Computing Systems

BSc (Hons)

2023/24 Part-time Undergraduate course

Award:

Bachelor of Science with Honours

Faculty:

Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment

School:

School of Computing

Campus:

Belfast campus

Start dates:

September 2023

February 2024

With this degree you could become:

  • Software Engineers
  • Web Developer
  • Full-Stack Developer
  • Cyber Security
  • Product Roles
  • Database Analyst
  • Software Test Analyst

Graduates from this course are now working for:

  • Kainos
  • Liberty IT
  • Allstate
  • Deloitte
  • CitiBank
  • CME Group
  • Datactics

Overview

Design your own degree pathway and progress part-time at a pace that best suits you, completing in 3, 4, 5 or 6 years.

Summary

You may have been thinking about studying Computing for some time but haven’t found a course that fits with your other commitments. You may want to improve your career options. You may be a recent school leaver who wants to combine study with work. You may even be an employer interested in higher-level apprenticeships, wanting to recruit talented people to your organisation, empowering them to earn as they learn.

Whatever the profile, BSc (Hons) Computing Systems empowers students and apprentices to study at their own pace, tailoring personal pathways through the modules offered on this degree. This flexibility is a new approach to the study of Computing and is Ulster’s first course to offer ‘Variable Rate Progression’ (VRP). VRP helps students and apprentices to design a degree pathway around life’s ever-changing commitments towards completing the degree part-time in 3, 4, 5 or 6 years.

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About this course

About

BSc Hons Computing Systems develops core skills in problem solving and computational thinking and exposes you to topics spanning programming, databases, networking, web development, data analytics and product and process management. Advanced topics include systems security, cloud computing, applied artificial intelligence, computer vision and edge & embedded computing. The course also develops innovative and creative thinking alongside a range of professional, ethical and sustainable skills that prepare you for a career in computing, equipped with the technical and personal skills sought by industry and ready to apply best practice in software engineering to develop wide ranging systems for any organisation.

Uniquely, BSc Computing Systems is designed using the Variable Rate Progression (VRP) model. VRP empowers you to design your own personal pathway through the modules of the course, something that is not possible in traditional courses. The precise pathway, course duration and specific sequencing of modules are determined by you. Using VRP, the degree may be completed part-time in 3*, 4, 5 or 6 years. Many potential pathways exist. A pathway 'Simulator' for experimenting and planning your route through the course is available on our VRP website at: http://www.vrpassistant.com.

*Note that should you choose to enter the course in February, rather than September, the minimum duration of the course will be 4 years.

MODULES

Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please note therefore that the exact modules described, as in any programme, may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. You can find out more about the modules currently offered on Computing Systems at http://www.vrpassistant.com.

HIGHER LEVEL APPRENTICESHIPS

Ulster University is a recognised Training Provider for the DfE Higher Level Apprenticeship (HLA) scheme. BSc (Hons) Computing Systems operates a successful HLA programme, working with participating companies that include AllState, Automated Intelligence, CME Group, Datactics, Deloitte, Hutchison Engineering, Instil, Kainos, Kairos, Liberty IT, Nitec Solutions, Regen-Waste, Spatialest, WD Meats. Applicants interested in HLA opportunities in the subject of Computing, should contact participating companies directly. Companies interested in offering computing related HLA opportunities should contact the Computing Systems Course Director for further information.

Attendance

During Semesters 1 and 2 (commencing annual in mid-late September) BSc Hons Computing Systems is usually delivered on a Monday afternoon and evening. During Semester 3, there are 6 days of intensive block training per module selected, normally scheduled between June and August). The timetabled contact hours for the course accounts for around 1/4 of the expected self-directed study time for each module.

The duration of the degree is dependent on the number of modules you study and successfully completed each year. There are six modules at each of three levels in the course. Each year, you can choose undertake a minimum of three modules and a maximum of six modules. This choice aim to enhance flexibility and empowers you to complete the course in as little as three years or to choose a slower track lasting four, five or even six years. You will have an annual opportunity to review and adjust your rate of progress. Module optionality normally exists at Level 6.

Start dates

  • September 2023
  • February 2024

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

The course is delivered using several teaching and learning methods including Lectures, Tutorials and Practical Laboratory Session.

Lectures are used to present and illustrate basic theory and fundamental principle, which are normally supplemented by tutorials which elaborate on lecture content and provide opportunities for the student to use their problem-solving skill and to examine problem solutions in greater detail.

Practical Laboratory Classes enable the practical application of theoretical concepts, facilitating a deeper understanding of key topics. In programming laboratories, there is an emphasis on small group tutoring and support.

Modules are assessed through a wide variety of methods including practical skills assessment, written reports, oral presentations, recorded video submissions, class tests, collaborative coursework assignments,and a final year cap-stone project.

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:

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 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

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.

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 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.

Academic profile

The teaching and support of the programme is provided by the academic staff in the School of Computing and School of Engineering.

The academic members of staff are active in a range of research areas that inform the modules in the course. The School also employs Teaching Fellows who fulfil the duties of Module Coordinators but provide specialist support in laboratory classes and programming clinics across the course including final year project support. Graduate Demonstrators and Research staff support the academic staff who teach on the course.

