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MRes Programme Content

All the modules of the MRes component of the STOR-i programme are compulsory. You will find them listed below.

The modules in October-November (STOR602, STOR605, STOR 606 and STOR607) provide a firm grounding in important core material and are taught in a traditional lecture-workshop style.

STOR608 (November-December) introduces you to a range of topical areas of the Statistics and Operational Research disciplines, with the opportunity to work in teams intensively investigating these at your own pace.

Modules STOR601 (November-April) and STOR604 (February-April) offer you much exposure to a diverse range of optional research topics from Statistics and Operational Research. This choice allows you to specialise in subjects that particularly interest you and help you to develop and test your research interest in these topics. STOR603 (June-September) is where you develop your research plan for your PhD on a project either jointly with an industrial partner or with an internationally leading academic from one of our selected strategic partnerships.

Module STOR601 also provides training in a broad range of research skills, these include: team working, end-to-end problem solving, dissemination skills (e.g. talks, blogging, posters), programming in a range of languages, key software engineering skills, and responsible research innovation.

Core Modules

  • STOR 601: Training for Research and Industry

    Credits: 40

    Tutors: Dr Burak Boyaci, Professor Guglielmo Lulli, Dr Robin Mitra, Professor Jon Tawn,

    Outline

    This module allows students to develop a wide range of research skills by completing a variety of different tasks. These include programming tasks, scientific writing, giving presentations, problem-solving days, learning about responsible research innovation and reviewing topical research.

    Students will work on a diverse set of projects in order to improve their capabilities. Their scientific writing will include reports for both technical and non-technical audiences. The problem-solving days will give students the chance to communicate with industrial representatives, which will include giving presentations. Furthermore, each student will design their own personal website.

    The module involves the use of computer packages for statistics and operational research, such as R and C++. It also involves the use of the mathematical document software LaTeX.

    Objectives

    Students need to acquire many different skills in order to perform research in statistics and operational research. This course provides a number of varied tasks designed to allow students to develop into capable researchers. These skills will also help to prepare students to select their PhD research area.

    The course provides students with training on dealing with modern mathematical programming issues. Students will also learn about the efficient and ethical communication of their findings to diverse audiences and collaborating with interdisciplinary teams.

    Learning Outcomes

    On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

    • Engage with a range of topical research areas in statistics and operational research;
    • Demonstrate a deeper level of knowledge in a subset of the research areas covered in the course;
    • Develop effective modelling strategies for tackling a range of complex industrial problems;
    • Use the key programming languages required for research in statistics and operational research;
    • Write reports which are appropriately structured for a variety of audiences;
    • Present results clearly in reports, talks and websites;
    • Make an informed decision about their PhD research area.

    Core texts

    • C. Chatfield (1988) Problem Solving. Chapman and Hall.
    • P. Dalgaard (2002) Introductory Statistics with R. Springer.
    • A. M. Starfield, K. A. Smith and A. L. Bleloch (1990) How to Model It: Problem Solving for the Computer Age. McGraw-Hill.
    • E. R. Tufte (2001) The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Graphics Press.

    Assessment

    Assessment will be through coursework (100%). The coursework consists of assessed exercises under the following headings:

    • Two scientific writing projects on topical research areas. For one of the projects the students will produce both a report for a technical audience and a report for a non-technical audience. For the other project the students will produce a report for a technical audience and a presentation.
    • Computer programming tasks for high-level analysis in statistics and operational research.
    • Personal website which students design themselves.

    Group work will be assessed through individual aspects of team performance on problem solving days.

    Contact hours

    There are approximately 60 contact hours provided for this module. In addition, private study will make up the majority of the learning hours.

  • STOR 602: Probability and Stochastic Processes

    Credits: 10

    Tutor: Azadeh Khaleghi and Kevin Glazebrook

    Outline

    The module introduces the major concepts in probability theory using both analytical methods and simulation. It will cover:

    • Random variables, the moments of a random variable, transformations of random variables and the convergence of random variables.
    • The definition of a stochastic process, including Gaussian processes.
    • The construction of Brownian motion and the reflection principle.
    • Conditional expectation and martingales.
    • Homogeneous and nonhomogeneous Poisson process.
    • Discrete Markov chains, classification of states, stationary distributions and limit theorems.
    • Markov processes in continuous time, queues and reversibility.

    Objectives

    Probability theory formalises the idea of randomness so that it is possible to model stochastic behaviour in a mathematically rigorous way. The key models in statistics and operational research are based on this theory for random variables and stochastic processes.

