able to detect inaccurate or incomplete analysis)

In this course, students will be trained in the following behaviour-oriented skills:

  • Problem solving (recognizing and analyzing problems, solution-oriented thinking)

  • Analytical skills (analytical thinking, abstraction, evidence)

  • Structured thinking (structure, modulated thinking, computational thinking, programming)

  • Complex ICT-skills (data analysis, programming, simulations, complex ICT applications)

  • Critical thinking (asking questions, check assumptions)

  • Integrity (honesty, moral, ethics, personal values)


You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures

  • Exercise classes

  • Interactive case study on astronomical applications

Assessment method

  • Written exam

Reading list

  • Lecture notes (distributed via Brightspace)

  • All of Statistics. Larry Wasserman (corrected second printing, 2005), ISBN 9780387402727. Click title to download electronic version through Leiden University Libraries.


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.
Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


Contact details teacher: Dr. E. Sellentin, Dr. S. van Velzen