MG4A2      Half Unit
Operational Research and Decision Science in Practice

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Lawrence Phillips and Prof Jonathan Rosenhead


This course is available on the MSc in Management Science (Decision Sciences). 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), and the structured approaches available for formulating (as opposed to solving) problems of complexity, uncertainty and conflict. It is designed to complement the technical methods introduced in the operational research and decision science compulsory courses with both facilitation and process skills, and methods for handling ‘wicked’ problems.l i Students will acquire an appreciation of the different conditions under which OR & DS applications take place in practice, and the skills and methods that are needed to make effective interventions in the decision making of organisations. The history and development of OR & DS, as well as its current practice, will be examined to identify key issues affecting the practice of OR & DS and the role of the OR and DS consultant. 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. Students will be provided with an opportunity to explore their own work preferences enabling them to understand how they can best contribute to a work group so it becomes a high-performing team. Students will be introduced to the range of participative problem structuring methods appropriate to problem situations with multiple stakeholders facing uncertainty and conflicting objectives. These methods are aimed at developing a shared view of the problem among the clients, and a joint commitment to action.  Students will have opportunities to develop their skills in problem structuring, and to identify the contributions that they can make when working in teams as well as individually.


20 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the MT. 1 hour of lectures in the ST.

Formative coursework

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

Indicative reading

Rational Analysis for a Problematic World Revisited. Rosenhead & Mingers, Wiley, 2001

Process Consultation Revisited: Building the Helping Relationship. Schein, Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1999

Additional reading matter will be issued for specific sessions.


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

Key facts

Department: Management

Total students 2018/19: Unavailable

Average class size 2018/19: Unavailable

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Commercial awareness