    This course begins with the axioms of probability and uses these ideas to define random variables and stochastic processes. The study of random variables leads to a number of interesting properties such as moments, conditional expectation and ideas of convergence. There are a myriad of stochastic processes of varying complexity, many of which can be used to model real phenomena.

    Learning Outcomes

    On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

    • Recognise the contexts in which different random variables occur.
    • Derive various properties of random variables, such as their moments.
    • Use conditional expectation to answer a range of questions about how different random variables depend upon one another.
    • Understand the different ways in which random variables can converge.
    • Simulate random variables in R in order to calculate properties of their distributions.
    • Work with and answer questions about various discrete-time and continuous-time stochastic processes.
    • Define Brownian motion and use the reflection principle to solve problems.
    • Simulate stochastic processes in R in order to understand the behaviour of these processes.

    Core texts

    • S. Ross (1992) Applied Probability Models with Optimization Applications. Dover.
    • G. Lawler (2006) Introduction to Stochastic Processes. Second edition. Chapman and Hall.

    Assessment

    Assessment will be through summer exam (100%).

    Contact hours

    There will be a mixture of lectures, tutorials and computer workshops totalling approximately 25 hours contact. In addition, private study will make up the majority of the learning hours.

  • STOR 603: PhD Research Proposal

    Credits: 60

    Outline

    In the final three months of the STOR-i MRes programme, students will develop an individual research proposal for their PhD. The proposal will consist of a literature review, a preliminary study and a formal plan for their PhD research.

    This module will allow students to start their PhD with a deep knowledge of their chosen research area and an understanding of how to conduct research. Students will also become comfortable working with their supervisory team. In exceptional cases, students will be able to change projects before the start of their PhD.

    Objectives

    This course gives students the opportunity to develop their understanding of their PhD research area. Students will identify some of the key open problems in this area and formulate a strategy for tackling these problems.

    The course also provides students with training in the skills they will need to complete their PhD. Students will produce a detailed literature review and an extensive written report on their preliminary research.

    Learning Outcomes

    On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

    • Demonstrate a deep level of knowledge in their chosen research area;
    • Identify key open problems in this area which will form the basis of their future research;
    • Communicate their research ideas effectively with their supervisory team;
    • Produce a detailed literature review covering a broad selection of topics in their research area;
    • Write an extensive report on their preliminary research and future research plans.

    Assessment

    Assessment will be through coursework (100%). 80% of the assessment will be based on the submitted PhD research proposal and 20% will be based on the supervisors’ assessment of the student's performance in the development of their research proposal.

    Contact hours

    This module consists of approximately 600 hours of private study, with contact time with supervisors when necessary.

  • STOR 604: Modern Topics in Statistics and Operational Research

    Credits: 20

    Tutors:

    Outline

    This module covers a range of research topics that are currently highly active and relevant in statistics and operational research. Teaching will be delivered through a series of four masterclasses, the topics of which will change on a yearly basis.

    The masterclasses will be taught through lectures, with some masterclasses also including workshops and computer labs. There will be one workshop for each masterclass to review the material covered and discuss options for research projects.

    Students will gain experience of developing literature reviews and research projects in two of the areas covered by the masterclasses. They will work in groups to produce presentations and posters. They will also produce an individual blog for both technical and non-technical audiences.

    The module involves the use of computer packages for statistics and operational research, such as R. It also involves the use of the mathematical document software LaTeX.

    Objectives

    Students need to be familiar with the most recent developments in statistics and operational research in order to perform research in these areas. This course provides contemporary knowledge through a series of masterclasses delivered by international experts. It also allows students to explore two of the areas covered by the masterclasses at a deeper level through research projects.

    The course gives students training in a wide variety of research skills. These include reviewing literature, working in teams, giving presentations, creating posters, designing blogs for diverse audiences and developing interview techniques.

    Learning Outcomes

    On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

    • Understand and engage with a range of topical research areas in statistics and operational research;
    • Demonstrate a deeper level of knowledge in two of the research areas covered in the course;
    • Develop effective research skills though cutting-edge research projects and literature reviews;
    • Apply their research skills to a range of complex problems;
    • Present overviews of their research projects and results from these projects in talks and interviews;
    • Defend the arguments which form the basis of the results of their research projects under cross-examination;
    • Demonstrate the ability to write reports which are appropriate for a website environment.

    Core texts

    Given the nature of the module, there is no set material over multiple years. Any relevant bibliography will be specific to each year.

