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Software Engineering

MSc / PGDip / PGCert

School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics

Accredited by the British Computer Society (CITPFL, partial CEng)

Our BCS accredited MSc in Software Engineering is designed to produce successful software engineers who will have an understanding of software engineering principles (and their application), design skills, knowledge of good management practice, computing science and mathematical formalism. This course will equip you to begin a career, or to undertake further study in this important and exciting area.

The most complex engineering artefacts in existence are now software systems, and the effects of such systems are felt by almost everyone. It is vitally important that software should be of high quality; it should be built on schedule and without error and it should be safe. Software Engineering MSc combines scientific and engineering principles with sound practice to ensure the production of high-quality, reliable software that does what it is designed to do.

Available start dates

September 2019 / September 2020

Teaching location

Wheatley Campus

Course length

  • Full time: MSc - 1 year (12 months); MSc with placement 2 years (24 months); PG Dip - 6 months; PG Cert - 3 months
  • Part time: MSc - 2 years; Msc with placement 3 years (36 months); PG Dip - 18 months (12 months study time); PG Cert - 6 months

For full application details, please see the 'How to apply / Entry requirements' section.

  • You will have the opportunity to put the skills you have gained into practice if you choose to undertake our 1 year optional placement
  • Professional experts contribute to the range of subjects on offer.
  • Teaching is informed by state-of-the-art research being undertaken in the department and you will have the opportunity to work alongside members of our Dependable Systems Research Centre and internationally renowned academics.
  • Real word problems and current issues in Software Engineering are used to illustrate the theoretical concepts.
  • You have the option to undertake an intensive course on compiler construction from one of Europe’s leading authorities in the field.
  • The universal nature of the technical skills developed in our programmes means our courses are of equal relevance to both new graduates and those with many years of industrial experience.

Professional accreditation

The course is accredited by 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 partially meeting the academic requirement for registration as a Chartered Engineer.

The MSc in Software Engineering has a modular design providing you with maximum flexibility and choice. See Semester 1 and Semester 2 for information about each module.

To qualify for a master’s degree, you must pass modules amounting to 180 credits. This comprises six taught modules (20 credits each) plus your dissertation (60 credits).

The MSc in Software Engineering with placement enables you to work in industry for a year in the middle of your course to give valuable workplace experience. Placements are not guaranteed, but the departments dedicated placement team will help with the process of finding and applying for placements. To qualify for a master’s degree with placement, you must pass modules amounting to 180 credits plus the zero credit placement module. This comprises six taught modules (20 credits each) plus your dissertation (60 credits).

The Postgraduate Diploma in Software Engineering allows you to concentrate on the taught part of the degree and is ideal for people working in the computing industry who wish to brush up their skills. To qualify for a Postgraduate Diploma, you must pass modules amounting to 120 credits. This comprises six taught modules (20 credits each). In some cases, it may be possible for a student on a Postgraduate Diploma to do 3 taught modules (20 credits each) plus your dissertation (60 credits).

The Postgraduate Certificate in Software Engineering allows you to concentrate on the taught part of the degree and is ideal for people working in the computing industry who wish to learn a specific area in this rapidly changing discipline. To qualify for a Postgraduate Certificate, you must pass modules amounting to 60 credits. This comprises three taught modules (20 credits each).

We also offer a Postgraduate Certificate Software Engineering Research Project.

Part-time students normally distribute the work evenly over a two-year period.

Semester 1

You will be studying the following modules:

  • Research, Scholarship and Professional Skills (compulsory for MSc and PGDip) is designed to equip students with the tools necessary for the scholarship and research skills needed for the computing field as well as equipping them with the professional skills and outlook needed for a lifelong career in the computer industry.
  • Advanced Software Engineering (compulsory for MSc and PGDip) explores the techniques used to keep programs error-free at every stage of the software lifecycle. In particular, it focuses on the process of reasoning about the properties of programs and on machine-assisted refinement from specification to implementation. It also introduces various mathematical concepts of software engineering.
  • Secure Systems Architecture (compulsory for MSc) studies computer and network security and the ways that computer systems can be secured. This module will look at both the technological and human issues involved in securing and assessing the security level of a modern networked computer system. It also introduces basic concepts of operating systems and architecture.      

Semester 2

You will be studying the following modules:

  • Advanced Software Development (compulsory for MSc and PGDip) studies the current practices, skills and techniques applied to managing software development related projects, individually and in project teams. The module combines theory with pragmatic and professional insights and considers requirements engineering, project management, risk, quality assurance, usability and HCI issues.
  • Paradigms of Programming (alternative compulsory for MSc) enables students to broaden their existing understanding of programming by learning and practising multiple programming styles and programming technologies; by studying the underlying disciplines of programming language design, compiler/interpreter construction, formal properties of programming languages and low-level development.
  • Compiler Construction (alternative compulsory for MSc) studies the principles, methods and techniques of compiler construction for imperative programming languages and the role of language tools in the broad context of software development. Students will work in small groups to create a compiler for a Java-like, high-level programming language.
  • Secure Programming (compulsory for MSc). It is increasingly important that software must not only be functional and reliable but also secure. This module looks at the key concepts and principles used in constructing secure software and in auditing and making secure, existing software.


As courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, modules offered may differ from those listed.

Students undertaking an MSc with placement will do a 1 year placement in industry. The placement will be undertaken after the taught component and before doing the dissertation.

Students studying for an MSc will also take:


  • MSc Dissertation: which is an individual research and development project that allows you to study a topic of your choice in depth, guided by your supervisor. The work may be undertaken in close co-operation with a research, industrial or commercial organisation. You undertake your dissertation over the summer period.

