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Software Engineering with a Professional Placement Year (MSc)

  • Duration: 2 years
  • Mode: Full time with sandwich year

Course options See other modes of study
Start date

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Why study this course

The MSc Software Engineering degree presents students from a diverse background in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects with the opportunity to acquire the skills, knowledge and hands-on experience required to be effective as a commercial software engineer.

The MSc Software Engineering degree presents students from a diverse background in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects with the opportunity to acquire the skills, knowledge and hands-on experience required to be effective as a commercial software engineer.

Although students may have some prior programming knowledge, students will undertake hands-on development using current leading edge commercial tools and techniques and be exposed to direct industrial involvement in a dynamic commercial-like environment.

The programme covers a wide range of topics that are sought after by employers including programming for web applications using languages such as Python, HTML and Javascript, Databases, DevOps and emerging technologies.  Throughout the degree there is a focus on teamworking and the techniques of Agile project management. 

You will apply for a paid 7-12 month professional work placement to be undertaken on completion of the taught phase of the program. This provides valuable work experience to develop your IT Professional skills.

On successful completion of the placement phase you will move to the dissertation phase. You will work with a real client from industry on an exciting, team-based project that brings together all your knowledge and skills acquired during the degree.

After graduating from this programme you will be ideally placed for employment in a career within software engineering or for careers requiring a wide range of STEM-based skills.

Where you'll study

School of Computer Science and Informatics

Our degree programmes are shaped by multidisciplinary research, making them relevant to today's employers and well placed to take advantage of tomorrow's developments.

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  • MarkerSenghennydd Road, Cathays, Cardiff, CF24 4AG

Admissions criteria

In order to be considered for an offer for this programme you will need to meet all of the entry requirements. Your application will not be progressed if the information and evidence listed is not provided.

With your online application you will need to provide:

  1. A copy of your degree certificate and transcripts which show you have achieved a 2:2 honours degree in a relevant subject area, such as engineering, mathematics, science, or technology or an equivalent international degree. If your degree certificate or result is pending, please upload any interim transcripts or provisional certificates.
  2. Evidence that you have programming experience. This can either be achieved during your degree (supply transcripts) or professional experience evidenced by a signed and dated employer reference.
  3. A copy of your IELTS certificate with an overall score of 6.5 with 6.0 in all subskills, or evidence of an accepted equivalent. Please include the date of your expected test if this qualification is pending. If you have alternative acceptable evidence, such as an undergraduate degree studied in the UK, please supply this in place of an IELTS.

Application Deadline

We allocate places on a first-come, first-served basis, so we recommend you apply as early as possible. Applications normally close at the end of August but may close sooner if all places are filled.

Selection process

We will review your application and if you meet all of the entry requirements, we will make you an offer.

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Student visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements.

Criminal convictions

You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course.

If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • access to computers or devices that can store images
  • use of internet and communication tools/devices
  • curfews
  • freedom of movement
  • contact with people related to Cardiff University.

Course structure

This is a two-stage full-time degree programme taught over two years. In the taught stage you will study core modules to a total of 120 credits.

You will undertake a placement following the taught stage of the course, which is worth 120 credits. Most students start their placement in the summer of Year 1.

Following successful completion of your placement you will undertake a team project and dissertation (worth 60 credits).

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2024/25 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2024.

Year one

Formal teaching and group sessions will typically take place over two days per week in Cardiff with three days per week left for group project work, self-directed learning and accessing other University resources, support services, clubs, societies etc.

Students at the National Software Academy work on the development of software projects, including that for a real client drawn from the private, public and third sectors.  Much of the teaching, learning and assessment is based in the context of these projects.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Agile Software DevelopmentCMT65120 credits
Web ApplicationsCMT65220 credits
Programming Principles and PracticeCMT65320 credits
DevOpsCMT65420 credits
Manipulating and Exploiting DataCMT65520 credits
Delivering User ExperienceCMT65620 credits

Year two

Your work placement will normally last between 7 and 12 months, usually taking place at the end of the taught phase of the course, before your final dissertation, allowing you to practice the new skills you have learned and apply the knowledge you have acquired, in the workplace.

You will return to university following successful completion of your work placement, normally at the start of the Summer the following year to undertake your team project and complete your dissertation.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Dissertation (Team Project)CMT69060 credits
PlacementCMT305120 credits

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

The National Software Academy, a part of the School of Computer Science & Informatics, has a strong and active industrial focus, which informs and directs all teaching.  We are committed to providing students with teaching of the highest standard.

Key skills are taught through lecturer-led sessions that typically involve a high proportion of hands-on, practical learning, using current commercial tools and techniques.  You will be given a set of concepts and examples, and are then challenged with one or more problems to which you can apply your new skills. 

You will often work in teams to apply your knowledge to achieve solutions to real-world problems in a project-based learning approach.  Ample time for mentoring is provided in the timetable, which complements the expected (and significant) self-study that is required.

Further learning and support is provided through Learning Central (Cardiff University’s Virtual Learning Environment) and students are also encouraged to engage with the local tech community through meetups and other networking events.

How will I be assessed?

The taught modules within the programme are assessed through a range of assessments, which typically consist of examinations and coursework, such as written reports, portfolios, timed assessments, extended essays, practical assignments and oral presentations.

The placement is assessed through a Portfolio of Work including Employer Evaluations, SFIA Mapping Documents, a Draft Report and a Final Report.. This will show how you have developed your skills whilst on placement.

