James Edwards

Country of origin: United Kingdom

STOR-i PhD student, Lancaster University

The degree which James studied, MSc Operational Research and Management Science, has changed its name to MSc Business Analytics.

Although my A-levels were disrupted by illness I was later able to complete an undergraduate degree in mathematics with the Open University. I wanted to continue to use mathematics but with more direct application to real world problems. I was becoming aware that the most important problems that people faced were too complex to solve with a narrow approach. This led me to an interest in Operational Research. I liked its emphasis on practicality and the way it made use of a wide range of skills from a number of different disciplines.

I decided to apply to the MSc Operational Research and Management Science at Lancaster University because I was impressed by the international reputation of Lancaster University Management School, and I thought that learning in the Management School would complement my existing mathematical training to give me a broad and well-rounded understanding of problem solving.

The course lived up to this expectation. It was a busy year but it provided me with a large variety of skills and experiences, many of which did not come directly from the lectures. Group work was a central part of the course – an experience made more valuable by the diverse backgrounds of the students. An important part of the role of the management scientist is to be able to communicate clearly to both managers and technicians.

During the summer project I worked with Advancing Quality Alliance, modelling the progression and treatment of the lung disease COPD. This required the use of the problem structuring, computer simulation, spreadsheet modelling and data mining techniques that I had learnt on the course. Even on a relatively small project such as this the value of the multi-disciplinary approach of Management Science was clear.

Over the year I realised that I wanted to continue to study Operational Research in greater depth. Having experienced the quality of teaching and research at Lancaster University I was happy to continue there on the STOR-i doctoral programme. I very much enjoy living in Lancaster, both for the city itself and for its close proximity to scenic countryside such as the Lake District, the coast and the Yorkshire Dales.