Master of Science
Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment
School of Computing
Creating the next generation of high-quality professionals for the AI industry.
The new MSc Artificial Intelligence is a specialist programme that has the core aim of preparing students with skills in AI that are in high demand nationally and internationally. The course will enable you to embark on, or further enhance your professional career in the area of AI by providing you with knowledge and skills in areas of Deep learning, Data Mining, Machine Learning, Big Data, Automatic Computing, Robotics, Knowledge Engineering and Data Analytics in the context of AI as well as the experience using the state-of-the-art tools, along with a full appreciation for the research / innovation process and how this could be transferred into business should be developed.
The delivery of the course is supported by multi-million pound infrastructure of a large-scale pervasive and mobile computing environment, a suite of contemporary sensing technologies and rapid prototyping facilities. The course content has been informed by internationally leading research being conducted in the School and by our strong industry partnerships, most notably with BT through the jointly established £28.6 million BT Ireland Innovation Centre.
This course has been developed in response to evidence of demand from industry and business for up-skilling of staff in the area of AI and addresses a clear gap in the marketplace for postgraduate study. The new MSc in Artificial Intelligence will strive to address the growing demands in the sector by training computing professionals to follow a career in the AI industry. The course also provides a platform to embark on further research studies.
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Each of the taught modules attracts 20 credit points, with the Masters Applied Research Project attracting 120 credit points. Student progression to the Masters Applied Research project is subject to having successfully passed all six modules with the pass mark being 50% for each module. Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
This module will provide students with the mathematical and statistical knowledge to understand the foundations of common machine learning algorithms. This introduces the main algorithms used for regression and classification (supervised learning), and for clustering and dimensionality reduction (unsupervised learning). State-of-the-art open source software, including probabilistic programming, will be used in lab sessions to design, run and analyse machine learning experiments. Recent methods from the field of explainable AI will also be introduced. These methods attempt to give the rationale behind a decision made by a black-box machine learning algorithm, and have arisen in response to the ethical and legal issue of an individual's "right to an explanation".
Deep Learning and Its Application
Deep learning is an emerging and important focus area of Artificial Intelligence. It aims to learn models and patterns as in conventional machine learning approaches, but it has the ability to discover more accurate representations without manual intervention for new types of domains. The module introduces the fundamental concepts of deep learning, neural networks as well as the theory associated with the development of successful deep learning algorithms. More recent advances on deep learning have led to very successful applications in computer vision, natural language processing, autonomous computing, etc. Deep learning is one of the most highly sought-after skills in many industrial applications.
Statistical Modelling & Data Mining
This module first provides a systematic understanding of probability and statistics. It then provides an in-depth analysis of the statistical modelling process and how to answer hypothesised questions. Next, the module provides a synthesis of the concepts of data mining and methods of exploring data. The content will be delivered and experienced through lectures, seminars and practical exercises using tools, such as Python, R and Weka. Online tools, such as Blackboard will be used to facilitate blended learning approach. On completing this module, students will be able to compute conditional probabilities and use null hypothesis significance testing to test the significance of results and understand and compute statistical measures such as the p-value for these tests. Students will apply, evaluate and critically appraise this knowledge in a range of complex real-world contexts.
Big Data & Infrastructure
Within this module a variety of database and data storage paradigms will be explored, ranging from more traditional relational systems to NoSql and object stores, time series databases, semantic store and graph stores. Consideration will be given to big data and the problem with storing and querying high volumes of highly variable data which is stored and processed at a high speed. The cloud computing paradigm will also be introduced and how to avail of its power and resources. The core concepts of distributed computing will be examined in the context of Hadoop. Students will be taught, practically and theoretically, about the components of Hadoop, workflows, functional programming concepts, use of MapReduce, Spark, Pig, Hive and Sqoop.
Autonomic Computing & Robotics
This module focuses on the development of self-managing systems, inspired by the human body's autonomic nervous system. The ANS is that part of the nervous system that manages body functions such as blood circulation, intestinal activity, and hormonal secretion and production, all without conscious effort. The desire of Autonomic Computing and Robotics is to bring a similar self-managing level of capability to systems, including robots, and thus free up the human user for higher-level concerns.
Knowledge Engineering & Computational Creativity
This module will cover modern topics in a classical field of Artificial Intelligence, including knowledge representation and reasoning (deductive and inductive), and their effective utilisation in e.g. decision making, semantic web and computational creativity. Students will gain deep understanding of key concepts and principles, and gain practical skills in critically evaluating and effectively building knowledge-based applications.
Masters Applied Research Project
Masters Applied Research Project provides the opportunity for you to demonstrate independence and originality, to plan and organise a large project and to implement this over a sustained period of time. The project will follow a user centred design approach and requires you to identify, define, develop, evaluate and implement a novel solution in a selected application area. This will require you to put into practice the techniques you have been taught throughout the course. With this in mind, the project must be tightly constrained to be achievable, whilst sufficiently open enough for you to demonstrate your ability to engage in innovative approaches towards a contribution to research knowledge.
