OR432      Half Unit
Operational Research and Decision Science in Practice

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Mr Keith Rapley NAB 3.38


This course is available on the MSc in Management Science (Decision Sciences) and MSc in Management Science (Operational Research). This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

This course focuses on the key skills needed to be an effective practitioner in Operational Research (OR) and Decision Sciences (DS). It is designed to complement the theoretical and practical skills developed in both programmes' compulsory courses. The intention is to give students an appreciation of the different kinds of OR & DS study that occur in practice, and the skills that are needed to make effective interventions in the decision making of organisations. Additionally, the students will explore common practical problems encountered in undertaking OR & DS studies. The history and development of OR & DS will be explored to identify key issues affecting the practice of OR & DS. Students will identify different kinds of organisation in which OR & DS make important contributions. The structure of these organisations will be studied together with organisational behaviours. The nature of decision making at both the strategic and operational levels will be examined. The course will explore the role of the OR & DS consultant emphasising the importance of problem structuring and of various techniques (e.g. cognitive mapping) which can assist the analyst in developing a shared view of the problem with a client or clients. The skills required for making OR & DS interventions will be identified. Students will have opportunities to develop these skills together with identifying the contributions that they can make when working in teams as well as individually.


15 hours of seminars in the MT. 15 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

There will be opportunities in MT and LT to provide answers to test examination questions.

Indicative reading

Understanding the Process of Operational Research, P Keys, Wiley 1994; Rational Analysis for a Problematic World Revisited, Rosenhead & Mingers Wiley 2001.

Additional reading matter will be issued for specific sessions.


Exam (80%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (20%, 2500 words) in the ST.

Key facts

Department: Management Science Group

Total students 2012/13: 18

Average class size 2012/13: 23

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Commercial awareness