Maths formulae written on glass with trees behind
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(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.

This course is taking part in a continuing pilot programme to improve the selection procedure for graduate applications, in order to ensure that all candidates are evaluated fairly. For this course, the socio-economic data you provide in the application form will be used to contextualise the shortlisting and decision-making processes where it has been provided. Please carefully read the instructions concerning submission of your CV/résumé and optional contextual statement in the How to apply section of this page, as well as the full details about this pilot.

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

Core courses (usually accumulating four units)

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

Special topics (usually accumulating three units)

You must choose at least one special topic in the area of modelling and one in computation (one unit each). There are around 25 special topic courses to choose from, spread over all three academic terms, each usually consisting of 12 to 16 lectures and a mini project. Topics covered include mathematical biology, fluid mechanics, perturbation methods, the mathematics of data, numerical optimisation and scientific computing.

Case studies (usually accumulating two units) 

You must undertake at least one case study in mathematical modelling and one in scientific computing (one unit each). These courses take place in Hilary term and normally consist of group work, an oral presentation (for mathematical modelling only) and a written report.

Dissertation (four units)

You will need to write a dissertation  of around 40 to 50 pages. This is normally produced in the third term (Trinity Term) and over the long vacation. 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.

Pattern of learning and teaching

In the first term (Michaelmas term), students should expect their weekly schedule to consist of around five 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 (Hilary term), but students will spend more time working in groups on the case studies.

In the third term (Trinity term) there are some special topic courses, including 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.

Intended learning outcomes

Students on the course will gain knowledge of:

  • core methods of applied mathematics and numerical analysis;
  • computer programming of mathematical algorithms;
  • mathematical modelling;
  • more advanced topics in modelling, methods and numerical analysis;
  • how to undertake a short research project in an area of applied mathematics;
  • how to communicate mathematics effectively, both orally and in written form

Supervision

The allocation of graduate supervision for this course 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.

Assessment

Assessment takes place throughout the course. To complete the course, you must complete 13 units.

Each one-unit core course on mathematical methods and numerical analysis is assessed by written examination. The first two examinations on mathematical methods and numerical analysis usually take place in Week 0 of Hilary term. The second two examinations usually take place in Week 0 of Trinity term.

Each one-unit special topic culminates in an assessed written report. Special topic reports based on Michaelmas term lecture courses are submitted at the beginning of Hilary term and special topic reports based on Hilary term lectures courses are submitted at the beginning of Trinity term. The Trinity term courses are usually one week intensive courses taught at the beginning of term and so the reports for these are normally submitted in early July.

Each one-unit case study is taught in Hilary term. For mathematical modelling you will give an assessed group presentation at the end of Hilary term as well as submitting an individual written report at the beginning of Trinity term. For the scientific computing case study assessment will solely be based on your written report which will be submitted early in Trinity term.

Finally, you will produce a dissertation (contributing four units) during Trinity term and the long vacation and you will have an oral examination on this in mid-September. While your dissertation does not necessarily need to contain original ideas, credit will be given for originality and performance in the oral examination. In addition, the dissertation will be assessed on the mathematical content and accuracy, including the mathematical formulation of the problem and the subsequent analysis and solution, as well as the presentation, in particular whether the report is written clearly and in a scholarly manner.

Graduate destinations

Recent destinations include further research into mathematics and related fields, as well as roles in a variety of industries including data science, mathematical consultancy, finance, software engineering and scientific research.

Changes to this course and your supervision

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. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic (including Covid-19), epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.

For further information please see our page on changes to courses and the provisions of the student contract regarding changes to courses.

Other courses you may wish to consider

If you're thinking about applying for this course, you may also wish to consider the courses listed below. These courses may have been suggested due to their similarity with this course, or because they are offered by the same department or faculty.

Entry requirements for entry in 2023-24

Proven and potential academic excellence

Degree-level qualifications

As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:

  • a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in a subject with significant mathematical content.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.6 out of 4.0.

If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.

GRE General Test scores

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

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

  • Publications are not expected.

English language proficiency

This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.

Minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level requirement
TestMinimum overall scoreMinimum score per component
IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713) 7.57.0

TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'

(Institution code: 0490)

110Listening: 22
Reading: 24
Speaking: 25
Writing: 24
C1 Advanced*191185
C2 Proficiency191185

*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)

Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.

Declaring extenuating circumstances

If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.

References

You will need to register three referees who can give an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for the course. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the types of reference that are required in support of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including an official transcript and a CV/résumé. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the supporting documents that are required as part of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview

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 to receive one to two weeks’ notice of an interview and it is expected that interviews will take place around five to six weeks after an application deadline. The interview could take place face to face or remotely.

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 about your motivation to undertake the course and there will be an opportunity for you to ask questions (although these questions are not taken into account when assessing interview performance).

How your application is assessed

Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements published under that heading. References and supporting documents submitted as part of your application, and your performance at interview (if interviews are held) will be considered as part of the assessment process.

