Mathematics MSc Programmes

The MSc experience: Views from recent graduates

Views from recent graduates about their experiences of the OR MSc at Edinburgh.

Lukas Wienkamp (2018)

Lukas Wienkamp
With my undergraduate degree in mathematics being of primarily theoretical nature, I wanted to pursue a master’s degree focussing more on the actual application of mathematical techniques to solve real-world problems. The wide selection of up-to-date courses and its practical orientation made the MSc in Operational Research at the University of Edinburgh the ideal choice.

After covering the basics in the first semester, the programme allows for specialisations in various areas such as Data Science or Risk. I decided to choose most of my classes and also my dissertation project from the field of (integer) optimization. While the theory was well explained in the lectures, I particularly enjoyed the many lab sessions and projects during the semester. Using different programming languages and software packages, we had the chance to directly apply the methods discussed in class to numerous problems from finance, logistics and telecommunications.

It was especially this high amount of continuous assessment and coursework which made the programme as intense as described in all the student testimonials. However, teamwork was always encouraged, and everyone tried to help each other out. With students coming from all over the world and all kinds of academic backgrounds, the OR class was a great group of people to be part of.

To top it all off, the commitment of this programme’s teaching staff is truly outstanding. The lecturers are very friendly, approachable and go out of their way to answer all your questions and support you with your studies. 


Meeke Roet (2018)

Coming from a background in business and economics, my road to this MSc was slightly unusual, but boy, am I glad I made the journey! And I wasn’t anywhere near the only one with a less-than-straightforward background, which was in fact one of the best parts of the programme: everyone brought a different set of skills and knowledge to the table, so that exchanging ideas and helping each other out was super valuable and quickly became normal. Combined with the high workload, this also meant that we all got close quickly, because what better way to bond than by cursing an assignment together late at night, but figuring it out in the end?

As stupid as it sounds, at the end of the first semester I already felt so much smarter than when I started, and now that I’ve finished, I can’t believe how much I’ve learned in just one year. Moreover, I found all of it interesting, because the wide range of optional courses allows you to tailor the programme completely to your interests. I decided to take about half of my optional credits in the School of Mathematics and half in the School of Informatics for the data science specialisation, but I could probably do another two semesters without getting bored. The programme is a good mix of theory and applications; no matter your course selection, you’ll always get the theoretical foundations required to understand more complicated methods, and you’ll always acquire practical skills such as programming and presenting. The last thing I should mention is the great staff involved in the programme, who are friendly, knowledgeable, and noticeably interested in teaching.

Besides all the raving reviews on this page, it turned out employers also like the degree, because landing a job was straightforward! All in all, I can only recommend the MSc: it’s hard work, but absolutely worth it.


Diego Beas Lagos (2017)

 Having worked for 3 years in the banking industry, I realized the high contribution that people with good quantitative background make in developing new and better regulation standards. This led me to look for a MSc degree where I could apply mathematics in solving real life problems. After searching deep, I found the best choice was the Masters in Operational Research at the University of Edinburgh. Having finished this Master’s degree, I can confirm that this choice was the perfect one.

This programme allows students to have both a strong mathematical basis in optimization and apply these techniques in different real situations. Since in the second semester you can choose the courses that best fit your interests, you are able to specialize and go deep in those topics which will be the foundations for your future career. Personally, as the big data environment we live nowadays requires knowing and applying new and more proficient optimization algorithms, I chose courses in this field. Thus, you can tailor the program as you wish which is a desired feature when you study an MSc.

Finally, students of this program come from different places and backgrounds. Some of them will become your friends with whom you will not only share experiences and have fun, but also create a good support group for those intensive periods the masters has, which are indeed almost along all year.


Roland Hales (2017)

After studying primarily pure mathematics in my undergraduate degree, I wanted to learn more practical and applied skills, which led me to studying for an MSc in Operational Research at the University of Edinburgh.

There is a lot of flexibility when it comes to choosing courses, so you can really tailor the programme to your individual interests, whether that be optimization, data science, statistics or anything else. Personally, I discovered that I particularly enjoyed the optimization courses, and so during the year I changed my programme to OR with Computational Optimization.

