MSc Mathematical Modelling for Transport

University of Leeds, Institute for Transport Studies (ITS)

Program Description

MSc Mathematical Modelling for Transport

University of Leeds, Institute for Transport Studies (ITS)

Mathematical models form the foundation of all quantitative analyses of transportation systems; past, present and future. Such models are relied upon to provide a scientific basis for transport policy and decision making. There is a growing need for highly skilled quantitative modellers across the international transport sector in consultancies, planning departments and universities.

This programme is intended for students who have a solid grounding in mathematics*. The focus is to gain ‘deep’ understanding as to how transport systems can be conceptualised, and hence to develop and apply mathematical models to represent, understand, analyse and optimise the performance of transportation networks and flows. Students learn how to formulate real world transport problems as mathematical problems and alternative ways to solve them.

*Please contact the Programme Leader for an informal discussion of the the level of mathematics required and for any questions about programme content.

Students learn to:

  • recognise real world transportation issues which are susceptible to mathematical analysis;
  • understand how and why mathematical models are used in different contexts of transport analyses;
  • identify ways to formulate transport issues into mathematical problems and develop relevant solution strategies;
  • apply optimization algorithms to traffic network models;
  • write computer programmes to solve mathematical models and to visualise model outputs;
  • write scientific reports on transport models and modelling approaches suitable for technical and lay audiences;
  • work in a multidisciplinary team and effectively execute and communicate the role of mathematical modelling within an integrated project;
  • critically and creatively to evaluate current issues, research and advanced scholarship in the discipline;
  • take a proactive and self-reflective role in developing professional relationships with others, in readiness for a career as a transport modeller.

Course content

You will learn about the methods and models used in transport analysis and the software packages that implement them. You will be trained to think creatively, beyond the standard application of established ‘solutions’ and you will learn how to use your technical expertise as a mathematical modeller in interdisciplinary teams. Being equipped with these skills will open up a range of future career paths, whether in government, consultancy, academia or going on to further study.

The core of the programme comprises the following compulsory modules, which have been designed together to enhance the learning potential of this programme:

  • Concepts and Mathematics for Modelling Transport – examines how transport systems can be modelled and the methods, assumptions, tools and algorithms involved (Semester 1).
  • Transport Modelling in Practice – applies the theory covered above to realistic example scenarios. Includes use of state-of-the-art commercial software (Semester 1).
  • Transport Data Science – how to manage, interrogate and visualise ‘big data’, and incorporate it into transport modelling (Semester 2).

Course structure

These are typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.

You will take 60 credits of compulsory modules specific to this programme. A further 30 credits will be compulsory cross-programme modules that are multi-disciplinary. You’ll also select 30 credits from a set of optional modules.

Compulsory modules Optional modules
- Choose two from the following list:
  • Concepts and Mathematics for Modelling Transport
  • Transport Modelling in Practice
  • Transport Data Science
  • Future Transport Systems
  • Transport Dissertation
  • Integrated Transport Project
  • System Dynamics: Modelling Policy
  • Choice Modelling and Stated Preference Survey Design
  • Transport and Urban Pollution
  • Global Transferability of Policies, Models and Methods

Learning and teaching

The programme involves a range of teaching methods, supported by independent learning. In addition to the traditional lecture and seminar formats, students experience a blend encompassing workshops, computer exercises, practical sessions, directed reading, reflective journal, student-led discussions and tutorials. Fieldwork also forms an important part of the learning experience and ranges from half-day regional site visits to a week-long European field trip.


Assessment is equally varied and will include coursework essays, case-study reports, group assignments, posters, presentations and exams.

Applying, fees and funding

Entry requirements

A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) in a relevant subject such as Mathematics, statistics, or a science/engineering degree with substantial quantitative/mathematical content (e.g. physics, computer science). Graduates from other disciplines and those with professional qualifications plus experience in the sector will also be considered. We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. For information contact the ITS admissions team. English language requirements IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications. International students who do not meet the English language requirements for the programme may be able to study an English for Academic Purposes pre-sessional course with a progression route to the degree programme. For information and entry requirements, read Pre-sessional programmes. If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help. Documents and information you’ll need
  • Two references
  • Your degree certificate and transcript, or a partial transcript if you’re still studying
  • Evidence of your English language qualifications, if English is not your first language.
Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.


UK/EU: £6,500 International: £17,000 Part-time fees are normally calculated based on the number of credits you study in a year compared to the equivalent full-time course. For example, if you study half the course credits in a year, you will pay half the full-time course fees for that year. Students wishing to attend the annual European Field Trip should allow approximately £500 for travel and accommodation during the trip. Additional cost information Students wishing to attend the optional European Field Trip are advised to allow a minimum of £500 for accommodation and travel during the week-long trip.

Scholarships and financial support

The Institute, the University of Leeds and other organisations administer a number of scholarships each year for UK, EU and international students. Find out more about help in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government by visiting Postgraduate funding.

Career opportunities

This programme was developed in consultation with practitioners in the transport modelling sector, to ensure that its graduates will be highly employable. Many consultancies, local authority planning departments and other organizations in the transport industry have expressed interest in this new programme. Our graduates work across the private and public sectors, and a degree from ITS opens up a range of opportunities to develop a challenging and rewarding career. Students come to Leeds from across the world and subsequently follow both ‘international’ and ‘locally-based’ careers. Our students are highly sought after and have a good reputation with a variety of organisations. Common careers include those in transport consultancies, government, academia, regulatory bodies, transport operators, logistics companies, not-for-profit and international agencies. Some students are already employed when taking their degree, whilst others will be helped to gain employment, and may receive a job offer before or shortly after graduation. To facilitate this, ITS has close working relationships with a number of organisations and many employers visit campus each year to interview our students for graduate schemes and other vacancies. ITS also regularly circulates specific job vacancies to students. This programme provides an ideal foundation for a PhD, whether in transport or in other areas of applied mathematical modelling and analysis of socio-technical systems. World-class research staff in ITS are available to discuss opportunities for further study.

Careers support

You’ll be provided with a wide range of support geared towards helping you secure the right employment after graduation. Each year there are a number of events provided both by ITS and the University’s Careers Centre. We have a dedicated Careers Consultant from the Careers Centre who works with ITS students, delivering bespoke presentations and one-to-one consultations with students on their career plans. We also invite former students back to ITS to share their experiences of developing a career in the transport sector.
This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated September 28, 2017
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2018
12 - 24 months
Part time
Full time
6,500 GBP
United Kingdom - Leeds, England
Start date: Sept. 2018
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Sept. 2018
United Kingdom - Leeds, England
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
UK/EU £6,500 ; International £17,000