    Assessment

    Assessment will be through coursework (100%). The coursework consists of assessed exercises under the following headings:

    • Two group projects developing material from two of the masterclasses. For one of the masterclasses the results of the project will be presented in a poster and the group will be interviewed about their poster. For the other masterclass the group will present their findings in a talk and an interview.
    • Individual blog reflecting on learning throughout term 2. Insights will be presented for both technical and non-technical readers.

    Each group project will be conducted in small groups, typically of two to four students. The components of the assessment will be weighted as 30% for the poster and associated interview, 30% for the presentation and associated interview, and 40% for the blog.

    Contact hours

    There are approximately 45 contact hours provided for this module. The fours masterclasses are likely to have some variation in length, with most masterclasses lasting 6-12 hours. Some masterclasses will include workshops and computer labs to supplement lectures. There will also be one workshop for each masterclass to review content and explore possibilities for research projects. In addition, private study will make up the majority of the learning hours.

  • STOR 605: Inference and Modelling

    Credits: 10

    Tutor: Jennifer Wadsworth

    Outline

    The module presents the key tools for statistical inference in both the frequentist and Bayesian settings. It will cover:

    • The definition of the likelihood function for single-parameter and multi-parameter models.
    • The calculation of the maximum likelihood estimator, its asymptotic normality, and how this is used to quantify uncertainty estimates.
    • Hypothesis testing using the likelihood ratio test statistic.
    • The calculation of maximum likelihood estimators using a computer.
    • Prior distributions for parameters in the Bayesian setting, conjugate priors and Jeffreys prior.
    • Posterior distributions of parameters for Bayesian inference, Bayesian point estimates and credible intervals.
    • Prediction using Bayesian inference.

    Objectives

    Statistical theory is the theory of extracting information about the unknown parameters of an underlying probability model from observed data. This concept underpins all practical statistical applications, whether in the frequentist or Bayesian setting.

    This course considers the idea of statistical models, and how the likelihood function, the probability of the observed data viewed as a function of unknown parameters, can be used to make inference about those parameters. This inference includes both estimates of the values of these parameters, and measures of the uncertainty surrounding these estimates. In the Bayesian setting, the parameters are modelled as random variables. This allows for the inclusion of any pre-existing beliefs about the parameters through their prior distribution.

    Learning Outcomes

    On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

    • Understand how to construct statistical models for simple applications.
    • Appreciate how information about the unknown parameters is obtained and summarised via the likelihood function.
    • Calculate the likelihood function for a variety of different types of data.
    • Understand the differences between frequentist and Bayesian inference.
    • Evaluate point estimates and make statements about the variability of these estimates.
    • Perform likelihood ratio tests.
    • Find maximum likelihood estimators using the statistical package R.
    • Select a prior distribution for parameters in the Bayesian setting.
    • Calculate the posterior distribution and the predictive distribution for Bayesian inference.

    Core texts

    • C. Chatfield (1988) Problem Solving. Chapman and Hall.
    • P. Dalgaard (2002) Introductory Statistics with R. Springer.
    • P. Lee (2004) Bayesian Statistics. Third edition. Wiley.
    • P. Hoff (2008) A First Course in Bayesian Statistics. Springer.
    • A. M. Starfield, K. A. Smith and A. L. Bleloch (1990) How to Model It: Problem Solving for the Computer Age. McGraw-Hill.

    Assessment

    Assessment will be through summer exam (100%).

    Contact hours

    There will be a mixture of lectures, tutorials and computer workshops totalling approximately 25 hours contact. In addition, private study will make up the majority of the learning hours.

  • STOR 606: Stochastic Simulation

    Credits: 10

    Tutor: Lucy Morgan and Barry Nelson

    Outline

    The module introduces the idea of simulation for modelling stochastic processes which would otherwise be intractable. It will cover:

    • The concept of discrete event simulation and examples of its use.
    • The creation of simulation models using a computer.
    • Random number generation and the use of random numbers to simulate random variables.
    • Performance estimation for different simulation models based on their outputs.
    • Input uncertainty and its effect on performance estimation.
    • Simulation optimisation for selecting between different simulation models.

    Objectives

    Simulation can be used to analyse complicated stochastic processes through computational methods. In particular, it provides a way to investigate processes that are intractable using theoretical approaches. Simulation is a key tool for decision making as it can be used to compare different models by estimating their performance.

    This course starts with the basic ideas behind simulation and how to create simulation models on a computer. Once a model has been created and run, its output can be analysed to estimate the performance of the model with respect to some quantity of interest. Simulation optimisation considers different ways of selecting between models based on estimates of their performance.

