Robotics is a rapidly developing discipline that combines long-established areas of electronic and mechanical engineering with novel approaches in computing and the life sciences. It is also driving a revolution in industry, where robotic devices are starting to penetrate most sectors, from aerospace (the first use of UAVs for surveillance aircraft in the 1991 Gulf War) to domestic appliances (such as the Dyson DC04 robotic vacuum cleaner) and even toys (such as the Robosapiens toy robot). The Faculty has strong research activity in the field of mobile robotics. The Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL), a multi-million pound partnership with the University of Bristol, strives to understand and develop robotic devices that can behave intelligently without human supervision and intervention. Devices such as these could be used in a wide range of applications to assist humans perform dangerous or very unpleasant tasks. For instance, robots that could ‘refuel’ themselves could be deployed to rid an area of landmines, to clear blocked pipes, to gather data from the very depths of the oceans – the possibilities are endless. Much of the BRL’s work is inspired by evolutionary biology, studies in animal behaviour, artificial intelligence and artificial life. The work of the Lab is very well-respected within the international robotics research community.
The programme includes taught modules, of which some are core and others optional, and a dissertation. It has been structured to allow students to specialise in an area of particular interest or relevance to their career.
-Contemporary Research in Advanced Robotics
-Intelligent and Adaptive Systems
-Embedded Real-Time Systems
-DSP for Real-Time Control Systems
-Electromechanical Systems Integration
-Advanced Control and Dynamics
-Theoretical Concepts in Applied Computer Vision
-Behavioural System Design
Students will qualify for the awards MSc, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate by accumulating credits on completion of modules, as follows:
-The MSc in Robotics requires 180 credits, including 60 credits for the dissertation;
-The Postgraduate Diploma in Robotics requires 120 credits, all from the taught part of the course ie no dissertation is completed;
-The Postgraduate Certificate in Robotics requires 60 credits, again all from the taught part of the course.
Taught modules are worth 15 credits and may be considered as either core (ie a module that must be taken), or optional. Typically full-time students can expect 12 hours classroom contact time per week. Part-time students should expect a proportionate number of contact hours per week based on the number of modules being studied.
All students will undertake a 60 credit dissertation – a substantial piece of independent work that must be completed in order to achieve the full MSc qualification. Full-time students normally complete this between the end of Semester 2 and November of that same year. Part-time students may spend an extra year completing the dissertation depending on their personal circumstances.
Part-time students generally complete this course over two years or more. This allows for flexibility in selecting the number of modules which a student can cope with in one year, bearing in mind other work and life commitments. Specific provision is made for part-time students and the Faculty endeavours to timetable modules on only one day per week for these students. However, flexibility is the key to this course, and students can opt to take other modules on other days if they wish.
We cannot guarantee that each pathway, or option module, will run in each academic year, but we will determine in good time which pathways will be running. The decision will be dependent on the number of students wishing to take a pathway and whether appropriate physical and staff resources are available.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much additional time and independent study will this course require?
A 15-credit module typically involves two to three hours per week over a 12-week period in structured activities, although this may vary. You should reckon on devoting approximately a further nine hours per week to each module. This means that a full-time student may need to spend up to 50 hours per week on his/her studies. In practice, of course, students spread this load over the holiday period, and there may be times of particularly intensive activity, when deadlines need to be met.
How much time and effort will I be expected to put into the dissertation?
You should view your dissertation as a part-time activity over the duration of the course. Writing the dissertation is demanding, not so much because of its length, which is about 15,000 words, but because you are expected to identify a research question that is important and interesting to you, and then think analytically and creatively about this question. This will involve extensive, critical reading of relevant literature