Big Data

MSc


Introduction

We offer a suite of Masters programmes at Stirling. You can see them all here.

This is a one year, full time taught MSc. designed to lead to a job in data science or analytics.

Big Data skills are in high demand and they attract high salaries. The MSc Big Data at the University of Stirling is a taught advanced Master's degree covering the technology of Big Data and the science of data analytics.

The course is taught in the beautiful Stirling campus in the heart of Scotland with support from companies who recruit data scientists.

The course covers Big Data technology, advanced analytics and industrial and scientific applications. The syllabus includes:

  • Mathematics for Big Data
  • Python scripting
  • Big Data theory and computing foundations
  • Big databases and NoSQL
  • Analytics, machine learning and data visualisation
  • Optimisation and heuristics for big problems
  • Hadoop and MapReduce
  • Scientific and commercial applications
  • Student projects

Keep up to date by following our blog.

Key information

  • Degree type: MSc
  • Duration: One year
  • Start date: September
  • Course Director: Kevin Swingler
Download course leaflet

Kevin Swingler Computing Science and Mathematics
University of Stirling
Stirling
FK9 4LA
Scotland
UK
+44 (0) 1786 467676 www.stir.ac.uk/natural-sciences/about-us/csm

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Course objectives

  • An understanding of the issues of scalability of databases, data analysis, search and optimisation
  • The ability to choose the right solution for a commercial task involving big data, including databases, architectures and cloud services
  • An understanding of the analysis of big data including methods to visualise and automatically learn from vast quantities of data
  • An appreciation of the size of search spaces in large problems and the ability to choose an appropriate heuristic to find a near optimal solution
  • The programming skills to build simple solutions using big data technologies such as MapReduce and scripting for NoSQL, and the ability to write parallel algorithms for multi processor execution.

What makes us different?

World-class library and teaching facilities

Studying for a degree means learning in different ways; managing your own time; conducting research; mastering new computer skills. We have the facilities and advice on hand to help you do all this - and do it well.

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Life at Stirling

Of the many reasons students come to Stirling, such as academic reputation and research standards, one factor is always cited: the outstanding beauty of the University's Stirling campus.

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

A minimum of a second class Honours degree or equivalent in a numerate subject such as maths, computing, engineering or an analytic science. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate work experience are encouraged to apply. 

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS: 6.0 with 5.5 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade C
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 54 with 51 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 80 with no subtest less than 17

For more information go to English language requirements

If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard. View our range of pre-sessional courses.

Application procedure

Entry to the MSc is at the start of the Autumn Semester in mid-September. There are no closing dates for applications to the course, but applicants should note it is not usually possible to complete the application formalities in under two weeks, so applications received after the start of September each year will usually be considered for entry the following year. International applicants are advised that visa formalities can take a number of months and hence a timely application is important.

Please click on the 'Apply Now' button at the right hand side to apply.

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

Our Big Data MSc is a mix of practical technology such as Hadoop, NoSQL, and Map-Reduce, important maths and computing theory, and advanced computational techniques. The course will teach you what you need to know to collect, manage and analyse big, fast moving data for science or commerce.

Foundation Maths and Computing

Our foundation maths and computing courses make sure you have the theoretical grounding to build on for the rest of the course.

Big Databases

After a recap of SQL, this course takes you through the various NoSQL databases such as document stores like MongoDB, column stores like Cassandra and graph databases like Neo4j. You'll learn to pick the right database for your application and how to build, search and distribute the data in them.

Big Data Analytics

Sometimes, the more data you have, the better hidden the important facts become. Distilling information from big data needs fast, parallel analytics. We guide you through machine learning, data visualisation, web analytics and sentiment analysis. You'll learn the practicalities of big data analytics with techniques from data mining, machine learning, statistics, data visualisation and web analytics. Learn how we are training computers to understand the present and predict the future with data from finance, marketing, and social media.

Hadoop and MapReduce

This course covers distributed data processing with Hadoop and MapReduce in addition to the use of Condor for distributed computation.

Heuristics for Big Problems

Many big problems from scheduling a large airport to routing a fleet of trucks cannot be solved to perfection. This course covers computational heuristics for function optimisation where the search space is far too large to search exhaustively.

