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Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

If you have any other questions please don't hesitate to e-mail us.

Check also the following links for additional information that you might find useful:

Applications are made online.  You don't need to pay in order to apply.

General information on the application process is available here.  Feel free to contact our admissions team if you require any further information.

There is no strict deadline for applications. However, we advise you to apply early enough to give you time for preparing to start in September.

Applications are made online and are usually processed within two weeks, but you need to allow for delays that may be caused my missing documents.

If you need a visa, you need to give us time to issue the CAS letter that is needed for you to apply for your visa; you will be required to pay a deposit for the CAS letter to be issued; this process needs to be completed by the end of July so we strongly advise you to apply by mid-June. 

You also need to consider that visa application process is likely to take time, which can vary from country to country, and from city to city in each country. Please check this page for relevant information.

If you intend to apply for a scholarship, you also need to take into account the deadline and the fact that, usually, you need an offer in order to apply.

There are also deadlines for applying for accommodation.

If your first language is not English, you are required to provide evidence of your English language proficiency. We accept the internationally recognised English language qualifications IELTS, Pearson Test of English and Cambridge ESOL. From a number of countries we are also able to accept local English language qualifications, details of which are provided on our country-specific information pages.

The requirements for our degree programmes are IELTS 6.5 overall, with no subscore lower than 5.5; or Pearson Test of English 61 overall, with no subscore lower than 51; or Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE) with ISE III; or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.

We also offer a Pre-Master’s Diploma for International Students and English language pre-sessional courses, allowing students the opportunity to develop their study skills and English language before starting their postgraduate degree.

The short answer is 'yes'. Our degree programmes require a fair level of maturity in a number of topics in mathematics. See below `What should I revise before I start?' for details.

We have put together a short test that you can use to determine what command of mathematics you should have to do well. You can also use it as a guidance for your revision.

Work experience in an area related to the programme of studies will be taken into account when assessing your application, especially when you don't strictly meet the required academic requirements. All applications are treated on an individual basis. You should describe your relevant work experience in your personal statement and CV when you apply.

We may also request an interview, preferably over Skype, to ascertain that your background and current skills are strong enough for you to succeed.

You can study part-time for any our degree programmes except for the Year-in-Industry pathways. You will have a maximum five years to complete your degree.

Part-time students need to come to the university to attend lectures during working hours: there are no evening classe; we do not offer distance-learning either. However, all core modules are delivered on a single day of the week. We have also scheduled some of the optional modules in the same way so that you can complete the degree in day-release mode, i.e. by coming to the university only once a week.

Please check the part-time page for more details. 

Continuing professional development (CPD) is a relaxed mode of study where students take individual modules that interest them. You will only be billed for the modules that you register on.

There can be a number of motivations for taking courses in CPD mode, including a desire to improve baseline skills in a particular area, or to take a first module on its own before committing to taking a full MSc programme.

CPD students will be given a Certificate of Attendance but may also choose to enter for the examination to earn credit towards a Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits), a Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits), or a full MSc programme (which will include the dissertation). You will have five years to complete your studies to earn a qualification.

Please note that we do not offer distance learning: you will  to come to the university to attend lectures during working hours. However, all core modules and several optional modules are delivered on a single day of the week.

To apply for CPD you should choose 'Part Time' as the mode of study when you apply and contact us to advise that you wish to study in CPD mode.

The academic year starts in the middle of September, starting with Welcome Week. Please follow this link for the term dates.

In exceptional circumstances, we may allow you to arrive late but never after the second week of lectures.

Please notice that you cannot start in the Spring Term (January).

We accept requests to change from the degree for which you applied to another degree provided that you meet the entry requirements.

You can also request a change after you started provided that you can meet the requirements of the programme you want to change to in terms of its core modules.

Electives need to be chosen during the first two weeks of each term, not before you start.

A session is organised during Welcome Week to give you an overview of the options available to you and you are welcome to sample a few lectures before you make your final choice.

Your personal advisor and the Programme Director will be available to advise on which options are likely to best suit your profile or intended career.

Revision lectures on mathematics will be organised during Welcome Week. Tests in Python Programming and Databases are also organised during Welcome Week to help decide if you should take Principles of Computation and Programming or Databases in Term One.

However, it is always helpful to revise or catch up in key areas of our programmes, especially in relation to mathematics or programming. To help you determine what kind of background in maths you need to have, we put together a short test.


The main areas required for data analytics are linear algebra and probability. More specifically:

Set theory: Sets, set operations (union, intersection, Cartesian product etc), functions (injections, surjections, bijections).

Linear algebra: Vectors, matrices, operations on vectors and matrices, determinants, eigenvalues and eigenvectors, bases, positive-definite matrices.

Probability: Random events and variables, independent events and conditional probabilities, Bayes formula, distributions, distribution and density functions, expectation, variance, Gaussian distribution and its properties.

You can catch up on these topics at This site starts from simple things but builds up to quite advanced topics.

