The University of Southampton
Mathematical SciencesPostgraduate study

MSc Operational Research and Statistics

This programme is an ideal opportunity to provide yourself with the analytical and statistical skill set necessary for success in industry, business or in the public sector. From day one you will find yourself working with multinational organisations on case studies to develop your abilities in applied analytics and statistics. Opportunities for summer projects in a wide range of industries are an integral part of the programme.

Full time study: This one year master programme is suitable for numerate graduates. The MSc programme lasts for twelve months.

The MSc programme in Operational Research and Statistics provides students with the ideal skill set in mathematical modelling, experimental design, statistical analysis, and numerical computation. This programme also provides soft skills such as communicating results to managers/executives. These prepare students to pursue a wide variety of career opportunities in industry, business or in the public sector.

A highlight of the programme is the three-month summer project: it may be either in Operational Research or Statistics (or the interface between the two). You will have the option to bid for an external project which is usually based at a nearby company and requires working on a real problem of practical importance to that company. You also have the option to work on an internal project which might involve data from external sources. The MSc project consists of an individual investigation and is under the supervision of a member of staff. This project enables students to integrate and consolidate skills learned on the course (and to fulfil deliverables for the sponsoring company in the case of an external project).

In summary, the learning and teaching aims of the programme are:

1. To give you knowledge of operational research techniques and applied statistical theory and methods at an advanced level;

2. To train you for careers as either an operational researcher or as a statistician.

3. To enable you to develop oral and written communication skills.

4. To give you experience of applications of operational research and statistical methods.

Book your placeVisit us at our Postgraduate Open Day on 22 November

Introducing your course

Operational researchers and statisticians play a fundamental role in the modern world. This MSc will equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge to provide effective solutions to complex organizational challenges. This includes all key stages of solving real-world problems:

-Providing analytical understanding the problem; possibly through designing experiments, collecting and visualizing data

-Mathematically formulating the problem and finding solution approaches

-Providing statistical analysis and computation

-Presenting and communicating the results

The programme contains compulsory modules that provide the foundation in both Operational Research and Statistics, and optional modules for students to specialise in these two areas (or to have a balance portfolio of them).

The summer dissertation gives you an opportunity to develop your research skills, often in a commercial setting, and our industrial liaison team will work with you to find a project that suits your skills and ambitions.


What is Operational Research?

Operational Research is the application of scientific methods to the study of complex organisational problems. It is concerned with applying advanced analytical methods to make effective decisions in strategic planning or operational planning, and build more productive systems.

What is Statistics?

Statistics is concerned with decision-making in the face of uncertainty, and lies at the heart of the type of quantitative reasoning necessary for making important advances in the sciences, such as medicine and genetics, and for making important decisions in business and public policy.

Why do an MSc?

An MSc is generally accepted as being highly desirable for starting and developing a career in OR. The MSc is also a good preparation for research work.

A highlight of the programme is the 3-month summer project. The student is usually placed with a nearby company and works on a real problem of practical importance to that company.


The Operational Research Group and the Statistics Group in Mathematics are strong committed teams of 20 lecturing staff and a number of research staff. The Groups teach a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses, as well as undertaking consultancy work for outside organisations. Many of the staff are internationally known in their fields of research.

The 2017 QS subject world rankings places Statistics and Operational Research at Southampton in the top 100.

CORMSIS Business Advisory Board

This Committee is a good indicator of the high regard in which the Southampton MSc programmes involving Operational Research are held by outside organisations. Its purpose is to ensure that the MSc programmes produce graduates with the requisite skills for the needs of industry. It also provides a focal point for liaison between the Operational Research Group and industry. You have the chance to meet the Committee several times during the year. Major companies including Shell, British Airways, BAA, BT, The AA, Dstl and HM Revenue & Customs are represented on the Committee.

View the programme specification document for this course

To Apply

University application form with references (Online application here), plus invitation to Open Day, particularly if you are being considered for studentship funding.

Programme Structure

The full-time MSc is completed over a 12-month period. There are two semesters of taught material, which account for 60 ECTS (120 CATS), together with an MSc project (typically undertaken in the summer), which accounts for 30 ECTS (60 CATS).

The structure of the programme provides you with a foundation in both Operational Research and Statistics. It also allows you to select several optional modules from a broad range of topics in Semester 2 so that you can specialise in either Operational Research or Statistics (or to choose a balanced portfolio of options). These are complemented by careers talks, with speakers from a wide range of organisations providing an appreciation of the developments in, and use of, Operational Research and Statistics in practice, and presentations on employability skills.

