Department of Decision Sciences

About us

Decision Sciences as a field of study

Decision Sciences is a field that encompasses the application of quantitative approaches (using mathematics, statistics, computer science and other tools) to business decision making and analysis. Decision Sciences incorporate the building and modifying of statistical, mathematical and/or numerical models and techniques in order to assist in making complex decisions in many fields. It involves a systematic, rational approach to problem solving and can be used to determine close to optimal answers to problems, or to examine and compare the outcomes of different decisions.

These skills are applied to anything, from weather forecasting to pricing strategies, new financial services and crop projections. A strong emphasis is placed on mathematical modelling and programming, data analysis and applied statistics, while also providing a solid foundation in the broader economic and management environment. The emphasis is on attaining the ability to perform complex decision-making in areas such as operations and financial management, manufacturing and logistics.

Operations Research (OR) is a systematic and rational approach to problem-solving and decision-making in situations of complexity, uncertainty and conflict. In short, quantitative (i.e. mathematical or numerical) models and techniques are used to find the optimal (best) solutions to quantifiable problems. The multi-disciplinary, computational and systems approach of OR is also known in the business world as Quantitative Management (QM), Management Science (MS) or Decision Science.

In 2005 the name of our department changed to the Department of Decision Sciences (Afrikaans: Departement Besluitkunde, seTswana: Lefapha la Disaense tsa Tshweetso) but this did NOT affect the name of the degrees or modules. The focus of research and teaching in the Department has always been on decision making based on facts and scientific methods in various context, ranging from industry and finance to the public sector, and not on management per se. The new name reflects the focus of the Department's activities in the College of Economic and Management Sciences and Unisa joined prestigious institutions like Drexel University, The National University of Singapore, Georgia State University, the Erasmus University in Rotterdam and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in having a department with the name Decision Sciences.

What can be gained by studying in the Department of Decision Sciences?

By studying the mathematical optimisation and systems modelling methods of Quantitative Management, you develop systematic thinking and modelling skills which are useful in business planning and management decision making.

Career opportunities exist in businesses, banks, factories, environmental planning, mining, housing and engineering projects, health services, management consultation – in short, where planning or management or decision-making has to  take place.

Possible Careers:

  • Consultant
  • Decisions scientist
  • Financial analyst
  • Investment analyst
  • Marketing analyst
  • Operations manager
  • Project manager
  • Statistical analyst
  • Systems specialist / Analyst  

Lecturing:

  • Operations Research / Quantitative Management
  • Mathematics
  • Computer Science
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Statistics
  • Commerce / Business Studies  

Research:

  • Operations Research / Quantitative Management
  • Information Technology
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Commerce