MSc/PgDip/PgCert in Operational Research

University of Strathclyde Business School

Program Description
EFMD Equis Accredited

MSc/PgDip/PgCert in Operational Research

University of Strathclyde Business School

Why this course?

The MSc in Operational Research aims to realise the potential of graduates, so that you immediately can play an effective role in providing model-based support to managers helping them to make better decisions at an operational/technical level.

You’ll develop a rigorous academic understanding of advanced analytical methods that are used to provide structured and analytical approaches to decision-making.

You’ll also develop practical skills in using operational research models to support decision-makers.

You’ll study

Study for the Postgraduate Diploma degree lasts nine months, following the same taught classes as for the MSc. As well as allowing you to complete a recognised course in a shorter time, the Diploma provides the opportunity for a wider range of applicants to enter the operational research world. Students demonstrating sufficient progress may be allowed to transfer in-course to study for the MSc.

The course is structured comprising four classes each semester, with the ‘Becoming an Effective Operational Researcher’ module running through both semesters. The first semester involves only core classes, whereas the second semester involves only one core class and three electives.


MSc students undertake a three-month project. This is typically for an external organisation. You’ll apply the concepts and theories studied on the course.

Subject to demand, the MSc can also be obtained part-time, over two or three years. The same topics are studied, normally 1 to 2 days per week. Most part-time students are already in employment and are sponsored by their employers. They carry out their project work within their own organisations.

Distance learning option

The course can be done through distance learning. All classes are taught using material presented via the internet so you can study when it suits you. Classes are supported by faculty members who also teach on the full-time course. They will guide and support discussion via discussion forums.

This is a flexible degree and duration can vary. Minimum durations are:

  • PgCert: 13 months
  • PgDip: 20 months
  • MSc: 26 months

Work placement

The apprenticeship scheme forms a vital component of the MSc in Operational Research. Through the scheme, many of our students spend an invaluable three weeks in January working in the analytical function of their host organisation.

Last year, more than 35 selected students worked with over 25 different organisations based all over the UK, including Capita, Department of Health, Diageo, Doosan Babcock, First Scotrail, Glasgow City Council, NHS, RBS, Scottish Enterprise, SEP, Scottish Water, and Tesco Bank.

Students work on all manner of projects that link directly to their semester 1 classes, allowing them to deliver real work that can make an immediate impact to their host organisations. Every year, our students gain not only valuable experience that is relevant to their job hunt, but also make contacts that can be of assistance throughout their career.

The scheme has a highly competitive selection process, where the students with the strongest generic skills and academic capabilities are chosen for external placements. Other students are also given invaluable opportunities to work with external organisations in this three week period, for example in the form of group projects analysing their operations.

In addition, many MSc projects are carried out for an external organisation. Students spend the three months from July to September working on a project of importance to their clients. The aim is to gain direct experience in applying the concepts and theories studied on the course. Projects may be carried out individually or in small teams of two or three students. Project clients include many major concerns, in fields ranging from aerospace to whisky distilling.

Major projects

Most of the taught modules on the programme introduce you to a variety of techniques, methods, models and approaches. However, the practical reality of applying analytical methods in business is often far removed from the classroom. Working with decision-makers on real issues presents a variety of challenges. For example, data may well be ambiguous and hard to come by, it may be far from obvious which business analysis methods can be applied and managers will need to be convinced of the business merits of any suggested solutions. While traditional teaching can alert students to such issues, understanding needs to be reinforced by experience.

This is primarily addressed by the core module ‘Becoming an Effective Business Analyst’, which takes place over both semesters and also involves the ‘apprenticeship scheme’. Every year, case studies and challenging projects are presented to the students by various organisations such as Accenture, British Airways, RBS and Simul8.


Strathclyde’s Business School is one of the largest institutions of its kind in Europe. We have around 200 academic staff and more than 3,000 full-time students.

The departments and specialist units work together to provide a dynamic, fully-rounded and varied programme of specialist and cross-disciplinary postgraduate courses.