Academic staff in the School are qualified to teach in higher education with most of them holding at least a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education Practice. Most academic staff in the School (83%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) – the university sector professional body for teaching and learning.

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 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.

Belfast campus

Accommodation

High quality apartment living in Belfast city centre adjacent to the university campus.

Find out more - information about accommodation  


Student Wellbeing

At Student Wellbeing we provide many services to help students through their time at Ulster University.

Find out more - information about student wellbeing  


Belfast Campus Location

Campus Address

Ulster University,
2-24 York Street,
Belfast
BT15 1AP

T: 02870 123 456

Modules

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

Year one

Mathematics for Computer Scientists

Year: 1

This module provides an introduction to core areas of mathematics that are commonly used by computer scientists. The relationship between set theory and propositional logic is explained, with applications to digital circuits. Mathematics for decision making is introduced, including their practical application. Probability, descriptive statistics and matrices are introduced, and their application to simple linear regression is used to motivate their use within data science.

Database Systems

Year: 1

This module introduces the database technologies that support the storage, update and retrieval of large quantities on information in computer systems. We examine the need for structured storage and discuss modelling, representation and retrieval techniques to avoid data redundancy while ensuring consistency and integrity. In this module students will study the design, construction and use of such databases, as well as the understanding of need for other types of the databases and their roles in supporting big data platform.

Introduction to Human Computer Interaction

Year: 1

This module is designed to provide students with the core knowledge, understanding and practical skills to solve design problems and develop an effective user experience.

Problem Solving for Computing

Year: 1

Computer programming is a fundamental skill expected of computing graduates. This module will introduce students to the foundational concepts of programming via Python that will be used as building blocks in future modules. Students will also develop and enhance their problem solving skills as an integral part of the module.

Systems Architecture

Year: 1

Differences in the internal structure and organisation of a computer lead to significant differences in performance and functionality, giving rise to an extraordinary range of computing devices, from hand-held computers to large-scale, high-performance machines. This module addresses the various options involved in designing a computer system, the range of design considerations, and the trade-offs involved in the design process.

Innovation and Society

Year: 1

This module is designed to make future computing professionals have the practical skills to cocreate innovative technological solutions to a problem using design thinking tools and processes and be aware of and take into consideration the nature of the legal, ethical, social and professional issues raised during any technological innovation.

Year two

Application Development for IS

Year: 2

In the context of Business Information Systems, this module will focus on the application development skills for building process and data driven apps to meet basic business process automation requirements, with a focus on work flow management, routine task automation, app integration and data file manipulation. It will enable students to appreciate the capability of modern frameworks for business system support.

Networks and Security

Year: 2

The principal aim of this module is to provide an understanding of the underlying systems which support networks. The theoretical concepts covered are illustrated by considering their practical applications in modern real-world solutions. The module also addresses such systems security concerns so that security considerations are embedded in organisations and IT projects planning and management.

Programming in Practice

Year: 2

The module builds upon the expertise acquired in Level 4 programming modules by expanding upon the students' understanding of data types and algorithms within the scope of object-oriented programming. The module focuses on providing students with practical skills for industry-focused software development.

Networks and Communications

Year: 2

An expositional module on the topics of Networks and Communications to educate Computing students on the fundamental principles, latest trends, and commercial needs in the sector. This module is essential to understand the current industrial needs and to hone the central insight required of graduates.

Dynamic Web Authoring

Year: 2

Computer programming is a fundamental skill expected of computing graduates. This module will introduce students to the foundational concepts of programming relating to web authoring that will be used as building blocks in future modules. Students will also develop and enhance their problem solving skills and data analytics skills as an integral part of the module.

Artificial Intelligence

Year: 2

This module introduces students to key areas of AI including searching, knowledge and reasoning, uncertainty and decision making. It equips students with understanding of the mathematical foundations of these topics and the practical skills needed to apply them.

Year three

Web Applications Development

Year: 3

This module provides the opportunity for students to work in industry as a full stack developer through the addition of server side programming. The module puts into practice the client-server model to facilitate the design and development of a web based solution to meet a problem based scenario.

Computing Systems Project

Year: 3

Students are required to undertake a major project during the final year of the course. The project module allows a selected topic area to be investigated in depth and for a solution to be developed in response. Within the project, the student is expected to integrate and apply material from other modules in the course.

Project and Process Management

Year: 3

This module presents modern process and project management (that is the application of
knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet process and project
requirements) principles and techniques as a means to help deliver successful software
development projects and process improvement.

Visual Analytics

Year: 3

This module provides students with the theory and the experience of designing affective data visualisations. These skills are important in many industries that relay on data driven decision making and data analysis.

Cloud Native Development

Year: 3

This module aims to explore a range of modern development and deployment concepts in the context of scalable and high performance computing services.

Within this module concepts such as cloud architectures, hosted technologies, scalable solutions and infrastructure will be explored. Additionally, advanced programming/development concepts facilitating high performance solution development will be examined.

Standard entry conditions

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.

A level

CCC.

Applied General Qualifications

QCF Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma (2012 Suite)

award profile DMM.