While studying for your degree, you will develop key transferrable skills, such as written and oral communication, presentation skills, teamwork, the use of IT (e.g. some Optimisation, Simulation, and Statistical software), time management, and basic research skills including the use of the web and the library.

Key Facts

Assessment: Examination, coursework, dissertation

Start date: Late September

Applying: University application form with transcripts, two references

Closing date: None, but studentships may not be available later in the application year.

Funding: Partial scholarships/studentships possible; international privately financed students are eligible for a School bursary of £2,000 per annum (paid quarterly for maintenance), with slightly higher payments considered on academic merit. You may be invited to an open day, especially if you are being considered for studentship funding.

Students working

Operational Research Scholarships

We are offering a limited number of scholarships for our MSc Operational Research courses

Find out more

Entry Requirements

Typical entry requirements

Selection process

First or upper second-class honours degree or equivalent in a discipline which provides some quantitative training (e.g. computer science, economics, engineering, mathematics, physics, statistics)

IELTS score of at least 6.5 overall, with at least 6 in each component (intensive summer language course available if required).

An Operational Researcher or a Statistician needs to be numerate, to enjoy problem-solving, and to have good communication and interpersonal skills. However a first degree in mathematics is not essential. Other qualifications can be considered, e.g. Professional Development courses provided by the Royal Statistical Society or other professional training courses in Statistics. Therefore candidates should send full details of their training in Mathematics and Statistics with their application.

This page contains specific entry requirements for this course. Find out about equivalent entry requirements and qualifications for your country.


Typical course content

Typical course content: The MSc programme in Operational Research and Statistics provides students with the ideal skill sets in mathematical modelling, numerical computation and computer programming, experiment design, and collecting and analysing scientific data.

In addition to the core and optional modules listed below, students will also be required to complete a Maths Project.

The programme is studied over one year full-time. The taught component of the programme consists of 30 study weeks divided into two semesters during which time students study 60 ECTS/120 CATS. Students who successful complete the taught component undertake a three-month period of supervised research for a Master’s dissertation at a value of 30 ECTS/60 CATS

Year 1

The Diploma programme comprises the two semesters of taught material, with examinations at the end of each semester

Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if s/he takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. More detailed information can be found in the programme handbook (or other appropriate guide or website).

Fees & funding

Tuition fees

Fees for postgraduate taught courses vary across the University. All fees are listed for UK, EU and international full-time and part-time students alphabetically by course name.

View the full list of course fees


Scholarships, bursaries, sponsorships or grants may be available to support you through your course. Funding opportunities available to you are linked to your subject area and/or your country of origin. These can be from the University of Southampton or other sources.

Explore funding opportunities

Costs associated with this course

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

There will also be further costs for the following, not purchasable from the University:

EquipmentApproved calculators- Candidates may use calculators in the examination room only as specified by the University and as permitted by the rubric of individual examination papers. The University approved models are Casio FX-570 and Casio FX-85GT Plus. These may be purchased from any source and no longer need to carry the University logo.
StationeryYou will be expected to provide your own day-to-day stationary items, e.g. pens, pencils, notebooks, etc). Any specialist stationery items will be specified under the Additional Costs tab of the relevant module profile.
BooksWhere a module specifies core texts these should generally be available on the reserve list in the library. However due to demand, students may prefer to buy their own copies. These can be purchased from any source. Some modules suggest reading texts as optional background reading. The library may hold copies of such texts, or alternatively you may wish to purchase your own copies. Although not essential reading, you may benefit from the additional reading materials for the module.
OtherIT- There are computer labs around the University for the students to use. All software needed for the course is provided. Some software might be available to be installed in the students’ personal computers.
Printing and copyingIn some modules, coursework such as essays; projects is to be submitted online. However, there are some items where it is not possible to submit online and students will be asked to provide a printed copy. A list of the University printing costs can be found here: services/copying_for_students_and_visitors/faq.php
PlacementsStudents who are allocated to summer projects with external companies outside Southampton might receive reallocation support. Details will be arranged between the student, the company and the MSc programme coordinator.

In some cases you'll be able to choose modules (which may have different costs associated with that module) which will change the overall cost of a programme to you. Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

Learning & Assessment

Study locations

Highfield Campus

Highfield Campus

Mathematics is based on the University's Highfield Campus in Building ...Find out more

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