    Learning Outcomes

    On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

    • Understand how to build simulation models for a variety of applications.
    • Simulate different types of random variables using random numbers.
    • Use simulations of random variables within simulation models.
    • Estimate the performance of different models using their outputs.
    • Use the statistical package R to create, run and evaluate simulation models.
    • Understand input uncertainty and the effect it has on estimating model performance.
    • Select between different simulation models using simulation optimisation.

    Core texts

    • B. L. Nelson (2013) Foundations and Methods of Stochastic Simulation: A First Course. Springer-Verlag.

    Assessment

    Assessment will be through summer exam (100%).

    Contact hours

    There will be a mixture of lectures, tutorials and computer workshops totalling approximately 25 hours contact. In addition, private study will make up the majority of the learning hours.

  • STOR 607: Determinist Optimisation

    Credits: 10

    Tutor: Matthias Ehrgott

    Outline

    The module provides an introduction to the optimisation of different functions subject to various constraints. It will cover:

    • The formulation of linear programs and the use of the simplex method to solve them.
    • The dual of a linear program and the investigation of how the solution to a linear program changes with its inputs.
    • Network analysis using linear programming.
    • Integer programming and how to adapt the simplex method to solve integer programs.
    • The formulation of nonlinear programs.
    • Algorithms for solving both unconstrained and constrained nonlinear programs.

    Objectives

    Optimisation techniques can be used to find the maxima and minima of a variety of functions, often subject to complicated constraints on the domain of the function. The algorithms used to solve optimisation problems are therefore very important in a wide range of areas of statistics and operational research.

    This course begins by considering the case in which the objective function and constraint functions are linear. These problems can be solved using the simplex method. This method must be adapted if only integer solutions are permitted. Different algorithms are necessary when the objective function is nonlinear.

    Learning Outcomes

    On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

    • Formulate linear programs for a range of different applications.
    • Use the simplex method to solve linear programs.
    • Use sensitivity analysis to describe the stability of linear programming solutions.
    • Formulate integer programs and solve them by combining the simplex method with other techniques.
    • Solve nonlinear programs using appropriate algorithms.
    • Use a professional software package to solve different mathematical programs.
    • Interpret the solution to an optimisation problem in a range of contexts.

    Core texts

    • H. P. Williams (2013) Model Building in Mathematical Programming. Fifth edition. Wiley.

    Assessment

    Assessment will be through summer exam (100%).

    Contact hours

    There will be a mixture of lectures, tutorials and computer workshops totalling approximately 25 hours contact. In addition, private study will make up the majority of the learning 

  • STOR 608: Contemporary Topic Sprints

    Credits: 20

    Tutors:

    Outline

    This module covers some of the key areas which underpin modern statistics and operational research. Teaching will be delivered through a series of four sprints, in which students will work in groups to complete week-long self-study activities. The topics of the sprints will evolve between different years. The initial topics will be computational statistics, modelling paradigms for complex and novel data forms, statistical learning for decision, and stochastic and dynamic optimisation.

    Each sprint will begin with a two-hour lecture to motivate the topic and to introduce key papers in the area. Students will then work in groups to investigate important research questions, supported by daily half-hour drop-in sessions with the lecturer. The groups will present their findings in the form of a presentation, followed by a viva.

    Students will also prepare an individual report on one of the topics covered in the sprints. This will give students the opportunity to explore the topic in more detail. It will also allow students to develop their research skills, including reviewing literature and technical writing skills.

    The module involves the use of computer packages for statistics and operational research, such as R. It also involves the use of the mathematical document software LaTeX.

    Objectives

    Students need to develop a variety of skills in order to produce their own research on statistics and operational research. This course supports students in their transition from learning from taught courses to performing independent self-study. Students will work in groups to discover some of the most important topics in contemporary statistics and operational research. They will also develop a deeper understanding of one of the topics covered in the sprints by producing an individual report.

    The module provides students with training in a number of skills required for them to develop into researchers. These include reviewing literature, working in teams, giving presentations, responding to questioning and writing reports.

    Learning Outcomes

    On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

    • Demonstrate a deep knowledge of four of the key areas of modern statistics and operational research;
    • Understand one of the areas covered in the sprints in more detail;
    • Develop excellent independent learning skills by working in groups to complete self-study activities;
    • Use different sources to learn about unfamiliar areas in statistics and operational research;
    • Present group discoveries about new topics in talks for technical audiences;
    • Defend group discoveries and the arguments which support them under cross-examination;
    • Write individual reports to communicate key findings on specialist subject areas.