The team project and dissertation will enable students to demonstrate their ability to build upon and exploit knowledge and skills gained to exhibit critical and original thinking based on a period of independent study and learning.

How will I be supported?

The School prides itself on offering a comprehensive support structure to ensure positive student/staff relationships. You will be assigned a member of staff to act as your personal tutor, who will serve as a point of contact to advise on both academic and personal matters in an informal and confidential manner.

The course makes use of Cardiff University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Learning Central to provide course materials, and additional information is provided online.

The style of course delivery and the focus on projects means that you will receive regular support both from academic staff and also from industry professionals.

You will have full access to the 24-hour computing facilities in the School of Computer Science & Informatics.

You will also have access to the full range of services provided by the University’s Student Support Service:

Students are responsible for finding their own placements, but the School’s Placement Officer will inform students of suitable placement opportunities. A series of workshops, talks and networking events will be scheduled in the year to help you find a suitable placement. During the placement you will be supported by an academic supervisor who will monitor your progress and advise you and your work-based supervisor on the assessment of the placement.


Students have many opportunities for feedback during the contact sessions. You will be involved in giving feedback in activities such as code reviews, retrospectives and self-assessment. Additionally, you will receive feedback from teaching staff, industry professionals and project stakeholders; providing you with experience of the real-life feedback that you may encounter when you find employment.

What skills will I practise and develop?

The Learning Outcomes for this Programme describe what you will be able to do as a result of your study at Cardiff University. They will help you to understand what is expected of you. 

The Learning Outcomes for this Programme can be found below:

Knowledge & Understanding:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • Demonstrate a systematic understanding of general software engineering concepts, both theoretical and practical.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the methods, techniques, and tools available to specify, design, implement and manage software systems.

Intellectual Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • Critically analyse and evaluate current issues in Software Engineering (e.g.  legal, ethical professional, social)
  • Critically evaluate the available options to select the most suitable methodology, tools and techniques for use in each stage of software development.
  • Analyse complex problems effectively, identify edge cases, inconsistencies, potential pitfalls, and other issues.

Professional Practical Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • Demonstrate software design and programming skills.
  • Design, implement, test, debug, and deploy, using appropriate tools a simple, secure, information based application.  
  • Creatively apply software engineering knowledge and techniques to the solution of real world, client, problems.
  • Work with a variety of platforms using a range of languages, technologies, and tools.
  • Demonstrate competency as an IT Professional as part of the Professional Placement Year 

Transferable/Key Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • Work effectively in a team to manage client facing projects using current commercial tools and techniques to understand, specify, plan, schedule and manage a commercial software development project and track the project during its lifecycle.
  • Clearly communicate ideas, principles and theories by oral, written, diagrammatic and practical means.
  • Demonstrate self-direction, initiative, professionalism, critical judgement and planning skills in tackling and solving Software Engineering problems using appropriate technologies.
  • Use research methods to further enhance learning, applying this acquired knowledge to given problems.

Tuition fees for 2024 entry

Your tuition fees and how you pay them will depend on your fee status. Your fee status could be home, island or overseas.

Learn how we decide your fee status

Fees for home status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £11,700 None

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national, your tuition fees for 2024/25 be in line with the overseas fees for international students, unless you qualify for home fee status. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.

Fees for island status

Learn more about the postgraduate fees for students from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Fees for overseas status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £30,200 £2,500

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Financial support

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Costs for sandwich years

During a sandwich year (e.g. year in industry, placement year or year abroad) a lower fee will apply. Full details can be found on our fees pages.

Additional costs

The School encourages students to only accept paid placement opportunities. However, students need to consider additional costs associated with the placement such as travel, accommodation etc before accepting a placement.  

Living costs

We’re based in one of the UK’s most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.


Master's Scholarships

An award open to UK students intending to study one of our taught master’s degrees.

Postgraduate loans

If you are starting your master’s degree in September 2024 or later, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan to support your study at Cardiff University.

Alumni Discount

The alumni discount is available for Cardiff University graduates who are planning to start an eligible master's in 2024/25.

Careers and placements

As a student at the National Software Academy you will get many opportunities to meet and work with companies and build your industrial contacts. Skilled software engineers are in extremely high demand. This means the employment prospects for graduates in the computing and ICT industry are superb. You will be equipped with transferable skills that open doors to careers in many sectors.

In recent years, almost 90% of the School’s graduates were in employment or engaged in further study within six months of graduation. Recent statistics show that the vast majority of our graduates are following their chosen career paths in roles such as Software Engineer, Web Developer, Computer Programmer, Associate Software Developer, Business Analyst and Systems Development Officer. They go on to work for a companies including Airbus Group, Amazon, BBC, BT, Capgemini,, GCHQ, IBM, Lloyds Banking Group, MoD, Morgan Stanley, Sky, South Wales Police and Thomson Reuters. Others have chosen further study or research at Cardiff or other top universities.

In addition to the University’s Careers and Employability Service for students, the School has a Careers Officer and a dedicated Placement Officer.


You will apply for a paid 7-12 month professional work placement to be undertaken on completion of the taught stage of the course.

Whilst you are responsible for finding your own placements, the School will give advice on applying for placements, keep you informed of a variety of opportunities including a range of networking events, and ensure that you receive support and guidance throughout the whole process from our dedicated placement support officer. If you are unable to secure a placement you will be transferred to the non-placement version of the programme.

Next steps


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HESA Data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2021. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2019/20, published by HESA in June 2022.