An overview of the shortlisting and selection process is provided below. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about how applications are assessed

Shortlisting and selection

Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, sexual orientation, as well as other relevant circumstances including parental or caring responsibilities or social background. However, please note the following:

  • socio-economic information may be taken into account in the selection of applicants and award of scholarships for courses that are part of the University’s pilot selection procedure and for scholarships aimed at under-represented groups;
  • country of ordinary residence may be taken into account in the awarding of certain scholarships; and
  • protected characteristics may be taken into account during shortlisting for interview or the award of scholarships where the University has approved a positive action case under the Equality Act 2010.

Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.

Initiatives to improve access to graduate study

This course is taking part in a continuing pilot programme to improve the selection procedure for graduate applications, in order to ensure that all candidates are evaluated fairly. For this course, the socio-economic data you provide in the application form will be used to contextualise the shortlisting and decision-making processes where it has been provided. Further details about this pilot, which applies to all applicants to this course, can be found in our pilot selection procedures section.

Processing your data for shortlisting and selection

Information about processing special category data for the purposes of positive action and using your data to assess your eligibility for funding, can be found in our Postgraduate Applicant Privacy Policy.

Admissions panels and assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).

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

Other factors governing whether places can be offered

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

  • the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the About section of this page;
  • the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
  • minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.

Offer conditions for successful applications

If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our After you apply pages provide more information about offers and conditions

In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also be required to meet the following requirements:

Financial Declaration

If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.

Disclosure of criminal convictions

In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.

Resources

The Mathematical Institute's home is the purpose-built Andrew Wiles Building, opened in 2013. This provides ample teaching facilities for lectures, classes and seminars. The Mathematical Institute provides IT support, and students can use the department's Whitehead Library, with an extensive range of books and journals. Wi-fi is available throughout the building.

The Mathematical 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. A shared office with desktop computers and a hot desking arrangement is allocated to students on arrival.

Graduate students have access to the department common room, where graduate students regularly gather for coffee and other social occasions and the mezzanine level of the Andrew Wiles Building houses a café and teaching spaces.

The Mathematical Institute is proud to have received an Athena SWAN silver renewal award in 2021, reflecting its commitment to promoting diversity and to creating a working environment in which students and staff alike can achieve their full potential.

Funding

The University expects to be able to offer around 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2023-24. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant December or January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential. 

For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources.

Please ensure that you visit individual college websites for details of any college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages or below:

Please note that not all the colleges listed above may accept students on this course. For details of those which do, please refer to the College preference section of this page.

Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the department's website.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2023-24

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home£12,710
Overseas£32,760

Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.

Course 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 course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on changes to fees and charges.

Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.

For more information about course fees and fee liability, please see the Fees and Funding section of this website, which includes detailed fee status information.

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

For the 2023-24 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,290 and £1,840 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. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2023-24, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of 5% or more each year – although this rate may vary significantly depending on how the national economic situation develops. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.

College preference

All graduate students at Oxford belong to a department or faculty and a college or hall (except those taking non-matriculated courses). If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. The Colleges section of this website provides information about the college system at Oxford, as well as factors you may wish to consider when deciding whether to express a college preference. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 45 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as Permanent Private Halls (PPHs). 

For some courses, the department or faculty may have provided some additional advice below to help you to decide. Whatever you decide, it won’t affect how the academic department assesses your application and whether they decide to make you an offer. If your department makes you an offer of a place, you’re guaranteed a place at one of our colleges. 

The following colleges accept students on the MSc in Mathematical Modelling and Scientific Computing:

Before you apply

Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide. We recommend that you submit your application well in advance - two or three weeks earlier. 

Application fee waivers

An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:

  • applicants from low-income countries;
  • refugees and displaced persons; 
  • UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and 
  • applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.

You are encouraged to check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver before you apply.

Contacting the department

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.

Completing your application

You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents. If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.

Referees:
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 commitment to pursue the chosen course to a successful conclusion.

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 and contextual information:
Instructions for submitting your CV and optional contextual statement using the submission form

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.

Contextual statement

If you wish to provide a contextual statement with your application, you may also submit an additional statement to provide contextual information on your socio-economic background or personal circumstances in support of your application.

Submit a contextual statement

It is not necessary to anonymise this document, as we recognise that it may be necessary for you to disclose certain information in your statement. This statement will not be used as part of the initial academic assessment of applications at shortlisting, but may be used in combination with socio-economic data to provide contextual information during decision-making processes.

Please note, this statement is in addition to completing the 'Extenuating circumstances’ section of the standard application form.

You can find more information about the contextual statement on our page that provides details of the continuing pilot programme to improve the assessment procedure for graduate applications.

Statement of purpose/personal statement:
A maximum of 1,000 words

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.

If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.

Start or continue your application

You can start or return to an application using the relevant link below. As you complete the form, please refer to the requirements above and consult our Application Guide for advice. You'll find the answers to most common queries in our FAQs.

Application Guide Apply

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