    Core texts

    Any relevant bibliography will be specific to each year.

    Assessment

    Assessment will be through coursework (100%). The coursework consists of assessed exercises under the following headings:

    • Four group projects to discover more about each of the areas covered in the sprints. The discoveries from each project will be presented in a talk, followed by a viva.
    • Individual report to develop more detailed knowledge of one of the areas covered in the sprints.

    Each group project will be conducted in small groups, typically of three to five students. The components of the assessment will be weighted as 20% for each of the four group projects and 20% for the individual report.

    Contact hours

    There are approximately 20 contact hours provided for this module. In addition, private study will make up the majority of the learning hours.

Area of Study

During your first year as a STOR-i student you will study for an MRes covering the following areas:

Probability and Stochastic Processes

Introduction to probability, Markov processes, Poisson processes and their use for modelling. The evaluation of complex stochastic properties via simulation.

Optimisation

Linear programming, mixed-integer programming, heuristics for large scale problems, stochastic programming, stochastic dynamic programming.

Likelihood Inference

Model-based (likelihood) inference for generalised linear models and stochastic processes and model diagnostics, randomisation methods for non-parametric testing.

Computer Simulation

Modelling for planning and decision support, systems ideas including complexity and feedback, stochastic discrete event simulation, output analysis with model validation, computational challenges including parallelisation.

Bayesian Inference

Bayesian inference, prediction and decision making. Contrasts between Bayesian and classical statistics.

Computational Intensive Methods

Conjugate analyses, importance sampling approximations, and MCMC for analysing complex stochastic systems.

Skills for Research and Industry

Presentation skills for non-technical and technical talks/posters/web design. Computer skills including programming in R and C.

Scientific Modelling

Skills for eliciting relevant background to problems through to conceptualising these in a model formulation which integrates the relevant scientific knowledge with STOR methods which capture an appropriate level of assumption.

Industrial Problem Solving Days

A current open industrial problem will be presented to the students in groups which are facilitated by staff and current students. An outline approach or solution will be developed for presentation to the collaborator.

Topical Research

Overview Presentations on thriving research areas in STOR. Students will be expected to produce a summary and a brief literature review.

PhD Research Proposal

Literature review, preliminary study and development of a firm plan for the PhD.

Learning Methods

The scheme of study offers methods of teaching and learning that provide opportunities for students to develop independence of thought and critical judgement. Generally as the scheme progresses, teaching and learning moves from methods and approaches which include more formal staff input and directed learning, towards increasingly independent and self-directed learning (culminating in the PhD process).

All teaching and learning methods are designed in relation to programme and individual module aims, in order to provide opportunities for students to demonstrate achievement of appropriate learning outcomes.

Note that there is a strong emphasis throughout on problem-based learning involving real world problems with real end-user stakeholders and this effectively drives the rest of the programme.

Student learning comes through a wide range of approaches:

  • Individual and Group Project-based learning – provides opportunities for students to take control and manage their own learning and to demonstrate skills and competencies in areas such as research, problem-solving, and reporting.
  • Lectures – enable dissemination of a specific body of knowledge to students. Ideas and issues generated by lectures will be elaborated through class discussions, workshops, weekly coursework, project learning, group critiques, essays and reports. Guest lectures will be employed as and when appropriate including a range of industrial lectures offered by our industrial partners.
  • Group critiques involving peers and tutors – provide opportunities for the development of intellectual skills in constructing, communicating and supporting arguments within a constructive learning environment.
  • External and interdisciplinary projects – can offer opportunities for students to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of, and practical skills in, professional working practices and methodologies.
  • Seminars – provide a forum for the discussion, debate and a conversation about a range of topics, ideas and contemporary issues. They provide opportunities for the presentation and discussion of inquiry-based class projects, and offer opportunities for the interchange of opinions, views, knowledge and experiences.
  • Formal presentations – reflect professional practice and provide opportunities for the development of transferable communication skills together with intellectual skills, such as critical analysis, prioritising information and arguments, and evaluation.
  • Project reports – provide opportunities for students to demonstrate competencies in research techniques, critical evaluation, design skills and transferable skills.
  • Extended projects and dissertations – provide opportunities for students to demonstrate effective self-managed learning and a broad range of competencies from technical skills and research/enquiry through to independence of thought, critical analysis, creative thinking, design skills, presentation and visualisation abilities and written communication.