Postgraduate study

Computer Science

Awards: MSc

Funding available

Programme website: Computer Science

Edinburgh's expertise in core computer science is recognised internationally, and spans the range from computer architecture through theoretical computer science. This MSc offers you the opportunity to obtain specialist knowledge in the design, analysis, implementation, and use of computer systems ranging from the components of a single processor to computer networks as vast as the Internet. You can also pursue a more theoretical direction by choosing courses in areas such as algorithms, programming languages, or cryptography.

The programme provides a solid foundation in theoretical understanding and a wide variety of practical techniques applicable in many career settings.

You will follow two taught semesters of lectures, tutorials, project work and written assignments. During this time you will also learn research methods to prepare for your final project and dissertation, which is completed during the summer.

Compulsory courses:

  • Informatics Research Review
  • Informatics Project Proposal
  • Introduction to Java Programming (for students who do not already meet the programming requirements for the taught masters)
  • Dissertation

In addition, about half your taught course credits must be chosen from areas in core computer science (foundations and systems). Course offerings follow the main research areas of our staff, which include parallelism and distributed systems, security and privacy, theoretical computer science, and programming languages. Example courses offered recently in computer science foundations and systems include:

  • Advanced Databases
  • Blockchains and Distributed Ledgers
  • Computational Complexity
  • Computer Networking
  • Distributed Systems
  • Internet of Things: Systems, Security, and the Cloud
  • Introduction to Quantum Computing
  • Parallel Programming Languages and Systems
  • Secure Programming

For your remaining courses, you may choose further options from foundations and systems or from a wide range of courses offered in other areas of Informatics, including artificial intelligence, software engineering, and social and biological computation. Guidance is provided to help you choose a set of courses that work well together, giving you specialised expertise in your chosen area.

Please note: This degree has flexible course options. Students are only admitted onto the degree if they will have a viable set of options, but not all courses on offer are appropriate for all admitted students. The School of Informatics offers a wide selection of courses, but not all optional courses are guaranteed to run every year, and a few high-demand courses may limit enrolment to students on the most relevant degree(s).

The degree description and structure given here reflect changes being made for 2019 entry based on feedback from recent graduates. These changes aim to improve the student experience by providing a more focussed set of course options and a clearer structure. Degree programme information provided to current students (e.g., the 2018-19 MSc Handbook) should not be taken to fully reflect the nature of the programme starting in 2019.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScComputer Science1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2018/19
MScComputer Science2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2018/19
MScComputer Science3 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2018/19

Through this programme you will develop specialist, advanced skills in the development, construction and management of advanced computer systems. You will gain practical experience and a thorough theoretical understanding of the field making you attractive to a wide range of employers or preparing you for further academic study.

Recent graduates are now working in a variety of computing roles such as software or systems, developers and engineers, analysts and applications developers for companies including Cisco, Toshiba, Microsoft, Athlon, Skyscanner, Amazon, BT, Total, Honeywell and JPMorgan Chase.

2019 entry:

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in informatics, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, computer science, electrical engineering, linguistics, mathematics, philosophy, physics or psychology, plus experience in computer programming.

During your degree you must have completed the equivalent to 60 credits of mathematics that have typically covered the following subjects/topics: Calculus (differentiation and integration), Linear Algebra (vectors and multi-dimensional matrices), Discrete Mathematics and Mathematical reasoning (eg. Induction and reasoning, Graph theoretic models, proofs), and Probability (concepts in discrete and continuous probabilities, Markov Chains etc.)

2020 entry:

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in informatics, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, computer science, electrical engineering, linguistics, mathematics, philosophy, physics or psychology.

Competent programming skills are essential. During your degree you must have completed a programming course in at least one of the following: C/C++, Java, Python, R, Matlab, Haskell, ML.

During your degree you must have completed the equivalent to 60 credits of mathematics that have typically covered the following subjects/topics: Calculus (differentiation and integration), Linear Algebra (vectors and multi-dimensional matrices), Discrete Mathematics and Mathematical reasoning (eg. Induction and reasoning, Graph theoretic models, proofs), and Probability (concepts in discrete and continuous probabilities, Markov Chains etc.)

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 92 with at least 20 in each section
  • PTE(A): total 61 with at least 56 in each of the Communicative Skills scores
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each paper
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than three years old at the beginning of your degree programme. Language tests must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Applicants receiving an offer of admission, either unconditional or conditional, will be asked to pay a tuition fee deposit in advance of their study.

Any applicants who are required to pay will receive an offer with full details. If there is no information on your offer about the deposit you are not required to pay. The deposit has to be paid by 31st March for offers made by 1st March, within 28 days for offers made before 30th June and within 14 days for those offers made from 1st July onwards.

Find out more about tuition fees and studying costs:

  • School of Informatics Teaching Organisation
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 5194
  • Email: ito@inf.ed.ac.uk
  • School of Informatics Teaching Organisation
  • 6th Floor, Appleton Tower
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LE

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 or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

Due to high demand, this programme operates an application deadline. We will make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis, but hold the majority of applications until the application deadline of 31st March 2019.

You must submit a reference with your application.

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

Further information

  • School of Informatics Teaching Organisation
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 5194
  • Email: ito@inf.ed.ac.uk
  • School of Informatics Teaching Organisation
  • 6th Floor, Appleton Tower
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LE