One thing I really loved about the programme was the international make-up of the students, because it meant that everyone had their own unique perspective and areas of expertise, making working together really enjoyable. Moreover, the lecturers were all very enthusiastic and willing to help, especially in the labs or workshops that accompany the lectures, and this meant there was always lots of support whenever I had questions.

Studying this programme definitely helped my career prospects, and I am now using many of the skills I learned at Edinburgh in my analytics job in the airline industry. Despite the applied nature of the programme, most courses still possess a strong theoretical component, which has prepared me well for a PhD, should I opt to undertake one in the future. 


Marion Lemery (2017)

Marion Lemery
I studied mathematics amongst other disciplines in the first two years of my undergraduate degree in France, and then did a Masters in Business. In the last year of my degree, I specialized in data analysis and management. I was introduced to topics related to operational research, and felt strongly attracted to that field and its research community, which lead me to study this MSc in the University of Edinburgh. I am very happy with that choice.

The MSc in Operational Research with computational optimization allowed me to discover and practice various aspects of optimization, and to get a strong and consistent foundation in that field, which brings together mathematics, programming, and real-life operational decision problems. The first semester focuses on fundamentals of operational research and optimization, while the second semester allows for specialisation and offers a variety of directions to study OR, whether applied or theoretical. I took mostly optimization courses, but the choice of courses would allow anyone to tailor the MSc to their preferences - I don't remember two students having the same combination of courses. Finally, the dissertation project was a challenging opportunity to apply the knowledge gained during the year on an actual research project. The environment was also a very positive point: the students were from many different countries and backgrounds - creating a very enjoyable diversity, and the academic community involved in teaching (international too) was passionate and helpful - transmitting their interests to us. The MSc is challenging and has a high workload, but it is worth it.

I am now in the first year of a PhD in the same OR and Optimization group of the school of Mathematics, with a focus on energy applications. Through the MSc, I acquired the knowledge and skills to start doing research in optimization, and the work done during the dissertation project was a good start for my PhD.


Marios Loizou (2017)

After finishing my undergraduate degree in Applied Mathematics, I decided I wanted to pursue a career in Operational Research and Risk Management. Part of this reason was that during my undergraduate degree I came across with operational research related topics, which fascinated me a lot. Therefore, I decided to pursue a Master in Operational Research, specialized in risk.

One thing that I really loved about the master was that even though it was quite diversified, with a range of courses’ choices, students had the opportunity to adjust the courses chosen, based on their own personal interests. For example, there was a range of choices such as optimization and data science among others. I personally decided to follow a combination of data science and optimization, which provided me with a well-rounded knowledge.

Another thing which I found extremely useful was the fact that this master gives you the opportunity of doing an industrial dissertation. Personally, I had the opportunity to have my dissertation at the Royal Bank of Scotland which was a great stepping stone for my career, since I was given the chance to work alongside experienced professionals of the banking sector and gain fruitful knowledge.

Overall, enrolling in this programme helped me a lot with my career prospects, since now I find myself applying different skills I have learned in the University of Edinburgh, in my current job in PwC.


Ivet Galabova (2016)

Ivet Galabova
I studied Computer Science and Mathematics at the University of Edinburgh as an undergraduate degree. I always liked maths more, so I wanted to do more of it whilst still doing some programming. The Operational Research with Computational Optimization MSc seemed like a perfect match for me and it lived up to my rather high expectations.

It is an intense 12-month programme which greatly expanded my understanding of Optimization and Operational Research. The applied courses accurately represent the type of work in industry and the theoretical parts provide enough proofs for any enthusiast. There is much flexibility when choosing courses, once the basics are covered, which ensures everyone takes the courses best suited to their skills and interests.

Additionally, the MSc students were all very good, friendly and from all over the world - I got to know some exciting people and we still keep in touch. I proceeded to a PhD in Linear Optimization in the very same OR group (University of Edinburgh School of Maths) and enjoy helping out with tutoring some of the courses.