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Discrete Mathematics and its Applications

Course overview

(MSc) Master of Science
Discrete Mathematics and its Applications
University of Essex
University of Essex
Mathematical Sciences
Colchester Campus
Mathematics, Statistics and Operational Research

A degree with an overall mid 2.2 in one of the following subjects: Mathematics, Statistics, Operational research, Finance, Economics, Business Engineering, Computing, Biology, Physics or Chemistry.

Will consider applicants with a unrelated degree but which contained at least three modules in calculus, algebra, differential equations, probability & statistics, optimisation or other mathematical modules.

Applications from students with a 2:2 or equivalent will be considered dependent on any relevant professional or voluntary experience, previous modules studied and/or personal statement.

IELTS 6.0 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.

External Examiners provide an independent overview of our courses, offering their expertise and help towards our continual improvement of course content, teaching, learning, and assessment. External Examiners are normally academics from other higher education institutions, but may be from the industry, business or the profession as appropriate for the course. They comment on how well courses align with national standards, and on how well the teaching, learning and assessment methods allow students to develop and demonstrate the relevant knowledge and skills needed to achieve their awards. External Examiners who are responsible for awards are key members of Boards of Examiners. These boards make decisions about student progression within their course and about whether students can receive their final award.

eNROL, the module enrolment system, is now open until Monday 21 October 2019 8:59AM, for students wishing to make changes to their module options.


Core You must take this module You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options You can choose which module to study
Compulsory You must take this module There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Compulsory with Options You can choose which module to study
Optional You can choose which module to study

Year 1 - 2019/20

Exit Award Status
Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits PG Diploma PG Certificate
01 MA981-7-FY Dissertation Core 60 Optional
02 CE885-7-SP Mathematical Research Techniques Using Matlab Compulsory 15 Compulsory Compulsory
03 MA306-7-AU Combinatorial Optimisation Compulsory 15 Compulsory Compulsory
04 MA314-7-SP Graph Theory Compulsory 15 Compulsory Compulsory
05 MA315-7-AU Cryptography and Codes Compulsory 15 Compulsory Compulsory
06 MA902-7-SP Research Methods Core 15 Compulsory Compulsory
07 MA319-7-AU Stochastic Processes Compulsory 15 Compulsory Compulsory
08 One autumn option from list Optional 15 Optional Optional
09 One spring option from list Optional 15 Optional Optional

Exit awards

A module is given one of the following statuses: 'core' – meaning it must be taken and passed; 'compulsory' – meaning it must be taken; or 'optional' – meaning that students can choose the module from a designated list. The rules of assessment may allow for limited condonement of fails in 'compulsory' or 'optional' modules, but 'core' modules cannot be failed. The status of the module may be different in any exit awards which are available for the course. Exam Boards will consider students' eligibility for an exit award if they fail the main award or do not complete their studies.

Programme aims

To offer students the opportunity to study discrete mathematics and its applications to an advanced level within an environment informed by current research.

To provide students with advanced training that will be of use in a career as a worker in the general area of discrete mathematics and its applications.

To provide students with training in the preparation of reports involving mathematical material, including correct referencing, appropriate layout and style.

To enhance the transferable skills of students (including IT skills, presentation skills, problem solving abilities, numeracy and their ability to retrieve information in an efficient manner.)

To provide students with information that will help them to make an informed judgement as to the appropriate methods to employ when analysing a problem of discrete mathematics and its applications.

Learning outcomes and learning, teaching and assessment methods

On successful completion of the programme a graduate should demonstrate knowledge and skills as follows:

A: Knowledge and understanding

A1 A range of ideas concerning Discrete Mathematics and its applications, including methods appropriate in specialized applications and some knowledge of relevant probabilistic/statistical/computing ideas.
A2 How to formulate algorithms to solve problems.
A3 The power of efficient computer programs
A4 Some of the ways in which apparently disparate parts of the subject may interconnect.
A5 One or more current areas of research in Discrete Mathematics and its Applications, including an awareness of the development of these areas of research.
Learning Methods: A1-A4 are principally acquired through the coherent programmes of lectures, exercises and problem classes. These are supplemented, where appropriate, by the use of computers, computer packages, textbooks, handouts and on-line material.

In most courses there is regular set work. This work is marked and this process informs the course teacher of common difficulties that require extra attention during the subsequent problem classes.

A5 is principally acquired through the preparation of an essay and a thesis on specialized topics. During the production of their written work, students are expected to extend and enhance the basic course material concerning internet searching and the production of mathematical texts. The research guidance during the summer is a critical aspect of this training.

Assessment Methods: Knowledge and understanding are assessed through coursework, examinations and essays.

B: Intellectual and cognitive skills

B1 Analyse a mass of information and carry out an appropriate analysis of the problem material.
B2 Express a problem in mathematical terms and carry out an appropriate analysis.
B3 Reason critically and interpret information in a manner that can be communicated effectively.
B4 Integrate and link information across course components.
B5 Under guidance of a supervisor, plan and carry out a piece of research and present the results in a coherent fashion.
Learning Methods: B1-3 These skills are developed through the regular coursework exercises.

In seeking to answer these exercises students become accustomed to identifying key facts in a body of information.

The problems classes provide back-up as required.
Assessment Methods: The level of attainment of these skills is assessed through coursework, the essay and the summer examinations.

C: Practical skills

C1 Model problems using discrete mathematics (and related areas of mathematics)
C2 Construct and use algorithms.
C3 Use computer programmes and/or packages
C4 Use a mathematical word-processing package
C5 Make an effective literature search
C6 Prepare a technical report.
C7 Give a presentation and defend their ideas in an interview.
Learning Methods: C1-C2 are developed through the programme of lectures, regular exercises and computer work.

Assessment Methods: C1-C3 are assessed by regular coursework and examinations.

D: Key skills

D1 Write clearly and effectively
D2 Use computer packages and/or programming languages for data analysis and computation.
D3 Enhance existing numerical ability
D4 Choose the appropriate method of inquiry in order to address a range of practical and theoretical problems.
D5 Learn from feedback and respond appropriately and effectively to supervision and guidance
D6 Work pragmatically to meet deadlines.
Learning Methods: D1 is promoted by the supervisor of the essay (and thesis work, where applicable) and by class teachers’ feedback on written solutions to problems.

D2 results from the coursework associated with various modules.

D3 is a natural consequence of modules with high numeric content.

D4 is a consequence of the coursework, problems classes, lectures and laboratory work.

D5-6 result from a tightly timetabled course of lectures and submission dates that require the student to effectively organise time to meet deadlines.
Assessment Methods: Key skills are assessed throughout the degree via coursework, examinations and the essay.


The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

Should you have any questions about programme specifications, please contact Course Records, Quality and Academic Development; email: