Our MSc programmes: meeting the demand for data and computational skills

Author: Ben Morse
Posted: 3 Jun 2020 | 13:32

We have seen increasing demand for data analytics skills for large-scale data, and in computation that can scale up. Our MSc programmes in HPC and HPC with Data Science address this demand.

The on-campus MSc programmes in HPC and HPC with Data Science are growing rapidly. With 70 students, the class of 2020 is nearly double the size of 2019’s class. 

Thanks to the efforts of staff and with the University’s support, we have been able to continue teaching activities despite the COVID-19 restrictions. We plan to carry on as normal, even though this might require redefining “normal”. 

Online teaching

The University’s rich ecosystem of streaming and collaborative tools enabled us to switch to online teaching and supervision from the first day of the COVID-19 lockdown. Preparations are well underway for next year, and we will be ready to offer a mix of hybrid, online and blended teaching as required. 

This fast transition is the result of our long-term investment in making the most popular courses available online. We started in 2015 by offering “Practical Introduction to Data Science” and “Practical Introduction to High Performance Computing” online. The online versions of the MSc programmes in HPC and HPC with Data Science are accepting applications for their first cohort to commence in September. 

Our online MSc programmes are designed as an entirely separate offering to the on-campus versions, providing an alternative route for students to access the same material. Both programmes are designed to take 3-6 years, part-time. 

The programmes are built around the same core set of material and compulsory courses to provide a firm grounding in the basics of HPC and Data Science, as well as ensuring our graduates are comfortable using good programming and development practices.

Taught component

The core courses include absolute necessities in the IT field, such as Software Development and Programming Skills, as well as subjects specialising in high performance computing, like Message-passing Programming and Threaded Programming on the code development side, or Practical Introduction to HPC/HPC Architectures for the hardware angle.

We also offer courses in  data analytics and data management, which are mandatory for the HPC with Data Science programmes, but accessible to all our students.

These core subjects form half of the taught content. Students are then able to take a number of optional courses from a selection to reach the 120-credit requirement for the taught component – usually in Semester 2 for the on-campus version or from year 2 onwards for the online version to engage with further advanced material.

At EPCC, we strive to teach skills that are applicable to a wide range of real-world challenges, and we use this approach both in our taught courses as well as in the dissertation projects. 


With the taught component successfully completed, students have the opportunity to utilise the skills and techniques learned on the programme in their dissertations. 

Dissertation projects are often undertaken on real-world problems in collaboration with partners from other area of the University, wider Higher Education section, or externally. 

Our students work on industry-motivated problems using state-of-the-art and/or emerging hardware solutions under the supervision of experienced staff. 

As in the previous years, the 2020 dissertation projects include a number of collaborations ranging from data analytics solutions for the  hospitality industry through high-performance computation for image analysis in astronomy, to the use of novel hardware, such as FPGAs and spiNNaker boards. 

With the launch of the online MSc programme and the ability to deliver even on-campus teaching online, we are as ready for 2020/21 as can be. 

We will be looking for collaborations suitable for the dissertation projects, which will be offered to our students in early autumn. The dissertation projects typically concern (but are not limited to) data exploration and analysis, enhancing performance via parallelisation, and emerging applications of AI and ML techniques to new domains. 

Further information is available on our website or you can email our dissertations team! 

MSc programmes content 

Our online and campus programmes are built around the same core set of material and compulsory courses to provide a firm grounding in the basics of HPC and Data Science:

  • Message-passing Programming (10 credits)
  • Threaded Programming(10 credits)
  • Programming Skills (10 credits)
  • Software Development (10 credits)
  • Project Preparation (10 credits)
  • HPC Architectures (10 credits) (on-campus)* / Practical Introduction to HPC (20 credits) (online)
  • Fundamentals of Data Management (10 credits) & Data Analytics with High Performance Computing (10 credits) (on-campus)** / Practical Introduction to Data Science (20 credits) (online)**

* Compulsory for HPC only.   **Compulsory for HPC with Data Science only.

Find out more



Ben Morse, EPCC


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