Institute for Transport Studies (ITS)

Mathematical Modelling for Transport MSc
(Full time / Part time) 2018 start


Key facts

Start date
September 2018

UK/EU fees: £8,500 (total)
International fees: £19,500 (total)

Online application code

Duration of MSc
12 months full time
24 months part time

Course terms and conditions

Download a brochure

Mathematical models are fundamental to how we understand, analyse and design transportation systems, but these models face challenges from the rapidly changing nature of mobility.

Innovative technologies are being harnessed to deliver new approaches to transport services, and huge volumes of data create new opportunities to examine how patterns of movement are evolving.

If you’re a highly numerate graduate with a desire to apply your quantitative skills to the real world, or a practitioner working in the sector, this course will take you to the next level and prepare you for a career as a transport modelling specialist.

97% of our graduates find employment in a professional or managerial role, or continue with further studies.*

Experience a course designed in collaboration with employers, learning skills the industry desperately needs to unlock the full potential of big data.

Learn to think creatively, beyond the standard application of established solutions, and use your technical expertise across multiple scenarios.

Develop and apply mathematical models to analyse and improve the performance of transportation networks and flows:

  • Use mathematical models to represent transport systems and forecast demand
  • Test solutions and strategies using different models
  • Apply optimisation algorithms to traffic networks
  • Develop computer code to enhance and visualise outputs
  • Critically evaluate and adapt existing modelling techniques
  • Write scientific reports for technical and lay audiences
  • Develop research and advanced scholarship skills

And experience what it is like to be part of a project team working across disciplinary boundaries within the transport sector. Through this, gain insights into how modelling, environmental science, planning, economics and engineering can work together to develop sustainable solutions to global challenges. This industry-inspired approach will enable you to apply your knowledge to real-world issues in the field.

Your colleagues will be among the best and brightest from the UK and across the globe. Together you will learn mathematical modelling skills that can be applied to design smarter transport solutions founded on robust methods.

ITS – the global institute teaching the transport leaders of tomorrow.

*Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE),

You will learn to:

  • recognise real world transportation issues which are susceptible to mathematical analysis;
  • understand how and why mathematical models are used in different contexts of transport analyses;
  • identify ways to formulate transport issues into mathematical problems and develop relevant solution strategies;
  • apply optimization algorithms to traffic network models;
  • write computer programmes to solve mathematical models and to visualise model outputs;
  • write scientific reports on transport models and modelling approaches suitable for technical and lay audiences;
  • work in a multidisciplinary team and effectively execute and communicate the role of mathematical modelling within an integrated project;
  • critically and creatively to evaluate current issues, research and advanced scholarship in the discipline;
  • take a proactive and self-reflective role in developing professional relationships with others, in readiness for a career as a transport modeller.

With a strong focus on industry needs, our degrees will prepare you for employment in your chosen field. They will also address the multi-disciplinary nature of transport – enabling you to make effective decisions for clients, employers and society.

And to experience what it’s really like to work in the transport sector, collaborate with a project team of students from our other degrees through our new Transport Integrated Project module.

The programme leader is Dr Richard Connors.

Other study options

This programme is available part time over 24 or 36 months. We are flexible as to how you choose to study this course so that you can combine it with other commitments, such as an existing job.

Please get in touch with our admissions team to discuss part time study options.

You can also study this subject at Postgraduate Diploma level, part time or full time, or at Postgraduate Certificate level with our PGCert in Transport Studies.

Course content

Alongside specialist modules, study common modules that will address key issues currently facing transport industry professionals. These provide you with a holistic overview of transport problems and approaches to policy formulation.

Our new Transport Integrated Project module enables you to employ project management scenario-based learning. You will cover a range of transport disciplines and be supervised by experts in the field. Join forces with a project team of other students from our other degrees to develop a solution to a ‘real-world’ transport problem, identifying how your own interests need to interact effectively with others to achieve an effective solution.

You will learn about the methods and models used in transport analysis and the software packages that implement them. You will be trained to think creatively, beyond the standard application of established ‘solutions’ and learn how to use your technical expertise as a mathematical modeller in interdisciplinary teams. Being equipped with these skills will open up a range of future career paths, whether in government, consultancy, academia or going on to further study.

The core of the programme includes the following compulsory modules, which have been designed together to enhance the learning potential of this programme:

  • Concepts and Mathematics for Modelling Transport – examines how transport systems can be modelled and the methods, assumptions, tools and algorithms involved (Semester 1).
  • Transport Modelling in Practice – applies the theory covered above to realistic example scenarios. Includes use of state-of-the-art commercial software (Semester 1).
  • Transport Data Science – how to manage, interrogate and visualise ‘big data’, and incorporate it into transport modelling (Semester 2).

Course structure

These are typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.