Course awards

Strathclyde MSc Operational Research students were awarded the May Hicks Prize of the OR Society three years in a row:

  • Christoph Werner (2013)
  • Geraint Roberts (2012)
  • Rutger Albrink (2011)

The prize recognizes the best industry-based student projects in operational research and has an award of £1,000. More details about the prize can be found on the Operational Research Society's website.

Student competitions

Every year, the best overall performance in the MSc Operational Research course is recognised by the Tony Christer Prize. The prize involves a formal recognition by the department and an award of £100.

Course content

Compulsory classes

  • Foundations of Research & Business Analysis
  • Quantitative Business Analysis
  • Managing Business Operations
  • Spreadsheet Modelling & Demand Forecasting
  • Operational Research Methods
  • Becoming an Effective OR Modeller

Elective classes

  • Business Simulation Methods
  • Risk Analysis & Management
  • Decision Analysis
  • Analytics for Big Data
  • Project/Dissertation
  • Advanced Operational Research Modelling Using Specialist Software Tools

Learning & teaching

The course is delivered in various ways. While most classes have regular lectures, tutorials and hands-on software sessions, experiential learning is a crucial part of the course. This is delivered through projects and case studies with various external organisations, the apprenticeship scheme and MSc projects.

There are also guest lectures and recruitment events throughout the year, as well as a number of career support sessions that provide you with invaluable career information and generic job hunting skills such as CV writing and how to handle interviews.

Guest lectures

Every year we have guest speakers attend the course, sharing their invaluable experiences with the students. As part of the Becoming an Effective Business Analyst/Operational Research Modeller module, we hosted several presentations from external bodies e.g. Simul8.

Last year, we were honoured with the visit of Alex Scharaschkin, the Director of the National Audit Office and Christopher Bray, Head of Environmental Risk Policy Management at the Barclays group.

Distance learning option

All classes are taught using material presented via the Internet. Classes are supported by faculty members who also teach on the full-time course and who guide and support discussion via discussion forums. This is a flexible degree and duration can vary.

Minimum durations are:

  • PgCert: 13 months
  • PgDip: 20 months
  • MSc: 26 months


Every module has its own methods of assessment appropriate to the nature of the material. These include written assignments, exams, practical team projects, presentations and individual projects. Many modules involve more than one method of assessment to realise you potential.

Entry requirements


Second-class Honours degree, or equivalent, in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering. Applications from those with other degrees are also encouraged if you have demonstrated a good grasp of mathematics/statistics.


Minimum of a pass degree or equivalent in an appropriate subject. Subject to performance diploma students may transfer from the diploma course to the MSc.

Do I need to know lots of mathematics or statistics to join the course?

The Business Analysis & Consulting course is designed to take students with a wide variety of first degrees. Although some quantitative analytical tools are taught and used during the course, only basic mathematical knowledge is necessary before starting the course. Many students in this course have first degrees in business, economics, engineering and the social sciences. However, we have students from other backgrounds as well.

Expected mathematical knowledge

  1. Ability to use a scientific calculator - capable of using and understanding functions such as exp, log, x^y on a calculator.
  2. Algebraic notation and manipulation; subscripts; simple results - you should feel comfortable manipulating equations and working with subscript notation. You should be able to solve a quadratic equation, such as x2 + 2x + 1 = 0
  3. Logs and exponentials - you should have a general understanding of the use of logs and exponentials. You also need the ability to carry out logarithmic transformations and an understanding of the logarithmic and exponential laws of summation, division etc.
  4. Graphs of simple functions - you need the ability to draw and interpret graphs of simple linear and non-linear mathematical functions.
  5. Differentiation (including differentiation of a product). The idea of a differential equation - you should have an understanding of when differentiation is used. Also the ability to carry out differentiation on different functions, including functions that include the product of two variables. A basic understanding of how to solve equations that involve one or more derivatives is required.
  6. An understanding of what integration is. Integration of polynomials and ex; integration by parts - you should have an understanding of when the use of integration is appropriate and the ability to carry out the integration of functions that contain variables with nonnegative integer powers.
  7. Finite sums. Infinite sums of xi and xi /i! - Ability to carry out sums of arithmetic and geometric series. Ability to sum infinite series of elements that have the form Σxi or Σxi/i!, where, for example, i = 1 to ∞
  8. Simple manipulation of vectors and matrices - you need the ability to carry out simple manipulation, such as addition, subtraction and multiplication of vectors and matrices.

