Professional Master Degree in Numerical Modelling and
Computational Science

for science students wishing to gain experience
in problem-solving using computational methods

The mission of the Professional Master in
Numerical Modelling and Computational Science

To create a stimulating environment in which students will learn computational science through a balanced programme of theoretical courses and hands-on training, preparing them to work in industry or research centres solving complex numerical problems.

The strategy of the Professional Master in
Numerical Modelling and Computational Science

  • To welcome students from various scientific backgrounds and strengthen their fundamental knowledge in Physics, Mathematics and Computing
  • To provide an advanced education in a wide-range of scientific fields, in numerical methods and in scientific programming
  • To stimulate the development of a critical mind and a pragmatic approach to problem solving
  • To introduce students to work practises in industry through courses by professionals in Human Resources and an intensive training with emphasis on collaborative skills
  • To develop a friendly network involving all actors in the Master degree, i.e. past and present students, professionnals and teachers, in order to exchange information useful for career development and to inspire new vocations in the field of modelling and computational science.

The objectives of the Professional Master in
Numerical Modelling and Computational Science

Diplomees must

  • have acquired the specialist knowledge necessary for their industrial placement
  • master Fortran90, C, C++ and Linux
  • be able to develop and debug computer programmes of significant size, to assess their reliability and to improve their efficiency
  • be familiar with several major computer packages used in industry (Comsol Multiphysics, Ansys, PFC2D, ImageJ, Gate, ...)
  • have a good command of English (level B2 of CLES) and preferably of a second foreign language in order to work in an international environment.



The spectacular increase in computer performance and accessibility has led to the development of numerical modelling and high performance computing (HPC), a powerful new method of scientific investigation complementary to traditional experimental and theoretical approaches. The technical and economic advantages of numerical simulation are now widely acknowledged, both in academia and in industry:

  • The necessary tools are relatively inexpensive and can be applied to apparently very different problems
  • Accurate numerical simulation allows tedious trial-and-error design and testing to be minimised, greatly reducing costs
  • Computational science can help forward planning by anticipating future needs and changes induced by economic, financial, environmental and even ethical presssure.

While the ultimate aim of "virtual factories" might be a long way off, numerical simulation provides a very efficient way of maximising a company's performance. There is thus a growing need to educate people in numerical simulation and the employment prospects are excellent.

Numerical modelling and computational science challenges the traditional boundaries within sciences by bringing together people from different backgrounds to tackle real-world problems.

The development of innovative computer-based solutions to complex problems requires a pragmatic and cross-disciplinary approach, which is not usual in most university curricula. Science graduates often do not have a strong background in computing while computer science graduates may lack the physical insight needed for scientific and technical work.

Students following this multi-disciplinary training will acquire the necessary mathematical skills, physical insight and computational know-how and will learn to apply these to modelling and simulation of complex processes. They will therefore be highly adaptable, with great employment prospects. The programme also offers physics courses accessible to graduates in mathematics or computer science wishing to apply their skills in a technical or scientific environment. There is also a strong emphasis on integration in the working environment, with courses and practical lessons on quality, efficiency, leadership and team building given by professionals.

A multi-disciplinary education

Students in this Master degree programme will gain experience in

  • practical numerical techniques
  • code development, debugging and optimization
  • data analysis.

They will be able to choose their courses according to their different backgrounds and their professional aspirations. Each semester will be validated using the European Credit Transfer System (30 ECTS credits required each semester).

Many courses are common with other degrees, in particular with the Professional Master in Mathematics for Modelling and Scientific Calculation.

The second year strongly focuses on numerical simulation and high performance computing in the professional world, with teachers from industries and a training period of at least six months in a private or public entreprise.

Interaction with industry

A number of courses will be given by non-university professionals, introducing the students to computational tools used to solve typical real-world problems.

A large part of the course will be dedicated to hands-on experience with widely-used computer packages. Students will be continuously assessed on individual work and collaborative projects, using weekly training records that they will be required to complete and return.

Students will also become acquainted with the constraints and requirements of working in a commercial environment, such as deadlines, team work, design criteria, standards, quality control, financial and ethical concerns. Each student will receive personal advice and coaching from professionals before the start of his placement in industry.

Scientific skills

The university teaching staff participating in this Master degree programme have through their research activities a wide experience in numerical modelling and simulation of various physical processes. They also have long experience in training PhD students who afterwards pursue their career in academia or in industry, in France and abroad. The objective of this Master is to stimulate and develop skills similar to those gained by PhD students, but in a shorter time, through a series of exercises based on relevant problems rather than extremely specialised issues. The qualities and skills to be developed include logical reasoning, perspicacity, perspective, responsiveness, efficiency, organization.

A European and international education

In today's workplace, knowledge of foreign cultures and languages is an important asset. Research laboratories at the University have numerous international collaborations which greatly stimulate creativity. These relations, fostered over years for the benefit of research, support teaching in this programme.

Colleagues from foreign universities and companies are invited to give lectures or computer-based tutorials in English. They also provide placement opportunities in their country. Students are encouraged to spend one or two semesters abroad, within the European Erasmus Programme or other exchange schemes.

Computer facilities

Students have access to a well-equiped computer room. A personal computer, preferably a portable, is however recommended in order to prepare homeworks and presentations.

Training in industry

The last six months of the Master degree programme is spent on a placement outside the University, in a commercial company or research centre, in France or abroad.

Further training in research

Students who wish to pursue their education by a PhD thesis will have the opportunity to do so in a joint project with industry.

List of courses


Three-year university education (Licence) in science: Physics, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Geophysics, Computer Science, Applied Mathematics.

A good command of French is required. Admission of students whose native language is not French is subject to general rules set by the University.

The second year of the Master is an intensive, full-time degree programme, with nearly 500 contact hours, numerous homeworks, a two month project to prepare the six month placement in industry. The Master degree is therefore incompatible with a part-time job.

For further information, please contact

Pr. Mariko Dunseath-Terao


Institut de Physique de Rennes
Bâtiment 11B, Campus de Beaulieu
Université de Rennes 1
F-35042 Rennes cedex, France
Tel: +33 (0)2 23 23 56 60
Fax: +33 (0)2 23 23 56 62