Research IT

Bespoke for you - Python training at the University

Earlier last month, members of our Research Software Engineering team ran a Carpentries-style training for the Henry Royce Institute. The training took place over two days, where day one covered Introduction to Python and day two covered Data Analysis and Visualization.

Tailoring the Training Material:

The Henry Royce Institute recently approached the Research IT training team looking for Python training for their researchers. As they were already aware that we provide a wide range of training to the research community at the University, including Python, we were their first port of call.

We worked closely with them to understand the researchers requirements and brainstormed about the potential training material. They were looking to remove the barriers for people adopting Python for data analysis and to demonstrate that it is possible to do visualisations outside of Excel!

An existing Data Carpentry course, Data Analysis and Visualization, seemed to fit their requirements, but due to the timescale, we realised that large-scale changes to the material and the workshop format were out of scope. Therefore we opted for a subset of the course which still met their requirements. Once all the parties were happy with the material, we finalised the format and the content of the workshop.

Preparing and Delivering the Workshop:

It was our first time running this Carpentry course and it was pretty interesting to see it pan out. We ran a couple of set-up sessions for the participants prior to the workshop, which helped us avoid delays and get started with the teaching right away on the workshop days.

The researchers at the workshop got a chance to interact with many different Python libraries such as pandas, plotnine and Matplotlib. Researchers learned how to create a variety of different visualizations, including scatter plots, histograms, and box plots. They also learned how to use data workflows and automation with Python to create more complex visualizations. The hands-on nature of the workshop helped researchers get acquainted with these tools while directly applying the concepts they had just learnt about such as code analysis, plotting and data processing.

The Experience:

Led by Nigel Green and Aman Goel from Research IT , and supported by Stavrina Dimosthenous, Jake Larkin, and Mike White from the Henry Royce Institute, the workshop was designed to be interactive from start to finish. Participants were encouraged to complete exercises, ask questions, and provide feedback throughout. By the end of the workshop, researchers had a much better understanding of how to use Python libraries to visualize their data.

Dr Stavrina Dimosthenous, Data Curator at Henry Royce Institute said "The attendees were delighted to be introduced to tools to wrangle data beyond spreadsheets and to graphing libraries producing publication-level figures. The general atmosphere in the room was convivial and supportive"

We also got some great feedback from the attendees including "This exceeded my expectations of the course, and i could tell the people running it are passionate about the content"


The data visualization training workshop at the Henry Royce Institute was a great success, and it's a testament to how we collaborate across the University to deliver training and software that meets the needs of our researchers.

If you would like to know more about the training courses we deliver, please check out the Research IT Training Catalogue for further details. If you would like a bespoke course for your group drop us an email and we'll be in touch.

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