Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

Operational Research MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Operational Research

The comprehensive curriculum covers not only the core skills of operational research that can equip you well for further study but a wide range of optional courses in different specializations that can help you find your interests. Personally, I felt my skills in mathematical modelling and problem solving greatly developed just after the first semester, and I couldn’t imagine I would experience such a rich year when I started a year ago.

Peiqi Li MSc Operational Research, 2020/21
Peiqi Li               MSc Operational Research, 2020/21

This programme will show you how to use mathematical techniques to tackle real-life problems ranging from scheduling flights and routing mobile phone calls, over optimising power systems and logistic networks, to managing investments and minimising risks.

Operational Research (OR) is an important skill that is in high demand.

Our intensive programme allows you to specialise in an area that best suits your career goals.

In addition to this general MSc in Operational Research, we offer the following degrees:

Links with Industry

The School of Mathematics has connections with a wide number of industrial partners, organisations, charities and government departments. As an MSc student in the School you will have opportunities to engage with these external organisations through regular employability events, careers workshops, and our annual analytics challenge (whose recent partners have included Edinburgh Airport and the Data and Marketing Association). There is also the opportunity to undertake a dissertation project with an external partner.

Recent external partners for dissertations in the Operational Research MSc programmes include:

  • NatWest
  • Department for Work and Pensions
  • KrakenFlex (Octopus Energy)

This programme involves two taught semesters of compulsory and optional courses followed by your dissertation project.

Compulsory courses have previously included:

  • Fundamentals of Optimization
  • Fundamentals of Operational Research
  • Methodology, Modelling and Consulting Skills
  • Simulation
  • Stochastic Modelling

Optional courses have previously included:

  • Python Programming
  • Machine Learning in Python
  • Optimization Methods in Finance
  • Topics in Applied Operational Research
  • Risk and Logistics
  • Operational Research in the Energy Industry
  • Credit Scoring
  • Large Scale Optimization for Data Science
  • Natural Computing*
  • Introduction to Practical Programming with Objects*
  • Algorithmic Game Theory and its Applications*
  • Introductory Probability and Statistics
  • Biostatistics
  • Generalised Regression Models
  • Statistical Methodology
  • Statistical Programming
  • Time Series

*delivered by the School of Informatics

Dissertation projects

Dissertation projects on this programme can be undertaken in partnership with public and private sector organisations. Other students choose an academic project without a direct link to an external organisation.

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
MScOperational Research1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2023/24

At the end of this programme you will have:

  • built your expertise in mathematical modelling
  • gained flexible problem-solving skills based on a deep knowledge of operational research, optimization and data analysis techniques and the ability to apply them using appropriate software
  • acquired transferable skills to maximize your prospects for future employment in a wide range of public and private institutions, including writing, oral presentation, team-working, numerical and logical problem-solving, planning and time-management
  • enhanced your consulting skills
  • learned practical skills in programming and modelling for a wide range of applications
  • expanded your understanding of related disciplines, such as high-performance computing, finance and engineering.

The skills you will learn are in demand by a vast range of high-profile organisations, including:

  • consultancy firms
  • the public sector
  • companies with operational research departments such as airlines, energy and telecommunications providers, financial firms, manufacturers

Recent graduates have joined:

  • British Airways
  • Edinburgh Airport
  • the Government OR Service
  • RBS
  • Ernst & Young
  • Merkle | Aquila
  • smaller specialised OR, finance, and energy companies

Student Support Team

In the School of Mathematics, we have a dedicated Student Support Team consisting of six staff members. You will have a Student Adviser who is your first point of contact during your time at the University of Edinburgh, and who is available to help and advise on a range of issues connected to your postgraduate study. Study support will be provided by academics acting as Cohort Leads, with wider teaching teams, who will work with students to connect you with your programme of study and provide you with more specialist subject support.

Student blogs

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.

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

A UK 2:1 degree, or its international equivalent, in a numerate discipline such as mathematics, engineering, computer science, physical or biological sciences, economics or business. You can increase your chances of a successful application by exceeding the minimum programme requirements.

Please note that you should only apply to one of: Operational Research (OR)/OR with Computational Optimization/OR with Data Science/OR with Risk.

Students from China

This degree is Band B.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

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

English language tests

We 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 Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 59 in each component.

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, Trinity ISE or PTE, 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 (non-MESC).

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:

Application fee

None.

Deposit

None.

Additional programme costs

None.

Living costs

You will be responsible for covering living costs for the duration of your studies.

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScOperational Research1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MScOperational Research2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Mastercard Foundation Postgraduate Scholarships

Scholarships are available for the MSc Operational Research programme. The postgraduate study scholarships for the 2024/25 academic year will accept applications from 23rd October 2023 at 10:00 AM until 7th December 2023 at 5:00 PM (UK Time). Applicants must be residents and citizens or hold refugee status in a Sub-Saharan African country.

For more information and how to apply, visit the website:

Please note: If the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program is the only scholarship you are interested in applying for at the University of Edinburgh, please apply for the Mastercard Foundation scholarship only first. If you receive a scholarship offer from the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, then you can apply for the academic programme.

(Revised 26 October 2023 to include information about the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program)

Martingale Foundation Scholarships

We are one of the Martingale Foundation's newest university partners. The Martingale Foundation helps provide access to postgraduate mathematics study for UK students facing financial barriers by offering fully-funded MSc and PhD programmes. Applications for the 2024 Martingale Scholarship close on Wednesday 25 October 2023

British Council GREAT Scholarships - Malaysia

This scholarship programme offers financial support to applicants from Malaysia pursuing one year of taught postgraduate study in the School of Mathematics. The scholarship has a value of £10,000 which will be deducted from tuition fees and will be tenable for one academic year.

School of Mathematics funding

There may be School funding available for well-qualified candidates.

OR Society scholarships

The OR Society offers up to two Master’s degree scholarships worth £10,000 for UK students on an Operational Research MSc programme. Check the website below for application deadlines.

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
  • your tuition fee status.

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • School of Mathematics
  • James Clerk Maxwell Building
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3FD
Programme start date Application deadline
9 September 2024 31 August 2024

Due to high demand, the school operates a number of selection deadlines.

We strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. Applications may close earlier than the published deadlines if there is exceptionally high demand.

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.

We aim to make the majority of decisions within eight weeks of the selection deadline.

If we have not made you an offer by a specific selection deadline this means one of two things:

  • your application has been unsuccessful, in which case we will contact you to let you know, or
  • your application is still being considered, will be carried forward for consideration in the next selection deadline and we will be in touch once a decision is made

Selection Deadlines

Round Application Deadline Decisions made or applications rolled to next deadline
1 15 December 1 March
2 31 March 31 May
3 31 May 31 July

You must submit one reference with your application.

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

Further information

  • School of Mathematics
  • James Clerk Maxwell Building
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3FD