RQF Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma (2019 Suite)

award profile DMM.

RQF Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma (2016 Suite)

MMM overall award grades.

A Levels with:
BTEC Level 3 QCF Subsidiary Diploma or BTEC Level 3 RQF National Extended Certificate;
BTEC Level 3 QCF 90-credit Diploma or BTEC Level 3 RQF National Foundation Diploma;
BTEC Level 3 QCF Diploma or BTEC Level 3 RQF National Diploma.

OCR/Cambridge Technical Combinations
A levels with OCR Nationals and OCR Cambridge Technicals.

Irish Leaving Certificate

96 UCAS Tariff Points to include a minimum of 4 subjects at Higher Level and 1 subject at Ordinary Level. The overall profile must also include English and Maths at Grade H6 or above (HL) or Grade O4 or above (OL).

Irish Leaving Certificate UCAS Equivalency

Scottish Highers

Grades CCCCC. All subject areas considered.

Scottish Advanced Highers

Grades DDD. All subject areas considered.

International Baccalaureate

Overall profile of 24 points to include 12 at Higher Level to inlcude grade 4 in Mathematics and Grade 4 in English Language.

Access to Higher Education (HE)

Overall profile of 55% (120 credit Access) (NI Access Course) to include a pass in NICATS Maths (level 2) or GCSE Maths at Grade C or 4.

Overall profile of 45 Merits (60 credit Access Course) (GB Access Course) to include GCSE Maths at Grade C or 4.

GCSE

GCSE (or equivalent) profile to include minimum of Grade C or 4 or above in Mathematics and Grade C or 4 in English Language.

Please note that for purposes of entry to this course the Level 2 Certificate in Essential Skills - Application of Number is NOT regarded as an acceptable alternative to GCSE Maths.

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.

Additional Entry Requirements

HNC
Pass HNC with overall Merit in a relevant subject area for year 1 entry only to include distinctions in 45 Level 4 credits to include GCSE Maths at Grade C or 4.

HND Year 1
Pass HND in any subject area. GCSE Maths Grade C/4 or an alternative Mathematics qualification acceptable to the University is also required.

HND Year 2
Pass HND rwith overall Merit in a relevant subject area. To include GCSE Maths at Grade C or 4. HND applications may be considered for year 2 entry where the curriculum sufficiently matches that of Ulster University full time year 1 course.

Ulster Foundation Degree
Pass in Foundation Degree with an overall mark of 40% and minimum 40% in all taught level 5 modules. To inlcude GCSE Maths at Grade C or 4. Applicants will normally be considered for entry to an associated Honours degree (normally Year 2 entry if FD in a relevant subject area).

Exemptions and transferability

Transfers are processed in accordance with the Faculty Admissions Policy for dealing with transfer requests from existing students.

Careers & opportunities

Graduate employers

Graduates from this course are now working for:

  • Kainos
  • Liberty IT
  • Allstate
  • Deloitte
  • CitiBank
  • CME Group
  • Datactics

Job roles

With this degree you could become:

  • Software Engineers
  • Web Developer
  • Full-Stack Developer
  • Cyber Security
  • Product Roles
  • Database Analyst
  • Software Test Analyst

Career options

Graduates of BSc Hons Computing Systems are well equiped for a broad range of professional careers within computing, software engineering, web development and database administration, and in fields related to software engineering processes and quality assurance.

Over 90% of our graduates find employment within 6 months and starting salaries for Computing graduates are often higher than those of other graduates.

Students from this course will be eligible to enter graduate employment or to undertake further study at Master's or PhD level.

Professional recognition

BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT

Accredited by BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT on behalf of the Science Council for the purposes of partially meeting the academic requirement for registration as a Chartered Scientist.

BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT

Accredited by BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT for the purposes of fully meeting the academic requirement for registration as a Chartered IT Professional.

BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT

Accredited by BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT on behalf of the Engineering Council for the purposes of fully meeting the academic requirement for Incorporated Engineer and partially meeting the academic requirement for a Chartered Engineer.

Apply

Start dates

  • September 2023
  • February 2024

Fees and funding

2023/24 Fees

Fees for entry in 2023/24 have not yet been set. See our tuition fees page for the current fees for 2022/23 entry.

Module Pricing

The price of your overall programme will be determined by the number of credit points that you initiate in the relevant academic year.

For modules commenced in the academic year 2022/23, the following fees apply:

Module Pricing
Credit Points NI/ROI Cost GB Cost International Cost
120 £4,629.60 £9,249.60 £15,360
60  £2,314.80 £4,624.80 £7,680
30 £1,157.40 £2,312.40 £3,840
20  £771.60 £1,541.60£2,560

NB: A standard full-time undergraduate degree is equivalent to 120 credit points per year.

Additional mandatory costs

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 the tuition fees on our student guide for most up to date costs.

Contact

Admissions for entry requirements
​Julie McKee
T: +44 (0)28 9536 5779
E: ji.mckee@ulster.ac.uk

For course specific enquiries please contact;

Dr Mark Donnelly, Course Director
T: +44 28 9536 5135
E: mp.donnelly@ulster.ac.uk

For more information visit

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