Programme specification postgraduate Programme

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PROGRAMME SPECIFICATION - Postgraduate Programme
QAA Expectation: A2.2: Degree-awarding bodies maintain a definitive record of each programme and qualification that they approve (and subsequent changes to it) which constitutes the reference point for delivery and assessment of the programme, its monitoring and review, and for the provision of records of study to students and alumni.
The programme specification is the primary source of information relating the programme. The programme specification forms a central document for students, employers and staff. It should be written from the perspective of the student.

Programme Title

MSc Computer Science

Programme Code


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Engineering and Environment



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SECTION 1: Programme Aims

In addition to the Northumbria Graduate Characteristics, a Northumbria Postgraduate will:
For PG Cert / Diploma:

  • Critically reflect on their own work and that of others

  • Present and justify their work, in the context of wider theories and practice, to their peers

  • Display and critically apply expert knowledge within areas of their discipline and /or its practice

For Masters degree:

  • Conceptualise, theorise and undertake research which addresses complex issues and which advances understanding within the discipline or practice

  • Contribute to the creation of new knowledge and /or applications to practice within their discipline through a critical understanding of the processes through which knowledge is created.

  • Formulate balanced judgements when considering incomplete or ambiguous data and can communicate these judgements clearly to both specialist and non-specialist audiences

How does the programme aim to engender / enable the development of the Northumbria Graduate qualities within the specific subject discipline? (max 250 words per section)

A graduate of MSc Computer Science will be able to:

  • Develop computing applications for complex computing problem domains, demonstrating specialised knowledge and skills in the field of computer science

  • Appreciate innovations, advances and major issues at the frontiers of the computer science and their implications

  • Deal with complex issues both creatively and systematically, and show originality in tackling and solving problems

  • Plan, lead and manage the development and use of computing systems

  • Apply an advanced ability to work both individually and as a member of a team, recognising different team roles and multi-cultural environmental issues

  • Communicate balanced judgements effectively (in writing and verbally) at the appropriate business and technical level with users, management, customers and technical specialists, justifying work in the content of wider theories and practice, including when considering incomplete or ambiguous data

  • Act in a professional and ethical manner in the development and use of computing systems

  • Demonstrate professional attributes, including self-reflection, showing initiative, sound judgement, analytical ability, problem solving, the ability to conceptualise, theorise and research complex issues which advance understanding, and the ability to critically evaluate their own work and the work of others

  • Demonstrate the knowledge, skills and attributes to take leading roles within the computer science industry and will have developed highly transferrable skills that promote employability and lifelong learning

  • Satisfy the requirements of the BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT for the purposes of fully meeting the further learning academic requirement for registration as a Chartered IT Professional (CITP) and partially meeting the academic requirement for a Chartered Engineer (CEng). You will be prepared to progress to full Chartered Engineering (CEng) and/or Chartered IT Professional (CITP) status after gaining the necessary professional experience.

SECTION 2: Programme Overview: (Max 250 words per section)
This section is aimed at providing a prospective or current student with a brief overview of the programme in answer to the specific questions and will form an element of the programme handbook. It is not intended to capture the detail of the programme design.


Why should I study this programme at Northumbria? This section should contain reference to the specific advantages or strengths of undertaking the programme at Northumbria. Reference should be made to any unique selling points in terms of students’ satisfaction, elements of the programme not typically included elsewhere, employment opportunities etc.

