UCL Department of Computer Science


Section 6: Programme structures

6.Programme structures

Details of the structure of the programme, its duration, course units, and qualification conferred.

6.1.Durations and modes of study

6.1.1.Undergraduate programmes

The department offers both Bachelor of Science (BSc) and Master of Engineering (MEng) degree programmes. The BSc Computer Science is a full-time programme taken over three years; the MEng Computer Science and the MEng Mathematical Computation are full time Integrated Masters programmes, which combine undergraduate and postgraduate study into a single four-year degree.

Students on the MEng (International Programme) variants will undertake Year 3 of the programme at an approved international partner institution and will resume the standard Year 4 curriculum when they return to UCL; the duration of the programme remains four years.

Both BSc and MEng students have the option of undertaking an industry placement (Extra Mural Year), which extends the length of their degree programme by one year.

A MEng degree is a Masters qualification but completed as an undergraduate degree. The final year modules are all at Level 7 (Masters.)

Students typically take 4.0 course units (120 credits) worth of modules per year of the programme (for example, 8 × 0.5 unit modules.) Course units are awarded to a student on successful completion of the outcomes associated with the module. Students must complete and pass sufficient course units to progress through the programme and, ultimately, to be eligible for the award of a degree.

6.1.2.Postgraduate programmes

The department offers both Master of Science (MSc) and Master of Research (MRes) postgraduate degree programmes. These are typically full time programmes taken over one year. Part time programmes run over two years.

Students typically take 180 credits’ worth of modules per year of the programme. Credit is awarded to a student on successful completion of the outcomes associated with the modules. Students must complete and pass sufficient credit to be eligible for the award of a degree.

6.2.Organisation and structure of programmes

6.2.1.Modules (subjects)

Programmes of study are organised into multiple academic modules, which are self-contained, unit or credit-rated blocks of learning and teaching which collectively make up the programme. The unit or credit rating for each module reflects the number of learning hours it requires to complete. The department’s undergraduate modules are typically 0.5 unit or 1.0 course unit, and its postgraduate modules are typically 15, 30 or 60 FHEQ credits.

A 1.0 course unit module is equivalent to 30 FHEQ credits, 15 ECTS credits, or 8 US credits; a 0.5 course unit module is equivalent to 15 FHEQ credits, 7.5 ECTS credits, or 4 US credits.

Academic Levels

Each module has an academic level which relates to its complexity, the academic skills, amount of prior knowledge and amount of learner autonomy required to complete it. The Levels are aligned to the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ.) These are: Level 4 (First), Level 5 (Intermediate), Level 6 (Advanced), and Level 7 (Masters.)

Core, optional and elective modules

The modules that make up a programme are either core, optional or elective, which reflects whether they must be taken or can optionally be taken. The programme’s curriculum (also called a programme diet) will prescribe in what combinations modules can be taken, any restrictions on doing so, and how much credit can and must be taken.

  • Core: these modules are fundamental to the programme’s curriculum and students must take them.
  • Optional: these modules are strongly related to the programme and students can choose which of these they wish to take, usually from within specific groups (for example, a student may be asked to choose two optional modules from one group and three from another, etc.)
  • Elective: these modules are not programme specific, but allow students the opportunity to explore their interests more widely. Students are usually restricted to taking one or two elective modules.

The optional and elective modules that are offered in a given year may vary depending on the availability of teaching staff, changes to the overarching programme design, demand, and other factors. Students may therefore find that some optional and elective modules that are part of the programme structure will not be available. Students will always be able to take the modules that are core for their degree.

Information on choosing core, optional and elective modules is given in Section 7: Module choices.

6.2.2.Modular structure of programmes

Undergraduate programmes

For undergraduate degree programmes, the academic level of the modules students will take increases with each year of the programme.

A BSc (Hons) degree typically comprises 360 credits (12.0 course units), with a maximum of 150 credits (5.0 course units) at Level 4 (First) and a minimum of 90 credits (3.0 course units) at Level 6 (Advanced.)

A MEng (Hons) degree typically comprises 480 credits (16.0 course units), with a maximum of 150 credits (5.0 course units) at Level 4 (First), a minimum of 90 credits (3.0 course units) at Level 6 (Advanced), and a minimum of 120 credits (4.0 course units) at Level 7 (Masters.)

