What can OR do?

Operational Research (OR) uses mathematical techniques to tackle real-life decision problems

  • Schedule planes/crews and decide seat prices
  • Route internet calls and allocate mobile phone frequencies
  • Manage a portfolio of shares and minimize its risk
  • Optimize the development of an oil field
  • Plan the operation of a hospital blood bank

Management ScienceDecision Sciences, and Operations Management are all part of Operational Research, which is also known as Operations Research

programme overview

Programme at a glance

Starts: mid-September
Lasts: 12 months full-time
You get: Expert training to become an OR analyst with excellent career opportunities or foundation for PhD study
You need: A degree in an area such as Mathematics, Statistics, Computer Science, Engineering, Physical or Biological Sciences, Economics or Business Studies
Intake: 45-55 students
Funding: Fees+stipend for 1-2 UK students; Fees for 5-8 EU students
Email: ORMSc@ed.ac.uk
Phone: +44 (131) 650 4883

Alex Banks-Watson (2012)

Alex Banks-Watson

"Before the end of my program I found a role with a dutch company that make and implement Supply Chain Planning and Optimization software. The OR MSc was a perfect preparation for this combination of mathematical thinking and customer interaction."


Alex Banks-Watson Alex Banks-Watson (2012)

Studying Economics and Mathematics as an undergraduate, I wanted to find a post-graduate course that would be both rigorous and applied. Operational Research combined these traits with other long standing interests energy and transportation. I chose to study at Edinburgh for a number of reasons. The first was that I wanted the theoretical emphasis of a program run by a Maths department rather than that of a Business School OR program. Secondly, I was drawn to the wide variety of elective subjects to choose from and sample, giving me the opportunity to shape my degree as I learned more about OR. The excellent reputation of the University of Edinburgh was also a factor as was the opportunity to live in one of the UK's most vibrant and beautiful cities.

I was not disappointed. The course more than lived up to my expectations of both in terms rigour and breadth. I took a selection of theoretical and industry focused courses. The workload was significant but manageable and I made a number of wonderful friendships that I expect to endure. My thesis project was in an area of Optimization that is generating quite some interest and was closely aligned with the research interests of members of the faculty. It was thrilling to be able to work in an area that is on the cutting edge.

Before the end of my program I found a role with a dutch company that make and implement Supply Chain Planning and Optimization software, where I am working today. My role consists of modeling customer solutions, working on practical optimizers, and consulting with customers to pin point where in their operations the largest savings can be found through optimization. The OR MSc was a perfect preparation for this combination of mathematical thinking and customer interaction.

Other student stories

Operational Research MSc Programmes

Applications for study in 2015-16

Due to strong competition for places on the programmes, offers will now be made on the basis of the best applications received by the end of June 2015. Until this date, feedback on applications will be given and offers will be made to the very best applications.

Note that the University has made further UK/EU Master's Scholarships available and eligible students should complete an online scholarship application before the application deadline of Tuesday 30th June 2015.

Why Operational Research MSc?

You will enjoy Operational Research if you like solving practical quantitative problems and seeing the solutions implemented.

By studying Operational Research you will develop a valuable combination of mathematical, modelling, analytical, computing, interpersonal and communication skills.

An Operational Research MSc provides

Our students come from diverse backgrounds such as mathematics, statistics, physics, computer science, engineering, economics and other quantitative disciplines.

Financial Aid

The OR MSc Programme has funding from the School of Mathematics to encourage the best UK and EU students to study Operational Research. Note that there is no need to apply separately for this funding.

We will offer the best UK applicants a funding package of full fees and a stipend of at least £3,000. In addition, well qualified UK applicants can expect to be offered funding towards their course fees and may be offered some living expenses. Prospective students with first class degrees can expect such an offer unless we have too many, in which case absolute performance and any further study or relevant work experience will be taken into consideration. Depending on the number and quality of applications, lower levels of funding may be offered to less well qualified applicants.

Well qualified EU applicants can expect to be offered funding towards their course fees.

Note that all Scottish and non-UK nationals of EU countries may apply for one of the University's Highly Skilled Workforce Scholarships and, if unsuccessful, are eligible for a £3,400 loan from the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS).

Why Edinburgh?

University of Edinburgh is a world-class university.

The Edinburgh OR MSc is an intensive one year programme with selected courses delivered by industry professionals.

Our programme is flexible, offering specialization in 

We offer opportunities to pursue an industry or government summer dissertation project.

The city of Edinburgh is 

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