School of Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science

Masters study

student working on pc

Maths in the real world

Mathematics sits at the heart of science and technology.

Mathematics is the basis of cyber security programmes. It is used in health research through the utilisation of biostatistics. It can be combined with artificial intelligence to unlock opportunities for businesses to expand operations or overcome an efficiency issue.

In our school we offer taught postgraduate degrees in the fields of mathematics and data science. With support from our expert staff you can explore a specialist discipline within these two key areas of mathematical sciences.

Through one of our postgraduate degrees you can learn how to apply mathematical concepts to solve complex problems, how to design algorithms, or how to use computer modelling to test the impact of variables on outcomes.

If you want to stand apart from the crowd then a Masters degree can be an excellent way to demonstrate your knowledge. It shows your commitment to your professional development and can help you gain the skills and experience needed for more senior roles in various organisations or prepare you to carry out a research degree.

Explore our Masters courses


Why choose us?
  • Choose from a range of part-time and full-time courses, from Postgraduate Diploma to Master of Science (MSc).
  • Take the opportunity to work alongside well-published world leaders in their individual specialisms
  • We offer integrated PhDs which lead you from a first year developing your skills straight into postgraduate research.
Dr Yanchin Bao standing outside with some trees in the background.
"Whether you’re looking to broaden your knowledge, develop a specialism, or dive into a real-world application, a Masters degree from our School of Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science lets you showcase your talent and stand out from the crowd. Our expert and varied staff enable you to tailor your degree, whatever your needs."
Dr Yanchun Bao Lecturer and Postgraduate (Taught) Director

What can you study?

What can we do for you?

Part-time options

We understand that committing to a full-time postgraduate degree can be difficult. Many people need to fit their studies around other aspects of their life, such as a job or care commitments.

Our department offers part-time options for some of our Masters degrees. A part-time degree can be done across two years instead of the standard one year. Your first year will solely focus on taught modules, while your second year will involve taught modules and work on your Masters dissertation.

If you take a part-time degree you will still have the same access to facilities and will be taught by the same lecturers as our full-time students.

Explore our part-time degees

Choice of mathematics or data science degrees

Our department is proud to offer a range of degrees that fall within the scope of the mathematical sciences.

Mathematics courses

For many people our MSc Mathematics may seem like a niche subject, only undertaken by those with a passion for algebra or geometry. But mathematics is a fundamental part of all the sciences and a graduate degree in it can be an excellent springboard for a research degree in a range of subjects. Alternatively, the collection of skills you learn can open doors to a huge range of careers beyond academia.

In addition to our MSc Mathematics, we also offer MSc Mathematics and Finance. This degree is ideal for those who have an undergraduate degree in a mathematical subject and wish to move into a financial career. Topics covered include financial and actuarial modelling, and portfolio and risk management.

Data science courses

We also have a strong background in data science which has led to the development of a range of Masters degree courses related to this field.

Along with our MSc Data Science, our focus on the mathematical side of data has led to specialist courses such as MSc Statistics and MSc Actuarial Science. We also offer a full time two year degree, MSc Data Science with Professional Placement, in which you spend a year working in an organisation in a data science-focused role.

Whichever subject you study you will be taught by experts in the field and will develop an enhanced collection of skills that will be suitable for a variety of careers.

Explore our Masters courses

Conversion courses

Our department has developed two conversion courses; MSc Applied Data Science, and MSc Data Science and its Applications. These degrees are designed to address the digital skills gap by bringing data science to those who have minimal experience in science and technology.

Many specialist postgraduate degrees in data science require an undergraduate degree in a related subject, such as mathematics or computer science. These conversion courses have been created to help those without a science background gain a solid understanding of data science and the computational and analytical skills needed to make the most of it.

Postgraduate diplomas

Along with a traditional Masters degree we also offer several postgraduate diplomas.

These degrees feature the same taught modules as their Masters degree equivalent, but do not involve completing a dissertation. They are an ideal option for those whose undergraduate degree contained a limited amount of mathematics, or for those who finished a mathematics undergraduate degree with a 2:2 or lower.

If you are thinking of changing careers or are returning to work after a significant career break, then a postgraduate diploma can be one way to help bring your skills up to speed. It can also help you refresh your mathematics knowledge before you start a science-based Masters degree or research degree.

