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MSc in Information Technology

Overview & Contacts

For general information:

Eugene Campbell
Postgraduate Admissions Administrator

Tel: +44 (0)1904 325404
Fax: +44 (0)1904 325599

For informal discussion:

Professor Andy Wellings
Admissions Tutor


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Course Overview

Full Time - This course is only available full time.

9 Assessed Modules plus an individual project carried out in the department.

Information Technology is now fundamental in every aspect of our daily lives. IT systems are crucial for delivering every day services such as banking, web based services and information systems.
The MSc Information Technology is a full time, one year taught course, intended for students who are seeking a professional career in the IT industry. There is no requirement for a first degree in computing, but proficiency in at least one programming language is a requirement.
The course covers a range of topics including advanced programming, user-interface design, software engineering and management.
This course will give you the knowledge of IT from an organisation oriented viewpoint, allowing you to be capable of designing and implementing IT systems for a wide range of organisations.
The course has been specifically designed to suit the requirements of the IT industry, where you will be able to take up technical or management positions. Our graduates enter employment in many roles, including computer programmers, technical authors and research associates.
You can also choose to apply for one of our internships, which will begin once your course has ended. Find out more about the scheme.

I liked the look of the course because of the sheer breadth of knowledge that I felt I could acquire from it... as I was coming from an academic background outside of Computer Science, I found the option to study such a wide range of topics very exciting.

Thumbnail of David Zendle, MSc in Information Technology

David Zendle
MSc Information Technology

Course Aims

  • Programming: You will gain a thorough grounding of advanced programming concepts using Java including efficient data structures and algorithms and high performance distributed computing.
  • User-Interfaces:  You will learn the theory of human computer interaction (HCI) and put this into practice in a number of ways, including user centred design of aspects of people's interaction with digital systems.
  • Software Engineering: You will learn and be able to apply the principles of software engineering and case studies using UML, software testing techniques, and privacy and security aspect of software systems.

Learning Outcomes

We expect our graduates to be capable of designing and implementing IT systems for a wide range organisations. A thorough understanding of the following subjects are expected:

  • Designing user interfaces following sound principles of interface design;
  • Designing, specifying, implementing and testing software components and systems using UML, Java and a range of software testing techniques;
  • Dependability of IT systems including topics in privacy and security;
  • Computer architectures and high performance distributed computing.


Full-time taught postgraduate courses run for 12 months from the start of the academic year in October.  Students on these courses are expected to be in attendance at York for the full 12 months, except for when the Department is closed. Please contact the Postgraduate Admissions Administrator for more details.

Professional recognition

When you are awarded the MSc in Information Technology, you will automatically meet some of the conditions for professional engineering status in the UK, as follows:

Logo from BCS (Chartered Institute of IT) showing our accredited status

This course is recognised by the BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, in partial fulfilment of the educational requirement for Chartered Engineer (CEng) registration.

Find out more about what this means.


Course components  -  2017/18

The modules taught cover the following strands:

  • Programming: how to write programs and design and implement efficient data structures and algorithms; programming in the large.
  • Systems: the architecture of computer systems, networks and operating systems.
  • Information: databases, business systems and management.
  • Interfaces: how to design user interfaces that are easy to learn and use.

Students take all of the following modules:

Click on Module TitleModule TitleTermShort Description
Advanced Programming Concepts (Using Java)
Autumn Teaches Object-Oriented Programming in depth as well as data structures and algorithms.
Computer Systems Architecture for IT
Autumn Provides a broad introduction to the fundamentals of computer systems.
Distributed Performance Computing Spring

This module provides the students with a comprehensive view of high-performance computing platforms, including processing, memory and storage. It also addresses the system software support that allows the efficient management of such platform resources. Special attention is given to parallel computers, and the ways they can be programmed to provide distributed computation.

User Centred Design
Autumn User Centred Design introduces students the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). This field covers all aspects of people's interaction with digital systems.
Software Testing for IT Spring

This module aims to give students practical ability to test a wide variety of software systems, such that they gain valid information about their quality with respect to whatever standards are appropriate to the application in question. 

Software Engineering
Autumn Understand the process of engineering and design of large software systems with an emphasis on models, and methods.
Database Systems
Spring Database Systems covers specification, design, and implementation of information system. It uses UML-based notations for modelling. For design, it introduces the theory of relational databases. Concerning implementation, it discusses issues related to security, concurrency and recovery.
Information Systems & Organisations Spring The primary objective of this module is to consider the interactions between information systems, organisations, competitive strategy, and the wider economic, legal, social and political contexts.
Group Project: Computing & IT Spring The module aims to provide students with object-oriented analysis and design techniques and software engineering principals, which are directly applicable to an IT project. Students will work in teams to engage in a practical IT project.
Project Preparation Summer You choose your project in the previous term (March), from those marked as suitable for your degree on the list of projects available. PPC is essential preparation time for this project.
Final Project - Information Technology Summer & Vacation A substantial, independent research project building on the taught course. The deliverable is a dissertation.

