Computer Science MSci (Hons) 2020 entry

The MSci (Hons) in Computer Science will teach you the principles of computer science and computer systems. You will learn how to program computers and how systems are organised, designed and implemented. During your studies, you will both explore the theoretical basis of computer science and will develop practical skills in software engineering.

You will be able to build a degree programme around your interests and study specialist areas, such as artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, computer security, video games, data encoding, databases, and operating systems. 

The MSci allows you to combine undergraduate and postgraduate study into a single five-year programme, graduating with a Masters degree. Students can choose to take Computer Science as a standard four-year BSc degree instead. 

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UCAS code

G401

Course type

Master of Science (Integrated Masters degree)

Course duration

Five years full time

  • Start date: 7 September 2020
  • End date: 30 June 2025

If you started this programme in 2019, you can find information about 2019 entry on the 2019 Computer Science MSci page. Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.

Entry requirements

These grades are the overall standards required to consider you for entry. Find out more about Standard, Minimum and Gateway entry requirements using academic entry explained and see which entry requirements you need to look at using the entry requirements indicator.

    • Standard entry grades: AAAAB, including A in Mathematics and a pass in one of the following:
      • Biology (or Human Biology)
      • Chemistry
      • Computing Science
      • Geography
      • Physics
      • Psychology.

    • Minimum entry grades: AABB, including A in Mathematics and a pass in one of the following:
      • Biology (or Human Biology)
      • Chemistry
      • Computing Science
      • Geography
      • Physics
      • Psychology.

    • Gateway entry grades: BBBB, including B in Mathematics and a pass in one of the following:
      • Biology (or Human Biology)
      • Chemistry
      • Computing Science
      • Geography
      • Physics
      • Psychology.
    • Standard entry grades: AAA, including A in Mathematics and a pass in one of the following:
      • Biology 
      • Chemistry
      • Computer Science
      • Further Mathematics
      • Geography 
      • Geology
      • Physics
      • Psychology. 

    • Minimum entry grades: ABB, including A in Mathematics and a pass in one of the following:
      • Biology 
      • Chemistry
      • Computer Science
      • Further Mathematics
      • Geography 
      • Geology
      • Physics
      • Psychology. 
    • Standard entry grades: 38 (HL 6,6,6), including HL6 in Mathematics and SL5 in one of the following subjects:
      • Biology
      • Chemistry
      • Computer Science
      • Geography
      • Geology
      • Physics
      • Psychology.

    • Minimum entry grades: 36 (HL 6,5,5), including HL6 in Mathematics and SL5 in one of the following subjects:
      • Biology
      • Chemistry
      • Computer Science
      • Geography
      • Geology
      • Physics
      • Psychology.

We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry on to our programmes, please see our entry requirements for more information.

Direct entry to second year

Well-qualified school leavers may be able to apply for admission directly into the second year of this course. Find out more about direct entry to second year for Computer Science MSci.

International applicants

If English is not your first language you will need an overall IELTS score of 6.5, with a minimum score of 6.0 in each component (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking), or an equivalent English language qualification.

How to apply

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

No previous experience in Computer Science is required, but candidates are expected to have studied Mathematics at SQA Higher, GCE A-Level, or equivalent. 

General entry requirements

All applicants must have attained the following qualifications, or equivalent, in addition to the specific entry requirements for individual programmes.

Other qualifications

More information on how to apply via other entry routes or accreditation of prior learning and experience can be found on the University’s entry requirements web page.

Timetables

St Andrews students must meet with their Adviser of Studies at the beginning of Semester 1 in September to complete advising – a compulsory part of the matriculation process. After module choices have been decided, a timetable will be allocated indicating the dates and times of classes.

Course information

The MSci (Hons) in Computer Science is a five-year Integrated Masters course run by the School of Computer Science.  The course is designed to ground you in both the theory and practice of computer science. You will learn to think and solve problems logically, understand the fundamental principles of how computing systems work, and be exposed to significant new technologies as well as teamwork.

In the first two years, you will learn the basic concepts behind computer science and several different programming languages.

Alongside Computer Science, in the first year of your studies you will be required to study at least one additional subject. In the second year, you can continue with this other subject or focus entirely on Computer Science. Find out more about how academic years are organised

In third year, you will be introduced to Turing machines, non-determinism and pushdown automata, followed by study of decidability, simulation and the Halting problem.

The foundations of logic that are relevant to computer scientists will also be covered, with an emphasis on automatic reasoning and decidability, including propositional and predicate calculus, various proof techniques and Goedel’s incompleteness theorem.

You will apply software engineering concepts and practices to a substantial software engineering project as part of a team. This project runs through both semesters in third year and will prepare you for the workplace, where collaboration with others is essential.

In fourth year, you will choose options from Honours and Masters-level classes. In fifth year, you will spend one semester of your final year dedicated to undertaking a major software engineering or research project under the guidance of an individual supervisor. You will also be able to take a number of modules at Masters level, providing advanced training in computer science. Topics may include:

  • language and computation
  • software engineering practice
  • critical systems engineering
  • software architecture
  • human computer interaction principles and methods
  • interactive software and hardware
  • data-intensive systems
  • machine learning
  • data ethics and privacy
  • information visualisation.

