Heriot-Watt University
MSc Advanced Computer Science
Department of Computer Science
Scottish National Gallery, Mound, Edinburgh

MSc Advanced Computer Science icon

Study for this research Masters investigates the state of the art in an advanced topic in Computer Science and develops an innovative solution to one of its challenges. A student is guided in this by his academic supervisors. Study begins with 4 relevant courses offered on our taught MSc programmes, includes developing a Masters class on a related theme and involves a research preparation course. Students then pursue their research full-time and write it up in a thesis of 20000 to 30000 words.

This F2AM programme can be studied full-time over one year or part-time over two years. Part-time study is individually organised by special arrangement with the student.

Admission requires a 2-1 honours degree in Computer Science or 60% or more on a taught MSc in Computer Science or Information Technology. Equivalent qualifications will also be considered.

Students must also submit a 2 or 3 page research proposal together with their postgraduate application. It is used to assess a student's understanding of the nature of research and to match students with supervisors. Applicants are advised to look at the research interests of CS dept academic staff and the research themes of CS research groups before formulating their research proposal.

The admissions officer will put acceptable applicants in touch with potential supervisors so that a research topic can be negotiated and their research supervisors can be chosen.

The structure of the programme of full-time study is as follows:

Semester 1 F21SM Software Engineering Master Class 15 credits
lectured MSc course 15 credits
lectured MSc course 15 credits
supervised research 150 hours
Semester 2 F22RM Research Methods in Computer Science 15 credits
lectured MSc course 15 credits
lectured MSc course 15 credits
supervised research 150 hours
Semester 3 supervised research 600 hours

The majority of the programme consists of supervised research in various forms but students also study 4 lectured courses, two each in the first two semesters.

In semester 1 full-time students prepare for their thesis by doing supervised research and by developing a masterclass on an advanced topic related to it. In semester 2 they do the Research Methods in Computer Science course and directly work on their research project.

After semester 2, students continue full time on their MSc research project until the programme ends in August. This part is equivalent to 600 student effort hours.

Students choose two lectured MSc courses from the following list in semester 1:

F21GA3D Graphics and Animation
F21BCBiologically Inspired Computation
F21CNComputer Network Security
F21DFDatabase & Information Systems
F21DLData Mining & Machine Learning
F21DVData Visualisation & Analytics
F21SCIndustrial Programming
F21IFInformation Systems Methodologies
F21ROIntelligent Robotics
F21RSRigorous Methods for Software Engineering
F21SFSoftware Engineering Foundations
F21SAStatistical Modelling & Analysis

Students choose two lectured MSc courses from the following list in semester 2:

F21ADAdvanced Interaction Design
F21ANAdvanced Network Security
F21ASAdvanced Software Engineering
F21BDBig Data Management
F21GPComputer Games Programming
F21CAConversational Agents & Spoken Language Processing
F21DEDigital & Knowledge Economy
F21DPDistributed & Parallel Technologies
F21ECe-Commerce Technology

Choice of a course requires that the student fulfils its prerequisite knowledge and experience.

Various schemes are available for financing study on this programme. Applications are made to the programme Admissions Officer at the School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.

English Requirements

Non-native English speakers are expected to be proficient in English at the CEF level of B2 (upper intermediate). This can be established by an IELTS Academic English score of 6.5 or in other ways. English language training courses can be taken at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh during the summer before postgraduate study begins.

Part-time Study

Part-time study for the MSc over two years is also possible by special arrangement with the programme director. One arrangement might be for part-time students to take 2 lectured courses each in semesters 1 and 2 and then 300 hours of supervised research in semester 3 of the first year. The following year the part-time student could do F21SM Software Engineering Master Class and 150 hours of supervised research in semester 1 and then F22RM Research Methods and 150 hours of supervised research in semester 2 and then finish off with 300 hours of supervised research in semester 3.

Programme Requirements

To qualify for an MSc by research, students must pass 4 lectured MSc courses, the 2 research preparation courses F21SM Software Engineering Master Class and F22RM Research Methods and produce an acceptable MSc research thesis of between 20000 and 30000 words.

Transfer to PhD

An Advanced Computer Science MSc student after writing up his research in a suitable thesis, but prior to submitting it, may ask his research supervisors if they would recommend him for transfer to study for a PhD. Transfer to the 2nd year of PhD study would mean that the student would have to forego submitting the thesis in order to complete his MSc by research. Clause 9.5 of the university's regulation 6 does not allow a PhD to be awarded in respect of a thesis or published work already submitted to the university in support of an application for a degree.

Further Information

For further information on the programme or to arrange a visit to the Department contact the admissions officer.

The Department reserves the right to modify the lists of courses and may not run every course every year. It may not be possible to take all combinations of courses, students must satisfy the prerequisites of any courses and any course choice must be made in consultation with the programme director.