Past Projects

Projects undertaken over the past few years include:

  • Web Usage Mining: Development of Self-Optimising Navigational Structures
  • Wiki Brainstorming and Problems with Wiki Based Collaboration
  • Context-aware multi-modal weather forecast system
  • Temporal Difference Learning in Shogi
  • User-interface for an interactive compiler
  • Garden design package
  • Heat exchanger simulator
  • Satellite communications feasibility study
  • Mouth-controlled input device
  • Analysis of the relationship between JSD and occam.

Personal Tutor

You will have a personal tutor and will be part of a tutorial group, usually comprising of five or fewer students. Your personal tutor provides academic and pastoral advice throughout your course. When you undertake your individual project, you will be allocated a supervisor within your area of interest, so your supervisor may then change.


All taught modules on the MSc in Information Technology are examined by open assessments. The assessment paper is published at the end of the week of teaching, and you will be required to submit your answers typically four weeks later. This type of assessment allows you to engage with the research literature and gives us the chance to assess your practical skills.

Once you have successfully completed the taught modules, you will undertake an extensive individual project. Here you will work on an indentified information technology topic, and document the results in a report. Additionally, you will be required to precis the project report in a conference style paper.

Assessments will take place at various times during the year. Practical exercises, reports and other forms of open assessment will be due either during the course module or just after its completion.

Timescales, Modules and Project Descriptions may be subject to change.

Internship scheme

You can also choose to apply for one of our internships, which begin after you have completed your individual project. Find out more about the scheme.



The dissertation project undertaken by students in Terms 3 and 4 (Summer Term and Vacation Term) is carried out individually, which might involve collaboration with another organisation. The subject matter of projects varies widely; most projects are suggested by members of staff, some by external organisations, and some by students themselves, usually relating to an area of personal interest that they wish to develop further.

A collaborative project is supervised by a member of the Department, but the collaborating organisation will normally provide an external supervisor. Organisations that have collaborated in projects in the past include Glasgow Town Planning Department, British Rail Passenger Services Department, North Yorkshire Police, North Yorkshire Fire Services, NEDO, the Royal Horticultural Society, Biosis UK, Centre Point sheltered housing, York Archaeological Trust, and the University of York Library.

The subject matter of projects varies widely; most projects are suggested by members of staff, some by external organisations, and some by students themselves, perhaps relating to an area of personal interest that they wish to develop further.

All project proposals are rigorously vetted and must meet a number of requirements before these are made available to the students. The department uses an automated project allocation system for assigning projects to students that takes into account supervisor and student preferences.

Examples of previous project include:

  • A Study into the User Experience and Usability of Web Enabled Services on Smartphones
  • Agent simulation of large scale complex IT systems
  • Do People Disclose their Passwords on Social Media?
  • Dynamic Sound Generation for Computer Games
  • Iterative linear programming as an optimisation method for buyer resources in online auctions evaluated using a Java-based Monte-Carlo simulation
  • Qchat (Web-based chat application for quantum physicists)
  • Software for dyslexic readers: an empirical investigation of presentation attributes
  • Web-based IQ Testing Application for Fluid Intelligence Analysis
  • Agent simulation of large scale complex IT systems

How to Apply

Suitability and Entry Requirements

The MSc in Information Technology course is intended for students with minimal or no background in computing.  We do, however, require applicants to have studied a basic programming course or have relevant basic programming skills through work experience.

Typically, you will have achieved at least an upper second class honours degree (or international equivalent) in any discipline other than Computer Science, and you should possess a basic knowledge of programming concepts. 

We are willing to consider applications from those who do not fit this profile.  We will, for example, consider applicants who do not have an appropriate qualification but have appropriate industrial experience. We are willing to consider applications from students with lower qualifications, particularly when the student has high marks in relevant modules and/or appropriate industrial experience.

Selectors for the course are looking for four essential criteria to be satisfied:

  • Candidates should show high academic ability in their own field of study, normally indicated by a good honours degree.
  • Candidates should already possess a basic knowledge of programming concepts either through coursework or work experience.
  • Candidates should not already have studied the material covered in the course.
  • Candidates should show the intellectual robustness and liveliness necessary to make the transition from their previous field of study to a new one, and to cope with the intensive nature of the course.

How to Apply

For more information about completing your application, please take a look at the University’s webpages which tell you how to apply.

