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Computer Science MSci

UCAS code G403
Year of entry 2018
Course Length
4 years full time
Department Computer Science »

This advanced four-year programme offers a thorough grounding in all the latest trends and technologies in the rapidly evolving world of computer science. You will have the chance to complete an extended final year project on a topic of your choice and it is particularly recommended if you want to go on to postgraduate study or a high-level technical career. You will also gain a competitive edge over graduates from standard three-year BSc programmes.

Our progressive curriculum will give you the knowledge and technical skills that employers need, and introduce you to pioneering ideas and technologies to help you to realise your ambitions. You will graduate with transferable skills such as problem-solving, programming, team working, analytical skills, time management and self-motivation, and the confidence and ability to tackle real-world problems in a wide range of application domains. We cover all the essentials of computing and application development, and introduce you to a host of advanced topics, from computer games, machine learning and digital sound and music, to intelligent agents and multi-agents, computational optimisation, advanced data communications, digital forensics and more. You will experiment with programming games, robots, Gadgeteer kits, Subversion, JUnit testing, Scrum-based Agile software and more.

The programme’s modular structure gives you the flexibility to tailor your degree to your interests. At the end of year 1 you will have the option of transferring onto one of our specialist pathways (Artificial Intelligence, Information Security or Distributed & Networked Computing), or adding a year in industry to your degree. Transferring onto our Software Engineering pathway requires previous programming experience and early permission to take the Software Development course in year 1, rather than Object-oriented Programming.

We are a highly respected, research-focused department with 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 computer science at an advanced level, drawing on elements of our MSc programme and completing an extended project.
  • Enjoy a varied and flexible curriculum, informed by cutting-edge research and current industrial needs.
  • 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 our programmes are well organised, 92% said they are 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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

 

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

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.

Databases

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.

Operating Systems

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.

Software Engineering

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.

Team Project

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. 

Year 3

All modules are optional

Year 4

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.

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

Introduction to Artifical Intelligence

 

Mathematical Methods for Computer Science

 

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.

Human-Computer Interaction

In this module you will develop an understanding of the principles of human-computer interaction (HCI) and the approaches that can be used to create interfaces matching users' needs and expectations. You will evaluate the usability and suitability of user interfaces, and build simple prototypes using different media and technologies. You will consider how perception and cognition influence HCI, and examine tests, such as web experiments.

Year 3

Computational Finance

 

Intelligent Agents and Multi-Agent Systems

 

Machine Learning

 

Semantic Web

 

Visualisation and Exploratory Analysis

 

Advanced Data Communications

 

Concurrent and Parallel Programming

 

Interconnected Devices

 

Cyber Security

 

Digital Forensics

 

Smart Cards, RFIDs and Embedded Systems Security

 

Human-Computer Interactions

 

IT Project Management

 

Software Language Engineering

 

Advanced Algorithms

 

Bioinformatics

 

Compilers and Code Generation

 

Computational Optimisation

 

Digital Audio and Applications

 

Functional Programming and Applications

 

Year 4

Computational Finance

 

Data Analysis

 

Deep Learning

 

Intelligent Agents and Multi-Agent Systems

 

Machine Learning

 

On-Line Machine Learning

 

Semantic Web

 

Visualisation and Exploratory Analysis

 

Advanced Data Communications

 

Advanced Distributed Systems

 

Large-Scale Data Storage and Processing

 

Wireless Sensor and Actuator Networks

 

Cyber Security

 

Digital Forensics

 

Secure Business Architectures

 

Security Management

 

Security Testing Theory and Practice

 

Smart Cards, RFIDs and Embedded Systems Security

 

Running a Small Business

 

Standards, IP and Technology Seminar Series

 

Technology Entrepreneurship

 

Computational Optimisation

 

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. All students attend laboratory classes on games and robotics, giving you the chance to develop real applications with imagination and creativity.

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, including project reports, essays, oral presentations and software submissions.

Study time

Proportions of study time will vary depending on modules taken, but typically:

Year 1

You will spend 31% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 69% in guided independent study.

Year 2

You will spend 24% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 76% in guided independent study.

Year 3

You will spend 18% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 82% in guided independent study.

Year 4

You will spend 12% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 88% in guided independent study.

Assessment

Proportions of assessment types will vary depending on modules taken, but typically:

Year 1

Written exams account for 61% of the total assessment for this year of study, and 39% will be assessed through coursework.

Year 2

Written exams account for 70% of the total assessment for this year of study, and 30% will be assessed through coursework.

Year 3

Written exams account for 57% of the total assessment for this year of study, and 43% will be assessed through coursework.

Year 4

Written exams account for 45% of the total assessment for this year of study, and 55% will be assessed through coursework.

Typical offers

Typical offers
A-levels

AAB-ABB 
How we assess your application:  predicted grades lower than our typical offers are considered.  Read more about what we look for here.

  • 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-economics factors which may have impacted an applicant's education will be taken into consideration and alternative offers may be made to these applicants.
Required/preferred subjects

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
International Baccalaureate

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. 

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 Skills Challenge Certificate
Scottish Advanced Highers AAB-ABB including either Mathematics, Physics or Computer Science
Scottish Highers 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

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. After four years of studying you will be confident at developing large and complex systems, solving technical problems, and analysing complex information. Your coursework will have honed your team work, communications, time management and self-motivation skills and allowed you to showcase your abilities as an independent researcher and IT professional. You will have the flexibility to adapt to changes in technology, to innovate, and to critically evaluate the implications of exploiting new technologies.  

We work closely with partners in industry who advise us on our curriculum, to make sure it keeps abreast of the latest market needs and trends. This means our graduates are up-to-speed with the latest developments and ready to contribute to the next generation of computing systems. Computer scientists are required in a vast array of fields, including the arts, the media, finance, aerospace health and, of course, the IT sector, using the power of computing to solve real-world problems and build systems that can improve people’s lives.

In recent years, our graduates have successfully pursued careers in everything from network systems design and web development, to business management and finance. They now 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.

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 maintain strong links with our alumni, who can often provide advice, contacts and networking opportunities.

  • Gain a competitive edge by completing an advanced four-year curriculum and an in-depth independent project on a topic of your choice.
  • 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.

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