Professional Software Development - MSc
Providing high quality professionals for the software development industry.Take a look
Providing high quality professionals for the software development industry.
The growth of the ICT industry has been identified as a top priority for the Northern Ireland Executive. According to Invest NI, Northern Ireland is the leading foreign direct investment region in Europe for software development and IT technical support centres. There are more than 900 companies in the ICT sector and many of these are international organisations.
The majority of new jobs have been in knowledge industries particularly ICT including software development, software testing and funds administration.
It is against this backdrop that we offer this course to graduates in subjects other than computing as an opportunity for career change, to enable them to exploit the opportunities for personal and professional development offered by this burgeoning sector.
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Our vision is aligned to the strategic growth plan for the city and regionWatch the video
About this course
In this section
The intensive one-year master’s conversion course is aimed at highly-motivated graduates with a good honours degree in any discipline with no more than 50% computing content. While the course has a particular focus on the employment needs of the local economy, the skills and abilities developed are easily transferred to a more global stage.
The overall aim of this course is to provide graduates equipped to apply best practice in software engineering to the development of a wide range of software systems in a variety of organisations. Skilled software developers are needed to support Northern Ireland’s burgeoning software industry.
Ulster University academics are actively involved in both research and teaching and this ensures that the developments accrued through research can feed into the teaching of students. A significant percentage of staff are members of the Higher Education Academy, and all staff are expected to have a Postgraduate Certificate in University Teaching or equivalent. All Computing courses are subject to periodic Faculty Review and University Revalidation.
This is a full-time, one year (12 month) programme, delivered across three semesters.
- September 2019
Teaching, Learning and Assessment
The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.
Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:
- the relevant generic national Qualification Descriptor
- the applicable Subject Benchmark Statement
- the requirements of any professional, regulatory, statutory and accrediting bodies.
Attendance and Independent Study
As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.
Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10- or 20-credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate course typically 15- or 30-credit modules.
The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.
Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.
Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.
Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessment. The precise assessment will depend on the module and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification and the assessment timetable. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised.
Calculation of the Final Award
The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).
Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.
All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Master’s degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.
Teaching is delivered through a combination of lectures, directed tutorials, seminars and practical sessions. Support is also provided for project preparation and implementation.
The course is assessed by coursework only.
The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 59% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.
Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (25%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (18%) or Lecturers (57%).
We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic staff (81%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.
The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.
Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.
Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.
Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.
In this section
This module introduces students to the basic hardware components from which a computer system is constructed and the organisation of these components. The architecture is discussed and key concepts considered in the context of the programmable machine. Students will also gain an understanding of how computers communicate in the context both of local and wide area networks.
Professional Software Development I
The module introduces software development concepts and practices in a scaffolding manner enabling students to progressively develop their knowledge. This will be reinforced by interwoven practical lab sessions and tutorial workshops which will focus on and enhance all the necessary practical skills: problem solving, software design, programming skills and software testing to the high level of competence required by industry. The module is also intended to equip students with the knowledge, skills and habits that enable them to function as autonomous, accountable IT professionals.
Web Based Application Development
This module will expose students to the world of web based applications. It is concerned with the study and application of tools and techniques that enable the building and deployment of web based enterprise systems. The module first gives students an understanding of the role and function of the core technologies involved and then addresses the design practices, principles and patterns required for developing optimised enterprise web applications. Consequently, it provides students with a grounding in an important and still expanding application area that utilises the internet as the underlying communication platform.
Software Architecture and Design
This module seeks to develop and extend the student's knowledge of, and practical skills in, software design and development. The students are introduced to implementing, testing and documenting software for real-world applications. They also have opportunities to experience effective project organisation skills.
This module gives students a detailed introduction to the functions of modern operating systems. Particular emphasis is placed on the practical implementation of theoretical concepts and on the key area of Command-Line interaction, Shell Scripting, and an overview of system management. Students will have the opportunity to develop and consolidate their understanding of computer hardware as well as their software development skills, and will gain experience of using a modern Unix-like operating system.
Professional Software Development 2
This module uses interlinked lectures and lab sessions to introduce selection and repetition mechanisms with Java. This enables the introduction of arrays as an extended intermediate storage structure and also files as a permanent storage mechanism. The module extends their object-oriented techniques and the Java constructs into the hierarchy of super and sub classes and the area of inheritance. The module extends the area of interface applications within Android introducing more pre-defined GUI components and mechanisms available to them. The students will be provided with an opportunity to display strong personal management and team skills.
This module recognises the need for flexible and efficient storage of information in computer applications. The underlying principles of database organisation are presented, and practical implementation in a modern DBMS environment provides a basis for the construction of larger-scale e-business solutions.
Mobile Devices and Applications
This module introduces students to the new and challenging demands of Software Engineering for mobile and wireless environments, and helps prepare students to gain employment within a computing industry where knowledge and skills in mobile software development is essential. Students will gain detailed knowledge of the underlying wireless infrastructure and protocols, the challenges of software development for the mobile and wireless infrastructure, and the relationships these have with the app creation process and developing software solutions targeted at mobile platforms.
The project allows the student to demonstrate their ability in undertaking an independent project, developing theoretical perspectives, addressing research questions and analysing and implementing real world solutions. The student will be expected to utilise appropriate methodologies and demonstrate the skills gained earlier in the course when implementing the project. This will typically involve a systems analysis of the needs for a realistic application or actual organisation and identification and application of tools/techniques required to deliver a well-formed solution. In summary the masters project represents a piece of work performed by the student under suitable staff supervision, which draws both from the practical and creative nature of a problem-solving project and the traditional, scholarly exposition of an area of study. The content of the work should have a degree of originality and contain a critical appraisal of the subject area.
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.
In this section
1) A second class honours degree or better from a university of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, from the Council for National Academic Awards, the National Council for Educational Awards, the Higher Education and Training Awards Council, or from an institution of another country which has been recognised as being of an equivalent standard; or
2) an equivalent standard (normally 50%) in a Graduate Diploma, Graduate Certificate, Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma or an approved alternative qualification; and
3) the content of the qualification presented (as described in (i) may have a maximum of 50% computing content.
You must satisfy the General Entrance Requirements for admission to a first degree course and hold a GCSE pass in English Language and Mathematics at grade C or above (or equivalent)
The Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment does not accept students with Essential Skills in Application of Number as the only mathematics qualification. Please contact the Admissions Office directly if you have a query concerning this matter. Thank you.
In exceptional circumstances, where an individual has substantial and significant experiential learning, a portfolio of written evidence demonstrating the meeting of graduate qualities (including subject-specific outcomes, as determined by the Course Committee) may be considered as an alternative entrance route. Evidence used to demonstrate graduate qualities may not be used for exemption against modules within the programme.
English Language Requirements
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.
Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.
Exemptions and transferability
The entry requirements facilitate accreditation of prior learning.
Careers & opportunities
In this section
There is a strong demand in the local Northern Ireland economy and beyond for graduates with software development skills. Coupled with the skills and knowledge of their primary degree, graduates from this course will be well placed to find employment in private industry, public sector organisations and in research. They will have the necessary skills to initially work in roles such as software developers, software testers and/or academic or commercial researchers but will also have the capacity to diversify into other roles such as independent consultants.
Work placement / study abroad
Accredited by BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT for the purposes of partially meeting the academic requirement for registration as a Chartered IT Professional.
Fees and funding
In this section
Scholarships, awards and prizes
Industry sponsored prize for the best overall student performance.
Additional mandatory costs
Central Admissions Magee
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