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The Department of Mathematical Statistics was established in 1973 under the headship of Professor P. van der Watt. The Department was formerly part of Rhodes’ Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics. At the time of its establishment the Department offered 3 undergraduate courses viz StatisticsMathematical Statistics 2 and Mathematical Statistics 3, and postgraduate courses for Honours and Masters students.


In 1974 service courses for students in the Commerce Faculty were introduced, viz Elementary Theory of Finance and Statistics (ETFS) and Business Mathematics and Statistics (a more sophisticated version of ETFS for Accountancy students). Shortly afterwards, the Department offered an additional service course for students registered for a degree in Pharmacy, viz Mathematics 1P (Statistics module) which is presently called Statistics 1F. A separate major subject stream for Commerce students was introduced in 1975 but was discontinued in 1988 because of staff shortages. The Department also offered the Business Mathematics and Statistics course for Commerce students in East London from 1984 until 2003.


In 1987 the ETFS course was phased out and some years later, with the introduction of semesterisation at Rhodes, the Business Mathematics and Statistics course was renamed

Mathematics 1D and Statistics 1D and, later still, Mathematics 1D was re named Theory of Finance due to more emphasis being placed on the theory of finance in the syllabus. In 1996 the Department of Mathematical Statistics was renamed the Department of Statistics in line with most other South African universities. Staff membership in the Department has grown from two in 1973 to nine in 2014, with an enrolment of approximately 800 students in 2012.


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