About this course
World Top 40 and 7th in the UK for Statistics and Operational Research (QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2021).
Develop the analytical skills for success in business and industry on this Operational Research MSc at the University of Southampton. You’ll work with multinational organisations on real-life case studies as you develop the knowledge to solve complex challenges. Prepare for a rewarding career in industry or research.
Operational Research is the application of scientific methods to the study of complex organisational problems.
As an operational researcher, you’ll play an important role in business and industry, providing analytics and guidance to management teams. If you’re good at maths, enjoy problem-solving and have strong communication skills, this could be a rewarding area for you.
On this UK master’s course you’ll learn the key skills and knowledge to provide effective solutions to organisational issues.
You’ll study topics such as revenue management and forecasting, and learn techniques to improve organisational efficiency and productivity.
You’ll work closely with industry throughout, and have the chance to develop your research skills in a commercial setting as you work on your dissertation over the summer. Our industrial liaison team will help you find a project that suits your skills and career plans.
On this course you’ll learn:
- the mathematical, computational and communication skills needed for the practical application of operational research
- an appreciation of related disciplines important in operational research
- how to use operational research tools in a wide range of applications
- research methods and current issues in operational research
You’ll also benefit from regular seminars featuring guest speakers from a wide range of organisations.
If you prefer, you can apply to study this course as:
- a part-time master's - study the same course content over 2 or more years
Your modules and fees may vary if you choose a different study option.
Your course leader is Dr Hou-Duo Qi, Professor of Optimization within Mathematical Sciences at the University of Southampton. His research focuses on matrix optimisation with applications in finance and statistics. Read Dr Qi’s staff profile to find out more about his work.
This course is based at Highfield.
This qualification is awarded by the University of Southampton.
Download the Course Description Document
The Course Description Document details your course overview, your course structure and how your course is taught and assessed.
Changes due to COVID-19
Although the COVID-19 situation is improving, any future restrictions could mean we might have to change the way parts of our teaching and learning take place in 2022 to 2023. This means that some of the information on this course page may be subject to change.
Find out more on our COVID advice page.
You’ll need a 2: 1 degree in a subject with some quantitative training, such as:
- computer science
Find the equivalent international qualifications for your country.
English language requirements
If English isn't your first language, you'll need to complete an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to demonstrate your competence in English. You'll need all of the following scores as a minimum:
IELTS score requirements
- overall score
We accept other English language tests. Find out which English language tests we accept.
Got a question?
Please contact us if you're not sure you have the right experience or qualifications to get onto this course.
Tel: +44(0)23 8059 5000
Your studies on the full-time course will last 12 months, from September to the following September.
For the first 8 months (semesters 1 and 2) you'll focus on the taught part of your course.
Each semester is made up of a combination of modules that everyone on the course takes, and modules that we’ll ask you to choose from a list of options.
For the remainder of the course, you’ll work independently on your research project and dissertation. You’ll have one-to-one meetings with your supervisor during this time to discuss your progress.
Want more detail? See all the modules in the course.
For entry in Academic Year 2022-23
Year 1 modules
You must study the following modules:
Analytical Consultancy Skills
The first case study is run by a company over one day and focuses on the modelling of a problem that is of current interest. The second case study runs over four days and requires a complex problem to be solved. The techniques used to tackle the problems ...
Data Mining and Analytics
The module provides an introduction to data analytics and data mining. It will combine practical work using R and SQL with an introduction to some of the theory behind standard data mining techniques.
Deterministic OR Methods
This module aims to introduce the student to the main deterministic techniques that are used in operational research, namely linear and integer programming, dynamic programming, machine scheduling, project networks, and heuristics. The process of modellin...
Introduction to Python
This module aims to teach students the fundamentals of writing structured computer programs, applicable using any high level programming language. However, students will be shown the special features of Python that makes this language especially useful fo...
This is a self-study module that aims to develop the skills required for researching, writing and presenting a report on some aspect of Operational Research/Data and Decision Analytics.
Students are allocated a project with an external organisation or on a topic devised by a member of staff in the Operational Research or Management Sciences group at the University of Southampton.
Statistical Methods for OR Modelling
The main aim of the module is to provide the students with necessary knowledge of statistics and stochastic processes to carry out simple statistical procedures and to be able to develop simulation and other models widely employed in OR. The model is spli...
Stochastic OR Methods
The Stochastic OR Techniques part introduces the concepts and applications of the following four topics: queuing systems, inventory systems, reliability theory and decision theory. Models and examples are also given to demonstrate applications of the topi...
You must also choose from the following modules:
Computational Machine Learning and Optimisation
This module will introduce you to some of the main approaches used for data analysis and machine learning. Students will gain knowledge and understanding of different computational machine learning methods, and gain skills in applying them to analyse dat...
Computer-based statistical modelling
The aim of the course is to provide a modern view of computer-based data analysis, from the statistical point of view. The course is intended for students with a solid basic background in probability, statistical methods, and computing, and who aim to bu...
Financial Portfolio Theory
The module aims to introduce the students to the basics of portfolio theory. Beginning with a summary of the reasons why both private investors and large institutional investors might wish to own share portfolios, the module progresses to consider how ris...