Teaching and learning

Teaching methods include lectures, which provide a theoretical basis, and practicals, which are used to strengthen your understanding by active involvement. On some occasions, lectures are held in the computer labs so that you can apply the knowledge learned immediately. Many of the modules are enriched by the teaching staff's research expertise. Visiting lecturers are also invited from research organisations and industry. 

Approach to assessment

Assessments include coursework exercises, presentations, lab work, reports and examinations.

Assessment is based on a combination of examination, coursework and dissertation. Our assessment methods used have been developed across all computing MSc courses at Oxford Brookes to provide varied support, and to include opportunities for you to discuss your work directly with the lecturers.

Specialist facilities

Our labs are equipped with industry-standard equipment and software tools. This enables students to develop skills of immediate relevance to industry needs while also providing a sound practical basis that enhances their understanding of theoretical concepts.

Associated costs

Students on placement are responsible for living costs associated with their placement.

Attendance pattern

Part time study is an option on this programme for students who wish to combine their study with work. Where possible we try to ensure that part time students only need to attend for 1 day a week, although students will be expected to undertake additional independent study.

Programme changes

On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website. For more information, please visit our Changes to programmes page.

Tuition fees

Home/EU - full time fee: 2019/20: Masters £6,360 (12 months), Diploma £5,100 (6 months), Certificate £2,550 (3 months) 2020/21: Masters £8,000 (12 months), Diploma £7,000 (6 months), Certificate £4,000 (3 months)

Home/EU - part time fee: 2019/20: Masters £3,240 2020/21: £4,000

Home/EU - sandwich fee: 2019/20: £1,270 2020/21: £1,410

International - full time: 2019/20: £14,850 2020/21 £15,700

International - sandwich fee: 2019/20: £3,180 2020/21: £3,250

Where part time fees are quoted this is for the first year only. Fees will increase by up to 4% each year.

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed in the 'This course in detail' window above.

Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Funding and scholarships

The Department of Computing and Communication Technologies awards a limited number of scholarships for its taught postgraduate programmes, which are awarded on a competitive basis to UK, EU and international postgraduates each year. Further information can be found at /ecm/courses/scholarships/

Entry requirements

You should normally hold a first degree equivalent to at least a British lower second-class bachelor’s degree in a computing-related subject. If your first degree is not in computing but you have worked in the computing industry you can also be considered.

For entry to the Postgraduate Certificate Research Project you should provide evidence of experience in research and study methods at an appropriate level.

English language requirements

If the first language is not English, evidence is required of either -

  • a minimum IELTS score of 6.0 with an IELTS score of 6.0 or greater in the reading and writing component

  • OR

  • an equivalent English language qualifications acceptable to the University.

Please also see the university's standard English language requirements

English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the university's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

International applications

Preparation courses for International and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you to meet the entry requirements for this course and also familiarise you with university life. You may also be able to apply for one student visa to cover both courses.

  • Take our Pre-Master's course to help you to meet both the English language and academic entry requirements for your master's course.
  • If you need to improve your English language, we have pre-sessional English language courses available to help you to meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s.

If you are studying outside the UK, for more details about your specific country entry requirements, translated information, local contacts and programmes within your country, please have a look at our country pages.

How to apply

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

How this course helps you develop

The focus on using industry standard tools to solve practical and industrially relevant problems, and using those problems to teach the theoretical concepts ensures that students have the opportunity to acquire skills which will not just equip them for today's computing industry, but for a lifelong career in the computing industry.

Students on the MSc course who undertake a placement will have the opportunity to put into practice in a business environment, the skills they have acquired in the taught part of the programme as well as gaining valuable experience for their CVs.


Our MSc students come from all over the world and graduate to follow careers in technical, business-related and creative roles, for example as software developers, engineers, managers or consultants. Whatever their interest, our graduates tell us that the relevance of our courses, and the skills they've learnt, enable them to achieve their goals and build their careers.

How Brookes supports postgraduate students

Academic and administrative help and advice will be available to all students from sources such as:

  • Advice academic guidance and supervisory arrangements from the programme lead, subject coordinators and module leaders. Most modules will have tutorial, seminar or lab-based support activities.
  • The Placement Team can help you find placement opportunities and give support while on placement
  • Programme and dissertation handbooks
  • Student Support Coordinators
  • Student forums
  • Student representatives who are invited to attend a variety of meetings at which programme issues and student concerns are discussed.

During induction week, you are given handbooks explaining the choices available toyou on the course, and providing helpful information about the compulsory modules as well. The Subject Coordinator is available for consultation and our Postgraduate Administrator is available to deal specifically with graduate issues.

Supporting your learning

From academic advisers and support co-ordinators to specialist subject librarians and other learning support staff, we want to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

Research highlights

The School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics is home to world-leading and award-winning research. Our focus is on user-inspired original research with real-world applications. We have a vibrant and growing research community, with a wide range of activities from model-driven system design and empirical software engineering through to web technologies, cloud computing and big data, digital forensics and computer vision. Staff and students collaborate on projects supported by the EPSRC, the EU, the DTI, and several major UK companies.

Further, Computing achieved an excellent assessment of its UoA (Unit of Assessment) 11 return for REF 2014 (Research Excellence Framework).

Research areas and clusters

Staff are engaged in world-leading research in our Applied Formal Methods Research Group and Applied Software Engineering Research Group which feeds directly into teaching. Particular areas of interest are:

  • Design Patterns for Cyber security
  • Automated Testing
  • The Algebra of Multirelations
  • Cloud Computing and Service-Oriented Computing
  • Agent-Oriented Programming
  • Functional Programming
  • Risk Driven Requirements Engineering and Analysis
  • People focussed Mobile Application Design
  • Machine Learning for Software Engineering Decision Making
  • Cognitive Robotics

Other research groups within the school include: