Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

High Performance Computing (Online Learning) MSc, PgDip (ICL), PgCert (ICL), PgProfDev

Awards: MSc, PgDip (ICL), PgCert (ICL), PgProfDev

Study modes: Part-time Intermittent Study

Online learning

What is High Performance Computing?

High Performance Computing (HPC) is the use of powerful processors, networks and parallel supercomputers to tackle problems that are very computationally or data-intensive.

What will I learn?

This programme aims to provide you with in-demand skills and knowledge of the techniques and technologies underpinning parallelism and HPC. Skills and knowledge will be gained across a wide range of industries and academic disciplines.

The flexible structure ensures you acquire core principles required before proceeding to your choice of more advanced topics. This allows you to take on the programme at your own pace. The curriculum has been designed specifically to maximise opportunities for students to take the programme flexibly, although inter-course pre-requisite criteria do provide some limitations.

You can study:

  • MSc - 3-6 Years (Part-time Intermittent Study)
  • Postgraduate Diploma - 2-4 Years (Part-time Intermittent Study)
  • Postgraduate Certificate- 1-2 Years (Part-time Intermittent Study)
  • Postgraduate Professional Development - 2 Years (Part-time Intermittent Study)

Further information can be found in the programme structure section below.


EPCC (formerly the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre) is the UK’s leading supercomputing centre with staff who are experienced HPC practitioners.

EPCC is a major provider of HPC training in Europe with an international reputation for excellence in HPC education and research. It is also associated with a well-established on-campus MSc programme that has been successful in training generations of specialists in parallel programming.

The Centre ensures you will benefit from access to advanced HPC systems. These may (depending on course and dissertation project selection) include:

  • ARCHER2 - the UK national Tier 1 supercomputing service
  • Cirrus - an heterogeneous system EPSRC Tier-2 National HPC Facility

For an insight into EPCC’s current, including cutting edge, systems please our website.

Our online learning technology is fully interactive, award-winning and enables you to communicate with our highly qualified teaching staff from the comfort of your own home or workplace.

Online community

As an online student, not only will you have access to the University of Edinburgh’s excellent resources, but will also become part of a supportive online community, bringing together students and tutors from around the world.

Equipment requirements

This programme will not require you to run code locally as you will have access to HPC systems provided as part of the programme. However, the ability to code on your device is required - therefore a laptop or desktop computer running Windows, iOS, or Linux is recommended.

Studying online at Edinburgh

Find out more about the benefits and practicalities of studying for an online degree:

Programme flexibility

This programme is available on a part-time intermittent basis and is therefore very flexible in nature.

As fees are due at course level this means that you have flexibility both financially and in terms of your time commitment.

During the taught component you are permitted to take up to 30-40 credits per University semester. However, in an individual semester you may take a little as zero credits of courses.

Semester 1 runs from early/mid-September to mid-December although some deadlines for Semester 1 courses may extend into January. Semester 2 runs from early/mid-January to mid/late-May.

The credit sizes and course availability listed below may be subject to change, but are not expected to. Should this occur applicants/students will be given as much notice as possible.

MSc structure

The MSc programme may be completed in as little as three academic years or as many as six.

The taught component:

  • includes 120 credits of taught courses
  • takes between two and five years

The dissertation component:

  • includes a 60 credit dissertation course
  • takes one year

MSc compulsory courses

  • Practical Introduction to High Performance Computing (20 credits, Semesters 1 & 2)
  • Message Passing Programming (10 credits, Semester 2)*
  • Threaded Programming (10 credits, Semester 2)*
  • Programming Skills (10 credits, Semester 1)
  • Software Development (10 credits, Semester 1)
  • Project Preparation (10 credits, Semester 2) **
  • Dissertation (60 credits: September - August) ***

*Requires Practical Introduction to High Performance Computing as pre/co-requisite. **Cannot be taken prior to Semester 2 of Year 2 and should only be taken as one of the final taught credits. ***Cannot be taken prior to Year 3 and students must meet progression requirements on taught components.

MSc optional courses

  • Practical Introduction to Data Science (20 credits, Semesters 1 & 2)
  • Parallel Design Patterns (10 credits, Semester 1) ~
  • Performance Programming (10 credits, Semester 1) ~
  • Advanced Message Passing Programming (10 credits, Semester 1) ~
  • Design and Analysis of Parallel Algorithms (10 credits, Semester 1)
  • Accelerated Systems: Principles and Practice (10 credits, Semester 2) ~
  • Numerical Algorithms for High Performance Computing (10 credits, Semester 2)
  • Machine Learning at Scale (Semester 2)
  • Fundamentals of HPC System Administration (Semester 2)
  • Plus some optional courses available from School of Informatics or elsewhere in the College of Science and Engineering (subject to availability)

~Requires a prerequisite course or course(s) from the compulsory courses.

(Revised 30 May 2024 to update the list of available MSc optional courses)

Postgraduate Diploma structure

The PgDip programme may be completed in as few as two academic years or as many as four. It comprises the MSc programme taught component (120 credits of taught courses).

The PgDip also has the same compulsory/optional course options as the MSc. The Project Preparation course is optional for PgDip students, but is compulsory for MSc students.

As a PgDip student, you do not take a dissertation course.

PgCert structure

The PgCert programme may be completed in as few as one academic year or as many as two.

It comprises 60 credits. 40 credits are compulsory and 20 credits are optional.

Compulsory Courses

  • Practical Introduction to High Performance Computing (20 credits, Semesters 1 & 2)
  • Message Passing Programming (10 credits, Semester 2)*
  • Threaded Programming (10 credits, Semester 2)*

Optional Courses (as above, plus)

  • Programming Skills (10 credits, Semester 1)
  • Software Development (10 credits, Semester 1)

PPD structure

Postgraduate Professional Development (PPD) is an unstructured programme of study allowing you to take up to 50 credits of courses (see list of available courses above except for Project Preparation).

The PPD programme can be studied for up to two academic years.

The PPD does not offer a final accredited exit award, but certificates for modules completed can be provided.

If you are interested in an accredited award may wish to instead apply for the PgCert. However, if you are enrolled on the PPD you can apply to transfer to the PgCert, PgDip, or MSc subject to grades achieved.

The PPD does offer a January entry date, however you should note that some Semester 2 courses have prerequisite requirements which may require a Semester 1 course or equivalent experience/prior learning to access.

The learning outcomes of the programme are to:

  • equip you with an understanding of HPC architectures and technologies
  • equip you with expertise in advanced tools and techniques for HPC software development
  • enable you to apply this knowledge in order to exploit modern parallel and multicore computing systems in key scientific and commercial application areas
  • enable you to develop skills in problem-solving, project management, independent and critical thinking, team work, professionalism and communication
  • enable you to develop as HPC practitioners, able to apply current and emergent technologies in both industry and research
  • teach the leading-edge programming techniques required to exploit the power of the world’s largest parallel supercomputers

Graduates from EPCC’s on-campus MSc programmes are in high demand from a wide range of companies ranging from multinationals, to subject matter experts both within the UK, Europe, and internationally.

Graduates are also in strong demand in academia as researchers in HPC, computational science fields, data science, and professionally for HPC services and centres underpinning research.

Initial graduate destinations for on-campus students over recent years include:

  • ARM
  • Intel
  • Amazon
  • MathWorks
  • NCR
  • Avaloq
  • Global Surface Intelligence
  • Boston Ltd
  • European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF)
  • Leonardo
  • Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
  • Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC)

EPCC itself also has 10 current EPCC staff members who are graduates of the on-campus programme.

Many students also go on to further study opportunities. 8 current University of Edinburgh EPCC PhD students are graduates of the MSc programme.

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a relevant subject such as computer science and informatics, physics, mathematics, engineering, biology, chemistry and geosciences.

You must be an experienced and competent programmer in at least one of C, C++, Python, Fortran, or Java and should be familiar with mathematical concepts such as algebra, linear algebra and probability and statistics. Your application should demonstrate your programming ability both through your transcript (or submitted examples of code) and through explanation within the ""Relevant Knowledge/Training"" field of the application.

We will also consider your application if you don't have formal programming training (e.g. if you are primarily self-taught), or if you have a 2:2 honours degree with high marks in computational courses and/or additional relevant work experience. Your application should clearly demonstrate your relevant experience.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 59 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScHigh Performance ComputingUp to 6 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyTuition fees
PgDip (ICL)High Performance ComputingUp to 4 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyTuition fees
PgCert (ICL)High Performance ComputingUp to 2 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyTuition fees
PgProfDevHigh Performance ComputingUp to 2 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyTuition fees

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • EPCC
  • Bayes Centre
  • 47 Potterrow
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9BT
Programme start dates Application deadlines
9 September 2024 16 August 2024
6 January 2025 1 December 2024

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit one reference with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • EPCC
  • Bayes Centre
  • 47 Potterrow
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9BT