School of Mathematics

Student experience

Our students and graduates share their experience of studying an Operational Research MSc programme at the University of Edinburgh.

Student blogs

Visit our student blog, "Blogarithms", to learn about what life is like as a maths MSc student here in Edinburgh! Our student bloggers come from all over the world, and study a variety of mathematics MSc programmes.

University of Edinburgh Blogarithms

Graduate testimonials

MSc Operational Research

Image of Peiqi, an MSc Operational Research graduate.

From: China 

During my first master’s in engineering management, I found that many decisions made in the supply chain, from inventory replenishment, warehouse operations, to transportation scheduling, are supported by the theory of operational research. This led me to this MSc program where I could dive deeper into mathematical techniques as well as their applications to solve real life problems. And I really appreciate that Edinburgh warmly embraced me and gave me an opportunity even though I have no previous background in a mathematics major. 

I would say this intense 1-year program has a high work load, at least for me. But this also means that this program really provides a broad range of courses we can freely explore. The comprehensive curriculum covers not only the core skills of operational research that can equip you well for further study but a wide range of optional courses in different specializations that can help you find your interests. Personally, I felt my skills in mathematical modelling and problem solving greatly developed just after the first semester, and I couldn’t imagine I would experience such a rich year when I started a year ago. 

I took courses online during the whole year, and this is a hard year for everyone. But the good thing was that the lecturers were easy to approach, and we could simply post our questions on Piazza to get feedback from each other, or just drop in the tutorials and office hours to discuss anything related to the course with the lecturer, which all made me feel I was in a friendly community and not alone. 

This is a challenging but worthwhile program, and I’m grateful to everyone I met and everything I experienced this year. Sometimes we must accept finite disappointments in stochastic life, but the only deterministic thing is that we will never lose infinite hope. 

MSc Operational Research with Computational Optimization

Image of Roland Hales - OR graduate

From: UK

Currently working: as an Operational Researcher at the Department for Transport

After studying primarily pure mathematics in my undergraduate degree, I wanted to learn more practical and applied skills, which led me to studying for an MSc in Operational Research at the University of Edinburgh.

There is a lot of flexibility when it comes to choosing courses, so you can really tailor the programme to your individual interests, whether that be optimization, data science, statistics or anything else. Personally, I discovered that I particularly enjoyed the optimization courses, and so during the year I changed my programme to OR with Computational Optimization.

One thing I really loved about the programme was the international make-up of the students, because it meant that everyone had their own unique perspective and areas of expertise, making working together really enjoyable. Moreover, the lecturers were all very enthusiastic and willing to help, especially in the labs or workshops that accompany the lectures, and this meant there was always lots of support whenever I had questions.

Studying this programme definitely helped my career prospects, and I am now using many of the skills I learned at Edinburgh in my analytics job in the airline industry. Despite the applied nature of the programme, most courses still possess a strong theoretical component, which has prepared me well for a PhD, should I opt to undertake one in the future. 

MSc Operational Research with Data Science

Image of Egon, an MSc Operational Research with Data Science graduate.

From: Slovenia 

Currently working: working on a PhD in Optimization and OR at the University of Edinburgh 

As I neared the end of my undergraduate education in Economics I developed an understanding of what I enjoyed working on most: quantitative problem solving. After quite a bit of research I concluded that the natural step forward was to pursue a postgraduate degree in Operational Research. 

I was slightly worried that the less mathematical nature of my undergraduate degree would be a hindrance, but it turned out to be a manageable and deeply rewarding transformation. The Operational Research with Data Science programme offers a broad breadth of content. I engaged with a variety of topics such as a number of OR courses in different optimisation and modelling approaches, programming, machine learning, and even a course on computational approaches in cognitive neuroscience. To name two particularly interesting projects I did: optimising the placement of missile defence platforms in a hypothetical war around the Sea of Japan, and a reinforcement learning project where we reproduced algorithms developed by DeepMind that learned how to play games on their own. You are given a lot of freedom about your course choices, meaning you can tailor the programme to your interests or explore topics outside of your comfort zone. 

For my dissertation I effectively did a research internship with an external organisation where I was tasked with designing an approach to mend a predictive modelling problem. This meant that through regular meetings with the partner organisation, I also developed the skills needed to be an effective research scientist in industry. They offered me a job, but I enjoyed the work enough to stay on and pursue a PhD. 

My MSc year proved to be a time of intense personal development in spite of the endless lockdowns and distracting reopenings. The School and especially the OR team go out of their way to be supportive and provide a great quality of teaching. Even though the majority of the year was done completely remotely, I never felt like the experience was diminished, which should be a testament to how well run this programme is. 

MSc Operational Research with Risk

Image of Diego Beas Lagos - OR graduate

From: Chile

 Having worked for 3 years in the banking industry, I realized the high contribution that people with good quantitative background make in developing new and better regulation standards. This led me to look for a MSc degree where I could apply mathematics in solving real life problems. After searching deep, I found the best choice was the Masters in Operational Research at the University of Edinburgh. Having finished this Master’s degree, I can confirm that this choice was the perfect one.

This programme allows students to have both a strong mathematical basis in optimization and apply these techniques in different real situations. Since in the second semester you can choose the courses that best fit your interests, you are able to specialize and go deep in those topics which will be the foundations for your future career. Personally, as the big data environment we live nowadays requires knowing and applying new and more proficient optimization algorithms, I chose courses in this field. Thus, you can tailor the program as you wish which is a desired feature when you study an MSc.

Finally, students of this program come from different places and backgrounds. Some of them will become your friends with whom you will not only share experiences and have fun, but also create a good support group for those intensive periods the masters has, which are indeed almost along all year.