Course Structure

First Year

All first-year students are introduced to programming (Java) and to the fundamentals of Software Engineering and Computer Science.

You'll also study the mathematical foundations of computer science. You'll learn about networks and computer architectures. Some first-year modules are free-choice, so you can pick a topic from across the University. You could use this opportunity to pick up a language, pursue an interest, or try something new.

Second Year

All students progress to functional programming as well as learning about database technology, graphics and robotics. Mathematical aspects are explored in logic, computation and pattern recognition topics. More advanced aspects of software engineering such as systems analysis and design are covered. You will also learn about some of the professional, legal and ethical issues involved in computing.

Most students have their first experience of working for an external client in the second year, through the Software Hut project.

Software Hut

Mark HeppleThe Software Hut group project, pioneered at the University of Sheffield, is famous nationally. The Software Hut (a microcosm of a real software house) is used as a vehicle for investigating the processes of engineering a real software system for a real client in a competitive environment. The taught element of the project covers how to manage software development projects successfully and how to deliver software products that meet both client expectations and quality standards.

"PHASE (Practical Help Achieving Self Empowerment) is a charity working in primary care projects in very remote areas of the Nepalese Himalaya. We had been thinking for years that having a simple software system for the health workers in these remote villages to record their work and look up treatments and guidelines would really help improve our work and reporting. As a small charity we would never have been able to pay for the development of such a system, but the Software Hut project gave us a chance to look at this. The student teams working on the project were highly motivated and flexible and the process was interesting and enjoyable. We ended up with a choice of two very good systems, and were lucky that the students whose software we chose in the end have continued to support us: They have helped iron out several problems and recently adapted the software to android operating systems. We are very hopeful that this will be a highly useful piece or work that will not just help our organisation but others working in Nepal as well."

Dr. Gerda Pohl, Trustee and Medical Coordinator PHASE Worldwide.

Computer Science and AI students also take the Software Hut, a Psychology topic, or a Philosophy topic.

Third and fourth years

The third year offers a greater choice of topics. We encourage you to focus on the subjects that interest you the most. You may be interested in computer games technology or computational biology. You might want to explore how computers interact with speech and language. Many third-year students carry out a research project. If you're studying Computer Science with a language, you spend the third year abroad. 

MComp and MEng students progress to more advanced material in the fourth year. You will have the opportunity to take part in running Genesys Solutions. There will also be a lot of research-led topics to choose from – current topics include virtual reality, computer games technology, computer security, iPhone software development and speech processing by mind and machine. 

Students with a keen interest in research can opt for Darwin – a major group research project. There may also be the opportunity for students to pursue research projects over the summer break between years 2/3 or 3/4, funded by the University's SURE scheme or an industrial sponsor. For example, our student Chris Hunt completed a Microsoft-sponsored research project and was able to present his work at a leading software testing conference in the USA.

A year in industry


We offer degrees which include a year in industry (a work placement year) as part of your degree.

A degree with a placement year offers the chance to spend one year on work placement and provides an opportunity to experience the work that you like in practice. Apart from experiencing how to solve real world problems, you will be able to develop your transferable skills, put academic theory into practice and - very importantly - substantially increase your value on the job market.

We have a dedicated officer who can help you find a placement. You'll be paid a salary and your University fees are reduced for that year.