MSc Advanced Computer Science

Due to the popularity of the MSc courses offered by the Department of Computer Science, we have introduced a staged admissions process for entry in September 2019. We will use this process to consider all applications received on or after 15 February 2019.

For more information please see the staged admissions web pages

Start date: September 2019
Duration: 12 Months full time
Programme code: COMT123

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The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers.In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption


  • Gain skills to prepare you for a future in industry or further research
  • Specialist cutting-edge modules taught by academics working in our internationally leading research groups
  • The Department of Computer Science is 5th in the UK for Research Excellence (REF 2014)

The MSc in Advanced Computer Science is suited to graduates in Computer Science and related disciplines, such as Software Engineering or Computing and Mathematics, who wish to complete their academic profile in specialist areas, and study in a research-led teaching environment. The programme provides students with an education in leading-edge aspects of computer science, and offers a wide range of elective modules that are informed by the department's research interests.

Student profile: Nishant Paul


The programme consists of two semesters of taught modules and a dissertation project, which is completed during the summer. In the autumn semester there is a fast-paced introduction to object oriented programming and software development. In both semesters, students choose from a range of other modules in areas covering foundational topics in computer science as well as application areas including 3D graphics, software development for mobile devices, and computer security and forensics.

Core Modules

Object Oriented Programming and Software Design

This module presents the object-oriented approach to building large software systems from components in the Java Programming Language. Large scale program design and implementation issues are covered, using the Java Application Programmer's Interface, including the AWT, Swing and the Java Collections Framework. Topics include: data and procedural abstraction, collection interfaces and implementations, the event-driven model of computation, user interface components, streams and files, documentation styles with the Unified Modelling Language (UML).

Research Methods and Professional Issues

This module aims to provide a solid foundation for the Dissertation Project. Students receive instruction both through taught lectures, and from their project tutors on an individual weekly basis, including: advice on research methods and technical writing style; risk analysis and contingency planning; peer-review processes; and the details of working within a professional, legal and ethical framework. The module is assessed on the basis of a project background report, which is submitted at the end of the spring semester, and on additional peer-review activities.

Machine Learning and Adaptive Intelligence The module is about core technologies underpinning modern artificial intelligence. The module will introduce statistical machine learning and probabilistic modelling and their application to describing real world phenomena. The module will give students a grounding in modern state of the art algorithms that allow modern computer systems to learn from data.
Team Software Project

This team project aims to provide insights and wider context for the more practical aspects of the taught modules, and to provide students with experience of working in teams to develop a substantial piece of software

Dissertation Project

This is a research led project that is supervised by a member of staff. In order to ensure best use of the summer study period, project preparation and planning is carried out in semester 2, which is separately assessed. Project activities take place during the summer period using Departmental facilities and students are exposed to the latest methods and ideas in the area of their project. There is scope for students to demonstrate their critical skills and topic-related knowledge to a high level.

Optional Modules

You will have the option to choose from a number of modules which occur over both semesters. You can select modules from the different themes which are listed below.

Human Computer Interaction
Speech Processing

This module aims to demonstrate why computer speech processing is an important and difficult problem, to investigate the representation of speech in the articulatory, acoustic and auditory domains, and to illustrate computational approaches to speech parameter extraction. It examines both the production and perception of speech, taking a multi-disciplinary approach (drawing on linguistics, phonetics, psychoacoustics, etc.). It introduces sufficient digital signal processing (linear systems theory, Fourier transforms) to motivate speech parameter extraction techniques (e.g. pitch and formant tracking).

Students should be aware that there are limited places available on this course.

Speech Technology

This module introduces the principles of the emergent field of speech technology, studies typical applications of these principles and assesses the state of the art in this area. Students will learn the prevailing techniques of automatic speech recognition (based on statistical modelling); will see how speech synthesis and text-to-speech methods are deployed in spoken language systems; and will discuss the current limitations of such devices. The module will include project work involving the implementation and assessment of a speech technology device.

Students should be aware that there are limited places available on this course.

Text Processing

This module introduces fundamental concepts and ideas in natural language text processing, covers techniques for handling text corpora, and examines representative systems that require the automated processing of large volumes of text. The course focusses on modern quantitative techniques for text analysis and explores important models for representing and acquiring information from texts.

Students should be aware that there are limited places available on this course

Natural Language Processing

This module provides an introduction to the field of computer processing of written natural language, known as Natural Language Processing (NLP). We will cover standard theories, models and algorithms, discuss competing solutions to problems, describe example systems and applications, and highlight areas of open research.

Students should be aware that there are limited places available on this course.

3D Computer Graphics

This module is an introduction to the techniques used in modern 3D computer graphics. It deals with fundamental techniques that are the basis of work in a range of industries, e.g. entertainment and computer-aided design. Both basic and advanced topics concerned with the production of images of abstract 3D objects are covered, including: 3D representations and manipulations in graphics, light reflection models, realism techniques such as shadows and textures, ray tracing and 3D animation.

Students should be aware that there are limited places available on this course.

