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Computer Science (Distributed & Networked Systems) MSci

New Course for 2017 - Programme Under Development
UCAS code G4G5
Year of entry 2017
  View 2018 entry »
Course Length 4 years full time
Department Computer Science »

Our advanced MSci degree with a dedicated pathway in Distributed and Networked Systems is designed to give you the knowledge, skills and practical experience to pursue a high level career. It offers a thorough grounding in computing as well as an in-depth study of the latest trends and technologies in distributed and networked systems. You will have the chance to apply your knowledge and research skills in original ways, culminating in an extended research project in your final year. This four-year programme is particularly recommended if you want to go on to postgraduate study or a scientific or technical career, or just delve deeper into the subject matter and gain a competitive edge over graduates from standard three-year BSc programmes.

Distributed and networked systems underpin the proliferation of sophisticated, software enabled systems that are changing the way we live and communicate in the 21st century, from the sensor and actuator networks that connect up cities, to cyber-physical systems, patient-centred healthcare, and disaster-recovery systems, to name just a few. This brand new, specialist pathway has been designed in consultation with industry. You will learn all about the new generation of connected devices such as smart homes, smart cities, smart cars, smart meters, as well as how to store and analyse complex data, and how to build and maintain networks and distributed systems. You will also study the Internet of Things, one of the newest and most transformative areas of computer science.

You will learn from leading researchers in the field, and your specialist subject will be underpinned by a solid grounding in the fundamentals of computing and application development. From the outset you will be experimenting with programming games, robots, Gadgeteer kits, Subversion, JUnit testing, Scrum-based Agile software and more, in our well-equipped laboratories. Alongside our core modules you will have the flexibility to choose from a range of optional courses. There is also the possibility of transferring onto our five-year, year in industry programme subject to good academic progress.

We are a highly respected, research-focused department with a friendly approach and award-winning teaching. We offer a summer work placement programme and a dedicated personal adviser to guide you through your studies. You will also be welcome to join our thriving Computing Society. We are one of only seven departments in the UK to hold the Athena SWAN bronze award for our commitment to increasing female participation in computer science.

  • Get ahead of the game by studying at an advanced level, drawing on elements of our postgraduate MSc programmes.
  • Prepare yourself with the knowledge, skills and practical experience to pursue a high level career as a computer scientist, with a specialism in distributed and networked systems.
  • Join an elite department, ranked 11th in the UK for the quality of its research output (Research Exercise Framework 2014).
  • 97% of our students said this programme is well organised, and 92% said it is intellectually stimulating (National Student Survey 2015).
  • This programme is accredited by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, and the European Quality Assurance Network for Informatics Education (EQANIE). 

Core modules

Year 1

Object Oriented Programming

In this module you will develop an understanding of programming and object-orientation concepts. You will learn about program basics, control flow, data structures, objects, exceptions, and file input and output. You will consider how to solve basic programming tasks and the need for program documentation, testing, readability and modifiability.

Computing Lab (Robotics)

In this module you will develop an understanding of the building of computer systems. You will learn about the elementary concepts of robotics, gaining practical experience in programming mobile robots to execute pre-defined movements using Java and Lego NXT. You will also consider the basics of sensors, proportional-integral-derivative (PID) feedback systems, and the principles of localisation.

Computing Lab (Games)

In this module you will develop an understanding of the basic concepts of 2D game design and apply them to the development of simple games using an objected-oriented approach. You will look at the nature of graphics, animation, and motion, considering the usage of vectors in these techniques. You will also examine the fundamentals of game physics, such as collisions, gravity and ballistics.

Internet Services

In this module you will develop an understanding of how the internet works and its key protocols. You will look at the technologies used for web development, including scripting languages and their potential for adding dynamic content to web sites and applications. You will consider the role of web services and related technologies, and will examine the fundamental principles of network security.

Mathematical Structures

In this module you will develop an understanding of the formal resoning for sets, relations, functions and cardinality. You will look at the structures for program data and representation and learn to write and reason recursive definitions and prove results by induction and contradiction. You will consider the representation and reasoning of problems using graphs and the use of vectors and transformations for defining and manipulating graphical objects. You will also examine the usage of probability and statistics in analysing data.

