Data science is widely perceived as the “fourth paradigm” of science. Capturing, curating, storing and analysing data requires a multidisciplinary approach to enable all our communities from academic to social to stay ahead of the “data deluge”, exploit the possibilities and enable our researchers and research to operate, compete and deliver impact. We want to encourage more interaction between the sciences, engineering, social sciences and humanities to position Exeter alongside some of the world’s most exciting data science initiatives which champion inter-disciplinarity.

The multi-disciplinary Institute for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence enables Exeter to take full advantage of the research, education, commercial and industrial opportunities offered by the growth of data science and AI, focusing on four thematic areas:

  • Environment and sustainability. Data science is key to understanding the complex interactions between climate, environment, health and society. Building on the strong collaborations with climate and environmental scientists in the GSI and the Met Office, Exeter is proposing to lead a national programme in this area through the Alan Turing Institute.

  • Data and AI in society: culture, ethics, governance and security. The explosive rise in data and the potential of AI to change the way we live raises fundamental research and practical questions. Taking advantage of Exeter’s world-leading humanities and social science expertise the IDSAI will be uniquely placed to address questions of trust, privacy, transparency and security in collaborations between social scientists and technical data scientists. This theme would bring together major initiatives and expertise in the Q-step Centre, the Strategy and Security Institute, the Exeter Centre for the Study of the Life Sciences.

  • Health, bioinformatics and the life course. Recognising the huge potential of data on individuals, cohorts, their life-courses and environments to inform the understanding and personalised treatment of disease, this theme will bring together major initiatives and expertise, working closely with the University of Exeter College of Medicine and Health.

  • Business innovation. Led by the London-based INDEX initiative on the digital economy and addressing the challenges of understanding risk, trust and value in the business environment through data science, this theme will capitalise on our relationship with the Alan Turing Institute.


The Data Studies group led by Prof Sabina Leonelli, building on the University’s strengths in social sciences, is world- leading in the philosophical framework surrounding data, governance, ethics and social implications of data science, particularly the management, sharing and use of environmental, biomedical and biological data.


Data is at the heart of understanding the complex interactions between the climate, natural ecosystems, human social and economic systems, the built environment, and health and Exeter has provided a unique opportunity for Data Scientists and climate modellers to work together to address these global challenges. Prof Tim Lentona dn Professor Gavin Shaddick have been working in partnership ond eveloping a better understanding of how we can use big data to track and monitor performance against the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In addition Profs Lenton and Shaddick have been awarded Turing Fellowships