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Computer Science (MSci)

Entry year


Whether you want to gain a competitive edge in the graduate employment market or prepare for a research career, this four-year integrated Master's degree can help you get on the fast track to your professional goals.

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MSCi

Course overview

Our four-year MSci in Computer Science combines undergraduate and postgraduate study into a single course. If you plan to pursue a research career or an advanced technical career in your field, this course is for you. 

The course is identical to our equivalent three-year course but provides the opportunity to explore Computer Science in greater detail by offering a fourth year of study. In the fourth year, you will choose to study a selection of optional modules that will provide you with exposure to a wide set of skills and knowledge across the breadth of Computer Science research. These modules are based around advanced topics in the School's main research areas. 

You will also complete a major team project developing new research and technology under the supervision of one of our academic staff. This will compound all the knowledge you have learnt on the course, as well as helping you to develop transferable technical, analytical and professional skills, supported by a broad awareness of current technology trends. The course covers a mixture of core techniques and concepts, advanced programming languages and paradigms and evolving, technology-based subject matter.

As a graduate, you will be able to objectively analyse problems and develop appropriate computational solutions. Your detailed understanding of technology and advanced problem-solving skills will make you suitable for a range of careers. 

Distinctive features

Advanced mastery of the discipline - This integrated Master’s degree in Computer Science will enable you to graduate with a more specialised qualification. It's designed for students who wish to differentiate themselves through an advanced mastery of the discipline.

Project-based year - You will complete a substantial team-based project at an advanced level in Year Four. This will help you to develop the professional skills that graduate employers are looking for.

Specialise your degree - Alongside learning core topics, you have the opportunity to specialise your degree through project work and a range of optional modules in areas such as Cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Computer Graphics.

Flexible degree schemes –  In most cases, you're free to switch between degree programmes at the end of Year One if your interests change. There is also the option of taking a Year in Industry or a Year Abroad between your second and third years. You don’t need to commit to this until your second year, so there’s plenty of time to explore your options and switch later.*

Emphasis on employability - We place a strong emphasis on your employability and will encourage you to seek a work placement with one of our industry partners during the summer months. Our Careers and Employability Service are able to assist with planning and organising a summer placement for you.

*This would extend your MSci degree to five years and is subject to your academic performance.

UCAS codeG404
Next intakeSeptember 2019
Duration4 years
ModeFull time

Entry requirements

AAB - ABB including A Level Mathematics. Please note that General Studies and Critical Thinking are not accepted for entry. Extended Project Qualification: Applicants with grade A in the EPQ will typically receive an offer one grade lower than the standard A level offer. Please note that any subject specific requirements must still be met.  

Extended Project Qualification: Applicants with grade A in the EPQ will typically receive an offer one grade lower than the standard A level offer. Please note that any subject specific requirements must still be met.

The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.

D*D*D* in Information Technology (or Information Communication Technology), Computing and Engineering.

Alternative qualifications may be accepted. For further information on entry requirements, see the School of Computer Science & Informatics admissions criteria pages.

GCSE

Grade C or grade 4 in GCSE English Language.

IELTS (academic)

At least 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each sub-score.

TOEFL iBT

At least 90 with minimum scores of 17 for writing, 17 for listening, 18 for reading and 20 for speaking.

PTE Academic

62 with a minimum of 51 in all communicative skills.

Trinity ISE II/III

II: at least two Distinctions and two Merits.
III: at least a Pass in all components.

Other accepted qualifications

Please visit our English Language requirements page for more information on our other accepted language qualifications.

GCSE Maths B/6, GCSE English C/4

Selection

Selection or interview process: All applications for a place on any of the Computer Science degree programmes must be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) application service. Applications can be made either in the English or the Welsh language. We recognise that if you are a Welsh speaker, you may feel more comfortable speaking to a Welsh speaking personal tutor. Provided there are Welsh speaking members of staff available, every effort will be made to allocate a Welsh speaker to you at any point in the application.

The School of Computer Science & Informatics assesses applications throughout the cycle. Each application is assessed by the admissions tutor who makes the decision whether or not to accept an applicant. After we have received and considered your application, we may invite you to visit the School some time during the period November to early March. This will include a guided tour of the School, Students’ Union and campus. You will meet students and staff, providing us with the opportunity of getting to know more about you and enabling you to find out what life is like as a computing student at Cardiff University 

 

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2019/20)

Tuition feeDeposit
£9,000None

Visit our tuition fee pages for the latest information.

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.

Students from outside the EU (2019/20)

Tuition feeDeposit
£20,950None

Visit our tuition fee pages for the latest information.

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.

Additional costs

There are no additional costs to consider.

Course specific equipment

What the student should provide:

You will need to provide a calculator that satisfies Cardiff University examination regulations.

What the University will provide:

Computer laboratories equipped with modern computers. All software needed to undertake the taught modules at Cardiff University will be provided on these computers

Accommodation

We have a range of residences to suit your needs and budget. Find out more on our accommodation pages.