Scientific and Commercial Applications

With guest lectures from science and industry, this course presents a set of case studies of Big Data in action. You'll learn first hand how companies are using big data in fields such as banking, travel, telecoms, genetics and neuroscience.

Projects

Each student will carry out a project using a Big Data technology of their choice. With support from our staff you will choose a specialist topic and become a real expert. You'll start with an indepth analysis of the topic and its technology. Then you'll build a solution that will showcase your skills to employers and give you the knowledge to win a high level, high pay job.

Assessment

This is a practical course and the assessment reflects that. Each module has an assignment and an exam, but the emphasis is on the course work.

Technology

Here are some of the technologies you will learn about on our Big Data MSc:

Analytics

Analytical and problem solving methods you will learn include:
  • Maths and Statistics
    • Probability and likelihood
    • Information theory
    • Linear algebra
    • Hilbert spaces and tensors
  • Data Mining
    • Neural networks
    • Bayesian networks
    • Decision Trees
    • EM Algorithm
  • Optimisation
    • Local search
    • Genetic algorithms
    • Particle swarm optimisation
    • Genetic programming

Why Stirling?

Video

REF2014

In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.

Strengths

Industry and Employer Partnerships

Stirling is a member of The Data Lab, which is an Innovation Centre with the aim of developing the data science talent and skills required by industry in Scotland. The data lab with facilitate industry involvement and collaboration and provide funding and resources for students. You can find out more about the Data Lab from their web site: www.thedatalab.com

The Stirling MSc in Big Data has been developed in partnership with global and local companies who employ data scientists. HSBC have a development centre in Stirling and have provided some very interesting Big Data projects to our students. Amazon’s development centre in Scotland is close by in Edinburgh. The course features a long summer project, generally in partnership with a company or technology provider, that provides students with a showcase of their skills to take to employers or launch online.

We also have a programme of invited speakers from industry who give the students a chance to ask questions of people who are doing data science every day. Recent companies have included MongoDB, SkyScanner and HSBC.

Careers and employability

Career opportunities

Demand for people with big data skills is projected to grow rapidly in the coming years. Average salaries are higher in Big Data jobs than the IT average and the skills shortage will make that gap bigger.

The Stirling Big Data MSc is run in partnership with industry and is designed to produce graduates with the skills that companies need. 

e-Skills UK estimate that:

  • The number of Big Data jobs in the UK rose by 41% from 2012 - 2013
  • By 2020 there will be 56,000 Big Data jobs in the UK alone
  • Big Data professionals earn on average 31% more than other IT professionals
  • 77% of companies say it is difficult to recruit people with the Big Data skill they need

Source

We keep a constantly updated feed of Big Data jobs here.

Online application process

Please choose a start date and study method from the drop-down list below, and click the Apply Now button below to begin the online application process. (Please make sure you have consulted the Postgraduate Study pages on the University website and the Online Application Guidance Notes before continuing).

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Fees

2016/17 Overseas £13,950
2016/17 Home/EU £4,500
2015/16 Overseas £13,500
2015/16 Home/EU £4,500

You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.

Please note there is an additional charge for the conferral of your degree. This will be charged at the rate applicable when you complete your studies. View more information

Scholarships & funding

Fees Paid for Scottish/EU Students

We have a number of funded places available for Scottish/EU students, covering the full cost of the fees. Simply apply for a place on the programme and, if you qualify, you will be considered for the award. Places will be awarded on a first come, first serve basis. See here for more details.

GREAT Britain Scholarships - India 2015

Computing Science at University of Stirling is delighted to partner with GREAT Britain Scholarships India to offer three students the opportunity to be awarded the GREAT Britain India Scholarships when studying the MSc Big Data. GREAT Britain Scholarships India is a joint programme part funded through GREAT funds and part funded by Stirling's School of Natural Sciences. Three GREAT Britain India scholarships will be awarded to students joining the MSc Big Data programme in September 2015. Please contact us for more details.

For more details of the GREAT Britain scholarship and to apply, click here.

For more information on possible sources of funding, visit:  www.stir.ac.uk/postgraduate/financial-information/

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