English language requirements

If you’re a national of an English speaking country recognised by UK Border Agency (please check most up-to-date list) or you have successfully completed an academic qualification (at least equivalent to a UK bachelor's degree) in any of these countries, then you do not need to present any additional evidence.

For others, the department requires a minimum overall IELTS score of 6.5 (with no individual component below 5.5 (or equivalent)). Pre-sessional courses in English are available.

If you are from a country not recognised as an English speaking country by the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA), please check English requirements before making your application.

Pre-Masters preparation course

The Pre-Masters Programme is a preparation course for international students (non EU/UK) who do not meet the entry requirements for a Masters degree at University of Strathclyde. The Pre-Masters programme provides progression to a number of degree options

Fees & funding

How much will my course cost?

All fees quoted are for full-time courses and per academic year unless stated otherwise.


  • 2015/16 - MSc/PGDip full-time £9,000
  • 2015/16 - MSc/PGDip/PgCert part-time £4,500
  • 2015/16 - MSc Operational Research (post PGDip) £1,530
  • 2015/16 - PGDip Operational Research (post PGCert) £4,200
  • 2015/16 - PGCert Operational Research £6,200
  • 2015/16 - PGCert Operational Research - April intake (year 1 only) £6,200

Rest of UK

  • 2015/16 - MSc/PGDip full-time £9,000
  • 2015/16 - MSc/PGDip/PgCert part-time £4,500
  • 2015/16 - MSc Operational Research (post PGDip) £1,530
  • 2015/16 - PGDip Operational Research (post PGCert) £4,200
  • 2015/16 - PGCert Operational Research £6,200
  • 2015/16 - PGCert Operational Research - April intake (year 1 only) £6,200


  • 2015/16 - MSc/PGDip full-time £15,000
  • 2015/16 - MSc/PGDip/PgCert part-time £7,500
  • 2015/16 - MSc Operational Research (post PGDip) £1,530
  • 2015/16 - PGDip Operational Research (post PGCert) £4,200
  • 2015/16 - PGCert Operational Research £6,200
  • 2015/16 - PGCert Operational Research - April intake (year 1 only) £6,200


In the department, we have very good links with business and have hosted recruitment events for many companies including Barclay’s Wealth, British Airways, Deloitte, Morgan Stanley, Rolls Royce, Sopra and SIMUL8, to name a few.

The skills you learn in the MSc make you very marketable to potential employers. Other employers where our graduates have found work include Clydesdale Bank, HSBC, PWC, RBS, Roland Berger and the Scottish Government.

Where are they now?

95% of our graduates are in work or further study.**

Job titles include:

  • Analyst
  • Auditor
  • Business Development Manager
  • Consultant
  • Data Analyst
  • KTP Associate
  • Marketing Co-ordinator
  • Operations Manager
  • Oracle Application Specialist
  • Research and Intelligence Specialist
  • Risk Analyst
  • Strategy Consultant

Employers include:

  • Capgemini Consulting
  • Deloitte
  • RBS
  • Roland Berger
  • Sharif Industrial Group
  • Tesco Bank

Based on the results of the national Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Survey (2010/11 and 2011/12)**.

This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated November 8, 2015
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2017
12 - 24 months
Part time
Full time
15,000 GBP
Start date Sept. 2017
United Kingdom Glasgow, Scotland
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Duration 12 - 24 months
Price 15,000 GBP
International fee MSc/PGDip 2015/16 full-time