Operational Research Specialist Level 7

Duration: 24 months

An Operational Research Specialist helps clients, either internally or externally, to make strategic, tactical and operational decisions by using advanced analytical methods to understand and solve complex non-routine problems. The benefits of Operational Research include a wide range of performance improvements such as reducing costs, increasing revenue, saving lives, raising levels of customer service and designing public policy.

The occupation is found in organisations of all sizes, including businesses across all industry sectors, government and other public sector bodies.

Typical job titles include Analytics Specialist, Decision Support Analyst, Management Scientist, Modeller, Operational Analyst, Operational Research Analyst, Operational Research Consultant and Operational Researcher.

The curriculum for the course has been developed for The JGA Group by Christina Phillips PhD, academic, researcher and examiner in operational research at the Universities of Liverpool John Moores, Leeds and Swansea, Trustee of the Operational Research Society (ORS) and Co-Chair of the ORS Problem Solving Methods Special Interest Group.

The Operational Research Society, a professional membership body for operational researchers, data scientists and analysts, is expected to provide the end point assessment.

Programme Overview

The programme teaches the Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours of an Operational Research Specialist defined by a trailblazer group of employers including Dept for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Atkins Global, Royal Bank of Scotland, London Ambulance Service, BT, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Saker Solutions, HSBC and Optrak together with the ORS.

Where appropriate the programme uniquely draws out commonalities with systems thinking, enabling a cross fertilisation of challenges, ideas and solutions. It comprises:

  • Monthly 1-2-1 coaching, working with the apprentice to investigate and resolve their work projects
  • Small group, expert tutor-led seminars of 1-15 apprentices.
  • Support for line managers/mentors so they understand the requirements of an apprenticeship
  • Support for apprentices including mental health, well-being and neurodiversity (through our partnership with Genius Within)

Assessment is through

    • Work-based project report with presentation
    • Professional discussion underpinned by a portfolio of evidence and
    • Multi-choice test


  • Discuss the role or the employer, provider and apprentice
  • Describe ‘the self’
  • Describe some characteristics of personality
  • Define the ‘inner game’
  • Define a system
  • Describe how a system of interest is defined
  • Describe chaos theory and its implications
  • Define relationship building approaches
  • Describe the effect that politics, emotion, and rationality have on a complex problem
  • Describe good evidence-based decision making
  • Define leadership

Describe how to pick an appropriate leadership style

  • Explore a systems view of hard methods and operational research processes
  • Identify the different elements of the problem
  • Examine the tools and methods that could provide a solution to the problem
  • Apply the solution in the context of the business problem.
  • Explore stakeholder management tools
  • Engage stakeholders in group activities
  • Uncover hidden and unstated assumptions

Explore examples of

  • Linear programming
  • Simplex method and duality
  • Markov chains
  • Queueing theory and birth and death processes
  • Inventory models
  • Describe and apply different types of evidence to decision making,
  • Identify ways of remaining open-minded
  • Know and apply MCDA
  • Describe and utilise modelling
  • Build simple models
  • Describe some of the key limitations of modelling

Lab standalone (5hrs)

  • Overview of popular problem structuring methods
  • Apply Systems Dynamics
  • Basic Python
  • Build and use Advanced Spreadsheet Concepts
  • Evaluate and Synthesise Data
  • Assess a range of potential Operational Research techniques & methods, their strengths and weaknesses and how they are used in practice
    • Optimisation, machine learning, scheduling, forecasting, simulation, decision analysis, inventory models, Markov models, dynamic programming, performance measurement (such as KPIs, metrics and benefits), heuristics and statistical methods.
  • Seek latest research in operational analysis to develop a strong portfolio of evidence
  • Apply techniques for managing and appraising your own personal and professional development
  • Use advanced report writing techniques
  • Explain leadership styles and when they can be used
  • Apply leadership theory to a conflict
  • Exercise judgement in managing and using data in accordance with relevant legislation, organisational principles, and governance
  • Demonstrate how you have drawn on research and expertise to improve the robustness of your analytical approach
  • Explain how you have used a recognised learning loop methodology to reflect on practice
  • Explain the impact of this reflection on current practice
  • Practice Assessment Methods
    • Report writing and presentations
    • Sample test
    • Professional discussion underpinned by portfolio of evidence

Delivery Model

We deliver live, predominantly remotely utilising Zoom/Teams and are experimenting with a private suite in the Virbela virtual campus. We deliver nationally.

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