Undergraduate study - 2020 entry

Degree Programme Specification 2019/2020

MInf Informatics

To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. This information is created when new programmes are established and is only updated periodically as programmes are formally reviewed. It is therefore only accurate on the date of last revision.
Awarding institution: The University of Edinburgh
Teaching institution: The University of Edinburgh
Programme accredited by: see accreditation pages
Final award: MInf (Master of Informatics)
Programme title: Master of Informatics
UCAS code: G500
Relevant QAA subject benchmarking group(s): Computing
Postholder with overall responsibility for QA: John Longley
Date of production/revision: April 2012

External summary

Informatics is the study of the structure, behaviour, and interactions of natural and engineered computational systems. It studies the representation, processing, and communication of information. It has computational, cognitive and social aspects. The central notion is the transformation of information - whether by computation or communication, whether by organisms or artifacts. Understanding informational phenomena - such as computation, cognition, and communication - enables technological advances. In turn, technological progress prompts scientific enquiry. The science of information and the engineering of information systems develop hand-in-hand. Informatics is the emerging discipline that combines the two. In natural and artificial systems, information is carried at many levels, ranging, for example, from biological molecules and electronic devices through nervous systems and computers and on to societies and large-scale distributed systems. It is characteristic that information carried at higher levels is represented by informational processes at lower levels. Each of these levels is the proper object of study for some discipline of science or engineering. Informatics aims to develop and apply firm theoretical and mathematical foundations for the features that are common to all computational systems.

Educational aims of programme

The principal aims of the degree are to:

  • develop graduates possessing a thorough understanding of the theoretical and practical aspects of Informatics and of their interrelationships
  • equip students with advanced scientific, engineering and analytical skills from across the breadth of Informatics
  • provide a programme of study that benefits from our research strengths across the School of Informatics
  • enable students to develop communication skills, initiative, professionalism and the ability to work independently as well as with others
  • provide graduates with the knowledge and skills necessary for their professional careers or for postgraduate study.

Programme outcomes: Knowledge and understanding

  • understand the concept of abstraction and its importance in the representation, processing, and communication of information
  • understand the principles and mechanisms underlying various kinds of intelligent processes
  • understand some of the underlying mathematical concepts used to reason about computers and computer-based systems
  • understand how to represent and reason about knowledge in a computer
  • have an awareness of the philosophical issues that arise within Informatics
  • have a knowledge and understanding of the principles of operation of computers from application programs down through system software to hardware and of computer networks
  • describe and explain the main theoretical, empirical and modeling approaches to understanding cognitive agents (both natural and artificial)
  • understand how to deal more effectively with natural intelligence using Informatics tools and techniques
  • understand the key aspects of the software development process
  • have an awareness of the social, professional, ethical and legal issues involved in the use of computing systems
  • have an awareness of key issues in Informatics that will continue to challenge researchers in the future.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in research and enquiry

The ability to:

  • identify problems requiring a combination of techniques from across Informatics
  • understand theoretical ideas and how they are realised in practice using computers
  • apply the methodologies (formal, empirical and computational modelling) employed by the disciplines that contribute to Informatics
  • formulate appropriate assessment criteria and evaluate computer-based systems

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal and intellectual autonomy

The ability to:

  • specify and design intelligent and traditional computer-based systems, using formal design procedures where appropriate
  • derive abstract representations and formulate appropriate solutions for problems

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in communication

The ability to:

  • work effectively as part of a team
  • provide and accept peer evaluation
  • communicate effectively through a variety of media including oral, visual, written, diagrammatic and on-line

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal effectiveness

The ability to:

  • deploy logical, analytical, and problem solving skills and to synthesise solutions
  • show self-direction and time management skills when working independently
  • make effective use of learning materials and to acquire and apply knowledge from a variety of sources.

Programme outcomes: Technical/practical skills

The ability to:

  • develop and implement intelligent and traditional computer-based systems
  • use support tools from across Informatics during the development process
  • operate computing equipment and software systems effectively


Programme structure and features

For formal definitions, including details of compulsory and optional course choices, consult the Degree Programme Table. Look at the list of Informatics courses to discover what courses belong to which subject area.

Teaching and learning methods and strategies

Teaching contact through lectures, scheduled tutorials and laboratory sessions is supplemented with additional supervised drop-in laboratory time for several courses.  Formative exercises are often included in the delivery of a course to direct learning to meet learning outcomes. INFBase provides learning support for Informatics students where they can access course tutors out with scheduled tutorial times.

Assessment methods and strategies

Methods of assessment of intended learning outcomes include written examinations, online programming examinations and summative course work assignments.  Students complete individual and group projects as part of their degree programme, culminating in the integrated masters project in the final year.

The final degree classification of the programme is based on performance in third, fourth and fifth years in the ration 20:40:40. Degrees are classified according to the University's standard marking scale with boundaries at 70%, 60%, 50% and40%. Students can be awarded an ordinary degree on the basis of their third year marks.

Career opportunities

Computers are now ubiquitous in modern life. The most interesting opportunities in the future are open to those who really know about computing, software and information systems.  Our graduates can choose from a wide range of opportunities in industry, commerce, government and academia; the majority of Informatics graduates enter employment relating to their degree, while others decide to continue within academia to pursue their research interests.

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