View our postgraduate diplomas

What are your career opportunities

Skills development

A degree in any of the mathematical sciences can set you up with a collection of enhanced skills that build on your undergraduate studies.

Depending on your course you will gain experience in specialist mathematics skills such as:

  • Scientific computation in languages such as R, Python and Matlab.
  • Algorithm design.
  • Bayesian statistical modelling.
  • Computer security and RSA cryptography.

Additionally, all our degrees are designed to improve your transferable skills including:

  • Communication, both oral through presentations, and written through reports, coursework and your research project.
  • Attention to detail.
  • Time management, a Masters degree involves a great deal of independent learning and you are responsible for managing your time effectively to meet the anticipated outcomes of your work.

Whichever degree you study you will also take our Mathematics Careers and Employability module. This module has been designed to help you identify the skills required by employers, understand the roles that Masters graduates are suitable for, and learn more about how graduates are recruited.

Read more about careers for our graduates

Integrated PhDs

If you are planning on undertaking a PhD but don’t currently have a postgraduate qualification, then our integrated PhDs could be suitable for you.

Our integrated PhDs give you a direct pathway into further education. You will spend the first year studying at Masters degree level, before moving onto your PhD which could add another three to six years to your studies (depending on whether you study full-time or part-time).

There are multiple benefits to taking the integrated route. You will be able to develop a good working relationship with your supervisor before beginning your PhD, you won’t need to make a separate application after completing your Masters year, and depending on your course you may be able to tailor your first year to the area you wish to study at PhD level through our optional modules.

Master of Science by Dissertation (MSD)

If you have an interest in research rather than further teaching then a Master of Science by Dissertation (MSD) may be more suitable.

For this one year research degree you will identify an area of interest, carry out research into it, and write up your findings in a thesis. You will have supervision from one of our academics throughout your work, and at the end you will defend your thesis through an oral exam known as a viva.

An MSD option can be great for those who are considering further study through a PhD, or who feel that a taught degree isn’t right for the skills they want to develop.

Explore our MSD options
“My favourite modules were the ones where I was able to work hands on with data performing analysis, building models, and learning to code. In the era of Big Data it is an important skill to be able to manipulate, interpret, and gain insights from your data. Many of the modules at Essex also gave me the chance to work with R and Excel. Proficiency with these softwares, especially Excel, has been extremely useful in my work as I use it on a day-to-day basis.”
George Brooks BSc Management and Mathematics (2017) & MSc Actuarial Science (2018)

How we support you

Change of direction

Depending on the Masters course you wish to take, you may find that you do not need to have an undergraduate degree in mathematics itself.

Some undergraduate degrees in science or a closely related subject involve a number of mathematics-based modules. These may give you the skills and background needed to qualify for a Masters degree in our department.

We can accept applications for some of our courses from those with undergraduate degrees in computer science, economics, physics, or biostatistics. We can also review applications from those who have taken specific mathematics modules at undergraduate level, such as algebra, calculus, and statistics. Our course pages specify the entry requirements, and we are happy to have an informal discussion about your mathematics background before you make an application.

Specialist research

Research in our department covers two key areas; mathematics, and data science.

Within these areas our work is split into smaller themes, such as algebra, geometry and discrete mathematics; mathematical applications; statistical methodology; and operational research. Our academics collaborate across these themes and across other departments, with projects run in partnership with colleagues in the Department of Psychology, the School of Life Sciences, and the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering.

We also have several academics who specialise in research in mathematics education. Academics in this field study the best way to improve the educational experience for mathematics, from nursery to higher education, as well as how to improve the accessibility of mathematics for those who need additional learning support.

Our work feeds into our teaching, so not only are you taught the latest theories of mathematics and data science, but you also benefit from teachers whose skills and training are based on the latest research in mathematics education.

Optional modules

All our Masters degrees involve core modules that must be taken as part of your studies.

However, many of our degrees also include a range of optional modules. The number you can take and when you take them will depend on your degree.

Our optional modules mean that you can tailor some of your degree to an area of personal interest. You may want to improve your programming skills, add a module about finance, or learn more about data analysis. Some of these modules are also led by the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, so you also benefit from the expertise of other academics outside our department.

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