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Data Science - MSc

Course Description

Data science is an emerging new area of science. With City’s MSc in Data Science you can develop the skills and knowledge to analyse data in many forms and communicate insights.

Who is it for?

This programme is for students who have a numerate first degree or can demonstrate numerate skills. Students are often at the early stages of their careers in diverse professions including economics, statistics and computer science.

Students will have a curiosity about data, and will want to learn new techniques to boost their career and be part of exciting current industry developments. The MSc in Data Science includes some complex programming tasks because of the applied nature of the course, so many students have a mathematics or statistics background and enjoy working with algorithms.


The demand for data scientists in the UK has grown more than ten-fold in the past five years *. The amount of data in the world is growing exponentially. From analysing tyre performance to detecting problem gamblers, wherever data exists, there are opportunities to apply it.

City’s MSc Data Science programme covers the intersection of computer science and statistics, machine learning and practical applications. We explore areas such as visualisation because we believe that data science is about generating insight into data as well as its communication in practice.

The programme focuses on machine learning as the most exciting technology for data and we have learned from our own graduates that this is of high value when it comes to employment within the field. At City, we have excellent expertise in machine learning and the facilities students need to learn the technical aspects of data analysis. We also have a world-leading centre for data visualisation, where students get exposed to the latest developments on presenting and communicating their results – a highly sought after skill.


There is the opportunity to do an internship as part of the programme. The final project, which is normally three months for a full-time student, can be extended to six months if you want to study within a specific organisation. When it comes to the big data and data science area, we have established relationships with organisations including the BBC, Microsoft and The British Library so you can be confident that with City, your access to professional experience is unparalleled. One recent student undertook an internship with Google and has since secured a job within the company.

Academic facilities

The School's computer science laboratories are equipped with the latest up-to-date hardware and software. From Oracle’s leading commercial object-relational database server to PCs with state-of-the-art NVidia GPUs for computer graphics, you will have access to an array of tools to support your learning.

The MSc Data Science programme offers two (three by mid 2016) dedicated computer servers for the Big Data module, which you can also use for your final project to analyse large data sets. We give you the opportunity to undertake training in MATLAB, the most popular numerical and technical programming environment, while you study.


A scholarship for the full fees of the MSc will be offered to an outstanding applicant. The scholarship is available to UK/EU and overseas students, studying full-time. To be considered for the scholarship, please include with your full application a one-page essay with your answer to the question:

'What are the challenges that Data Science faces and how would you address those challenges?'

The submission deadline for anyone wishing to be considered for the scholarship is: 1 MAY 2017

Teaching and learning

The teaching and learning methods we use mean that students’ specialist knowledge and autonomy increase as they progress through each module. Active researchers guide your progress in the areas of machine learning, data visualization, and high-performance computing, which culminates with an individual project. This is an original piece of research conducted with academic supervision, but largely independently and, where appropriate, in collaboration with industrial partners.

Taught modules are delivered through a series of 20 hours of lectures and 10 hours of tutorials/laboratory sessions. Lectures are normally used to:
-Present and exemplify the concepts underpinning a particular subject.
-Highlight the most significant aspects of the syllabus.
-Indicate additional topics and resources for private study.

Tutorials help you develop the skills to apply the concepts we have covered in the lectures. We normally achieve this through practical problem solving contexts.

Laboratory sessions give you the opportunity to apply concepts and techniques using state-of-the-art software, environments and development tools.

In addition to lectures, laboratory sessions and tutorial support, you also have access to a personal tutor. This is an academic member of staff from whom you can gain learning support throughout your degree. In addition, City’s online learning environment Moodle contains resources for each of the modules from lecture notes and lab materials, to coursework feedback, model answers, and an interactive discussion forum.

We expect you to study independently and complete coursework for each module. This should amount to approximately 120 hours per module if you are studying full time. Each module is assessed through a combination of written examination and coursework, where you will need to answer theoretical and practical questions to demonstrate that you can analyse and apply data science methods and techniques.

The individual project is a substantial task. It is your opportunity to develop a research-related topic under the supervision of an academic member of staff. This is the moment when you can apply what you have learnt to solve a real-world problem using large datasets from industry, academia or government and use your knowledge of collecting and processing real data, designing and implementing big data methods and applying and evaluating data analysis, visualisation and prediction techniques. At the end of the project you submit a substantial MSc project report, which becomes the mode of assessment for this part of the programme.

Course content

Data science is the area of study concerned with the extraction of insight from large collections of data.

The course covers the study, integration and application of advanced methods and techniques from:
-Data analysis and machine learning
-Data visualisation and visual analytics
-High-performance, parallel and distributed computing
-Knowledge representation and reasoning
-Neural computation
-Signal processing
-Data management and information retrieval.

It gives you the opportunity to specialise so, once you graduate, you can apply data science to any sector from health to retail. By engaging with researchers and industrial partners during the programme, you can develop your knowledge and skills within a real-world context in each of the above areas.

