Lifelong Learning for a Brighter World

female data analyst sitting in front of her computer in a modern office charting data female data analyst sitting in front of her computer in a modern office charting data

Foundations of Analytics

Business Intelligence, Data Analysis and Data Science

Your Introduction to the World of Analytics

BDA 204 - Data Analysis and Visualization C01

Academic Credit Value:
3 units
Course Delivery Mode:
Blended (in-class & online)
Hours of Study:
30 hours
Course Prerequisite(s):
Course Anti-requisite(s):
Instructor Name:
Thomas Francescutti
Course Dates:
01/30/2020 - 03/26/2020

Required Course Materials:
The Analytics Lifecycle Toolkit, 1st Edition. Authors: Gregory Nelson/Wiley Publishers
Optional Course Materials:
Any other readings and resources will be posted in the Avenue to Learn course shell. 1. The Big Book of Dashboards: Visualizing Your Data Using Real-World Business Scenarios. Authors: Andy Cotgreave, Steve Wexler, Jeffrey Shaffer/Wiley Publishers 2. Tableau Your Data!: Fast and Easy Visual Analysis with Tableau Software. Authors: Daniel G. Murray/Wiley Publishers
Course Description:

Students are advised to retain course outlines for future use in support of applications for employment or transfer of credits.
Refer to the Policy & Procedure section for further course and ​McMaster Continuing Education information. 

This course will examine the exploration of data in order to discover meaningful information to solve problems. The course will present the analytics life cycle in context of planning to solve a business problem. Emphasis will be placed on framing the problem, proposing an analytics solution, communicating with stakeholders, and establishing an analytics-focused project plan. Common data visualization tools and techniques will be explored and used as students learn best practices for the presentation and communication of analytical solutions and insights.

Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion of this course, students will:  

1. Describe the Data Analytics Lifecycle, its stages and how they complement each other.
2. Examine the value analytics brings to organizations to frame and solve business challenges as well as improve processes.
3. Explore, cleanse and extract data to determine the technical and analytical feasibility of presenting viable solutions to address business problem(s).
4. Design viable data analytics solution(s) to a set of specific business needs.
5. Assess data management tools to perform ETL (Extract Transform and Load) activities
6. Examine and create data visualizations that effectively communicate with audiences at various organizational levels.
7. Discuss data management and project management principles related to the Data Analytics Lifecycle.

Course Evaluation

The final grade is calculated based on the following components:


Assessment Type


Due Date









Reading(s)/Discussion(s)/Reflection Memo(s)

Weekly (Sunday)





Course Format:
The course is designed to describe the best practices of the Data Analytics Lifecycle. Several relevant concepts will be discussed with a strong focus on the application of the theory to the workplace and professional practice. Course activities will include instructor presentations, required readings and hands-on learning activities (i.e. visualization principles, write-ups, group discussions, projects, etc.).
Assignment Submission:
Course assignments are submitted to the appropriate A2L Assignment folder by the specified due date
Late Coursework:
Late submissions will be penalized 2% per day (including weekends and holidays) up to seven (7) days past the due date. After seven days, the Assignment folder will close, no further assignments will be accepted, and a grade of “0” will be assigned for the course work item unless otherwise specified by the Instructor.  Requests for extensions must be submitted to the Instructor before the assignment due date (see Coursework Policies).  Extensions are permitted for exceptional circumstances only (i.e., vacations or busy schedules are not exceptional circumstances).   Supporting documentation may be requested by the Instructor or Program Manager.    Consideration for late submissions due to technological issues with McMaster’s learning management system will be considered only with supporting documentation from the Avenue to Learn technical support team.  This information must be provided by the student.

Policy & Procedures:

Academic Regulations (Attendance, Coursework, Tests/Exams):
In accordance to McMaster University’s General Academic Regulations, “it is imperative that students make every effort to meet the originally scheduled course requirements and it is a student’s responsibility to write examinations as scheduled.” Therefore, all students are expected to attend and complete the specific course requirements (i.e. attendance, assignments, and tests/exams) listed in the course outline on or by the date specified. Students who need to arrange for coursework accommodation, as a result of medical, personal or family reasons, must contact the course instructor within 48 hours of the originally scheduled due date. It is the student’s responsibility to contact the Program Manager to discuss accommodations and procedures related to deferred tests and/or examinations within 48 hoursof the originally scheduled test/exam, as per policy. Failure to contact the course instructor, in the case of missed coursework, or the Program Manager, in thecase of a missed test/examination, within the specified 48-hour window will result in a grade of zero (0) on the coursework/exam and no further consideration will be granted.
*Note: Supporting documentation will be required but will not ensure approval of accommodation(s).
Academic Integrity
You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity. Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: “Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty”), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:
1.  Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
2.  Improper collaboration in-group work.
3.  Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.
Academic Accommodations:
Students with disabilities who require academic accommodations must contact the Student Accessibility Centre (SAS) to meet with an appropriate Disability Services Coordinator. To contact SAS, phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652, or email For further information, consult McMaster University’s Policy for Academic Accommodation for Students with Disabilities.
On-line Elements:
In this course, we will be using online elements, which may include email, Avenue to Learn, WebEx, and external web sites.  Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.
In this course, we may use a web-based service ( to reveal plagiarism. Students will be expected to submit their work electronically to and in hard copy so that it can be checked for academic dishonesty. Students who do not wish to submit their work to must still submit a copy to the instructor. No penalty will be assigned to a student who does not submit work to All submitted work is subject to normal verification that standards of academic integrity have been upheld (e.g., on-line search, etc.). To see the Policy, please go to McMaster Academic Integrity Policy.
Course Changes:
The instructor reserves the right to modify elements of the course and will notify students accordingly.
Course Withdrawal Policy:
Policies related to dropping a course and course withdrawals are posted to the Continuing Education’s program webpage, FAQs & Policies (
Storm Closure Policy:
 In the event of inclement weather, the Centre for Continuing Education will abide by the University’s Storm Closure Policy:, and will only close if the University is closed. All in-class courses, exams and room bookings by internal and external clients will be cancelled if the Centre for Continuing Education is closed. On-line courses will take place as scheduled.
Grading Scale:


Equivalent Grade Point

Equivalent Percentages








































Course Schedule:

Lesson #

Module Name

Required Readings

Activities Due


Introduction & Overview of Data Analytics


Chapters 1 – Analytics Overview

Chapter 2 – The People of Analytics

Due Sun 11:59pm - Reflection Memo


Data Analytics Lifecycle & Organizations


Chapters 3 – Organizational Context of Analytics

Chapter 5 – The Analytics Lifecycle Toolkit

Due Sun 11:59pm - Reflection Memo


Framing a Business Problem


Chapter 6 – Framing the Business Problem

Due Sun 11:59pm - Reflection Memo

Individual Mini Presentations (10%) 


Data Exploration


Chapter 7 – Data Sensemaking

Quiz (30%)


Designing the Resolution


Chapter 8 – Analytics Model Development

Due Sun 11:59pm - Reflection Memo

Submit Team Project Proposal Report for approval.


Data Management


Chapter 4 – Data Strategy, Platforms, and Architecture

Due Sun 11:59pm - Reflection Memo


Designing the Resolution


Chapter 10 – Analytics Product Management

Due - Present Personal Presentation (20%)


Presenting Findings Using Visualization Tools


Chapter 9 – Results Activation

Due Sun 11:59pm - Reflection Memo

DUE -  Team Proposal Report Check-in


Course Wrap-Up & Summary


Chapter 12 & 13

Due Sun 11:59pm - Reflection Memo

Project Presentations (30% Group Report) & Course Closeout