MSc in Mathematical Modelling and Scientific Computing | University of Oxford
Formulae
Formulae on a glass board
(Image Credit: Paula Heister / Graduate Photography Competition)

MSc in Mathematical Modelling and Scientific Computing

About the course

This one-year master's course provides training in the application of mathematics to a wide range of problems in science and technology. Emphasis is placed on the formulation of problems, on the analytical and numerical techniques for a solution and the computation of useful results.

The course consists of both taught courses and a dissertation. To complete the course you must complete 13 units.

There are four core courses which you must complete (one unit each), which each usually consist of 24 lectures, classes and an examination. There is one course on mathematical methods and one on numerical analysis in both Michaelmas term and Hilary term. Each course is assessed by written examination in Week 0 of the following term.

Additionally, you must choose at least least one special topic in the area of modelling and one in computation (one unit each). There are around twenty special topics to choose from, spread over all three academic terms, each usually consisting for 12 to 16 lectures and a mini project, which culminates in a written report of around 20 pages. Topics covered include mathematical biology, fluid mechanics, perturbation methods, numerical solution of differential equations and scientific programming. 

You must also undertake at least one case study in modelling and one in scientific computing (one unit each), normally consisting of four weeks of group work, an oral presentation and a report delivered in Hilary term.

There is also a dissertation (four units) of around 50 pages, which does not necessarily need to represent original ideas. Since there is another MSc focussed on mathematical finance specifically, the MSc in Mathematical and Computational Finance, you are not permitted to undertake a dissertation in this field.

You will normally accumulate four units in core courses, three units in special topics, two units in case studies and four units in the dissertation. In addition, you will usually attend classes in mathematical modelling, practical numerical analysis and additional skills during Michaelmas term.

In the first term, students should expect their weekly schedule to consist of around seven hours of core course lectures and seven hours of modelling, practical numerical analysis and additional skills classes, then a further two hours of lectures for each special topic course followed. In addition there are about three hours of problem solving classes to go through core course exercises and students should expect to spend time working through the exercises then submitting them for marking prior to the class. There are slightly fewer contact hours in the second term, but students will spend more time working in groups on the case studies.

In the third term there are some special topic courses, including one week intensive computing courses, but the expectation is that students will spend most of the third term and long vacation working on their dissertations. During this time, students should expect to work hours that are equivalent to full-time working hours, although extra hours may occasionally be needed. Students are expected to write special topic and case study reports during the Christmas and Easter vacations, as well as revising for the core course written examinations.

Graduate destinations

Further research into mathematics and/or computer science or industry.

Related courses

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2017-18

Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in a subject with significant mathematical content.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.4 out of 4.0.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

Other appropriate indicators will include:

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.  

Applicants are shortlisted for interview if their application demonstrates proven academic excellence and potential and they satisfy the prerequisites (as judged from transcripts and references) and also if they are motivated to study the course (as judged from the personal statement and references).

If you are shortlisted for interview you will usually be notified within one month of the application deadline which you met. Where applications are still accepted after the final standard University deadline, you will be informed whether or not you are invited for interview shortly after applications close. In both cases, you should expect interviews to then take place a few weeks after you are notified. Applicants who are in the UK are invited to Oxford for an interview whilst other interviews take place either via Skype (with a webcam) or on the telephone.

The interviews last approximately 30 minutes and there are a minimum of two interviewers. The interviewers will be trying to evaluate your background knowledge and suitability for the course as well as motivation and technical skills.

The major part of the interview will be the technical interview in which you will be asked questions on prerequisite material. In addition, you will be asked why you would like to undertake the course and there will be opportunity for you to ask questions (although these questions are not taken into account when assessing interview performance).

Publications

Publications are not expected.

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.

3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places

The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • The ability of the Mathematical Institute to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work. 
  • Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.

The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Mathematical Institute and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. 
  • Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Mathematical Institute.

You will be assigned an initial supervisor on arrival in Oxford whose role is to act as an academic advisor during the first two terms of the course. In the third term, your supervisor will usually change when you start work on your dissertation.

Where possible your academic dissertation supervisor will not change for the remainder of your course, however it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.

4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.

Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.

5. Assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

6. Other information

Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.

Resources

The Mathematics Institute provides six lecture theatres and six class rooms. The largest lecture theatre seats up to 363 people and all classrooms can accommodate 24 people.

The Mathematical Institute provides IT support and the department's Whitehead Library. A shared office with desktop computers is allocated to students on arrival.

Graduate students have access to the department common room and the mezzanine level of the Andrew Wiles Building houses a canteen and teaching spaces.

Funding

There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.

For students applying to programmes within the MPLS Division at Oxford, Research Council and other funding opportunities available, subject to eligibility. These opportunities are included in the Fees, funding and scholarship search.

You may also be interested in departmental funding opportunities. Further details can be found on the department's website.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2017-18

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
£6,085£3,021£9,106
Overseas£16,770£3,021£19,791

The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; for courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

Tuition and college fees are payable each year for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay tuition and college fees).

For more information about tuition fees, college fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details on the impact of the result of the UK referendum on its membership of the European Union.

Additional information

There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees and living costs.  However, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Please note that, depending on your choice of topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.

Living costs

In addition to your tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2017-18 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between £1,002 and £1,471 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our Living costs page.

How to apply

You are welcome to make contact with the Course Director, Dr Kathryn Gillow, before you apply in order to find out more about the course. However, it is not necessary to contact a potential supervisor as this will be arranged on your arrival.

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.

CV/résumé

A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Statement of purpose/personal statement:
Around one page

Your statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in.

This will be assessed for your reasons for applying; evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study; the ability to present a reasoned case in English; and commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course.

Your statement should focus on your motivation for wishing to undertake the course and relevant qualifications rather than your personal achievements, interests and aspirations.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, academic preferred

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

Although academic references are preferred, you may use one, or at most two, professional references of the three references required overall.

Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation and to commitment to pursue the chosen course to a successful conclusion.