Modern Software Development
Software Development for Mobile Devices

This module aims to provide a thorough grounding in the principles of software development for mobile devices. The Android platform will be used as an example, although the modules emphasizes general principles that are common across all mobile platforms. An important aim of the module is to demonstrate the real-world application of object-oriented programming principles and design patterns in software for mobile devices. Students undertake a substantial software implementation project, working in pairs. The module will be taught primarily using Java and Swift languages.

Students should be aware that there are limited places available on this course.

Software Re-engineering

Software development often involves the improvement and adaptation of "legacy systems" - well-established, business-critical software systems that might have become difficult to maintain over time. This module introduces the skill-set that is required to get to grips with such systems. It teaches students how to reverse-engineer and appraise complex, unwieldy systems by implementing source code and execution analysis techniques. It also presents a range of strategies that can be used to adapt and reengineer such systems to improve their quality and viability.

Students should be aware that there are limited places available on this course.

Parallel Computing with Graphical Processing Units (GPUs)

Accelerator architectures are discrete processing units which supplement a base processor with the objective of providing advanced performance at lower energy cost. Performance is gained by a design which favours a high number of parallel compute cores at the expense of imposing significant software challenges. This module looks at accelerated computing from multi-core CPUs to GPU accelerators with many TFlops of theoretical performance. The module will give insight into how to write high performance code with specific emphasis on GPU programming with NVIDIA CUDA GPUs. A key aspect of the module will be understanding what the implications of program code are on the underlying hardware so that it can be optimised.

Students should be aware that there are limited places available on this module.

The Intelligent Web

This course is concerned with getting acquainted with the present and future of the intelligent Web. We will read and discuss both introductory descriptions and cutting-edge research papers. Topics will include:

  • Basic technologies for searching and mining the WWW
  • Large scale methodologies for the Web (e.g. Mapreduce)
  • Standards for knowledge representation on the Web such as the Resource Description Framework (RDF), and the Ontology Web Language (OWL), RDFa and microformats.
  • Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 concepts, including mining social media (e.g. Twitter and Facebook)
  • The Web of Data and the Semantic Web.

Students should be aware that there are limited places available on this module.

Artificial Intelligence and Complexity
Modelling and Simulations of Natural Systems

This unit will provide a practical introduction to techniques used for modelling and simulating dynamic natural systems. Many natural systems can be modelled appropriately using differential equations, or individual based methods. In this unit, students will explore and understand both modelling approaches. They will gain knowledge of the assumptions underlying these models, their limitations, and how they are derived. Students will learn how to use MATLAB to simulate and explore the dynamics of computational models, using a variety of examples drawn from both natural systems.

Students should be aware that there are limited places available on this course.

Software Verification, Testing and Security
Computer Security and Forensics

This module provides, in general, an introduction into computer security and forensics. In particular, this module focuses on approaches and techniques for building secure systems and for the secure operation of systems. The module requires a solid understanding of mathematical concepts (e.g., modulo-arithmetic, complex numbers, group theory) and logic (set theory, predicate logic, natural deduction). Moreover, the module requires a solid understanding of a programming language (e.g., Java, Ruby or C), basic software engineering knowledge and an understanding of database and Web systems. The lab sessions require a basic command of Linux in general and the command line (shell) in particular.

Students should be aware that there are limited places available on this course.

Testing and verification in safety critical systems

Summary This module provides an introduction to the processes and problems of building complex software such as for use in aerospace applications. Topics covered can be split into four major groups: safety, specification languages, concepts of software engineering, different methods of software testing. A substantial amount of time will be spent on the ideas of software testing and specific testing techniques.

  • Safety includes software and systems safety, methods of performing hazard analysis, human factors and the IEC 61508 standard.
  • Specification languages such as Statecharts.
  • Software engineering concepts focus on the software lifecycle, safe language subsets, software testing and maintenance.
  • The software testing part is concerned with advanced approaches to generating software tests.

Students should be aware that there are limited places available on this course.

Software and Hardware Verification

This module introduces state-of-the-art software and hardware verification techniques which nowadays are widely used in industry. They are particularly important in safety-critical applications, where system failures can not be tolerated. Designing high quality dependable computing systems is widely believed to be the main challenge in computer science. Particular focus is on protocol verification and hardware design verification by model checking and program verification by formalisms such as Hoare logics. These techniques presume formal system specifications and use automated tools for analysing whether a system satisfies the properties required or imposed.

Students should be aware that there are limited places available on this course.

Distributed Systems and Networks
Theory of Distributed Systems

The aim of this module is to set out a strong theoretical basis for the analysis and design of concurrent, distributed and mobile systems. We will use the pi-calculus to model and reason about complex systems, studying both its formal semantics and its many uses, via a number of examples.

Students should be aware that there are limited places available on this course.

Network Performance Analysis

This module considers the performance of computer networks from a statistical aspect, using queuing theory. It is shown that the performance of a computer network depends heavily on the traffic flow in the network, and different models of traffic and queues are used. These include single-server queues, multiple server queues, and the concept of blocking is discussed. Although the analysis is entirely statistical, all the relevant background is provided in the lectures, such that the course is entirely self-contained. Problem sheets are provided in order to assist the students with the course material.

Students should be aware that there are limited places available on this course.


Students are well prepared for employment in industry, or for postgraduate study. A number of graduates from this programme are currently studying for PhD degrees in the Department, or in other UK universities.