The University of Southampton
Mathematical SciencesPostgraduate study

MSc in Operational Research (1 year)

This programme is an ideal opportunity to provide yourself with the analytic skill set necessary for success in business and industry. From day one you will find yourself working with multinational organisations on case studies to develop your abilities in applied analytics. Opportunities for summer projects in a wide range of industries are an integral part of the programme.

Full time study: This one year masters programme is suitable for numerate graduates. The MSc programme lasts for twelve months.

Part-time study: This scheme is suitable for numerate students who are qualified to enter the one year full time scheme but wish to study on a part time basis. Project work takes the special circumstances of a particular student into account.

The aim of the programme is to provide you with all the data analytics and optimisation skills required for a successful career, therefore a wide spectrum of techniques and approaches are covered. For this reason staff from several other Schools in the University are involved with teaching on the MSc programme.

Programme objectives are:

-to give you a thorough knowledge of the mathematical, computational and communication skills needed for the practical application of Operational Research
-to give you a broad appreciation of related disciplines important in Operational Research
-to illustrate the use of Operational Research tools in a wide range of applications. This part of the programme is not just descriptive since much of the application of Operational Research is best learned by active involvement. The 3-month summer project and computer workshops are designed with this in mind. In addition, seminars provide a forum for the discussion of practical Operational Research issues
-to introduce you to research methods and current issues in Operational Research

Introducing your course

Operational researchers play a fundamental role in the modern world, providing analytics and guidance to management teams. This MSc will equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge to provide effective solutions to complex organizational challenges in a business environment. You will study modules such as revenue management and forecasting and you will learn to use optimization techniques to enhance productivity.
The summer dissertation gives you an opportunity to develop your research skills, often in a commercial setting, and our industrial liaison team will work with you to find a project that suits your skills and ambitions.

Overview

What is Operational Research?

Operational Research is the application of scientific methods to the study of complex organisational problems. Even within the same organisation Operational Research tends to be highly varied because of its project-driven nature. This breadth of experience offers an exciting and rewarding career in many organisations and in general management. Moreover the nature of the work brings an Operations Research graduate into early contact with senior management, and career advancement is typically rapid.

Why do an MSc?

An MSc is generally accepted as being highly desirable for starting and developing a career in OR. The MSc is also a good preparation for research work.

A highlight of the programme is the 3-month summer project. The student is usually placed with a nearby company and works on a real problem of practical importance to that company.

Environment

The Operational Research Group in Mathematics is a strong committed team of 11 lecturing staff and a number of research staff. The Group teaches a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses, as well as undertaking consultancy work for outside organisations. Many of the staff are internationally known in their fields of research.

CORMSIS Business Advisory Board

This Committee is a good indicator of the high regard in which the Southampton MSc programmes involving Operational Research are held by outside organisations. Its purpose is to ensure that the MSc programmes produce graduates with the requisite skills for the needs of industry. It also provides a focal point for liaison between the Operational Research Group and industry. You have the chance to meet the Committee several times during the year. Major companies including Shell, British Airways, BAABT, The AADstl and HM Revenue & Customs are represented on the Committee.

View the programme specification document for this course

To Apply

University application form with references (online application here), plus invitation to Open Day, particularly if you are being considered for studentship funding.

Programme Structure

The full-time MSc programme is completed over a 12-month period. There are two semesters of taught material, lasting for just over 8 months, which account for 60 ECTS/120 credit points (Diploma level). The MSc programme is completed with a project lasting over 3 months.

The Diploma programme comprises the two semesters of taught material, with examinations at the end of each semester.

There is also a regular seminar series, with speakers from a wide range of organisations providing an appreciation of the developments in and use of OR in practice. There are also Computing Workshops designed to make you more familiar with the use of computers and various packages. You will also research a self-selected topic, producing a report and a presentation on the subject.

Key Facts

Assessment: Examination, coursework, dissertation

Start date: Late September

Applying: University application form with transcripts, two references

Closing date: None, but studentships may not be available later in the application year.