This programme is designed for graduates who have already achieved an undergraduate computing degree, or who have extensive relevant experience in the computer industry, and want a postgraduate degree in computer science to further develop their knowledge and skills. MSc Computer science allows you to explore your subject in greater depth, informed by up to date relevant research and industrial trends. The programme aims to provide you with advanced and specialist knowledge and skills in computer science, including those to lead the development and management of computing systems or to progress to academic or research orientated careers. You will develop your key skills in critical thinking and self-directed intellectual enquiry, becoming a creative, reflective and independent learner.
In your first two semesters you will have taught subjects, which will cover topics such as object-oriented application design, computer network security, system development and big data and cloud computing. You will also develop your research and project management skills, in particular to support your preparation for your MSc project. Then in your final semester you will complete a major individual project, where you will receive one-to-one tuition and supervision from a relevant academic supervisor. The project provides a platform for you to conduct a substantial piece of research and practical development work into a topic at the forefront of the computing discipline or professional practice. To do this you will utilise appropriate advanced research, critical evaluation and synthesis techniques.
For those with high career aspirations, this programme can give you an extra edge in today’s competitive job market. Graduates from the programme will be equipped to work in a variety of careers in the IT industry or to progress to academic or research orientated careers. Job roles, including roles in leadership and management, could include working in, for example, software engineering, network design and management, network security, artificial intelligence or IT consultancy.
This programme will prepare you to meet the educational requirements of the BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT for the purposes of fully meeting the further learning academic requirement for registration as a Chartered IT Professional and to partially meet the academic requirement for a Chartered Engineer (CEng).


How will I learn on this programme? This section should contain an overview of the learning and teaching philosophy of any approaches used, including the use of Technology to Enable Learning within, the programme. It should outline which research informed learning approaches will be used, and how the approaches may differ by level.(Reference: Northumbria Research Rich Learning Policy)

You will be provided with a wide range of learning opportunities, including lectures, seminars, tutorials, practicals, research, case studies, guest/expert input, where appropriate, and task based learning in guided and independent study. The variety includes methods for individual as well as group learning. You will be supported in your learning, where appropriate, via an electronic learning platform (eLP) that provides remote access to project and assignment information and learning materials for each module of study to support you exploration of the subject, as well as the University library facilities for explorative learning.
Throughout the programme there is an emphasis upon self-directed learning, critical thinking, and independent research to support your academic and personal development. Deep learning is facilitated by applying theoretical concepts in practical ways in order to reinforce lecture topics and maximise “learning by doing”. You will employ a flexible learning approach where you will be provided with the appropriate materials and your lecturers will act as learning facilitators, supporting you in a flexible manner. In seminars you will engage in student centred discussion and debate of major and emerging issues. Case studies and open-ended, complex and unpredictable problems are presented for analysis, solution and critical evaluation. You are encouraged to reflect on your own professional experience, and to make use of this where appropriate.
You are expected to become increasingly creative, reflective, independent learners and researchers, so directed and supported independent learning forms an important part of this programme. The development of these skills will be supported in each module, including in the module Research Methods and Project Management. This module is designed to help you know what is required when working at Masters’ level especially in relation to the individual project, but this can also be applied on other modules.


How will I be assessed on the programme? This section should contain the programme philosophy, the purpose (and hence nature) of assessment tasks at each level, and how these will complement the learning and teaching philosophy in enabling the achievement of learning outcomes. It will also identify how formative assessment will occur, and how students will be supported in fully understanding the requirements and expectations of an assessment task, and how feedback will be given to enhance learning. (Reference: Northumbria Assessment and Feedback Policy.)

Your assessments are designed to help you develop the knowledge, understanding and skills required of a computer science graduate at postgraduate level (such as critical thinking, self-directed intellectual enquiry, reflection, independent learning, leadership and management)

and to help you prepare you for employment at that level or to progress to academic or research orientated careers. Assessments are designed to assess module and programme learning outcomes. A range of assessment methods are used across the programme.

Assessment is seen as an integral part of your learning process. Whilst learning and the measurement of learning will be linked closely to assessment, the learning opportunities presented to you will encourage you to be motivated to learn. The aim is to avoid surface learning and focus on the need for learning opportunities that elicit a deeper more reflective learning response.

In-class practice and feedback are incorporated into modules as appropriate and you are encouraged to participate in these activities to help you develop the skills, techniques and expectations of summative assessment. Assessment methods may include exams, reports, presentations, individual, group and project work. You will be provided with feedback on your summative assessment in a suitable way, for example in writing and / or verbally to help you understand where you could improve your work. Feedback is intended to help you reflect upon your learning and assessment and you should consider it to help you in future learning and assessment.

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