Well-qualified school leavers may be able to apply for admission directly into the second year of this course. Find out more about direct entry to second year for Computer Science MSci.

Students can also choose to take Computer Science as a standard four-year BSc degree instead. 

The University of St Andrews operates on a flexible modular degree system by which degrees are obtained through the accumulation of credits. More information on the structure of the modules system can be found on the flexible degree structure webpage

Reading party

All Honours students have the opportunity to attend a reading party in their third year. The reading party takes place in a large country house in the Highlands where students will spend three days giving presentations, taking part in outdoor and indoor activities, and socialising with peers and staff.

Find out more about studying Computer Science at St Andrews.

Modules

In the first two years of your degree (known as sub-honours) you will take the required modules in Computer Science alongside modules in at least one other subject. Typically, you will take one or two Computer Science modules per semester during your first two years, and three to four Computer Science modules during your third and fourth year (known as Honours). Find out more about the modular Scottish degree system

Students will take the following compulsory first-year modules:

  • Object-Oriented Programming: provides an introduction to object-oriented modelling and programming using Java.
  • Programming with Data: explores various aspects of data storage, processing and analysis.

Students will take the following compulsory second-year modules:

  • Computer Systems: develops skills in programming in C, systems programming, digital logic and low-level computer organisation.
  • Foundations of Computation: introduces fundamental algorithms, data structures and ideas about formal languages at the heart of modern software.

In third year, you must take the following compulsory modules:

  • Logic and Reasoning: covers the foundations of logic that are relevant to computer scientists, with an emphasis on automatic reasoning and decidability. Topics include propositional and predicate calculus, various proof techniques, and Goedel's incompleteness theorem.
  • Computational Complexity: introduces Turing machines, non-determinism and pushdown automata, followed by study of decidability, simulation and the Halting problem. 
  • Software Engineering Team Project: gives a broad overview of software engineering, presenting the fundamental aspects as a collaborative professional activity including its concerns and approaches. Students apply these concepts and practices to a substantial software engineering project as part of a team.  

In addition to the compulsory modules, in third and fourth years, you will choose from a wide variety of advanced options, including modules in cyber security, software engineering and computer graphics.

Here is a sample of Honours modules which have been offered in previous years:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Component Technology
  • Computational Complexity
  • Computer Architecture
  • Computer Graphics
  • Computer Security
  • Concurrency and Multi-Core Architectures
  • Constraint Programming
  • Data Communications and Networks
  • Data Encoding
  • Databases
  • Distributed Systems
  • Human Computer Interaction
  • Logic and Software Verification
  • Operating Systems
  • Programming Language Design and Implementation
  • Video Games.

During your final year you must take the following compulsory module:

  • Individual Masters Project: allows students to spend one semester dedicated to undertaking a major software engineering or research project in a specific topic in Computer Science, Software Engineering, Artificial Intelligence or Networks and Distributed Systems under the guidance of an individual supervisor.

In addition to the compulsory module, you will be able to choose from a variety of modules at Masters level, providing advanced training in Computer Science. In previous years, Masters-level modules have included:

  • Human Computer Interaction Principles and Methods
  • Information Visualisation
  • Language and Computation
  • Software Engineering Principles.

The compulsory modules listed here must be taken in order to graduate in this subject. However, most students at St Andrews take additional modules, either in their primary subject or from other subjects they are interested in. For Honours-level, students choose from a range of Honours modules, some of which are listed above. A full list of all modules available for the current academic year can be found in the module catalogue.

Teaching

Teaching format

Computer Science at St Andrews allows you to study in a friendly and intimate environment. Small group teaching will put you on a first-name 
basis with internationally renowned researchers and teachers.

Computer Science classes are taught using a variety of teaching methods in addition to traditional lectures, with an emphasis on personal and small-group teaching.

Typical class sizes:

  • First year: lectures 72 to 170, labs up to 100, tutorials 6 to 7
  • Second year: lectures 70 to 104, labs up to 100, tutorials 6 to 7
  • Honours: lectures, labs and tutorials 9 to 125.

When not attending lectures, tutorials and computer labs, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study.  Typically, this will involve:

  • working on individual and group projects
  • using library and online resources
  • preparing coursework assignments and presentations
  • preparing for examinations.

You will be taught by an experienced teaching team with expertise and knowledge of Computer Science. Postgraduate research students who have undertaken teacher training may also contribute to the teaching of tutorials and demonstrations in laboratory classes, as well as assessment of coursework, under the supervision of the module leader.

You can find contact information for all Computer Science staff on the School of Computer Science website.

In addition to your studies in the School of Computer Science, optional academic support is available through practical study skills courses and workshops hosted within the University. 

The University’s student services team can help students with additional needs resulting from disabilities, long term medical conditions or learning disabilities. More information can be found on the students with disabilities webpage.