Funding: Partial scholarships/studentships possible; international privately financed students are eligible for a School bursary of £2,000 per annum (paid quarterly for maintenance), with slightly higher payments considered on academic merit. You may be invited to an open day, especially if you are being considered for studentship funding. 

Entry Requirements

Typical entry requirements

Selection process

Intake: 30

Average applications per place: 4

First or upper second-class honours degree or equivalent in a discipline which provides some quantitative training (e.g. computer science, economics, engineering, mathematics, physics, statistics)

IELTS score of at least 6.5 overall, with at least 6 in each component (intensive summer language course available if required).

The approach usually centres on building a model of the system or problem of interest, followed by study of the model using a range of different quantitative techniques. The model building process is often the most challenging part of an Operational Research project and clarifying poorly defined and unstructured problems, which requires a creative yet analytical mind, demands a range of skills.

An Operational Research worker needs to be numerate, to enjoy problem-solving, and to have good communication and interpersonal skills. However a first degree in mathematics is not essential; students with degrees in geography, chemistry, economics, business studies, physics, engineering and naval architecture have all successfully completed the MSc programme at Southampton and gone on to obtain good jobs in Operational Research.

This page contains specific entry requirements for this course. Find out about equivalent entry requirements and qualifications for your country.

Modules

Typical course content

The Diploma programme comprises the two semesters of taught material, with examinations at the end of each semester.

Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if s/he takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. More detailed information can be found in the programme handbook (or other appropriate guide or website).

Fees & funding

Tuition fees

Fees for postgraduate taught courses vary across the University. All fees are listed for UK, EU and international full-time and part-time students alphabetically by course name.

View the full list of course fees

Funding

Scholarships, bursaries, sponsorships or grants may be available to support you through your course. Funding opportunities available to you are linked to your subject area and/or your country of origin. These can be from the University of Southampton or other sources.

Explore funding opportunities

Costs associated with this course

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

There will also be further costs for the following, not purchasable from the University:

TypeDescription
EquipmentApproved Calculators: Candidates may use calculators in the examination room only as specified by the University and as permitted by the rubric of individual examination papers. The University approved model is Casio FX-570 This may be purchased from any source and no longer needs to carry the University logo.
StationeryYou will be expected to provide your own day-to-day stationary items (e.g. pens, pencils, notebooks, etc). Any specialist stationery items will be specified under the Additional Costs tab of the relevant module profile.
BooksWhere a module specifies core texts these should generally be available on the reserve list in the library. However due to demand, students may prefer to buy their own copies. These can be purchased from any source. Some modules suggest reading texts as optional background reading. The library may hold copies of such texts, or alternatively you may wish to purchase your own copies. Although not essential reading, you may benefit from the additional reading materials for the module.
EquipmentIT - Software Licences: Licences for software recommended as part of the programme will be provided by the university on university machines. In some cases, students may wish to purchase software to use on their own computers.
EquipmentIT - Hardware: Public workstations are available, but iPads, laptops etc, are to be purchased as the student wishes.
Printing and copyingIn the majority of cases, coursework such as essays, projects, dissertations is likely to be submitted on line. However, there are some items where it is not possible to submit on line and students will be asked to provide a printed copy. A list of the University printing costs can be found here: [http://www.southampton.ac.uk/printcentre/copyrooms/service.page]. Dissertations should be soft bound. Up-to-date prices can be found here: [http://www.southampton.ac.uk/printcentre/dissertation_thesis/binding.page].
PlacementsWhere placements involve working away from Southampton, the additional costs of travel and accommodation will usually be covered by a bursary that is given to the student at the start of the project.
OtherOptional Visits: We offer the possibility of optional off-site visits occasionally during the programme. When these occur, students may be expected to cover the associated transport costs.

In some cases you'll be able to choose modules (which may have different costs associated with that module) which will change the overall cost of a programme to you. Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at www.calendar.soton.ac.uk.

Learning & Assessment

Study locations

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