Advanced Computer Science - MSc
Featuring an innovative blend of theory, practical skills development, real-world problem solving and industry experience, this MSc in Advanced Computer Science is designed for existing Computing graduates who are looking to pursue more senior roles in IT, in industry, teaching or research.
Month of entry
Mode of study
- Full time
- Computer Science
Fees for 2023/24 academic year
- UK - Full time £10,000 per year.
International - £18,800 per year.
Duration of study
- 1 year full-time
Please note: this course is no longer accepting applications from international students for September 2023 entry
Why study Advanced Computer Science at Keele University?
In today’s hi-tech world, as organisations seek to streamline processes and increase efficiency, there is a growing demand for highly-skilled professionals who can harness the power of accelerating digital transformation in everything from intelligent automation to cloud computing, cybersecurity and big data.
This MSc in Advanced Computer Science is intended for graduates who studied Computing, Computer Science or a closely-related subject at undergraduate level and are looking to develop a higher level of understanding and advanced skills which reflect cutting-edge developments and technologies within the field.
The course covers a wide range of practical skills and theory, from a fast-track programming and systems design course through to advanced data analysis and the use of cloud computing infrastructure. Taught by our experienced lecturers, with opportunities for hands-on experience using our state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, you’ll learn a wide range of in-demand skills and techniques, including manipulating large amounts of data, designing and building complex applications, leveraging and provisioning cloud services and developing autonomous systems.
As part of our focus on preparing you for industry, the Research and Consultancy Skills module is dedicated to teaching you the skills needed to become a freelance technology consultant, something a number of our previous students have gone on to do.
You’ll have multiple opportunities to apply your learning to real-world problems with the choice of taking either an industrial placement or tackling an industry-related problem as part of an MSc project. Examples of companies where students have previously undertaken an industry placement include Synectics Solutions, Collective Crunch and Greenhous.
By the time you graduate, you’ll have gained the technical knowledge and practical skills necessary to design, build, deploy and evaluate distributed information systems and enterprise applications over the Internet, with a focus on security issues.
With a long-standing tradition in teaching Computer Science since 1972, Keele takes pride in being at the forefront of computer science education and research today. The School of Computer Science and Mathematics offers an inclusive, dynamic community of experts with access to world-leading research and cutting-edge areas of industry, such as cloud computing, data mining and web technologies.
Smaller class sizes allow you to foster close relationships with colleagues and peers, while industry-led projects and practitioner guest lecturers provide valuable networking opportunities. In the past, students have enjoyed talks from our industrial partners from the SEND project, software developers from national companies, such as Bet365, and academic experts.
Other courses you may be interested in:
"I would recommend this course to anyone looking to further their studies in computer science to aid in a PhD application or further their career in industry because it is a fantastic way of learning and demonstrating your skills to potential employers or academic supervisors"
The MSc in Advanced Computer Science is designed to teach a range of advanced topics and skills to students with a solid foundation of knowledge and programming, whose first degree is in Computing or a related subject.
With a September start date, this course is studied full-time over one year. Should you wish for more flexibility with your studies, we also offer 100% online part-time Computer Science programmes, with routes in Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
During the first part of the programme, you will study eight taught modules (120 credits) over the first two semesters. These modules provide you with advanced knowledge of the principles and concepts of Internet technologies, software development, and intelligent systems. Alongside this, you will develop the practical skills that are necessary for the design, build, deployment and evaluation of distributed information systems and complex, business applications.
The second part of the programme gives you freedom to choose between either a formal academic project supervised by an academic expert from the School or opt for an industry placement. You’ll be able to discuss with your academic supervisor which type of project or placement is most suitable, based on your performance during the taught modules. Both options will enable you to put in to practice and apply the skills and knowledge learned throughout the course.
To achieve the MSc, you must complete 180 credits. There are two interim awards available, depending on how many modules have been successfully completed: a Postgraduate Certificate for any two modules (60 credits); and a Postgraduate Diploma for all four taught modules (120 credits).