Machine Fundamentals

In this module you will develop an understanding of the handling of large and infinite objects within a programming environment. You will learn how to use formal logic to design, reason about and minimise switching circuits, and write basic programs in assembly language. You will consider the binary representations of signed and unsigned integers and how to write regular expressions to describe sets and build deterministic automata to recognise these. You will also examine the use of automata machines in the design and reasoning of sequential flow systems.

Software Design

In this module you will develop an understanding of software design and engineering processes, including the Waterfall and Agile methodologies. You will learn how to identify common software requirements and see how these have been considered in existing systems. You will look the techniques of software design and how software engineers communicate their design ideas. You will consider the importance of documentation and the usage of current industry-standard notations such as user stories and the unified modeling language (UML). You will also analyse and critique the design of existing sotware looking at the user experience as a measure of its fitness for purpose.

Year 2

Software Engineering
Team Project
Operating Systems
Databases
Alogrithms and Complexity
Introduction to Information Security
Computer and Network Security

Year 3

Individual Project in Distributed and Networked Systems

Year 4

MSci Individual Project in Distributed and Networked Systems

Optional modules

In addition to these mandatory course units there are a number of optional course units available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course units that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new units may be offered or existing units may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Year 1

Only core modules are taken

Year 2

Robotics
Human-Computer Interaction

Year 3

Advanced Topics Seminar
Bioinformatics
Computational Methods in Bioinformatics
Image Processing
Digital Audio and Applications
Computer Games Technology
Data Visualisation and Exploratory Analysis
Embedded and Realtime Systems
Software Verification
Compilation for Embedded Systems
Compilers and Code Generation
Software Language Engineering
Computational Optimisation
Functional Programming and Applications
Advanced Data Communications
Concurrent and Parallel Programming
Interconnected Devices
Human-Computer Interaction
Graph Algorithms and Complexity
Machine Learning
Computational Finance
Intelligent Agents and Multi-Agent Systems
Semantic Web
Smart Cards, RFIDs and Embedded Systems Security
Digital Forensics
Cyber Security
Applications of Cryptography
Malicious Software

Year 4

Data Analysis
On-line Machine Learning
Digital Audio and applications
Large Scale Data Storage and Processing
Visualisation and Exploratory Analysis
Wireless Sensor and Actuator Networks
Software Verification
Computational Optimisation
Advanced Data Communications
Advanced Distributed Systems
Machine Learning
Methods of Computational Finance
Intelligent Agents and Multi-Agent Systems
Semantic Web
Security Management
Smart Cards, RFIDs abd Embedded System Security
Digital Forensics
Security Testing Theory and Practice
Cyber Security

We firmly believe that how we teach you is at least as important as what we teach, and we know the importance of giving you the time and space to experiment and put theory into practice. We encourage you to use your creativity, both in project teams and independently, and to have fun while you learn. We use a variety of teaching methods, including lectures, small-group tutorials, supervised computer lab classes and problem-solving sessions. You will also be expected to complete guided independent study and group work. Our programming and software engineering teaching is very hands on, allowing you to learn at your own pace, whatever your previous level of experience. You will also attend laboratory classes on games and robotics in year 1, giving you the chance to develop real applications with imagination and creativity from the outset.

We are proud of our award-winning teaching. Professor Dave Cohen won a College Excellence Teaching Prize for the re-design of our second-year software engineering courses, and he was shortlisted for a Times Higher Education Award for Most Innovative Teacher of the Year. The British Computer Society (BCS) has distinguished our software engineering teaching as an exemplar of 'best practice' in computer science education.

Assessment is through a mixture of examinations and coursework. Most course units have a two or three-hour written examination taken at the end of the year in which they are taught, but around half of your final award will come from assessed coursework, which could include project reports, essays, oral presentations and practical work submissions.

Typical offers

Typical offers
A-levels AAB-ABB 
Required/preferred subjects

Required subject: either Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science or Mathematics

The offer given will take into consideration:

  • Subjects taken at A-level
  • The educational context in which academic achievements have been gained
  • Whether the Extended Project Qualification is being taken.

At least five GCSE passes at grade A*-C including English and Mathematics. For applicants studying a BTEC Extended Diploma, a grade B in Mathematics is required.