Course structure

You will take the three years of the BSc Computer Science course as normal, then (assuming progression criteria are met) will go on to a fourth year of study during which you will take modules of advanced computer science and carry out a new level 7 team project. This will lead to the qualification of Master of Computer Science (MSci).

This four-year course begins by introducing basic computing skills and concepts which will underpin the degree. Short projects in year one are followed by a substantial team project in year two, when you use new skills and knowledge to design and implement a software system. In year three, you focus on emerging technologies and research-led options related to the Schools core research areas (Complex Systems, Visual Computing and Data & Knowledge Engineering), and undertake an individual project centred on your own interests. In year four, you will study a further selection of modules from across the School's three core research areas, and you will also undertake a final team project.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2019/20 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2019.

Year one

Modules taught in the first two semesters will introduce fundamental computing skills and concepts that form the basis of your degree. This includes the programming of algorithms using languages such as Python and Java™, an understanding of Internet and web technologies, computer architecture and operating systems, software engineering principles and mathematics for computer science. You will be expected to develop new technical and professional skills, and to demonstrate individual creativity and originality throughout the year.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Computational ThinkingCM110120 credits
Web ApplicationsCM110220 credits
Problem Solving with PythonCM110320 credits
Developing Quality SoftwareCM120220 credits
Architecture and Operating SystemsCM120510 credits
Maths for Computer ScienceCM120810 credits
Object Oriented Java ProgrammingCM121020 credits

Year two

Core modules taught in year two introduce advanced topics; some choice is introduced into the degree through optional modules. The structure and processing of data is further explored and simple algorithms are expanded into applications that are able to communicate via networks. Skills developed so far are applied during a team project to professionally design and implement a software system.

Your choice of optional modules in year two will allow you to begin to specialise your skills, focusing on either a ‘theoretical computer science’ pathway, an ‘applied/data analysis’ pathway or a ‘systems’ pathway. At the same time, your future career, employability or entrepreneurship and professional skills will be enhanced as you begin to look towards life after university.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Human Computer InteractionCM210110 credits
Database SystemsCM210210 credits
Computational MathematicsCM210410 credits
Enhancing your EmployabilityCM210610 credits
Group ProjectCM230520 credits
Communication NetworksCM230620 credits
Object Orientation, Algorithms and Data StructuresCM230720 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits
Data Processing and VisualisationCM210510 credits
Systems ModellingCM210710 credits
InformaticsCM220310 credits
Introduction to the Theory of ComputationCM220710 credits
Scientific ComputingCM220810 credits
Enterprise Architecture and ImplementationCM220910 credits

Year three

In year three you will focus on emerging technologies and advanced topics in computer science. The pathways chosen during year two will be continued and enhanced according to your specific interests, alongside a choice of additional research informed optional modules. Contemporary topics include computer security and forensics investigation, high performance computing, artificial intelligence, computer vision, graphics, and multimedia. You will complete an individual project under staff supervision, driven by your interests.

Your module choices in year three will inform the options available to you during year four, as students may not duplicate topics between the two years. Exact module choices available will depend on the modules offered at the time, and full details of explicit module pairings that must be avoided will be provided in student handbooks each year. Students will be advised on their module selections during year three and four to ensure they are able to study their interests at the correct level and to maximise their coverage of Computer Science skills and knowledge.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Emerging TechnologiesCM320220 credits
One Semester Individual Project - 40CM320340 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits
High Performance ComputingCM310320 credits
Large-Scale DatabasesCM310420 credits
MultimediaCM310620 credits
Knowledge ManagementCM310720 credits
Combinatorial OptimisationCM310910 credits
SecurityCM311010 credits
ForensicsCM311110 credits
Artificial IntelligenceCM311210 credits
Computer VisionCM311310 credits
GraphicsCM311410 credits

Year four

As well as taking part in a compulsory team project under the supervision of a member of academic staff, you will choose from a range of carefully selected research-informed modules focusing on contemporary and relevant topics currently emerging within the discipline. This year will consolidate your core Computer Science skills while also widening your knowledge across the breadth of discipline.

Your module choices from year three will inform the options available to you during this year, as students may not duplicate topics between the two years. Exact module choices available will depend on the modules offered at the time, and full details of explicit module pairings that must be avoided will be provided in Student handbooks each year. Students will be advised on their module selections during Year three and four to ensure they are able to study their interests at the correct level and to maximise their coverage of Computer Science skills and knowledge.

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 School of Computer Science and Informatics has a strong and active research culture which informs and directs our teaching. We are committed to providing teaching of the highest standard and received an excellent report in the most recent Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) review.

Key skills such as programming are taught through a combination of lectures and lab-based practical sessions. Further support mechanisms are used to help digest material. These include example classes, tutorials and help sessions, amounting to a total of between 15-20 formal contact hours a week in year one. Teaching delivery in years two and three mirrors that of year one, but there are fewer formal contact hours as you will have acquired the skills needed to take control of your own learning by these latter stages of the course. Modules in year four are delivered through a series of either full- or half-day contact sessions, which include lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials and laboratory classes.