Year of study BSc MEng
Year 1 4.0 units, Level 4 (First) 4.0 units, Level 4 (First)
Year 2 4.0 units, Level 5 (Intermediate) 4.0 units, Level 5 (Intermediate)
Year 3 4.0 units, Level 6 (Advanced) 4.0 units, Level 6 (Advanced)
Year 4 - 4.0 units, Level 7 (Masters)

Further information:

Postgraduate taught programmes

An MSc degree typically comprises 180 credits, with a maximum of 30 credits at Level 6 (Advanced) and a minimum of 150 credits at Level 7 (Masters.)

Year of study MSc (Full time) MSc (Part time)
Year 1 180 credits, Level 7 (Masters) -
Year 2 15 - 165 credits, Level 7 (Masters) 15 - 165 credits, Level 7 (Masters) (the remaining credits)

The department’s taught postgraduate modules are at Level 7 (Masters.)

Further information:

Postgraduate research programmes

An MRes degree typically comprises 180 credits, with a maximum of 30 credits at Level 6 (Advanced) and a minimum of 150 credits at Level 7 (Masters.) Programmes must include at least 30 credits of transferable skills modules and a dissertation of at least 60 credit. An MRes is distinguished from an MSc by its high ratio of research to teaching, and by the focus of teaching on research methods.

Year of study MRes (Full time)
Year 1 180 credits, Level 7 (Masters)

Further information:

6.3.Programme curricula (or diets)

6.3.1.Programme diets

Each programme has its own specific curriculum (often referred to as a programme diet) which prescribes the modules that students must and may optionally take. The programme details for the current year are available via the department’s current student webpages.

The department’s programmes are reviewed annually, and this often results in changes to the programme curriculum and to the syllabus and assessment method of individual modules. For programmes spanning multiple years, students will usually follow the version of the programme curriculum that was in place when they commenced the programme, however they will usually take the most recent versions of the relevant modules. It is important to refer to the curriculum and syllabuses for the relevant academic year.

The department’s undergraduate and postgraduate module directory (syllabus) pages provide detailed information on Computer Science modules, including a description of the content.

Further information:

6.3.2.Undergraduate variations and MEng Computer Science

The BSc and MEng Computer Science have a common curriculum in Years 1 and 2, which means that students on both programmes will take the same modules for those years, but different modules from Year 3. Both programmes are part of the Faculty’s Integrated Engineering Programme (IEP), which defines a range of common content for degree programmes across the Faculty of Engineering Sciences (see below.)

The programme curricula are available via the department's programme information pages.

Integrated Engineering Programme (IEP)

The majority of undergraduate programmes within the Faculty of Engineering Sciences, including BSc and MEng Computer Science, are based on the IEP Framework. This means that these programmes have a core discipline (its primary subject – which is Computer Science), and a minor discipline (a secondary subject) through which students can customise their degree and gain valuable interdisciplinary experience.

In Year 1, alongside the modules from their core discipline, students also take core IEP modules which are intended to develop their professional skills. In Years 2 and 3 they will also take modules from their selected minor subject.

The minor subjects within the IEP that can be taken by Computer Science students are availble via the Engineering IEP pages.

Students take one module from their chosen minor in Year 2 and two modules in Year 3. This allows a subject outside of Computer Science to be studied in reasonable depth; alternatively, students can choose the Computer Science Intelligent Systems minor.

The IEP curriculum focusses on design and professional skills, group working, writing and presentation skills, interdisciplinary working, and personal development. It is designed to familiarise students with working with those from different backgrounds, which is essential for success in modern business. It will also encourage them to become flexible adopters of new ideas.

Students take Challenges (Year 1), Scenarios (Years 1 and 2), and participate in the Faculty How to Change the World initiative (Year 2). (International Programme)

The MEng Computer Science and MEng Mathematical Computation both have and international variant in which students complete Year 3 at an agreed upon international partner institution that offers a comparable programme of study. Students who undertake the MEng (International Programme) resume the standard Year 4 curriculum on their return to UCL.

BSc and MEng students entering Year 2 can apply to transfer to the corresponding MEng (International Programme.) Applications are competitive, therefore there is no guarantee that an application will be successful. If unsuccessful the student remains on or reverts to their original degree programme registration.

Students who want to take the International Programme must make an appointment to discuss their proposed application with the Study Abroad Tutor, Dr Earl Barr (e.barr@ucl.ac.uk), before any transfer application can be made.

Further information: