Computer Science

MSc, PGDip and PGCert

The MSc Computer Science provides an intensive programme of study without any prior knowledge in computer science. As well as gaining a broad knowledge of the subject, students acquire practical skills and have the opportunity to investigate areas of current research more deeply.

It’s time to drive your future with our MSc Computer Science.

The MSc Computer Science looks at issues important in our society including intellectual property, digital surveillance, data privacy and ethical issues in computing.

By studying this programme, students will:

  • be able to demonstrate knowledge and acquire digital skills in several areas including programming principles, the mathematic and algorithmic foundations of computing, information systems design, and database design and management.
  • gain a comprehensive and practical understanding of current techniques in cloud computing, network security, data management, software engineering, and machine learning.
  • gain the soft skills needed to be able to act autonomously in planning, implementing, and managing tasks at a professional level.
  • develop a systematic understanding and a critical awareness of computer science, much of it at the forefront of the discipline.

Programme details

Programme structure, modules and specifications

The MSc Computer Science consists of:

  • ten core modules (15 credits each) and 
  • one Project module (30 credits)

To be awarded the PGDip, you must successfully complete eight modules (15 credits each).

To be awarded the PGCert, you must successfully complete four modules (15 credits each).

Individual modules will be available to study on a stand-alone basis (subject to module availability)

View modules for MSc Computer Science

Key dates

October 2021 intake
Applications open 28 June 2021
Application deadline 13 September 2021
Registration deadline 27 September 2021
Programme starts 11 October 2021

How you study

The MSc Computer Science is offered fully online and allows you the opportunity to flexibly fit your studies around your schedule. You can choose to study individual modules on a pay-as-you-go basis and build up your qualification at your own pace.

Online support

This computer science degree is delivered online and there is no requirement to come to the UK as part of your studies. Our flexible online programme allows you to work around your own schedule and leads to a globally-recognised qualification.

When you register, we will give you access to the Student Portal. You can then access your University of London email account and other key resources including:

  • The Student Guide provides information which is common to all students and gives useful information about your relationship with the University of London through to graduation.
  • The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) which offers online learning support, access to the student café and discussion areas, and other study materials.
  • The Online Library provides access to over 100 million academic electronic items comprising E-books, E-journals, conference proceedings etc. In addition, students can request items which are not held in the library via the library's Inter-Library loans service with the British Library. All registered students have free access to the University of London’s Online Library.
  • Senate House Library provides free reference access for all registered distance and flexible learning students.

Tutor support

All students receive online tutor support and feedback while studying this programme. Tutors introduce the modules, respond to queries, monitor discussions and provide guidance on assessments.

Study materials

All essential resources, activities, videos, discussions and support are provided through the VLE. This allows you to fit your studies around your work commitments. There is no need to purchase additional textbooks. 

Time commitment

The flexible approach to learning allows students to complete the MSc Computer Science in a minimum of two years (subject to module availability) to a maximum of five years.

Each module is run over a 10 week block, with the exception of the Project module which is run over two 10-week blocks.

Student support

We are committed to delivering an exceptional student experience for all of our students, regardless of which of our programmes you are studying and whether you are studying independently.

You will have access to support through:

  • The Student Advice Centre - provides support for application and Student Portal queries.
  • TalkCampus – a peer support service that offers a safe and confidential way to talk about whatever is on your mind at any time of day or night.
  • Student Relationship Managers - a team of Student Relationship Managers (SRMs) are here to support and advise you throughout your studies. They aim to ensure that you are fully up-to-date with important and useful information about how best to complete your studies.

Assessment

The following modules are assessed by two assessments: one online test of a suitable type for the specific module, for example, multiple choice questions (MCQs) or auto-graded problem-solving task using programming (25%) and an end of term coursework assessment/online examination (75%):

  • Applied Machine Learning
  • Cloud Computing
  • Object-Oriented Programming
  • Principles of Programming
  • Software Design and Programming.

The following modules are assessed by an end of term coursework assessment/online examination (100%):

  • Computer Systems
  • Data Management
  • Fundamentals of Computing
  • Information Security
  • Information Systems.

The Project is assessed by two assessments: a research proposal (30%) and a project report (70%). All coursework and Project items are submitted through the VLE.

Entry requirements

What qualifications do you need?

To qualify to register for the MSc or PGDip, applicants will need a bachelor’s degree which is considered at least comparable to a UK second-class honours degree from an institution acceptable to the University.

If you do not meet the MSc and PGDip entrance requirements, successful completion of the PGCert will allow progression to the MSc or PGDip.

To qualify to register for the PGCert, you will need:

  • Either, a bachelor’s degree which is considered at least comparable to a UK second class honours degree from an institution acceptable to the University
  • Or, a minimum of two years’ work experience in a relevant field. This will most commonly be in a software engineering role but each application will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Entrance requirements for stand-alone individual modules  

To qualify to register for a stand-alone individual module, you will need:

  • Either, a bachelor’s degree which is considered at least comparable to a UK second class honours degree from an institution acceptable to the University
  • Or, a minimum of two years’ work experience in a relevant field. This will most commonly be in a software engineering role but each application will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

English language requirements

You  need a high standard of English to study this programme. You will meet our language requirements if you have achieved one of the following within the past three years:

  • IELTS: at least 6.5 overall with 6.0 in the written test
  • Pearson Test (Academic): at least 59 overall, with 59+ in reading and writing and 54+ in speaking and listening.
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English.
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (grade C or above).
  • TOEFL iBT: at least 92 overall, with 22+ in reading and writing and 20+ in speaking and listening.
  • Duolingo: must achieve an overall score of at least 120.
  • If you do not meet the English language proficiency requirements but believe that you can demonstrate the requisite proficiency, the University may, at its discretion, consider your application.

Computer requirements

We set minimum basic computer requirements because your study resources are accessed via the Student Portal and it is vital that you can access this regularly.

Additional hardware capabilities and software for specific modules will be required, such as:

  • Video and audio recording
  • Programmer’s text editor such as Atom or Visual Studio and an integrated development environment software (IDE) such as IntelliJ
  • Development kits for example Anaconda for python
  • Java SDK, databases such as Mysql
  • Web server such as Apache Tomcat
  • Network analysis tools such as Wireshark.

You will also need access to hardware:

  • Android or iOS device
  • Microcontrollers e.g. Arduino
  • Additional networking elements like routers and protocol service endpoints.

Finally, you will be required to create and use free accounts on several online services including but not limited to: github, Amazon Web Services Educate, Google Cloud Engine and Google Collaborate and Oracle Academy.

More about computer requirements

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

If you have studied material as part of a previous qualification that is comparable in content, level and standard to our MSc Computer Science modules, you might be exempted from the equivalent course of our degree. This process is known as Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) or Exemption. You will not need to study or be assessed in the module(s) to complete your award.

To be considered for RPL you should make a formal request within your application when applying online. Alternatively, this can be done through an online enquiry(Opens in new window), once you have submitted your application.

If you are registered for the MSc or PGDip, you may apply for Recognition of Prior Learning mapped against modules to a total of 60 UK credits. Applications for Recognition of Prior Learning for the Project will not be accepted.

We will not recognise or accredit prior learning for a module later than 14 days after the module start date. You will be deemed to have started a module once you have been given access to the learning materials on the VLE.

More about RPL and the application process

Your qualifications will need to be assessed by specialist academics on a case by case basis, before we can approve recognition and accreditation of prior learning. This is called discretionary RPL and involves a non-refundable application fee.

You will need to be eligible to study the programme and will need to provide the following for your RPL application to be considered: a completed RPL request form, the supporting documentary evidence (normally a transcript and syllabus of your previous studies) and the fee payable.

Note: All discretionary RPL requests must be submitted by the dates specified for the April or October intake in the year that you apply. Once submitted, we must receive all required supporting evidence by the deadline stated.

Further information on rules regarding RPL is covered in the Recognition of Prior Learning section of the appropriate Programme Regulations and Section 3 of the General Regulations.

Fees

On average, fees incur a 5% year-on-year increase. 2021-22 Programme fees are effective from 28 June 2021 and refer to the Oct 2021, Jan 2022, April 2022 and July 2022 sessions, except for the Application Fee which refers only to the two intake sessions in Oct 2021 and April 2022.

The fees depend on whether you live in a developing (Band A) or developed (Band B) nation. See the list of Band A and B countries [PDF].

Application fee 2021-22
Application fee (non-refundable) 107

The application fee (non-refundable) is payable when you make your application for an MSc, PGDip, PGCert or Individual Modules taken on a standalone basis. If your application is successful, you will receive an offer inviting you to register. The application fee is separate to other fees listed.


