Operational Research MSc/PGDip | Middlesex University London
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Operational Research MSc/PGDip

Learn about the course below
October 2020
EU/INT induction: September 2020
1 year full-time
2 years part-time
£9,100 (UK/EU) *
£13,900 (INT) *
Course leader
Gary Hearne
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Please note, this course is no longer accepting applications for 2019. The next start date will be in 2020

With its origins in the work of military planners, operational research uses advanced analytical methods to help make complex decisions and is a stimulating and demanding field which draws on mathematics, computing and statistics. Operational research techniques can help solve a range of problems, from determining the optimal layout of equipment in a factory, the setup of telecommunication networks to scheduling complex timetables and choosing bus routes.

Why study MSc Operational Research at Middlesex?

This course has a strong focus on gaining industry and real life experience and along with becoming an expert in theory, the University's continuing strong links with the industry and sector will also give you the skills and expertise that are in demand with employers. You will gain experience with solving real-life problems and evaluating their impact in business, government and industry, and your independent project will be based within the industry sector as well.

You will be encouraged to work with real data and on projects that will make a measurable difference to the businesses the University currently collaborates with. You'll learn to build models and simulations, use advanced spreadsheets and become comfortable with a variety of software packages.

You'll hone both your mathematical skills and your computing abilities, and be more than equipped to complete high-level strategic or entrepreneurial role in almost any sector, from aviation to banking.

Course highlights

  • We work in partnership with software company Lanner, who offer internships and projects for our students
  • This course will focus on not only helping you to become an expert in the theory, but giving you the skills and experience that are in demand with employers
  • During the course you will be tasked with solving real-life problems and evaluating their impact in business, government and industry
  • As a student of this course you'll receive a free electronic textbook for every module

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What will you study?

We’ll give you a thorough grounding in the concepts, theories, tools and methods used in operational research. You’ll become familiar with a variety of software packages and statistical analysis techniques, including models, simulations, spreadsheets, critical path analyses and ‘soft OR’ (which involves more qualitative techniques), and will learn to evaluate theories and methods and assess their strengths and limitations.

You’ll learn about the role of operational research in business, government and industry and will work on real-world problems, using your critical judgment to develop hypotheses, analyse reasoning, choose research and analysis methods and interpret and present data.

  • Modules

    • Optimisation Theory (30 credits) - Compulsory

      Provides a solid background to the mathematical and computing theory that underpins the OR techniques introduced in other modules, and in particular, Applied Optimisation.

    • Applied Optimisation (30 credits) - Compulsory

      An introduction to a range of standard operational research techniques, including scheduling, critical path analysis (CPA), linear programming and dynamic programming, neural networks and support vector machines. “Soft OR” and problem structuring methods (PSMs) will also be considered.

    • Probability and Stochastic Modelling (15 credits) - Compulsory

      Covers the use of mathematical probability to inform problem-solving, including its use in queuing theory as a precursor to study of event simulation.

    • Computational Complexity (15 credits) - Compulsory

      A mathematical approach to investigating the solvability of a problem, including working with and developing algorithms.

    • Games and Decisions (15 credits) - Compulsory

      Introduces a range of techniques for informing decision making strategies, including those which must incorporate multiple decision criteria.

    • Time Series and Forecasting (15 credits) - Optional

      Data obtained from observations collected sequentially over time are extremely common. The purpose of time series analysis is to understand or model the stochastic mechanism that gives rise to an observed series and to predict or forecast the future values of a series based on the history of that series, and, possibly, other related series or factors.

    • Data Mining (15 credits) - Optional

      The quantity of data available to analysts is growing at an ever-increasing rate. This data has become a vital tool for decision-making in a competitive world. However, the size, which makes the data so valuable, also makes it difficult to analyse using traditional statistical methods. This module introduces the student to a variety of methodologies now employed to explore, analyse, categorise and visualise data from large data sets.

You can find more information about this course in the programme specification. Optional modules are usually available at levels 5 and 6, although optional modules are not offered on every course. Where optional modules are available, you will be asked to make your choice during the previous academic year. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, or there are staffing changes which affect the teaching, it may not be offered. If an optional module will not run, we will advise you after the module selection period when numbers are confirmed, or at the earliest time that the programme team make the decision not to run the module, and help you choose an alternative module.

Teaching and learning

Lectures will introduce you to concepts, techniques and core mathematical methods, which you’ll explore further through workshops, seminars, and discussions in class. You’ll apply your new knowledge in practical computer laboratory sessions. We’ll encourage you to think critically and analytically, and to work collaboratively – some of your work will be done in groups. In your spare time you’ll do your own independent reading, research and study.


You’ll be assessed through exams, your dissertation and other individual and group coursework, including laboratory work, project work and presentations. You’ll be given feedback on all your assessed coursework.

  1. UK & EU
  2. International
  3. How to apply
  1. UK & EU
  2. International
  3. Additional costs

How can the MSc Operational Research support your career?

There is barely a field of modern society, business and government that does not rely on operational research to help with major decisions and problems and the quest to be as efficient as possible.

Operational research involves a huge variety of mathematical and analytical tools, from simulations and optimisations to the likes of queueing theory and neural networks, and is an area in which a great deal of academic and industrial research is continually being carried out.

As well as in-depth knowledge of your subject, our course will provide you with many transferable skills. It will improve your research, data collection and interpretation, communication, presentation and teamwork skills, as well as your confidence and your ability to work under your own initiative and manage your own time.

Other courses

Applied Statistics MSc/PGDip

Start: October 2020, September 2020: EU/INT induction

Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Code: PGG311

Financial Mathematics MSc/PGDip

Start: October 2019, EU/INT induction: September 2019

Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Code: PGG1N3

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