Most of your taught modules will have further information for you to study and you will be expected to work through this in your own time according to the guidance provided by the lecturer for that module.

Project

You will undertake project work throughout the course, with the opportunity to exercise increasing independence at each level.

In year one, you will participate in team project work. The tasks are well defined and enable you to put into practice knowledge and skills acquired earlier in the academic year.

In year two, you will undertake a group project fostering systems design, interpersonal and presentation skills. Each group is monitored by a supervisor with whom the group must keep in regular contact.

Year three individual projects give you the chance to demonstrate your ability to build upon and exploit knowledge and skills gained in earlier years.

In year four, you will carry out a comprehensive team project, aiming at exploring all the knowledge you have learnt and developing new research, technology, and team project skills.

How will I be supported?

The School prides itself on offering a comprehensive support structure to ensure positive student/staff relationships.

We believe that providing suitable feedback mechanisms is crucial to ensure that the best programmes of study are available to our students. We have a student/staff panel consisting of elected student representatives and members of teaching staff who meet to discuss academic issues. In conjunction with the work of the panel, all students are provided with an opportunity to complete feedback questionnaires at the end of the Autumn and Spring semesters. These mechanisms allow the School to regularly review courses and ensure our students receive the best provision, delivered in a consistent manner, across all of our degrees.

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

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. You will see your personal tutor on average once a month during your first year of study. During years two, three and four there is a reduced schedule of contact sessions, which takes into account the increasing academic and time demands as you progress. Outside of scheduled tutor sessions, our Senior Personal Tutor runs an open-door policy, being on hand to advise and respond to any personal matters as they arise. Your Personal Tutor will monitor your academic progress and supply references in support of any job applications that you make.

How will I be assessed?

Progress in each module will be assessed during or at the end of the semester in which it is taught. All modules include assessments, including written examinations or assessed coursework, or a combination of both. The format of the assessments depends on the learning outcomes of each specific module.

Most modules include coursework elements for assessment. The importance of good referencing, use of libraries and web-based information retrieval as a prelude to critical, independent study is developed. Assessed essays and reports are used to encourage knowledge and understanding, critical analysis, development of reasoned argument and synthesis of conclusions.

Practical assignments assess programming and design skills. These typically address small, well-defined problems at the start of the course, and become progressively open-ended. Tests are also used to assess knowledge, skills and techniques, which a professional may be expected to use in a time-constrained situation. You can also be assessed by poster presentation. 

Feedback:

Feedback on assessed work will normally be made available no later than four working weeks after the assessment deadline. We recognise the importance not only of assessing the quality of the work submitted, but also of giving useful feedback which will help you in your understanding of the subject being assessed.

Feedback is used to identify what has been done well, why a particular mark was given, and what can be done to improve in the future. Feedback is given in a variety of ways including oral feedback given by staff on an informal, ongoing basis, written feedback on individual submissions, and written or oral feedback given to students as a group in tutorials, discussion classes and problems classes.

What skills will I practise and develop?

Knowledge & Understanding:

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

  • an understanding of the broad range of concepts, principles and theories underpinning advanced computer science
  • an understanding of the methods, techniques, and tools available to specify, design, implement and manage computer based systems
  • an understanding of the representation of data in structured forms and its interplay with the implementation of algorithms
  • a critical awareness of current trends in selected research areas of computer science, and an ability to discuss their contribution to developing computer based systems

Intellectual Skills:

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

  • a mastery of the practical methodologies in key areas of computing; their application to well-established areas of software development relating to the storing, processing and communication of information; and their use in selected specialised application areas
  • an ability to objectively analyse computational problems and develop appropriate, creative solutions
  • an ability to model complex scenarios to design computer systems that meet stated requirements
  • an ability to select, derive and analyse appropriate algorithms to solve computing problems
  • an ability to assess systems (which may include software, devices, people, and so on), to recognise the individual components and to understand their interaction, to improve systems, to replace them and to create them

Professional Practical Skills:

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

  • an awareness of professional, legal, social, cultural and ethical issues that arise in the implementation of existing and future computer systems and an awareness of societal and environmental impact
  • an ability to pursue opportunities for career development and lifelong learning and appreciate the importance of commercial awareness

Transferable/Key Skills:

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

  • an ability to critically review the literature, and to effectively communicate ideas, principles and theories by oral, written and electronic means
  • an ability to work effectively as team member or leader in a team and as an individual
  • an ability to make effective use of a range of IT systems
Computer Science student with Raspberry Pi

Careers

Career prospects

Skilled computer scientists are in extremely high demand. This means the employment prospects for graduates in the computing and ICT industry are very strong. You will be equipped with transferrable skills that open doors to careers in many sectors.

In recent years, more than 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 companies including Airbus Group, Amazon, BBC, BT, Cardiff University, Capgemini, Confused.com, 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.

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