Core Taught Modules
CSC-40043 User Interaction Design (15 credits – Semester 1): Providing you with a comprehensive knowledge of user interaction design and related techniques, you’ll learn to analyse, understand, and design user interactions and experiences and implement appropriate applications to support user needs. Topics covered include: the systematic use of requirements engineering for user interaction and user experience design; the psychological and social-psychological foundations for understanding user interactions; the experimental design and evaluation of user experiences; and the development techniques and technologies for creating user interfaces for web-based and mobile applications.
CSC-40045 Distributed Intelligent Systems (15 credits – Semester 1): Intelligent systems are increasingly present in our life, including the home and industrial environments. These systems include intelligent household appliances, wearable computing devices (e.g., health and fitness monitors), computers, sensor networks in cars, buildings, and complex engines, and so on. This module provides the knowledge and skills required to develop applications to control intelligent systems in a distributed and collaborative context, including the programming of robots or intelligent home appliances such as, for example, a TV or fridge that are equipped with embedded computers.
CSC-40054 Data Analytics & Databases (15 credits – Semester 1): This module aims to equip you with the knowledge of database operations and a variety of tools and statistical techniques, such as clustering, dimensionality reduction, regression, to enable you to make sense of the exponential growth of big data. You learn to apply and evaluate big data issues, advanced analytics and statistical modelling techniques appropriate to different types of problems.
CSC-40039 Cloud Computing (15 credits – Semester 2): In recent years many organisations have migrated applications to cloud computing providers. This module explores the underlying technologies, the practical and ethical issues involved. Reliability and performance concerns are addressed, together with the crucial issues relating to the security and privacy of data stored and managed remotely. Key is the ability to analyse and objectively assess claims made by global software companies relating both to the efficacy of their products and compliance with global objectives in environmental impacts. Putting your knowledge into practice, you’ll design and implement a cloud-based application, producing a technical report to outline the features implemented and evaluating its performance. Previously, for example, students have assessed the benefits of a Cloud infrastructure when developing web-based or big data related applications.
CSC-40046 Web Technologies and Security (15 credits – Semester 2): Provides a practical and theoretical understanding of contemporary developments in the design and construction of distributed applications with particular emphasis on mobile web applications and security aspects on both the server and client side. You’ll produce a design overview for a preferably mobile web-based application requiring secure access and rich interactivity. One coursework assignment required students to create a specialised version of Facebook aimed at foodies called 'Afterchef', which enabled users to upload pictures of meals or other food as part of a post, allowing other users to reply with comments about that post.
CSC-40038 Collaborative Application Development (15 credits – Semester 2): In the modern world of Internet and web technology, professionals need to be able to function effectively as part of a development team, as well as the relevant technical analytical, design and web development skills. On this module, you have an opportunity to work with real-world clients to produce an application, experiencing all the practicalities of working with and to a client’s brief. Apps that have been developed previously by students include a sustainable living application for students in halls of residence, a fundraising optimisation application for the County Air Ambulance Trust, a theatre ticket booking system application and an e-commerce application for an eBookstore services.
CSC-40050 Research and Consultancy Skills for Consultants (15 credits – Semester 2):Even the most technically gifted computing professionals need to communicate and plan effectively if their ideas are to be realised. There is also increasing need for an understanding of the wider implications computing has on society and how legal and ethical issues relate to software development and deployment. This module therefore aims to enhance your skills and knowledge in areas such as communication and problem solving; ethical, legal, and social issues; modern group working techniques specific to computing; design and management of research and consultancy activities, and selecting suitable formats and styles of presentation.
You will chose one of the following two optional modules.
CSC-40044 System Design & Programming (15 credits – Semester 1): This module provides a comprehensive introduction to system design and programming for those who did not graduate from a computer science or related programme. You will be able to develop programs in a major programming language using principles taught on this course. This module covers: the principles and practice of system design in the context of an available set of requirements; an introduction to programming (algorithms, data structures, data storage and manipulation and user interfaces); an introduction to object oriented programming; the development of computer programs using appropriate technology and including accessing data over the internet; and the use of user interfaces to manipulate and display data.
CSC-40041 Research Horizons (15 credits – Semester 1): Provides you with the knowledge and skills required to be able to undertake a simple literature review of a research topic related to the Division's research in AI and data science, and to develop a novel research idea and plan for a research proposal.
Optional core modules
When it comes to choosing your final method of assessment, you will have the flexibility to complete an MSc project or gain valuable experience via an industrial placement (subject to successful competitive application).
The project requires you to evaluate, integrate and apply theoretical knowledge and problem-solving skills to a programming, research or business problem within the discipline, supported and guided by your academic supervisor throughout. You can select your project from a list of projects offered by our academic supervisors or develop your own project, subject to our approval. One student responded to an ImageCLEF challenge to examine how wearable recording devices could be used to produce a continual record of a user’s everyday life, while another investigated secure hosting and management options for a Stoke-based business specialising in augmented reality mobile apps. Previous projects have also included contributions to Keele’s multimillion-pound Smart Energy Network Demonstrator.
The placement provides an ideal opportunity to gain work experience, applying your skills to solve a problem that relates to the needs of a local business or organisation, and developing professionalism and communication skills that employers are looking for. We find projects through the our existing links with business, though applications for these placements are competitive. Alternatively, you can use your own contacts, subject to approval. On placement, you will receive personal supervision from one of our own academic experts, as well as direction from the industry partner.
ACADEMIC ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
A 2nd class honours degree (or overseas equivalent) is required for consideration for this course.
We will also consider students with equivalent industrial work experience.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE ENTRY REQUIREMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS
IELTS 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component . The University also accepts a range of internationally recognised English tests.
If you do not meet the English language requirements, the University offers a range of English language preparation programmes.
During your degree programme you can study additional english language courses. This means you can continue to improve your English language skills and gain a higher level of English.
PRE-MASTER'S IN COMPUTING
The Keele University International College offer a one semester Pre-Master's in Computing programme for international students who do not meet the traditional entry requirements for a postgraduate computing degree at Keele University.
Please visit the Keele University International College for more information on how to apply, entry requirements and course details.
"This course has been hugely beneficial to me with a variety of interesting modules to help my future employment"
It's important to plan carefully for your funding before you start your course. Please be aware that not all postgraduate courses are eligible for the UK government postgraduate loans and, in this case, you would be expected to source alternative funding yourself. If you need support researching your funding options, please contact our Financial Support Team.
Please note, if your course offers a January start date, the January 2023 start date falls in the 2022/23 academic year. Please see the 2022/23 academic year fees for the relevant fees for starting this course in January 2023.
Planning your funding
It's important to plan carefully for your funding before you start your course. Please be aware that not all postgraduate courses and not all students are eligible for the UK government postgraduate loans and, in some cases, you would be expected to source alternative funding yourself. If you need support researching your funding options, please contact our Financial Support Team.
We are committed to rewarding excellence and potential. Please visit our scholarships and bursaries webpage for more information.
The rising profile of AI, global cyber security, social media safety, and tech’s role in understanding and tackling some of society’s biggest challenges, such as climate change and pandemic modelling, is fuelling the demand and interest in computer science, according to the BCS.
The IT sector is still growing faster than the rest of UK economy and a shortage of specialised skills mean the demand for graduates is not set to slow any time soon. In fact, three-quarters of IT decision-makers across the world reported critical skills gaps across tech departments, a number that has increased significantly in the past five years.
The School’s focus on developing research, consultancy, professional and practical skills prepares you for a broad range of development and management roles. Essential skills you’ll develop, which are highly valued by employers, include personal drive, prioritising and planning, project management, teamwork, critical thinking, problem solving, evaluating and reflecting upon your experience.
