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Computer Science (Software Engineering) MSci

UCAS code G461
Year of entry 2018
Course Length
4 years full time
Department Computer Science »

Our technological world has created a global demand for skilled professionals who can design, build and maintain computer programmes, databases and applications. This advanced four-year programme offers a thorough foundation in computing and application development, as well as a thorough exploration of software engineering. You will have the chance to showcase your abilities through practical work and extended projects, and the programme is particularly recommended if you have already experienced and enjoyed programming and you want to go on to postgraduate study or a specialist career in software.

Launched in 2015/16, this specialist programme will give you all the knowledge, skills and professionalism that you need for a successful career. Our software engineering teaching has been used as an example of ‘best practice’ in computer science education by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. You will learn from software professionals and leading academics in the field to apply engineering principles to the design, development, implementation and maintenance of all kinds of software. Our progressive curriculum has been developed in consultation with industry, with a modular structure that gives you the flexibility to tailor your degree to your interests. 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. There is also the option of transferring onto our five-year, year in industry programme, subject to good academic progress.

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 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 in software or related fields.
  • 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, and 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.

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.

Software Development

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 (I/O). You will consider software development best practices, how to perform small scale software development from a specification, the testing process, and software evaluation. You will develop a simple application based on a design specification and create a test plan to identify faults and errors.

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.

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.

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.

Small Enterprise Team Project

In this module you will develop an understanding of the role of the computer professional through practical experience. You will work as part of a team, developing medium-scale software for an external customer. You will apply managerial discipline and learn about the software lifecycle, team development, standard industrial software engineering, agile 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.

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.

Year 3

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.

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.

Malicious Software

In this module you will develop an understanding of mailicious software and the malware landscape. You will look at the key challenges the antivirus industry has faced in fighting malware threats, considering the traditional methods used by cybercriminals to infect user and enterprise hosts to gain access to their private, financial, and intellectual property data. You will learn how traditional and mobile malware work, how they are analysed and detected, and examine the underground ecosystem that drives this profitable but illegal business. You will also assess the research trends that are likely to influence the future of software security.

IT Project Management

 

Software Language Engineering

 

Year 4

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.

Running a Small Business

 

Standards, IP and Technology Seminar Series

 

Technology Entrepreneurship

 

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 Artificial Intelligence

 

Mathematical Methods for Computer Science 

 

Year 3

Computational Finance

In this module you will develop an understanding of the mathematical and computational models of derivative securities. You will look at how these financial instruments facilitate the management of financial risk, and examine tecniques for pricing derivatives and dynamic hedging. You will use these models to solve numerical and theoretical problems, creating computer programs in MatLab that implement valuation algorithms for different derivatives.

Intelligent Agents and Multi-Agent Systems

 

Machine Learning

 

Semantic Web

 

Visualisation and Exploratory Analysis

 

Advanced Data Communications

 

Concurrent and Parallel Programming

 

Interconnected Devices

 

Applications of Cryptography

In this module you will develop an undestanding of cryptography and how it is deployed in real systems. You will look at security services, security models, and basic attacks on cryptosystems, considering the full range of security services that can be provided by cryptography. You will compare different cryptographic mechanisms and the nature of the architecture within which cryptography is deployed. You will also examine the cryptographic standards that should be followed when implementing cryptography and the rationale for the design decisions taken in several widely deployed cryptographic systems. 

Cyber Security

In this module you will develop an understanding of network robustness and failures, together with critical information infrastructures, vulnerabilities, and their dependencies. You will look at the security problems of cyber-physical systems, including supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) control system architecture. You will also consider complex attacks, analytical models for these, and assurance mechanisms.  

Digital Forensics

 

Smart Cards, RFIDs and Embedded Systems Security

 

Advanced Algorithms

 

Bioinformatics

 

Compilers and Code Generation

In this module you will develop an understanding of the role and structure of a compiler and the standard stages of compilation. You will learn to build a deterministic finite automaton (DFA)-based lexical analyser for a set of specified tokens using regular expressions, and construct regular expressions which define a specified set of strings. You will also consider the use of grammars to define context-free languages, the use of directed translators in constructing intermediate code, types of error detection and recovery, and generating address code from source code.