Assessment

Most Computer Science modules are assessed by at least 40% with the rest of assessment in the form of written examinations. Project modules are assessed entirely by coursework.

The School uses a range of forms of assessment for the coursework component. For example, these could include programming assignments and projects, design exercises, essays, and problem sheets.

Examinations are held at the end of each semester during a dedicated exam diet with revision time provided beforehand.

The School aims to provide feedback on every assessment within three weeks to help you improve on future assessments.

Undergraduates at the University of St Andrews must achieve at least 7.0 on the St Andrews 20-point grade scale to pass a module. To gain access to Honours-level modules, students must achieve the relevant requisites as specified in the policy on entry to Honours and in the relevant programme requirements. Please note that some Schools offer qualified entry to Honours, and this will be clearly specified in the programme requirements. To find out the classification equivalent of points, please visit the common reporting scale web page.

Visit St Andrews

If you are interested in studying at St Andrews, join us at a visiting day to explore the town, find out about our courses and meet current students.

Undergraduates

Upcoming visiting days:

  • Wednesday 1 April 2020
  • Wednesday 8 April 2020
  • Wednesday 15 April 2020

Fees

Tuition fees for 2020 entry

Scotland and EU Tuition fees for Scottish and EU applicants have yet to be set for 2020 entry.
Rest of the UK Tuition fees for applicants from the rest of the UK have yet to be set for 2020 entry.
Overseas £23,910

For overseas students, tuition fees will be fixed at this level for the duration of your programme.

More information on tuition fees can be found on the undergraduate fees and funding page.

Accommodation fees

Find out about accommodation fees for University accommodation.

Funding and scholarships

The University of St Andrews offers a number of scholarships and support packages to undergraduate students each year.

Find out more about undergraduate scholarships.

Your future

Careers

A degree in Computer Science will allow you to enter into technical, academic, financial or commercial posts. Most companies and organisations are heavily invested in computer systems, and this has created a demand for many different specialisations in computer technology.

Graduates from Computer Science find careers as:

  • business analysts
  • systems architects and analysts
  • software developers
  • testers and verifiers
  • technical writers
  • IT trainers and user advisers
  • project managers. 

Many Computer Science graduates undertake further study, here or elsewhere. The University offers a range of options including MSc, EngD and PhD-level degrees.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills. 

Internships

At Honours level, you may choose to spend one or two summers in an internship. These may be in the UK, Europe, the US or beyond.

In previous years students have participated in internships with, among others:

  • Accenture
  • Adobe
  • AIG
  • Credit Suisse
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • J P Morgan
  • McLaren
  • Palantir
  • PlanForCloud
  • Skyscanner.

The School and the University also offer various paid research internships whereby a student can work closely with a research group for eight to ten weeks.

Study abroad

Computer Science students may participate in the University-wide St Andrews Abroad programme. Computer Science students are only able to study abroad for the full academic year (semester placements are not available). For information about study abroad options, please see the Study Abroad site.

Student life

From the outset, the University of St Andrews offers an array of events and opportunities which result in a truly unique student experience. Students participate in a range of traditions, notably, the red academic gown and the academic family, where older students adopt first year students as ‘children’ and help guide them in a system of mentoring. These traditions and the choice of over 150 sports clubs and student societies to choose from ensures a community feel amongst students from first year onwards.

Students of Computer Science may be interested in joining the following student societies:

  • Computing Society (STACS) provides a social group for people interested in computers or who are looking to undertake projects involving computing. Events include hackathons, talks on computer topics, and socials.
  • Gaming Society meets regularly to play and discuss a variety of video games, ranging from retro and handhelds to modern PC and console gaming.
  • Saints Engineering Group promotes the development of engineering skills for STEM fields and completes yearly engineering projects, some of which involve developing software and artificial intelligence. 

The School of Computer Science is situated in the Jack Cole and John Honey buildings on the western edge of town, and most lectures and tutorials will take place here. The buildings host both traditional lecture theatres as well as specialised rooms equipped with computer workstations. As a student, you will have all-hours access to teaching labs which provide a vibrant environment that supports individual and group work.

The town of St Andrews itself has lots to offer. As University buildings are located throughout the town, walking around you encounter ancient and modern buildings and areas of greenery and seaside which provide a rich, beautiful backdrop to learning. If you want a change of scenery, St Andrews' position near surrounding towns and cities such as Anstruther, Dundee and Edinburgh makes it ideal for getting to know more about Scotland.

Find out more about student life at the University of St Andrews.

Contact

School of Computer Science
University of St Andrews
Jack Cole Building
North Haugh
St Andrews
KY16 9SX

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 3253

For questions about the admissions process, please email admissions@st-andrews.ac.uk. For any other questions, please contact admissions-cs@st-andrews.ac.uk.

School of Computer Science

Policies

Admission to the University of St Andrews is governed by our admissions policy.

Curriculum development

As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online (PDF, 72 KB).

Tuition fees

The University will clarify compulsory fees and charges it requires any student to pay at the time of offer. The offer will also clarify conditions for any variation of fees. The University’s approach to fee setting is described online (PDF, 84 KB).