Students from this course have pursued careers in data science, web development, networking, systems analysis and development, and software engineering, working for a range of different companies, such as Greenhous Group and Radius Payment Solutions. Others have become freelance application developers and you could easily move into a teaching career within secondary, further or higher education.
Some of our students, having worked on advanced projects in Keele’s Smart Energy Network Demonstrator, have chosen to remain here at Keele to study a PhD after successfully completing their MSc.
Roles that are related to your degree include:
- Application analyst
- Business analyst
- Computer programmer
- Computer systems specialist
- Customer service assistant
- Data analyst
- Database administrator
- Engineering manager
- Head of development
- Information systems manager
- IT consultant
- IT developer
- Mobile developer
- Project manager
- Senior technical manager
- Software developer
- System engineer
- Technical assistant
- Technical consultant
Teaching, learning and assessment
The programme is delivered through a variety of learning and teaching activities designed to develop a blend of academic, professional and practical skills. In addition, you’ll have one-on-one meetings with individual academic supervisor, which may take place online or face-to-face.
Formal lectures are used to introduce key concepts, supplemented by smaller group tutorials and practical sessions dependent on the topics being covered in the module. This helps to consolidate your understanding of the material and the practicalities of its application in a modern business environment.
Though there are taught components to the course, we place a strong emphasis on student-led learning and research to help develop your independent research skills and technical skills, with support from teaching staff and technicians. All students are expected to engage in independent study for the duration of the programme and each week we will post digital resources line for you to work through before teaching sessions. Our Virtual Learning Environment gives you online access to a range of digital resources and tools, which includes relevant academic texts via the IEEE Xplore® digital library and eBooks.
You will be taught by experienced, well-qualified staff who are research-active within the discipline, accomplished at working on research-funded projects nationally and internationally, and eager to share their teaching, research and professional experience to help you achieve success in your studies.
Recognising the importance of engaging first-hand with practitioners, where possible, we also invite guest speakers from industry and business to give you a real-life perspective on the topics you’re studying. For example, the Research and Consultancy module has previously featured guest lectures from a small business owner, who discussed their experiences, negative and positive, about working with consultants and other small companies, and a Senior Research Developer from Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
You will complete formal assessment on all modules. The wide variety of assessment methods used on this programme at Keele reflects the broad range of knowledge and skills that are developed as you progress through the degree programme. This includes unseen examinations, class tests and various pieces of coursework, such as programming tasks, implementing a web-based application, presentations and reports (e.g., on data storage and user interaction (UI) design).
When it comes to your final assessment, this varies depending on whether you choose the Industrial Placement or Research Project. For the placement, you will complete a 7,000-word report giving a reflective account of your experience of the organisation and the work carried out during the placement; a 2,000-word reflective diary, which can be in the form of a blog; a presentation to your host company management team; and coursework based on information from your employer. Whereas, for the MSc Project, a dissertation of between 10,000 to 15,000 words in length forms your main assessment. You will also prepare a poster describing your interim progress part way through the project.
Keele Postgraduate Association
Keele University is one of a handful of universities in the UK to have a dedicated students' union for postgraduate students. A fully registered charity, Keele Postgraduate Association serves as a focal point for the social life and welfare needs of all postgraduate students during their time at Keele.
Hugely popular, the KPA Clubhouse (near Horwood Hall) provides a dedicated postgraduate social space and bar on campus, where you can grab a bite to eat and drink, sit quietly and read a book, or switch off from academic life at one of the many regular events organised throughout the year. The KPA also helps to host a variety of conferences, as well as other academic and career sessions, to give you and your fellow postgraduates the opportunities to come together to discuss your research, and develop your skills and networks.
The School of Computer Science and Mathematics has a long, well-established history of industry-focused teaching and internationally recognised research: Mathematics was one of the University’s inaugural subjects back in 1948, while Computing has been taught since 1972, one of the first programmes in the UK.
Our academics specialise in a wide variety of branches of computer science and mathematics, including: computational neuroscience; software engineering; evolutionary systems, ML and computational intelligence; fluid dynamics and acoustics; solid dynamics and elasticity; biomechanics and biomedical engineering; pure mathematics; and statistics.
We are known for our focus on data analytics and data modelling, with pioneering work taking place on the interface of computing, mathematics and engineering, notably in relation to smart energy management and optimisation, and metal detection.
Excellent industry links include the British Computer Society (BCS), the Chartered Institute for IT, and we have worked on several collaborative projects with businesses. For example, we developed innovative data mining processes to allow Bentley Motors Ltd, the global automotive company, to exploit the value hidden in the data it owns and collects. We are also members of The Virtual Cuneiform Tablet Reconstruction Project, an international project to support virtual access to artefacts featuring cuneiform, humankind’s earliest writing.
Through the School’s Employment Steering Group, we are fortunate in that a number of companies, both large and small, local and international, are able to provide work placements, guest lectures, project briefs and feedback on the latest industry trends to ensure course content remains relevant and up-to-date up. Membership in 2021/22 includes representatives from Synectics Solutions Ltd, Powelectrics, SSE Enterprise Energy Solutions, Santander, Caja Ltd, and Hildebrand Technology Limited.
Teaching team includes:
Dr Theo Kyriacou (Programme Director), Senior Lecturer – Theo joined Keele in 2007, following three years working as a post-doctoral research at the University of Essex. His research interests lie in the fields of biologically-inspired robotics, data-mining/machine-learning, systems modelling and computer science education, which he has applied in the areas of health and rehabilitation, chemistry, biology, medicine and learner analytics.
Dr Alastair Channon, Reader (Computing) – Alastair worked in the software industry (at Micro Focus) before embarking on his academic career, which included lecturing at the University of Portsmouth and University of Birmingham prior to his move to Keele University in 2007. His primary research interest is in the open-ended evolution of neurally controlled animats and he is best known for having created the only closed system other than Earth's biosphere to have passed the enhanced statistical ‘ALife Test’ for open-ended evolution. Alastair's recent publications have included significant results on the relationship of mutation rate to population size, with clear implications for biological extinction events, and to fitness, computed over both abstract and biological fitness landscape.
Dr Sandra Woolley, Reader (Computing) – Sandra leads Software and Systems Engineering Research in the School. She is a Fellow of the British Computer Society (FBCS), a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (SMIEEE) and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). Sandra originally trained as a graduate engineer with Lucas Aerospace UK before completing a Data Engineering PhD at The University of Manchester, sponsored by both British Gas (Pipeline Inspection) and ICI ImageData. Prior to joining Keele, she lectured at the University of Birmingham and worked as as a researcher at the US-based National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). She has strong multidisciplinary research interests around human-computer interaction (HCI), digital technology and ‘fair digital living’, and she leads and contributes to international multidisciplinary research collaborations.
Professor Ed de Quincey, Senior Lecturer (Computing) – Having previously worked as a Principal Lecturer at the University of Greenwich, and a Researcher at City University, London, Ed joined Keele in 2014. He has worked in the area of online human behaviour for 18 years, looking into the usability and impact of websites, as well as uses of the information that they collect. This has included investigations into the potential of Twitter to detect disease outbreaks and hay fever seasons in the UK, the use of social media by charities, and investigations into the use of other Web 2.0 tools to support e-Learning.
Dr Thomas Neligwa, Lecturer (Computing) – Thomas studied both his MSc and PhD at Keele, before becoming a lecturer in Computer Science in 2001. Prior to this, he worked as a Software Engineer for Service and Computer Industries SCI/NCR (Tanzania) and later as an Assistant Lecturer at the Institute of Finance Management (IFM) in Tanzania. His research focuses on architectures and intelligent techniques for structure data exchange, retrieval and control. He spent seven years working on a large, international project to develop intelligent manufacturing systems known as Holonic Manufacturing Systems (HMS), in collaboration with leading manufacturing companies including DaimlerChrysler and Softing GmbH (Germany), Toshiba and Fanuc Robotics (Japan), and Rockwell Automation (USA).
The School of Computer Science and Mathematics was established over 50 years ago and is recognised today as being at the forefront of computer science education and research. Proud holders of the Athena SWAN Bronze Award, we have embedded equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) within both the School and our programmes. We regularly promote events for women studying science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) subjects, such as the annual BCS Women Lovelace Colloquium, the national conference for undergraduate and MSc women in computing.
Located in the Colin Reeves Building, our facilities currently house seven computer laboratories comprising around 200 desktop PC, accessible 24 hours a day, every day (with prior approval of key fob). Every PC has the current hardware and software needed for all modules on our degree programmes and provide both Microsoft Windows and the Linux operating system. Facilities also include a dedicated VR lab, gaming lab, our own Makerspace with 3D printers, a Vicon motion-tracking system, Raspberry PIs, Arduinos and dedicated PCs. We provide various web servers and a cloud computing facility for student use. We also host a high-performance CUDA GPU Supercomputer Cluster for use across campus.
The Overclockers UK Gaming Lab
Based in the Colin Reeves building, this state-of-the-art gaming station laboratory is named after its sponsor, who donated 24 high-spec gaming PCs. These are available for use by students during their lectures and exclusively to Keele Esports Society members in the evenings as a training facility. The Society is open to students who are interested in all aspects of competitive gaming, on both the professional scene and the amateur level.
Central Science Laboratory (CSL)
An entire floor of the University’s £34m Central Science Laboratory (CSL) is fully equipped with PCs featuring all our necessary software and is used for practical lab sessions. CSL opened its doors to students in September 2019 and provides 5,300m2 of modern, co-located science laboratories. Over £2m alone has been spent on industrial research-grade analytical and laboratory equipment that will be used by students in their day-to-day laboratory teaching. Access to state-of-the-art facilities and high specification equipment will ensure you are well prepared for scientific or industrial employment post-graduation. The environment mirrors the multi-faceted nature of working life and the shared space allows group working and collaboration between disciplines, building the skills and experience much valued by employers.
Our unique self-contained campus, with over 600 acres of grounds including forests and lakes, has provided an ideal setting to establish itself as a testbed for real-world teaching, learning and research opportunities as a ‘true Living Lab’. Featured as a national best practice case study in the promotion of sustainability exchange, initiatives such as the SIMULATE (Smart, Infrastructure and Mobility Urban Laboratory and Test Environment) and Smart Energy Network Demonstrator (SEND) projects, contributed to Keele being named Global Sustainability Institution of the Year (International Green Gown Awards, 2020).
SIMULATE, which received funding from the Government’s SMART Place Live Labs initiative, is focused on how to design and maintain a smart highways network. The £15m SEND programme was the first of its kind in Europe to demonstrate how smart energy technologies can support ‘intelligent’ energy generation, distribution, storage, forecasting and energy balancing. Our researchers have worked with businesses on a range of projects: anomaly detection for Internet of Things applications; use of deep reinforcement learning techniques for a smart energy management system; data analytics solutions for the Industrial Internet of Things; and Digital Twins.
Digital Society Institute
Keele’s new Digital Society Institute is a collaborative research centre focused on data and digital technology that will allow companies in the business, health, and cultural sectors to innovate and expand in a competitive and dynamic business environment. Launching in 2022, the Institute will be based within IC7 and will have access to a Data Visualisation Suite, office space, and hi-tech meeting and collaboration space. The facility, which will enable businesses to keep pace with fast-changing technologies, is expected to support over 400 SMEs over an 18-month period. Specialist equipment it will host includes: a state-of-the-art £330,000 high-performance computing cluster for data-driven research; a new VR/Interaction Laboratory; VR headsets; high-specification computers; a CAVE environment; eye-tracking glasses; 360-degree cameras; a high resolution hand-held 3D scanner; and a 3D printer.