Other UK Qualifications
International Baccalaureate 6,5,5 at Higher Level including Maths, Computer Science or Physics, with a minimum of 32 points overall 
BTEC Extended Diploma Distinction, Distinction, Distinction in a relevant subject (with significant programming content) and at least B in GCSE Maths 
BTEC National Diploma Distinction, Distinction plus an A2 grade B in Maths or Physics or Computing 
BTEC Subsidiary Diploma Distinction plus A2 grades B, B including Maths or Physics or Computing 
Welsh Baccalaureate Requirements are as for A-levels where one non-subject-specified A-level can be replaced by the same grade in the Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Level Core 
Scottish Advanced Highers AB including Maths or Physics or Computing (only acceptable when combined with the required Scottish Higher grades as published) 
Scottish Highers AABBB (only acceptable when combined with the required Scottish Advanced Higher grades as published) 
Irish Leaving Certificate H2,H2,H3,H3,H3 including H3 in Maths or H3 in Physics 
Access to Higher Education Diploma Pass with at least 30 level 3 credits at Distinction and 15 level 3 credits at Merit 

Other UK qualifications

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International and EU entry requirements

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English language
requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall and a minimum of 5.5 in each subscore. For equivalencies, see here

For more information about entry requirements for your country please visit our International pages. For international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements, we offer an International Foundation Year, run by Study Group at the Royal Holloway International Study Centre. Upon successful completion, students can progress on to selected undergraduate degree programmes at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Our MSci graduates are highly employable, with a depth of knowledge and practical skills that set them apart from BSc students. Distributed and networked systems exist in almost every sector, from private companies to educational institutions, charities, the arts, healthcare, government agencies and the military. It is a rapidly expanding area of computer science and the work can be highly lucrative and rewarding. This programme will give you a solid grounding in the knowledge, skills and practical experience required to pursue a successful career in computing, with a specialism in distributed and networked systems that will help to set you apart.

Over the four years you will learn to analyse and solve problems with creativity and suggest cost-effective, efficient solutions. You will acquire the foresight to translate technological innovations into new programming solutions, the technical skills to design, implement, test and maintain software systems, and the ability to digest and explain complex technical information. You will showcase your abilities in an extended independent research project, study modules at master level, and develop valuable transferrable skills such as: team working, advanced IT skills, critical thinking, data handling, communication, logic, time management and self-motivation.

We work closely with partners in industry who advise us on our curriculum, to make sure it responds to the latest market needs and trends. This means our graduates are up-to-speed with all the latest developments. We run jobs fairs and a short-term work placement scheme, and your personal adviser and the campus Careers team will be on hand to offer advice on career opportunities. We also maintain strong links with our alumni, who can often provide advice, contacts and networking opportunities. In recent years, our computer science graduates have launched careers in everything from network systems design and web development, to business management and finance. They work in organisations such as: Amazon, American Express, Apple, Bupa, Capita, CGI-Logica, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, Symantec, among many others. Find out more about what some of our graduates are doing, here

  • Gain a competitive edge by completing an advanced four-year curriculum with a specialism in distributed and networked computing, including an extended independent project to showcase your abilities.
  • 85% of our computer science graduates are in work or further study within six months of leaving (Unistats 2015).
  • Our strong ties with industry mean we understand the latest market trends and can introduce you to all the newest developments.
  • Add professional prestige to your qualification with membership of the BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT and the European Quality Assurance Network for Informatics Education (EQANIE), after you graduate. 

Home and EU students tuition fee per year 2017/18*: £9,250

International students tuition fee per year 2017/18**: £15,600

Other essential costs***: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course

How do I pay for it? Find out more.

*Tuition fees for UK and EU nationals starting a degree in the academic year 2017/18 will be £9,250 for that year. This amount is subject to the UK Parliament approving a change to fee and loan regulations that has been proposed by the UK Government. In the future, should the proposed changes to fee and loan regulations allow it, Royal Holloway reserves the right to increase tuition fees for UK and EU nationals annually. If relevant UK legislation continues to permit it, Royal Holloway will maintain parity between the tuition fees charged to UK and EU students for the duration of their degree studies.

**Royal Holloway reserves the right to increase tuition fees for international fee paying students annually. Tuition fees are unlikely to rise more than 5 per cent each year. For further information on tuition fees please see Royal Holloway’s Terms & Conditions.

***These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing etc., have not been included.

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