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Software Engineering Master in Science by Research

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  • Objectives
    The aim of this flexible research degree programme is to develop the career and qualification base of students from a range of academic and professional backgrounds.
  • Entry requirements
    The normal entry criteria are a first or second class degree with Honours in an appropriate subject area. Applicants who possess equivalent academic or experiential learning at graduate or diploma level will also be considered. All applicants will normally be interviewed to assess their suitability for the course. An applicant for registration must have a sufficient command of the English language to be able to complete the programme of work satisfactorily and to prepare and defend the thesis in English.
  • Academic Title
    Software Engineering Master in Science by Research
  • Course description
    Included in the programme is an introduction to research skills. You also have the opportunity to study an advanced subject in software engineering such as formal aspects or real-time and embedded systems. An investigative research project with a limited innovative element will constitute your main body of work.

    The programme can be completed in one or two years of full-time study, or from 18 to 36 months of part-time study.

    You should enjoy enhanced career prospects as a software development manager,systems manager or advanced software product designer.

    Course content

    In common with taught MSc courses the total course is valued at 180 credits at Masters (M)-level, this being made up of M-level taught modules and a project, with a single M-level module valued at 12 credits and based on a notional 96 hours of student effort, which includes class contact, private study and assessment. The class contact time is normally 30 hours, which for those attending in the evenings is equivalent to one evening a week over a ten week term.

    The minimum period of full-time registration is 12 months, maximum 24 months; for part-time students the periods are 18 months and 36 months, respectively.

    For the MSc by Research in Software Engineering the course structure adopted consists of three components:

    1. A 12 credits M-level core study skills module. This module consists of five units:

        * Information Search and Retrieval
        * Project Management
        * Research Roles and Principles
        * Legislation: Intellectual Property and Health and Safefy
        * Presentation Skills

    2. The equivalent of two 12 credits M-level modules selected from the following modules, available on the taught Masters degree programme:

        * Project Management (12 credits)
        * Software Design (12 credits)
        * Formal Methods for Software Engineering (24 credits)
        * Real-time and Embedded Systems (24 credits)
        * Software Implementation and Data Structures (12 credits)
        * or any other M-level module as agreed by the Director of Studies

    3. A research project. Normally this will be rated at 144 credits at M-level. The nature of the project is different from an MPhil and PhD project in that it will be primarily of an investigative or scholarly nature, with possibly limited innovative elements. It is expected to be more extensive and show greater depths of originality and insight than the dissertation for a taught Masters degree.

    The project will normally be formulated, including specification of objectives, in consultation between the student and the nominated Director of Studies. Where the project is able to be pursued (wholly or partially) within an industrial organisation then, where appropriate, a representative of that organisation should be involved in the formulation of the project.

    On completion of the project you will present a written report (thesis) and defend the same at an oral examination (viva voce). The thesis should demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the subject and should satisfy the agreed objectives.


    Students registered on the course will be attached to one of the School's research groups. In the computing area there are three groups: Distributed Systems and Modelling, Biomedical Computing and Industrial Computing (part of the Control Theory and Applications Centre). Supervision will be provided by staff associated with the research groups; all of whom have an established research record and supervisory experience at postgraduate level.

    There will be either one or two supervisors for each research project. One will be identified as the Director of Studies, with the specific responsibility to ensure that the student receives proper guidance and support. Where the project is linked to an external organisation (eg work based) use of a second supervisor from that organisation will be encouraged.

    Areas of Research

    The work of the Distributed Systems and Modelling research group is mainly concerned with new modelling approaches for enterprise information systems. The Biomedical Computing research group focuses on the development and application of computer methods for the analysis, interpretation, prediction and design of biological, clinical and health-related investigations. The Industrial Computing research group is interested in the design and development of systems for industry and in particular the ares of concurrency, formal methods, heuristics, neural networks, genetic algorithms and real-time systems development. Many of the projects within the groups are carried out in collaboration with industrial and commercial organisations.

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