This module will introduce and develop flexible statistical modelling methods that allow for general and complex forms of data to be modelled, extending ideas already encountered in earlier modules on linear and/or generalised linear modelling. The two ma...
The module will introduce students to time series models and associated forecasting methods.
Logistics studies the optimal planning and control of materials, information, and cash-flows through the processes of transformation, transportation, and storage within a system. Integrated logistics studies the management of the logistics across multipl...
The module provides an introduction to the theory and practice of Revenue Management
Learning and assessment
The learning activities for this course include the following:
- classes and tutorials
- guest speakers
- computer workshops
- individual and group projects
- independent learning (studying on your own)
We’ll assess you through:
- a dissertation
- individual and group projects
- written exams
You’ll research and write a dissertation on a topic in operational research, working with an industry partner or a member of academic staff.
The project is a chance for you to develop your research skills and show specialist knowledge of a particular area of operational research.
You’ll have regular support meetings with your supervisor throughout the process.
We'll assign you a personal academic tutor, and you'll have access to a senior tutor.
With this degree you’ll be ready to work as an operational researcher or operational research analyst in a range of organisations.
Industries you could go into include:
- financial services
- transport and travel
Throughout the course you’ll have opportunities to network with companies such as:
- British Airways
- Defence Science and Technology Laboratory
- HM Revenue & Customs
You’ll also be in a great position to continue your researches at PhD level.
Careers services at Southampton
We're a top 20 UK university for employability (QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2022). Our Careers and Employability Service will support you throughout your time as a student and for up to 5 years after graduation. This support includes:
- work experience schemes
- CV/resume and interview skills workshops
- networking events
- careers fairs attended by top employers
- a wealth of volunteering opportunities
- study abroad and summer school opportunities
We have a thriving entrepreneurship culture. You'll be able to take advantage of:
- our dedicated start-up incubator, Futureworlds
- a wide variety of enterprise events run throughout the year
- our partnership in the world’s number 1 business incubator, SETsquared
Fees, costs and funding
Fees for a year's study:
- UK students pay £9,250.
- EU and international students pay £22,136.
What your fees pay for
Your tuition fee covers the full cost of tuition and any exams.
Find out how to pay your tuition fees.
Accommodation and living costs, such as travel and food, are not included in your tuition fees. Explore:
10% alumni discount
If you’re a graduate of the University of Southampton you get a 10% discount on your postgraduate tuition fees.
Postgraduate Master’s Loans (UK nationals only)
This can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate master's course. Find out if you're eligible.
Southampton Mathematics Postgraduate International Scholarship
A scholarship of £3,000 is available to international students studying for a postgraduate master’s in Mathematics.
Find out more about the Southampton Mathematics Postgraduate International Scholarship, including eligibility and conditions.
Other postgraduate funding options
A variety of additional funding options may be available to help you pay for your master’s study. Both from the University and other organisations.
Funding for EU and international students
Find out about funding you could get as an international student.
How to apply
- Use the 'apply for this course' button on this page to take you to our online application form.
- Search for the course you want to apply for.
- Complete the application form and upload any supporting documents.
- Submit your application.
Places are limited and we allocate them on a continuous basis from 21 September 2022, until all places are filled. We advise you to apply early to avoid disappointment.
We expect to close applications for this course on Friday 7 July 2023 (11:59pm UK time).
This course may stay open after this date if places are still available.
Application assessment fee
We’ll ask you to pay a £50 application assessment fee if you’re applying for a postgraduate taught course.
This is an extra one-off charge which is separate to your tuition fees and is payable per application. It covers the work and time it takes us to assess your application. You’ll be prompted to pay when you submit your application which won’t progress until you've paid.
If you're a current or former University of Southampton student, or if you’re applying for certain scholarships, you will not need to pay the fee. PGCE applications through GOV.UK and Master of Research (MRes) degree applications are also exempt. Find out if you’re exempt on our terms and conditions page.
When you apply you’ll need to submit a personal statement explaining why you want to take the course.
You’ll need to include information about:
- your knowledge of the subject area
- why you want to study a postgraduate qualification in this course
- how you intend to use your qualification
You'll also need to send 2 academic references.
Please include the required paperwork showing your first degree and your IELTS English language test score (if you are a non-native English speaker) with your application. Without these, your application may be delayed.
What happens after you apply
You'll be able to track your application through our online Applicant Record System.
We'll assess your application on the strength of your:
- academic achievements
- relevant professional experience
- personal statement
- academic references
We will aim to send you a decision 6-8 weeks after you have submitted your application.
If we offer you a place, you will need to accept the offer within 30 working days. If you do not meet this deadline, we will offer your place to another applicant.
Unfortunately, due to the volume of applications we receive, we may not be able to give you specific feedback on your application if you are unsuccessful.
Equality and diversity
We treat and select everyone in line with our Equality and Diversity Statement.
Got a question?
Please contact us if you're not sure you have the right experience or qualifications to get onto this course.
Tel: +44(0)23 8059 5000
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