Introduction to Operational Research and Management Science

This 15-credit course gives an introduction to OR/MS. It begins with a description of the origins of the subject, an overview of its subsequent development, and a discussion on how to model real-life problems adequately.

The remainder of the course gives an overview of some of the most widely used models and solution methods, including decision analysis, linear programming, inventory control, simulation and Markov chains.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module you should:

  • Know something about the history and nature of OR/MS
  • Be able to apply an OR/MS model-building approach to complex problems and issues in organisations
  • Be aware of some specific quantitative techniques used in OR/MS
  • Know when and how to apply those techniques

Outline lecture plan

It is intended that the course will be divided into seven blocks:

  • The history and nature of OR / MS (two lectures)
  • Linear programming (three lectures)
  • Inventory control (three lectures)
  • Decision analysis and game theory (three lectures)
  • Markov chains (three lectures)
  • Simulation (three lectures)
  • Guest lectures from industry personnel (three lectures)

(Some small deviation from this plan may be necessary, depending on the availability of the guest speakers.)

There will also be one workshop on each of the five techniques.


Two individual coursework exercises: 20% each

Two hour open book exam: 60%


Michaelmas Term

Core text

Lecture notes, slides and workshop notes will be posted on the web board in advance. You are not required to buy books, but you may find the following textbooks helpful:

M. Pidd (2009) Tools for Thinking: Modelling in Management Science (3rd edn.). Wiley.

W. Winston (2004) Operations Research: Applications and Algorithms (4th edn.) Thompson.

Module tutor

Professor Adam Letchford