Core modules
-Principles of data science (15 credits)
-Machine learning (15 credits)
-Big Data (15 credits)
-Neural computing (15 credits)
-Visual analytics (15 credits)
-Research methods and professional issues (15 credits)

Elective modules
-Advanced programming: concurrency (15 credits)
-Readings in computer science (15 credits)
-Advanced databases (15 credits)
-Information retrieval (15 credits)
-Data visualisation (15 credits)
-Digital signal processing and audio programming (15 credits)
-Cloud computing (15 credits)
-Computer vision (15 credits)
-Software agents (15 credits)

Individual project - (60 credits)

Career prospects

From health to retail, and from the IT industry to government, the Data Science MSc will prepare you for a successful career as a data scientist. You will graduate with specialist skills in data acquisition, information extraction, aggregation and representation, data analysis, knowledge extraction and explanation, which are in high demand.

City's unique internships, our emphasis on machine learning and visual analytics, together with our links with the industry and Tech City, should help you gain employment as a specialist in data analysis and visualization. Graduates starting a new business can benefit from City's London City Incubator and City's links with Tech City, providing support for start-up businesses.

Visit the Data Science - MSc page on the City, University of London website for more details!

All Available Videos:

(Student Profile)

Zuber Anwar

Why did you choose to study at City University London?
I noticed the rapid growth in big data technologies in recent years and wanted to build upon his existing skills, as an experienced business analyst. City’s curriculum was one of the first in the field for Data Science and by far the best – with a perfect balance between cutting edge technology and hands on practical application

What do you enjoy most about your course?
I enjoy that it’s a challenging and wide-ranging course. Applying machine learning algorithms in one module, while you undertake visual data analytics in another later on the same day is immensely rewarding. This range of expertise means I can tailor solutions when helping organisations overcome their data challenges.

What has been your favourite module and why?
The Principles of Data Science module taught us the full data science process including: formulating business needs; wrangling (preparing) the data; coding and applying analytical tools such a principal component analysis; and finally communicating the insights - visually or otherwise. I selected a large and complex financial dataset for the project and really enjoyed applying the methods we’d learned.

What has been the highlight of your course so far?
Running algorithms and using new technologies for the first time, really gave me a buzz! When you code for all day and see your code produce useful insights, you suddenly get the energy to work for a few more hours!

Where was your internship and how was the experience?
Google. My team is amazing; the work is challenging and we work on cool things that actually matter.

What do you plan to do after you graduate?
I’m fortunate enough to have worked in banking, central government and now Google. I feel like the world is my oyster. I’ll decide nearer the time.

(Student Profile)

Minh Nguyen

Why did you choose to study at City University London?
I chose to study at City University London because it has a high reputation of offering practical course material that can be applied directly at work after graduation. The university has good partnerships with companies in London giving students the opportunity to undertake an internship programme after exams. Also, City University created a unique programme in MSc Data Science with modules that I had found very interesting and in line with my ambitions as a Data Scientist. Last but not least, London is one of the greatest cities to study IT as it is a vibrant tech hub.

What do you enjoy most about your course?
My course gave me real life hands-on experience in Data Science. I loved learning different tools, programming languages in this field such as Apache Spark, Python, Tableau, SQL etc. In addition to technical skills, we had companies such as Amazon or Hailo coming in and giving presentations about their work experience.

What has been your favourite module and why?
It is hard to pick one favourite module as there were many that I really enjoyed. If I have to pick one then I'd say Neural Computing taught by the course director. It was great to see, understand then use state-of-the-art models applied to real life data.

What has been the highlight of your course so far?
Finishing a coursework/project and seeing what I created was an amazing feeling.

Where was your internship and how was the experience?
My internship is with Reward a company doing analytics on card transaction data. I have only been here for a week now but it is already great to experience what I can do with my knowledge.

What do you plan to do after you graduate?
Seek for a job in a data-related field.

(Student Profile)

Jack Russell

City offered Jack a curriculum suited for his interests close to London's Tech City

Why did you choose to study at City University London?

I looked at all of the MSc courses being offered in Data Science in and around London and City had by far the most comprehensive and relevant curriculum for my interests, as well as being located in a great part of town, and close to where I live. The focus on commercially relevant application of cutting edge software and techniques was also a big plus, as were City's links to major innovative tech businesses.

What do you enjoy most about your course?

I enjoy the balance of theory and application, and the breadth or resources for further study we are directed to.

What has been your favourite module and why?

The big data module had us programming in Spark via the PySpark API on day one. I'm enjoying getting familiar with this technology and putting theory from the lectures into practice.

What has been a highlight of your course so far?

Meeting my classmates and finding out about their backgrounds and motivation to study Data Science has been very interesting. I'm looking forward to building a valuable network here that I'll continue to engage with and benefit from long after I graduate.

What do you plan to do after you graduate?

I'm undecided but City has prepared me for three possible paths:
- Join an innovative company as a data scientist
- Join an analytical or data science consultancy
- Set up my own start-up or consultancy. Part of the reason for taking a year out of work to study was to open myself up to serendipitous opportunities, so hopefully that will happen!


Entry Requirements

Applicants should hold an upper second-class honours degree or the equivalent from an international institution in computing, engineering, physics or mathematics, or in business, economics, psychology or health, with a demonstrable mathematical aptitude and basic programming experience, or a lower second-class honours degree (or international equivalent) with a demonstrable mathematical aptitude and relevant work experience.

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