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MSc/PgDip/PgCert Operational Research (Online)

Key facts

  • Start date: October
  • Study mode and duration: part-time online distance learning
    PgCert: minimum 12 months
    PgDip minimum 12 months
    MSc: maximum 6 months

Study with us

  • develop a rigorous understanding of advanced analytical methods
  • learn how to play an effective role in providing model-based support to managers for better decisions 
  • benefit from a flexible distance learning study model


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Why this course?

Operational Research (or Operations Research) has been briefly described as the ‘scientific analysis of decisions’. It is concerned with assisting and advising decision-makers in a wide variety of settings.

The MSc in Operational Research aims to realise the potential of its 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 will develop an understanding of advanced analytical methods that are used to provide structured and analytical approaches to decision-making. You will also develop practical skills in using operational research models to support decision-makers.

THE Awards 2019: UK University of the Year Winner

What you’ll study

All classes are taught using material presented via the internet. Teaching staff guide and support discussion via discussion forums.

The programme contains three stages. Successful progression will lead towards completion of the MSc.

  • Postgraduate Certificate (stage 1)
  • Postgraduate Diploma (stage 2)
  • MSc – project (stage 3)

Learning & teaching

All classes are taught using material presented via the internet. Classes are supported by faculty members who also teach on our range of full-time courses. They will guide and support discussion via forums. You will have full access to our user-friendly VLE. Benefits of using the VLE include

  • Anytime, anywhere learning
  • Access to tutors throughout your course
  • Continuously updated, dynamic, interactive online materials
  • Online group discussions
  • Live question & answer sessions
  • Live conferencing


Each class includes two pieces of assessment. Around half of these will be assignments and the other half will be by examination at local centres.

If you wish to proceed to the Postgraduate Diploma you need to be in appropriate employment, which should cover the following: solving problems owned by someone else, ill-defined problems, working in teams, the opportunity to use a variety of business analysis techniques, your work has an influence on the operation of your organisations. Your employment should require some analysis of business situations, in the private or public sector. Samples of your work will form the basis of reflection and learning projects, guided by a personal mentor.

MSc Project

Students who complete the Diploma and gain sufficient marks to proceed to the MSc will be expected to undertake a project. The project will be integrated with your employment. You'll have individual personal mentoring to guide you in reflection and learning.

Start dates

The Certificate starts in October. The Diploma usually runs between September and May, though there is some flexibility with this. It is followed by the project which has a flexible timetable. You should be able to complete the MSc programme in around two and a half years. Please contact us if you need advice about the best start date for you.

Strathclyde Business School

Strathclyde Business School was founded in 1948 and is a pioneering, internationally renowned academic organisation with a reputation for research excellence. One of four faculties forming the University of Strathclyde, Strathclyde Business School is triple-accredited (AMBA, EQUIS and AACSB) and was the first business school in Scotland to achieve this accolade in 2004. The Business School is home to seven subject departments and a number of specialist centres, all of which collaborate to provide a dynamic, fully-rounded and varied programme of specialist and cross-disciplinary courses.

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Course content

Foundations of Operational Research & Business Analysis

This class will explore the generic problem solving process which underpins the provision of decision support. In particular, it'll consider the role of modelling in that process. The activities of problem structuring, data collection and analysis, identification and evaluation of options, communication and implementation of learning, findings and recommendations will each be discussed along with the issues pertaining to each of them.

Quantitative Business Analysis

Quantitative Business Analysis runs over one semester but in two parts. The first part provides an introduction to the basic theory and application of statistical modelling. Topics covered included data analysis, probability theory, distributions and moments, estimation and hypothesis testing.

The second part focuses mainly on two areas - regression modelling and multivariate analysis. While key background theory will be presented, the emphasis is on the generation and interpretation of output from commercially available software.

Background reading for Quantitative Business Analysis

Managing Business Operations

This class teaches essential principles, tools and techniques of Operations Management – both in general and as applied to specific manufacturing or service businesses. A section of the class focuses on service operations, where specific subjects and operational issues surrounding services will be discussed.

Spreadsheet Modelling & Demand Forecasting

This module will demonstrate how spreadsheets can be used to support the analytical techniques whose theory is taught on other modules. For example, forecasting, simulation, optimisation, data analysis, as well as being used to support technical report writing.

Most prominence is given to demand forecasting and you'll be introduced to different types of forecasting technique for short term smoothing through to decompositional analysis. These methods will be implemented using spreadsheet models.

Operational Research Methods

This module introduces the fundamental deterministic and stochastic methods of OR. Probabilistic modelling is fundamental to appreciating uncertainty and risk. This element of the class provides much of the foundations that underpin the tools and techniques that are taught on other classes of the MSc such as statistics, forecasting, risk and simulation.

The module also introduces students into the basic deterministic models and methods of OR.

Business Simulation Methods

The module will focus on the main two forms of business simulation; discrete-event simulation (DES) and system dynamics (a continuous simulation technique). For DES, the class will start with an introduction, aiming to familiarise students with the concept and its use.

It continues with discussing a rational approach to simulation using a number of examples from manufacturing and service operations. For system dynamics the class will provide a background to system dynamics including its links to other modelling techniques being taught on the course, in particular, its links to problem structuring methods.

Risk Analysis & Management

This module will explore the entire process of structuring a risk problem, from modelling it to communicating recommendations, both theoretically and in practice.

Risk management is linked with decision analysis in so far as we explore decision making under uncertainty and it has links with quantitative business analysis as we explore the use of statistics in understanding risk. However, the topic has some unique attributes such as risk communication and the role that experts play in risk assessment.

Business Information Systems

The class adopts a process-based approach, ie all discussion follows the logic of the business processes. You'll be introduced to Business and Information Systems (BIS) as well as the various types of IS, including the databases, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, knowledge-based systems, corporate portals and collaboration support systems.

