Postgraduate study

Financial Modelling and Optimization MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities


This programme gives you a flexible syllabus to suit the demands of employers that use modern financial tools and optimization techniques in areas such as the financial sector and energy markets.

We will give you sound knowledge in financial derivative pricing, portfolio optimization and financial risk management.

We will also provide you with the skills to solve some of today’s financial problems, which have themselves been caused by modern financial instruments. This expertise includes modern probability theory, applied statistics, stochastic analysis and optimization.

Adding depth to your learning, our work placement programme puts you at the heart of financial organisations such as Moody's Analytics, Standard Life Investment and Lloyds Banking Group.

This programme involves two taught semesters of compulsory and option courses, followed by a dissertation project. You must obtain a total of 180 credits to be awarded the MSc. Over semesters 1 and 2, you will take a number of compulsory courses and optional courses. Successful performance in these courses (assessed through coursework or examinations or both) allows you to start work on a three-month dissertation project worth 60 credits, possibly with one of our industry partners, for the award of the MSc degree.

Compulsory courses:

  • Discrete-Time Finance (10 credits, S1)
  • Stochastic Analysis in Finance (20 credits, S1)
  • Fundamentals of Optimization (10 credits, S1)
  • Research-Linked Topics (10 credits, full-year)
  • Finance, Risk and Uncertainty (10 credits, S1)
  • Risk-Neutral Asset Pricing (10 credits, S2)
  • Numerical Probability and Monte Carlo (10 points, S2)
  • Optimization Methods in Finance (10 credits, S2)

Optional courses:

  1. Operations Research and Mathematical Finance courses:
  • Financial Risk Theory (10 credits, S1)
  • Computing for Operational Research and Finance (10 credits, S1)
  • Fundamentals of Operational Research (10 credits, S1)
  • Stochastic Control and Dynamic Asset Allocation (10 credits, S2)
  • Credit Scoring (10 credits, S2)
  • Financial Risk Management (10 credits, S2)
  • Risk Analysis (5 credits, S2)
  • Stochastic Modelling (10 credits, S2)
  1. Relevant Statistical and Numerical courses:
  • Multivariate Data Analysis (10 credits, S2)
  • Numerical Partial Differential Equations (10 credits, S2)
  • Advanced Time Series Econometrics (10 credits, S2) (offered by the School of Economics)
  1. Programming courses:
  • Object-Oriented programming with applications (10 credits, S1)
  • Parallel Numerical Algorithms (10 credits, S1), (offered by EPCC)
  • Programming Skills (10 credits, S1), (offered by EPCC)
  1. Optimization courses:
  • Combinatorial Optimization (5 credits, S2)
  • Large Scale Optimization for Data Science (10 credits, S2)
  • Modern Optimization Methods for Big Data Problems (10 credits, S2)
  • Nonlinear Optimization (10 credits, S2)
  • Stochastic Optimization (5 credits, S2)

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MSc1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2020/21
MSc2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2020/21

We work closely with the Scottish Financial Risk Academy (SFRA) to offer a number of short courses led by industry (part of our Research-Linked Topics) and to provide the opportunity to our best students to write their dissertations during placements with financial services companies.

At the end of this programme you will have:

  • developed personal communications skills, initiative, and professionalism within a mathematical context
  • developed transferable skills that maximise your prospects for future employment, including writing, oral presentation, team-working, numerical and logical problem-solving, planning and time-management
  • improved your ability to convey ideas in an articulate fashion, to build upon previous mathematical training and further develop logic and deductive skills
  • mastered standard and advanced mathematical tools used to solve applied problems relevant to the mathematical finance industry
  • developed quantitative and computational skills for the proficient fulfilment of tasks in the financial sector

Graduates have gone on to work in major financial institutions or to continue their studies by joining PhD programmes.

Learn about what life is like as a MSc student in the School of Mathematics, by hearing from the people that have experienced it first-hand! Our student bloggers come from all across the world, and have studied on a variety of our MSc programmes.

A UK 2:1 degree, or its international equivalent, in mathematics or a mathematical subject such as statistics, physics or engineering.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

For 2021 entry we will accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each section.We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each paper.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MSc1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MSc2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

School of Mathematics funding

There may be School funding available for well-qualified UK and EU nationals.

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Programme Administrator
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 5386
  • Contact:
  • School of Mathematics
  • James Clerk Maxwell Building
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3FD
Programme start date Application deadline
13 September 2021 31 August 2021

Due to high demand, the school operates a number of selection deadlines. We will make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis, but hold the majority of applications until the next published selection deadline.

Applicants who are not made an offer at a specific selection deadline will either be notified that they have been unsuccessful in securing a place on the programme, or if they do not hear then they are still being considered and their application will be carried forward to the next selection deadline for further consideration at that time.

Selection deadlines

Round Application Deadline
1 31 January 2021
2 31 March 2021
3 30 June 2021

You must submit one reference with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Programme Administrator
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 5386
  • Contact:
  • School of Mathematics
  • James Clerk Maxwell Building
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3FD