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MSc in Advanced Computing MS51
(Machine Learning, Data Mining and High Performance Computing)

This is part of the MSc in Advanced Computing.


Semester 1 Unit Codes and Links

Unit Code CP Unit Title MS51
COMS30301 10 Introduction to Machine Learning o
COMS35101 10 High Performance Computing o
COMSM0010 10 Cloud Computing o
COMSM0305 10 Learning in Autonomous Systems o
COMSM1211 20 Programming in C o
COMSM4111 10 Robotic Systems o
EMATM0004 10 Computational Genomics and Bioinformatics Algorithms o
EMATM1120 10 Uncertainty Modelling for Intelligent Systems o

Key: o - Option Choice

Semester 2 Unit Codes and Links

Unit Code CP Unit Title MS51
COMS30003 10 Computational Bioinformatics o
COMS30106 10 Artificial Intelligence with Logic Programming o
COMSM2001 10 Server Software o
COMSM2202 20 Research Skills c
EMATM0012 10 Statistical Pattern Recognition o

Key: o - Option Choice, c - Core Choice


Unit Code CP Unit Title MS51
COMSM3100 60 MSc Advanced Project c

Key: c - Core Choice


Students are assigned to either the Experienced or Foundation stream following a programming test during the introductory week.

Course Information

Please note that the official timetable for lectures and lab sessions is not always followed. Lectures are occasionally moved to different times and places if, for example, the lecturer is not available at the scheduled time. Lab sessions may simply be times when you are given priority access to the computer labs. Alternatively, there may be a lab demonstrator who is there to help with the material you are working on. Some units have a demonstrator some weeks but not others. In short you should check the lecture plan and list of assignments on each unit's home page to make sure you know what is going on. You should also check your email at least once a day as sometimes changes are made at short notice.

Part-time students

Unfortunately the university timetabling office makes no attempt to optimise the schedule for part-time students, because the timetable is heavily constrained and already difficult to produce. So, although it would be convenient to have all the relevant lectures grouped into 2 or 3 days each week, no attempt is made to do that. As a result you may need to compromise on which units you select in order to have a schedule which suits you. Timetables are usually finalised in late September.

Fortunately we can be fairly flexible about how you divide the MSc across years, which may help you produce a suitable timetable.

The teaching year is basically 20 weeks of teaching plus a few weeks of exams. Between the June exams and October you will have only your project to work on, which you do in your own time. See the University Almanac for details.

Please note that the MSc is a lot of work and it's not possible to complete it while working 4 days a week on something else.

Personal Tutor

As programme director I am also your personal tutor. You can see me about any problems you're having, both academic and non-academic. For example, if an illness has delayed your work on an assignment get in touch as it may be possible to make special arrangements such as an extension to the deadline. Please note it is easier to arrange extensions and other things before the deadline than after. In general, it's better to sort out problems sooner than later. Unfortunately, students often wait longer than they should before doing anything about a problem. Please DO NOT DELAY getting in touch.

Another way that the department takes things like illness into consideration is the "special circumstances committee", sometimes called the "extenuating circumstances committee". This committee meets in June to look at special circumstances which have resulted in your work not being an accurate measure of your ability. Sometimes when there are borderline decisions on, for example, whether resits will be allowed, or what degree class to award, a record of a special circumstance can tip the balance. Special circumstances are recorded in SAFE in your filestore. It's best to record them during or just after the event, especialy in the case of illness since a note from your doctor will normally be needed. However, the deadline for recording special circumstances is in June.

Unfortunately, every year I find out about problems long after the event. Sometimes a student has stopped studying entirely without telling me, which is unfortunate because there are often ways to avoid it. For example, we can sometimes suspend your studies, so that you can complete them later, perhaps the next year. You can also get a degree with either 120 or 60 credits. If you do withdraw from the program then you may be able to get a partial refund of your student fees. In any case it is worth talking with me to see what your options are before you make any big decisions (or, better yet, before problems get serious). It is quite possible that I will have some suggestions you have not thought of.

So, to repeat, I know people are often reluctant to discuss problems, but please talk to me sooner rather than later. I hate to see people making the same mistake every year.

How you will spend your time

Ten-credit units typically have 2 hours of lectures per week for 10 weeks. With 60 credits per semester that's 12 hours of lectures per week. There are few if any mandatory lab sessions. Most lab sessions are just times when that unit has priority in the lab. Most of your time will be spent reading and doing coursework.

Jobs and PhD study

Many companies will advertise for employees with a PhD in a relevant area. There are not many specialist MSc programmes like this one and some employers are not aware they exist at all. As a result it may be worth contacting them to ask if a job would be suitable for someone without a PhD.

Some good places to look for jobs and PhD places are:

If you are interested in studying for a PhD in the UK you should start making applications in January. (To study in the USA you should apparently start 1 year in advance, i.e. in October.) The two main difficulties are finding funding and finding a suitable supervisor. The Intelligent Systems research group lecturers can give you advice. You should read the aims, objectives and guidelines for PhD students to get a feel for what a PhD involves. You may also want to read these books:

Preparing for the MSc