Lectures will provide you with the conceptual knowledge, and in tutorials you'll gain hands-on experience of using packages of the various IS categories.

Advanced Operational Research Modelling Using Specialist Software Tools

This module builds upon the methods introduced in core modules in deterministic and stochastic OR. In particular, OR methods, quantitative business analysis, decision analysis.

In the core modules, the theory and application of methods to relatively small problems are considered. This module extends the approach to consider larger scale modelling and more advanced techniques using appropriate specialist software as well as programming techniques.

Becoming an Effective OR Modeller

The broad aims of the class are to develop skills in the effective practice of using OR models and an appreciation of the issues which may arise.

Elective classes

Choose additional two from:

  • Business Simulation Methods
  • Risk Analysis & Management
  • Decision Analysis
  • Advanced Operations Research Modelling



The MSc project is the most substantial and independent piece of work you'll carry out during the course. You will contact your client and your supervisors and manage the whole relationship with them. The projects vary but they typically involve understanding the real-life problem through problem structuring, identifying the data requirements, review of the relevant domain literature, making methodological choices based on arguments from the methodology literature, data collection, appropriate data analysis and modelling, developing and presentation of findings and recommendations.

Triple-accredited business school

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Entry requirements


Minimum Pass degree or non-UK equivalent, in business, economics, engineering or social sciences. We also encourage applications from other degrees. Admittance is to the PgCert (stage 1) only.

English language requirements

Students whose first language is not English must have a minimum of 6.5 IELTS score, with no individual score lower than 5.5. Get more information about the English language requirements for studying at Strathclyde.

Mathematics requirements

Some of the classes will require some mathematical manipulation. Knowledge of the topics below may well be expected. If you have problems with any of these you'll be required to do additional pre-course reading:

  • Ability to use a scientific calculator
  • Algebraic notation and manipulation; subscripts; simple results
  • Logs and exponentials
  • Graphs of simple functions
  • Differentiation (including differentiation of a product)
  • An understanding of when differentiation is used
  • Finite sums
  • Simple manipulation of vectors and matrices

Chat to a student ambassador

Want to know more about what it’s like to be a Strathclyde Business School student at the University of Strathclyde? A selection of our current students are here to help!

Our Unibuddy ambassadors can answer all the questions you may have about their course experiences and studying at Strathclyde, along with offering insight into life in Glasgow and Scotland.

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Fees & funding

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

Fees may be subject to updates to maintain accuracy. Tuition fees will be notified in your offer letter.

All fees are in £ sterling, unless otherwise stated, and may be subject to revision.

Annual revision of fees

Students on programmes of study of more than one year should be aware that tuition fees are revised annually and may increase in subsequent years of study. Annual increases will generally reflect UK inflation rates and increases to programme delivery costs.

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  • Stage 1: £4,083 (Postgraduate Certificate)
  • Stage 2: £4,083 (Postgraduate Diploma)
  • Stage 3: £4,083 (MSc)

Individual modules may also be taken on a stand-alone basis at a rate of £1,283 per 10 credits.

England, Wales & Northern Ireland
  • Stage 1: £4,083 (Postgraduate Certificate)
  • Stage 2: £4,083 (Postgraduate Diploma)
  • Stage 3: £4,083 (MSc)

Individual modules may also be taken on a stand-alone basis at a rate of £1,283 per 10 credits.

  • Stage 1: £4,083 (Postgraduate Certificate)
  • Stage 2: £4,083 (Postgraduate Diploma)
  • Stage 3: £4,083 (MSc)

Individual modules may also be taken on a stand-alone basis at a rate of £1,283 per 10 credits.

Additional costs
Course materials

Class materials comprise textbooks and course handbooks.  All of the compulsory handbooks are available to students free on the VLE.  Some classes may have a recommended core textbook which you may wish to purchase but copies will be available in the University Library.

Placements & field trips

May incur travel costs depending on clients and project placement. Will be confirmed with students before commencement of the placement.

Other costs

Students are required to submit two hard copy dissertations. An average cost will be £10-15 including delivery to the department.

Visa & immigration

International students may have associated visa and immigration costs. Please see student visa guidance for more information.

Available scholarships

Take a look at our scholarships search for funding opportunities.

Please note: the fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year. Find out more about fees.

How can I fund my course?

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Scottish postgraduate students

Scottish postgraduate students may be able to apply for support from the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS). The support is in the form of a tuition fee loan and for eligible students, a living cost loan. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Students coming from England

Students ordinarily resident in England may be to apply for postgraduate support from Student Finance England. The support is a loan of up to £10,280 which can be used for both tuition fees and living costs. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Students coming from Wales

Students ordinarily resident in Wales may be to apply for postgraduate support from Student Finance Wales. The support is a loan of up to £10,280 which can be used for both tuition fees and living costs. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Students coming from Northern Ireland

Postgraduate students who are ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland may be able to apply for support from Student Finance Northern Ireland. The support is a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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International students

We've a large range of scholarships available to help you fund your studies. Check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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The MSc in Operational Research has been designed to enhance your current role, to bring formal skills to a role you have been doing anyway, or as a chance to develop new skills, which can take you on to the next level of your career with their existing employers, or occasionally with new employers.

Your existing role and the work you do is a vital part of this programme. You will also be learning key analytical skills, which are valuable to all sorts of decision-makers in various organisations in the private, public and third sector.

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For information and guidance on the application process, take a look at our How to Apply web page.

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Contact us

SBS Postgraduate Admissions

Telephone: +44 (0)141 553 6105 / +44 (0)141 553 4590


Strathclyde Business School, University of Strathclyde
199 Cathedral Street
G4 0QU