Some books that may be helpful (but many others are suitable) are:

  • S. Lipschutz: Schaum's outline of theory and problems of linear algebra
  • D. Poole, Linear algebra: a modern Introduction, Brooks-Cole, 2005.
  • G. M. Clarke and D. Cooke, A basic course in statistics, 5th ed., Arnold, 2004.
  • You may also find useful Chapter 1 of the following tutorial by Martin J. Osborne:


If you have not had previous exposure to programming, or feel that your existing skills are a bit rusty, we recommend you start by consulting online resources such as, or one of the numerous programming MOOCS that are available.

Python is perhaps one of the easiest language to learn for those without prior experience, and It is also the language you will be using extensively in various modules of our Big Data MSc degrees. You can consult The main concepts you need to master are: variables and the assignment operator; control structures: if-statements and loops; functions; and arrays. A book that we recommend is:

John V. Guttag. Introduction to Computation and Programming Using Python. MIT Press, ISBN 978-0262525008.

This is an introduction to computing and programming designed for beginners without prior computer science background.

Distributed and Networked Systems

Our programmes are designed to be self-contained and accessible to science and engineering graduates. Although we won’t be expecting familiarity with the material in the books below, any background knowledge will be helpful so you may wish to read some chapters:

  • William Stallings: Foundations of Modern Networking: SDN, NFV, QoE, IoT, and Cloud.
  • William Stallings: Data and Computer Communications.
  • Christian Cachin, Rachid Guerraoui, and Luis Rodrigues: Introduction to Reliable and Secure Distributed Programming.
  • Andrew S Tanenbaum and Maarten van Steen: Distributed Systems: Principles and Paradigms
  • Andrew Tanenbaum and Herbert Bos: Modern Operating Systems (4th Edition)
  • Ken Birman: Guide to Reliable Distributed Systems: Building High-Assurance Applications and Cloud-Hosted Services
  • Avi Silberschatz, Henry F. North, and S. Sudarshan: Database System Concepts. 

Given that a placement/internship is a contract between the student and the company, and that students are usually interviewed by the companies to which they apply, we cannot guarantee a placement.

However, we have an excellent record in securing placements. See the Internships and Careers page.

Our Careers Team will help you identify suitable opportunities, make applications and prepare for interviews.  We bring several companies to our campus throughout the year, both for fairs and for advanced seminars, which is an excellent opportunity to learn about what they do and discuss possible placements.  We also hold special events for companies in London where we present them our programme, especially the skills that you will have acquired and the benefits that they will have by offering you a placement.

Please note that progression to the placement is also conditional on good academic performance.

Check this timeline, which details the different stages that students and companies go through.

Students on a Year-in-Industry pathway are issued a visa that covers the two years of the programme, which include the placement/internship. 

The placement/internship is part of your studies; therefore, you do not need a different visa.

If you are on a Year-in-Industry pathway, you can opt out during the first year. This means that you will transfer to the one-year programme and be able to graduate with an MSc in the corresponding degree: for example, if you register for the MSc in Data Science and Analytics with a Year in Industry and opt out of the interneship, you will proceed to complete the MSc in Data Science and Analytics. This will happen automatically if either you are not allowed to progress to the placement for academic reasons or if you do not secure a placement, or if you have been offered a job, or you need to go back to your country for personal reasons. In summary, you will graduate even if you don't go on a placement.

You can also ask to be transferred to a Year-in-Industry pathway during the first year provided that you have good academic performance. However, if you are on a visa, this may be a complex and costly process because you will require a different visa and, most likely, have to go back to your country to make the application. 

Full-time students are usually entitled to work up to 20 hours per week during term-time and full-time in vacation (four weeks around Christmas and four weeks around Easter). This is also the case for international students but it is subject to any specific visa requirements. 

Please note that the summer period during which you do your individual project/dissertation is considered to be term time and therefore you are not allowed to work full-time.

Please consult our dedicated Web page for more details and tips, including opportunities for on-campus part-time work

The short answer is 'YES', provided you meet the eligibility criteria for a Tier 2 visa, which includes having found a company that is willing to sponsor you. Several of our students have done it, so it is definitely possible. You will find many of them on the Careers page.

Please check the official UKVI site for detailed information on Tier 2 visas.

Check also the general site about work visas.

Until the UK formally leaves the EU, which should not happen before 2019, nothing will change in relation to your studying in the UK.

Please consult this site for more information.

Royal Holloway is an international outlooking university and will always welcome applications from talented people regardless of their country of origin, religion or gender.

The short answer is 'NO'. Brexit is about the relationship between the UK and EU countries. In no circumstances will it affect your abilitiy to study in the UK. Brexit, among other things, is likely to change the automatic right of EU citizens to work in the UK (the exact terms of exit are not defined yet). Therefore, it is likely to create a level-playing field where EU citizens and non-EU citizens apply for jobs, which may only benefit non-EU citizens. Royal Holloway is an international outlooking university and will always welcome applications from talented people regardless of their country of origin, religion or gender. The UK has always been a welcoming and outlooking society, and it will remain so.

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