MSc Degrees in Computer Science and Information Technology icon

Hopetoun House, Edinburgh

MSc in Data Science icon

This programme teaches the theory and skills for managing and analysing very large and complex data sets, sometimes referred to as Big Data. Students will learn how to model, store and process these data sets using the latest algorithms and techniques. They will also learn about modern methods and tools for visually exploring them.

The programme is research led and students will benefit from the interaction with staff who are involved in internationally leading research projects in the field. The skills acquired by students will be applicable to commercial and industrial applications such as business intelligence and manufacturing as well as to scientific data exploration including e-health and e-science.

This full-time programme starts in mid September and lasts one year. Admission requires a good honours degree with a substantial academic component of Computing or IT that includes study of databases and programming.

The F2D1 MSc programme can also be taken part-time over two years or as a 9 month F2D2 Postgraduate Diploma.

Full time students take 4 courses in semester 1 and 4 courses in semester 2 and must normally take courses in bold.

Semester 1
F21BC Biologically Inspired Computation
F21CN Computer Network Security
F21DL Data Mining and Machine Learning
F21DV Data Visualisation and Analytics
F21IF Information Systems Methodologies
F21SF Software Engineering Foundations
Semester 2
F21AS Advanced Software Engineering
F21BD Big Data Management
F21CA Conversational Agents and Spoken Language Processing
F21DE Digital and Knowledge Economy
F21DP Distributed and Parallel Technologies
F21RP Research Methods and Project Planning


After semester 2, students continue full time on the MSc project F21MP until the programme ends in August.

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.

This MSc programme is accredited by the Chartered Institute of IT (BCS) and should fulfil its further education requirements for a Chartered IT Professional. It also partially fulfils membership requirements for the CEng and CSci professional bodies.

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.

Postgraduate Diploma Programme

The 8 taught courses can also be studied over 9 months as part of a Postgraduate Diploma programme with the same title. Students who perform at MSc level on the Postgraduate Diploma programme may transfer when it ends to the MSc programme and complete their project F21MP for an MSc.

Candidates holding a little less than a 1st or second class honours degree or its equivalent may be admitted to the Postgraduate Diploma programme and are eligible for transfer to the MSc programme under the normal conditions.

Part-time Study

Part-time study for the MSc over two years is also possible by special arrangement with the programme director. A typical arrangement would be for students to take 2 courses in semesters 1 and 2 in the first year, 2 courses in semesters 1 and 2 in the second year and split the research and implementation of the MSc project over 2 years.

Programme Requirements

To qualify for an MSc or Postgraduate Diploma, students must successfully complete 8 lectured courses at the appropriate level. The assessment of these courses is by examination and course work.

MSc students must also complete the project course F21MP at MSc level.

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 list 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.