Year 1

Compulsory modules

  • Shaping Future Transport Systems 15 credits
  • Concepts and Mathematics for Modelling Transport Systems 30 credits
  • Transport Data Science 15 credits
  • Transport Modelling In Practice 15 credits
  • Transport Dissertation 60 credits
  • Transport Integrated Project 15 credits

Optional modules

  • System Dynamics: Modelling Policy 15 credits
  • Global Transferability of Policies, Models and Methods 15 credits
  • Choice Modelling and Stated Preference Survey Design 15 credits
  • Transport and Urban Pollution 15 credits

Learning and teaching

The programme involves a range of teaching methods, supported by independent learning. In addition to the traditional lecture and seminar formats, students experience a blend encompassing workshops, computer exercises, practical sessions, directed reading, reflective journal, student-led discussions and tutorials.


Assessment is equally varied and will include coursework essays, case-study reports, group assignments, posters, presentations and exams.

Applying, fees and funding

Entry requirements

A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) in a relevant subject such as Mathematics, statistics, or a science/engineering degree with substantial quantitative/mathematical content (e.g. physics, computer science).

Graduates from other disciplines and those with professional qualifications plus experience in the sector will also be considered.

We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. For information contact the ITS admissions team.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications. International students who do not meet the English language requirements for the programme may be able to study an English for Academic Purposes pre-sessional course with a progression route to the degree programme. For information and entry requirements, read Pre-sessional programmes.


How to apply

This link takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.
If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Read Institute for Transport Studies advice on how to apply.

Admissions policy

Faculty of Environment Postgraduate Admissions Policy 2018

Visas and immigration

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

Link to admissions policy document


UK/EU fees: £8,500 (total)
International fees: £19,500 (total)

For fees information for international taught postgraduate students, read Masters fees.

Part-time fees are normally calculated based on the number of credits you study in a year compared to the equivalent full-time course. For example, if you study half the course credits in a year, you will pay half the full-time course fees for that year.

Additional cost information

Students wishing to attend the optional European Field Trip are advised to allow a minimum of £500 for accommodation and travel during the week-long trip.

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more about additional costs

Scholarships and financial support

The Institute for Transport Studies offers a range of scholarships for UK, EU and International students

Find out more about our Scholarships.

Career opportunities

Links with Industry

This programme was developed in consultation with practitioners in the transport modelling sector, to ensure that its graduates will be highly employable. Many consultancies, local authority planning departments and other organizations in the transport industry have expressed interest in this new programme.

Jacobs, one of the world's leading professional services firms, has pledged their support for this new course by offering two prizes for academic excellence, a commitment to engage with students through lectures and workshops, and an invitation to students on the course to attend the Summer Placements they run each year around the UK.

Many of Jacobs' current Directors and Senior Professionals are ITS Alumni and this year it made offers to six of our Transport Masters students.

Within the transport sector, Jacobs sees mathematical modelling as an active, growing and technically specialist discipline that will be of immense value to them as an employer. Jacobs' support will help to allow mathematical modelling students access to the widest range of software on the market. As one of the leading transport modelling consultancies in the UK, and internationally, Jacobs recognises the value the skills developed in this programme will bring to the transport planning field.

Logo for Jacobs Professional Services

Graduate Destinations

Our graduates work across the private and public sectors, and a degree from ITS opens up a range of opportunities to develop a challenging and rewarding career.

Students come to Leeds from across the world and subsequently follow both ‘international’ and ‘locally-based’ careers. Our students are highly sought after and have a good reputation with a variety of organisations. Common careers include those in transport consultancies, government, academia, regulatory bodies, transport operators, logistics companies, not-for-profit and international agencies. Some students are already employed when taking their degree, whilst others will be helped to gain employment, and may receive a job offer before or shortly after graduation. To facilitate this, ITS has close working relationships with a number of organisations and many employers visit campus each year to interview our students for graduate schemes and other vacancies. ITS also regularly circulates specific job vacancies to students.

This programme provides an ideal foundation for a PhD, whether in transport or in other areas of applied mathematical modelling and analysis of socio-technical systems. World-class research staff in ITS are available to discuss opportunities for further study.

Read more about Graduate Employability at the Institute for Transport Studies.

Careers support

You’ll be provided with a wide range of support geared towards helping you secure the right employment after graduation.

Each year there are a number of events provided both by ITS and the University’s Careers Centre. We have a dedicated Careers Consultant from the Careers Centre who works with ITS students, delivering bespoke presentations and one-to-one consultations with students on their career plans.

We also invite former students back to ITS to share their experiences of developing a career in the transport sector.

Field trips

Transport at the Institute for Transport Studies is an applied subject. We offer plenty of opportunities for students to experience transport systems in action, both within the UK and Europe, allowing you to meet and hear directly from transport professionals and see what you’ve learned in practice.

For many of our students, the highlight of their year is the European Field Trip. This week-long trip which takes place after the summer exams and has been a fixture in the Institute's calendar since 1987. The itinerary varies from year to year, but has often included Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany.

Stops en-route have included Pedestrian Centres and Docklands Transport in Rotterdam; Cycle and Traffic Calming Facilities in Delft; the Motorway Traffic Control Centre in Amsterdam; the Guided Bus System in Essen; the Wuppertal Monorail; Town Planning features in Duisburg and Dusseldorf; research talks at the University of Hasselt, and visit to the Brussels Metro.

Search site