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).
Computing Laboratory (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.
Computing Laboratory (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.
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.
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.
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.
Object Oriented Programming 1
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.
Object Oriented Programming 2
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.
Algorithms and Complexity
In this module you will develop an understanding of the design of algorithms, with a focus on time and space complexity. You will examine basic algorithms, looking at the implementation and analysis of linear search, binary search, and basic sorting, including inerstion sort, selection sort, merger sort, quick sort, and heap sort. You will consider alternative data structure representations, such as binary search trees, hash tables, and binary heaps, and will gain an insight into the basics of graph algorithms.
Computer and Network Security
In this module you will develop an understanding of computer and network security. You will look at software vulnerabilities, hands-on hacking-oriented attacks, memory errors, and web and network security. You will learn how to identify such vulnerabilities, and consider the countermeasures that can mitigate their exploitation. You will also examine malicious software (malware) as a typical consequence of a successful software exploitation.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the basic concepts of database technology, including the need for database integrity and robustness, and the use of a modern database system in a web-based environment. You will look at database design and the theory of the relational view of data, learn to describe the crucial issues concerning database integrity and recovery from failure, and write search query language (SQL) queries. You will also consider the process of designing and implementing a database, from the user specifications to the final design, and implement an interface to an SQL database using an application programming interface (API).
Introduction to Information Security
In this module you will develop an understanding of how information security may be influenced by real world design and implementation decisions. You will will look at the different cryptographic algorithms, considering their use, advantages and disadvantages. You will use these cryptographic primitives to review and evaluate cryptographic protocols, and examine the rational decisions in the design of tokens and secure elements.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the function and architecture of network operating systems. You will look at the role of an operating system, considering processes, memory and file systems. You will learn to write basic shell scripts, see how services are used at the operating system-level, and evaluate the theory and practice of existing operating systems. You will also examine the UNIX shell, including starting programs, input and output steams, pipes, filters, and utilities.
In this module you will develop an understanding of software engineering techniques and the managerial discipline required to work as part of a team. You will look at basic object-oriented concepts and consider the need for effective program documentation, testing, readability, and modifiability. You will consider the tools used to support software development, such as version controllers, debuggers, and code style checkers, and see how these are integrated into an industry-standard development environment (IDE). You will deliver a small-scale project using test-driven development.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the role of the computer professional, gaining practical experience in developing medium scale software as part of a team using Scrum-based Agile development. You will apply managerial discipline and learn about the software lifecycle, team development, standard industrial software engineering, project management, use of version control, and integrated development enironments (IDEs). You will see why project cost and effort is hard to estimate, and consider why project quality is hard to prescribe.
All modules are optional
MSci Individual Project
In this module you will have the opportunity to plan and organise a large project, analysing complex ideas, identifying problems, and coming up with solutions. You will apply scientific principles and use a range of software and hardware techniques. You will analyse the effectiveness of your solutions and evaluate the results. You will also consider legal, social, ethical and professional issues. You can design your own project or choose a topic from a suggested list.
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.
Only core modules are taken
Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
Mathematical Methods for Computer Science
Intelligent Agents and Multi-Agent Systems
Visualisation and Exploratory Analysis
Advanced Data Communications
Concurrent and Parallel Programming
Applications of Cryptography
Smart Cards, RFIDs and Embedded Systems Security
IT Project Management
Software Language Engineering
Compilers and Code Generation
Digital Audio and Applications
Functional Programming and Applications
Intelligent Agents and Multi-Agent Systems
On-Line Machine Learning
Visualisation and Exploratory Analysis
Advanced Data Communications
Advanced Distributed Systems
Large-Scale Data Storage and Processing
Wireless Sensors and Actuator Networks
Secure Business Architectures
Security Testing Theory and Practice
Smart Cards, RFIDs and Embedded Systems Security
Running a Small Business
Standards, IP and Technology Seminar Series
Digital Audio and Applications
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.
Proportions of study time will vary depending on modules taken, but typically:
You will spend 36% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 64% in guided independent study.
You will spend 25% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 75% in guided independent study.
You will spend 22% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 78% in guided independent study.
You will spend 16% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 84% in guided independent study.
Proportions of assessment types will vary depending on modules taken, but typically:
Written exams account for 61% of the total assessment for this year of study, and 39% will be assessed through coursework.
Written exams account for 66% of the total assessment for this year of study, and 34% will be assessed through coursework.
Written exams account for 62% of the total assessment for this year of study, and 38% will be assessed through coursework.
Written exams account for 40% of the total assessment for this year of study, and 60% will be assessed through coursework.
- Where an applicant is taking the EPQ alongside A-levels, the EPQ will be taken into consideration and result in lower A-level grades being required.
- Socio-economic factors which may have impacted an applicant’s education will be taken into consideration and alternative offers may be made to these applicants.
Required subject: Computer Science or Mathematics or Physics.
At least five GCSEs at grade A*-C or 9-4 including English and Mathematics. Please note that for students taking the BTEC Extended Diploma, GCSE Mathematics is also required at minimum grade B or 6.
Other UK Qualifications
6,5,5 at Higher Level including either Higher Level Mathematics or Higher Level Computer Science or Higher Level 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 or 6 in GCSE Mathematics
|BTEC National Extended Diploma
Distinction, Distinction plus A-level grade B in either Mathematics or Physics or Computer Science.
|BTEC National Extended Certificate
Distinction plus A-level grades BB including one of Mathematics or Physics or Computer Science.
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 Skills Challenge Certificate.
|Scottish Advanced Highers
AAB-ABB including either Mathematics, Physics or Computer Science
AAABB including either Mathematics, Physics or Computer Science
|Irish Leaving Certificate
H2,H2,H3,H3,H3 including H3 in either Mathematics or H3 in Physics
|Access to Higher Education Diploma
Pass in a relevant subject with at least 24 level 3 credits at Distinction and the remaining level 3 credits at Merit.
Please note that the Access to Higher Education Diploma will only be acceptable if the applicant has had a considerable break from education
Other UK qualifications
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International and EU entry requirements
Please select your country from the drop-down list below
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*: £9,250
International students tuition fee per year**: £17,500
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 about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.
*Tuition fees for UK and EU nationals starting a degree in the academic year 2017/18 will be £9,250 for that year, and is shown for reference purposes only. The tuition fee for UK and EU undergraduates starting their degrees in 2018 is controlled by Government regulations, and details are not yet known. The UK Government has also announced that EU students starting an undergraduate degree in 2018/19 will pay the same level of fee as a UK student for the duration of their degree.
**Fees for international students may increase year-on-year in line with the rate of inflation. Royal Holloway's policy is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see fees and funding and our 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.