Computer Science MSci (Honours) 2023 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. 

UCAS code
G401
Start date
September 2023
End date
September 2028
Duration
Five years full time
School
School of Computer Science
“The balance between practical applications and theory-based learning is incredibly well constructed. During my first year, I was able to take modules in astrophysics, mathematics and organic chemistry alongside my compulsory degree modules. This allowed me to broaden my horizons and explore topics I had not previously considered before, develop a lot of new interests, as well as considering the interconnectivity of subjects.”
Zachariah
- Singapore

Entry requirements

The University offers different entry requirements, depending on your background. 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:
    Applicants who have narrowly missed the minimum entry grades, but meet the University's contextual criteria, may be interested in one of the University’s Gateway programmes.
  • Standard entry grades:
    AAA, including A in Mathematics and a pass in one of the following: Biology, Chemistry, Computing Science, Further Mathematics, Geology, Geography, Physics, Psychology.
    Minimum entry grades:
    ABB, including A in Mathematics and a pass in one of the following: Biology, Chemistry, Computing Science, Further Mathematics, Geology, Geography, 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 and 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 and Psychology.

General entry requirements

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

  • SQA National 5 (B) in English and one SQA National 5 (B) from the following:

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Computing science
    • Geography
    • Lifeskills Mathematics (A grade)
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology.
  • GCSE (5) in English language or English literature, and one GCSE (5) from the following:

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Computing Science
    • Geography
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology.

Other qualifications

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

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.

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.

Alternative study options

Students interested in this course may also be interested in the following:

Direct entry to second year

Well-qualified school leavers may be able to apply for admission directly into the second year of this course.

Gateway programmes

Applicants who have narrowly missed the minimum entry grades but meet the University's contextual criteria may be interested in the Gateway to Science programme.

Study abroad

Computer science students can apply to 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.

International applicants

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide an English language test score to evidence your English language ability. Find out more about approved English language tests and scores for this course.

Course details

The MSci (Hons) in Computer Science is a five-year Integrated Masters course offered 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 the foundations of logic that are relevant to computer scientists, with an emphasis on automatic reasoning and decidability, and to theories of computation and complexity, including exploring Turing machines and pushdown automata. 

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 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. 

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. 

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 web page.

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, fourth and fifth year (known as Honours). 

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: 

  • Advanced Communication Networks and Systems 
  • Artificial Intelligence 
  • Component Technology 
  • 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 
  • Signal Processing: Sound, Image, Video 
  • 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, such as Software Engineering, Artificial Intelligence, Human Computer Interaction 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: 

  • Artificial Intelligence Principles 
  • Artificial Intelligence Practice 
  • Critical Systems Engineering 
  • Data Ethics and Privacy 
  • Data-Intensive Systems 
  • Human Computer Interaction Principles and Methods 
  • Information Visualisation 
  • Interactive Software and Hardware 
  • Language and Computation 
  • Machine Learning 
  • Principles of Computer Communication Systems 
  • Software Architecture 
  • 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 appropriate to the programme for the current academic year can be found in the programme requirements.

Teaching

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 66 to 181, labs up to 100, tutorials 6 to 8 
  • Second year: lectures 95 to 154, labs up to 100, tutorials 6 to 8 
  • Honours: lectures, labs and tutorials 13 to 133. 

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. 

Most computer science modules are assessed by at least 40% coursework 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 see the common reporting scale.

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

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 web page.

Fees

Scotland
Tuition fees have yet to be set.

England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland
£9250

Channel Islands, Isle of Man
£9250

EU and overseas
£28190

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.

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.

What to do next

Online information events

Join us for one of our information events where you can find out about different levels of study and specific courses we run. There are also sessions available for parents and college counsellors.

Undergraduate visiting days

We encourage all students who are thinking of applying to the University to attend one of our online or in-person visiting days.

Contact us

Phone
+44 (0)1334 46 3253
Email
admissions-cs@st-andrews.ac.uk
Address
School of Computer Science
Jack Cole Building
North Haugh
St Andrews
KY16 9SX

School of Computer Science website

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