The applied research project offers an opportunity to deepen your knowledge and develop your skills regarding an area in which you have a special interest. Focusing on this specialised area, the project should investigate all aspects of the user centred design and development process from project definition and ideation through to development, evaluation and implementation. In doing so, a full appreciation for the research / innovation process and how this could be transferred into business should be developed. This will allow you to investigate the pathways to impact from an academic, commercial and social aspect.
The project will undertake an applied piece of research which is novel yet realistic and which builds upon skills and knowledge developed throughout the course. The project will be motivated through a critical evaluation of existing literature and theory and the identification and justification of novel research questions. The project tests the inventiveness, the critical capacities, the project management and the in-depth knowledge and problem-solving skills of the student.
The project must involve design, implementation, experimentation and critical analysis of results, benchmarked against other approaches drawn from the literature. This should follow the user centred design process.
Typically 15 timetabled hours per week Monday – Friday including lectures, tutorials and practicals in the computer labs for the taught components of the course. Masters Applied Research Project takes place in the final two semesters of the course seperately.
Teaching is delivered through lectures, directed tutorials, seminars, and practical sessions, some of which are by industry professionals / researchers.
The course is assessed by 100% coursework.
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:
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 near the start date and may be subject to 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 of attendance will often 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 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 Masters 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 via one method or a combination e.g. examination and coursework . 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 four learning outcomes, and no more than two 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.
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 Masters 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 Masters degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.
Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.
We have a highly experienced and energetic course team, in terms of both teaching and research. All members of the course team are research active and will be included in the forthcoming REF2021 submission. The course team have been grantholders of multi-million pound research projects, they have produced world-leading and internationally excellent research outputs in the area and have demonstrated research impact from their endeavours. We also fully embrace the importance of innovative teaching and assessment methods and are all Fellows of the Higher Education Academy in the UK.
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 (20%) or Lecturers (55%).
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) by Advanced HE - 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 2021-2022.
The Belfast campus is situated in the artistic and cultural centre of the city, the Cathedral Quarter.
High quality apartment living in Belfast city centre adjacent to the university campus.
At Student Wellbeing we provide many services to help students through their time at Ulster University.
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.
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(a) have gained
(i) a second class honours degree or equivalent, in the subject areas of computing, engineering, mathematics or related discipline; or
(ii) demonstrate their ability to undertake the course through the accreditation prior experiential learning
(b) provide evidence of competence in written and spoken English (GCSE grade C or equivalent). The minimum requirement for international students 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.
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.
The entry requirements facilitate accreditation of prior learning.
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AI is at the centre of Industry 4.0 – The Fourth Industrial Revolution. Many countries, including the UK, US and China, have taken AI as a priority area for research and development. The UK government and industry have committed to spend nearly £1 billion on AI based on the recommendations made by Wendy Hall, Regius Professor of computer science at the University of Southampton and Jérôme Pesenti, vice-president of AI at Facebook, in their review of the UK’s AI industry. The MSc in Artificial Intelligence will strive to address the growing demands being placed on the sector by training computing professionals to follow a career either in industry or academia. The course provides opportunities for training and development of the skills required to contribute to the local and global industrial opportunities that AI offers. AI has applications in almost every industry sector including, but not limited to, Health, Financial Technology, Advanced Manufacturing, Media, Energy, Civic Society and Public Policy. Graduates from the course will be well placed to progress into a career across a range of industrial settings in these sectors. The School have active Industry engagement and links with vibrant technology sector in Northern Ireland.
The specialist course also offers the opportunity to deepen student knowledge and developing research skills in the area of IoT with the support of the research expertise in the School. Graduates from the course also have opportunity to embark on further research at the Ph.D. level.
The course doesn’t require placement experience.
There are opportunities in the course for you to participate in research and industry related projects in the IoT domain through our two Innovation centres BTIIC and CHIC.
BTIIC is the BT Ireland Innovation Centre (BTIIC) in collaboration with Ulster University and BT. The centre aims to invent new ways of using data analytics, artificial intelligence and the IoT, through two work streams of Intelligent System and IoT.
CHIC is the Connected Health Innovation Centre is funded by Invest NI to support business led research in the area of connected health, with focus on data analytics and IoT. The centre currently has over 30 national and international member companies with both technical expertise and clinical experience.
We also have strong links with IAESTE (International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience). It provides students industry placement opportunities from six weeks to 1 year in one of 80 countries linked with the Association.
Visit Tuition Fees 2022/23 for more details on the price of this course.
It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals, as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.
There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as a part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs, as well as tuition fees. See www.ulster.ac.uk/student/fees-and-funding/tuition-fees/tuition-fees-202223/ni-roi-students for most up to date costs.
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