In particular, please take note of the supporting documents we need to see in order to be able to make a decision about your application.  You are also required to nominate a referee who should be from your current employer or place of study.

You can apply through our online application system (SELECT).

While there is no official closing date for applications, it is important to apply as early as possible.

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For 2017 entry, we expect to again have a Taught Masters Scholarship that applicants holding an offer for one of our taught MSc courses can apply for. Find the details of this scheme and others on our Scholarship page.

Did you know that we offer our MSc students a continuation scholarship? Should you decide to stay and study for a PhD after you graduate, you could be eligible to have your fees paid. Check out the details of the award.

International Students

This course, like all others in the University, welcomes students of all backgrounds and circumstances. 

If English is not your first language, or your first degree was not taught in English, then you will need to have attained a suitable language qualification no more than two years before the start of the course. 

The University's Postgraduate Study webpages will tell you more about the English language requirements for graduate students.

Information for students

Preparing for your MSc in Information Technology

Whilst the MSc in Information Technology does not require a formal qualification in computing, we do expect you to have some understanding of computer related issues.

As everyone arrives with different experience, we have put together the following summary of what we expect you to know, with some suggestions of how you can prepare before you arrive.

You'll start the course with a focus on writing and developing Java programs. We assume that you are familiar with programming concepts and terminology, so we advise you to review basic programming concepts, such as:

  • variables and their types
  • control structures (e.g. if-statements, loops)
  • subprograms (e.g. procedures, functions)
  • compilation and debugging.

If you have never used Java, you will benefit greatly from doing some reading and trying out Java programming before you arrive. We will teach you from first principles, but the pace will be fast and you will find it easier to keep up if you've practiced with the basics beforehand. Tutorials and practical exercises are the best way for you to prepare, and the Deitel and Deitel book below is a good source of these.

Some books that you might find useful are:

  • B. Eckel, Thinking in Java.  3rd (e-version) or 4th Edition.  Prentice-Hall (E-version available free here)
  • Deitel, P.J. and Deitel, H.M. Java How to Program (10 or 11th edition), Pearson Education
  • Bloch, J. (2008) Effective Java (2nd edition), Prentice Hall
  • Charatan, Quentin and Kans, Aaron (2009) Java in Two Semesters (3rd edition), McGraw-Hill

Computer system architectures are also covered at the start of the course. You will be introduced to the basics of the internal workings of computers, from hardware upwards, including working on circuit construction and analysis in one of our hardware labs. This will provide background for the later module on distributed performance computing. Whilst you do not need any particular background, you might like to prepare by looking at the some background material such as working in different number bases (base 2, base 16) and the basics of Boolean logic functions such as AND, OR , XOR. 

The following is useful:

  • Stallings, W, Computer organization and architecture. (any recent edition) Pearson Prentice-Hall. In the 8th edition, the preparatory material is in chapters 1-3. You can also find resources online.

We will also introduce you to the concept of user-centred design.  Although no previous knowledge is assumed, you may find it useful to look at introductory material on human-computer interaction.  We recommend:

  • Rogers, Y., Sharp, H., Preece, J. (2011) Interaction Design: Beyond Human Computer Interaction, 3rd Edition. Wiley.

Residency requirements  -  2017/18

Due to the intensive nature of the course, students are required to be in York during the following periods:

  • 25 September 2017 - 1 December 2017 (Autumn term)
  • 8 January 2018 - 16 March 2018 (Spring term)
  • 16 April 2018 - 21 September 2018 (Summer term and vacation)

However, it should be noted that the MSc is full time and it is assumed that students are working whether or not they are in full attendance.

The taught modules will take place in the Autumn and Spring terms. During your break between these two terms, you should expect to be working on open assessments and preparing for your exams in January.

Work on your individual project will start at the beginning of April, and you will receive regular one-to-one supervisions throughout the Summer term. You will continue to work on your individual project over the Summer term and the vacation, when there will be continuing supervision and research-group meetings where your project can be discussed. You will finish the course when you hand in your dissertation and paper for your project in September.



With the support of the fantastic staff at York, I was able to realise my dream.  Without my experience on the MSc in Information Technology, I am quite sure I would not be where I am today - on a professional or personal front.

Small picture of Akshay Dashrath

Akshay Dashrath, MSc in IT now a developer at Novoda

Here at York, we're really proud of the fact that more than 97% of our postgraduate students go on to employment or further study within six months of graduating from York. We think the reason for this is that our courses prepare our students for life in the workplace through our collaboration with industry to ensure that what we are teaching is useful for employers.

So where do our students go once they leave York?

Pie chart showing the industry destinations of Computer Science postgraduates

Internship scheme

Improve your employment prospects by applying for one of our internships, which begin after you have completed your individual project. Find out more about the scheme.

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