Offer validity: All offers for this programme are valid for the session in which you apply. If you do not complete registration for the given session then on request we will reissue your offer for the following three subsequent sessions. If you would like your offer reissued then you should contact us(Opens in new window). After the subsequent third session the offer has expired, meaning if you would like to then complete registration you would need to submit a new application.

MSc full programme fee* 2021-22
Band A countries 9000
Band B countries 12000
MSc indicative totals** 2021-22
Band A countries 9332
Band B countries 12407
Pay per module (MSc / PGDip / PGCert/ Individual Modules) 2021-22
Band A countries:
15 credit module fee 750
30 credit project module fee 1500
Band B countries:
15 credit module fee 1000
30 credit project module fee 2000
Other fees 2021-2022
Assessment re-sit fee 375
Application fee for recognition of prior learning (per 15 credit module) non-refundable 58

Disclaimer: Currency conversion tool.

More about programme fees

*The full MSc programme fee is payable when you first register on the programme and includes access to study materials and your first entry into the assessments. It does not include resit fees, the module fee when repeating a module, applications for Recognition of Prior Learning and fees payable to a University of London Recognised Teaching Centres, if applicable. By paying in full at the beginning of your programme, you avoid any annual fee increases to module fees. With pay per module, you pay for each module as you register for it.

**The indicative totals given represent the amount you would expect to pay if you commence study in October 2021 and then complete the MSc degree in the minimum period of time (as per when modules become available), without resits, and paying per module with a year-on-year increase of 5%. These totals do not reflect the cost of any additional tuition support you may choose to take, resit fees or the fee when repeating a module, or applications for Recognition of Prior Learning.

Please note: student fees shown on our website are net of any local VAT, Goods and Services Tax (GST) or any other sales tax payable by the student in their country of residence. Where the University is required to add VAT, GST or any other sales tax at the local statutory rate, this will be added to the fees shown during the payment process. For students resident in the UK, our fees are exempt from VAT.

Further information on Sales Tax.

How to pay your fees.

Career opportunities

For students who are new to the subject, the programme provides a foundation for a career in IT, or software engineering. For those already working in these fields, you will have an opportunity to broaden your knowledge and upskill while obtaining a formal qualification. You will gain in-demand technical skills plus knowledge of how to manage complex issues systematically and creatively in the workplace.

The MSc is valued by leading companies in the technology sector. Graduates from the on-campus degree programme have gained jobs with global brands including Amazon, Google and Microsoft, or have been promoted in their existing role.

Possible career paths include different software engineering roles ranging from testing and quality assurance to software architecture. This degree can also be useful in becoming a systems analyst, engineering manager, or other roles that require an in-depth understanding of software design and practice in a range of sectors or organisations.

Academic leadership

The MSc has been developed by Birkbeck’s highly regarded computing department. The Department of Computer Science at Birkbeck was one of the first computing departments established in the UK and a world-class centre of expertise in algorithms, data analytics, data management, experimental data science, knowledge representation, and programme verification.

The department engages in fundamental and applied research and hosts two research centres, Birkbeck Knowledge Lab and the Birkbeck Institute for Data Analytics. The department is also a member of the Institute of Coding (IoC) and through its partnership has developed new courses to provide opportunities for everyone to acquire the necessary digital skills.

Programme Director

Dr Martyn Harris is a post-doc researcher and Institute of Coding manager at Birkbeck, University of London, where he joined the department in October 2010 as a PhD. Martyn has held this post since 2018, during which time he has managed the development of face-to-face courses, including a PGCert in Applied Data Science in collaboration with the British Library and National Archives, as well as the co-development of the department's first online taster course in data science applications and techniques.

Martyn’s research now focuses on the development of Natural Language Processing techniques for analysing social media posts in the context of social dynamics - how external events such as the recent pandemic can be measured through social media platforms. Martyn has published journal articles in linguistics, and on applying text mining techniques to the analysis of large-scale digital archives.

Funding your study

Without the cost of moving to London, studying for your University of London degree anywhere in the world represents excellent value for money. However, there are additional sources of support depending on where you live and how you choose to study.

More on funding your study

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Gain in-demand technical skills plus knowledge of how to manage complex issues systematically and creatively in the workplace.

Apply to Computer Science