Computational Optimisation

In this module you will develop an understanding of the basic models of computational optimisation and the algorithms for solving optimisation problems. You will look at the theoretical and computational methods for analysing optimisation algorithms, and the software used for problem solving. You will also consider how to formulate problems using linear and integer programming techniques, and examine the usage of construction heuristics.  

Digital Audio and Applications

 

Functional Programming and Applications

 

Year 4

Computational Finance

In this module you will develop an understanding of the mathematical and computational models of derivative securities. You will look at how these financial instruments facilitate the management of financial risk, and examine tecniques for pricing derivatives and dynamic hedging. You will use these models to solve numerical and theoretical problems, creating computer programs in MatLab that implement valuation algorithms for different derivatives.

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

In this module you will develop an understanding of the role of information technology in organisations and society. You will look at the central functions of management information systems in modern business, examining the opportunities and challenges that they present. You will learn to formulate strategies to take advantage of information technologies and consider their implications in the workplace. You will also examine the potential ethical and social impact of emerging technologies and reflect on the design, adoption and diffusion of future technologies.

Advanced Distributed Systems

In this module you will develop an understanding of the concepts, theories and principles of distributed systems. You will look at the reference architecture for the Internet of Things, including cloud infrastructure and wireless networking. You will consider the major challenges of these environments, such as massive scales, wide distribution, decentralisation, unreliable communication links, component failures and network partitions. You will examine algorithmic techniques for solving problems in a distributed environment and gain pratical experience in implementing various components of a distributed system.

Large-Scale Data Storage and Processing

 

Wireless Sensor and Actuator Networks

 

Cyber Security

In this module you will develop an understanding of network robustness and failures, together with critical information infrastructures, vulnerabilities, and their dependencies. You will look at the security problems of cyber-physical systems, including supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) control system architecture. You will also consider complex attacks, analytical models for these, and assurance mechanisms. 

Digital Forensics

 

Secure Business Architectures

 

Security Management

 

Security Testing Theory and Practice

 

Smart Cards, RFIDs and Embedded Systems Security

 

Computational Optimisation

In this module you will develop an understanding of the basic models of computational optimisation and the algorithms for solving optimisation problems. You will look at the theoretical and computational methods for analysing optimisation algorithms, and the software used for problem solving. You will also consider how to formulate problems using linear and integer programming techniques, and examine the usage of construction heuristics. 

Digital Audio and Applications

 

We are an award-winning department for software engineering 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. 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. Our software engineering and programming teaching is very hands on, allowing you to learn at your own pace, whatever your previous level of experience. 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.

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 software submissions.

Study time

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

Year 1

You will spend 30% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 70% in guided independent study.

Year 2

You will spend 28% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 72% in guided independent study.

Year 3

You will spend 22% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 78% in guided independent study.

Year 4

You will spend 22% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 78% in guided independent study.

Assessment

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

Year 1

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

Year 2

Written exams account for 77% of the total assessment for this year of study, and 23% will be assessed through coursework.

Year 3

Written exams account for 65% of the total assessment for this year of study, and 35% will be assessed through coursework.

Year 4

Written exams account for 65% of the total assessment for this year of study, and 35% 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-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/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

Please select your UK qualification from the drop-down list below



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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, working with all kinds of cutting-edge software, solving technical problems, managing projects, writing reports, and analysing complex information. Your coursework will have honed your team working, critical thinking, data handling, coding, communication, time management and self-motivation skills. You will have the flexibility to adapt to changes in technology, to innovate, and to critically evaluate the implications of exploiting new technologies. We will also teach you to manage projects from conception through to delivery, with technical precision and a professional ethos.

Software engineering is a rapidly growing field with impressive starting salaries and global demand. We work closely with partners in industry who advise us on our curriculum, to ensure that it keeps pace with the latest market needs and trends. This means our graduates are up-to-speed with all the latest developments and technologies in software engineering. We run jobs fairs and a short-term work placement scheme, and your personal adviser and the College 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 for entry into the rapidly expanding field of software engineering, by completing an advanced four-year curriculum.
  • 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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