MSc Big Data

Big Data skills are in high demand. Gain skills in big data technology, advanced analytics and industrial and scientific applications on our advanced Masters course.

We are no longer accepting applications for September 2022 entry from students who require a visa to study in the UK.

Key facts

  • Award Masters / MSc, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate
  • Start date September 2022, January 2023
  • Duration September full-time 12 months; September part-time 24 months; January full-time 21 months
  • Mode of study part time, full time
  • Delivery on campus

Accreditations

BCS (Chartered Institute for IT)

British Computer Society logo

Overview

 

Big data is increasingly important in today’s commercial landscape. As a data scientist specialising in big data, you’ll help companies make sense of large amounts of structured and unstructured data, providing rapid insights that enable them to make better, quicker decisions.

The MSc Big Data is a taught advanced Masters degree covering the technology of Big Data and the science of data analytics. You’ll gain practical skills in big data technology, advanced analytics and industrial and scientific applications.

The course will teach you how to collect, manage and analyse big, fast moving data for science or commerce. You’ll learn skills in cutting-edge technology such as Data Analytics, R, Hadoop, NoSQL and Machine Learning. At the same time, you’ll delve into important maths and computing theory, and learn the advanced computational techniques you need to develop your career in data science.

Our MSc has been developed in partnership with global and local companies who employ data scientists. Since the course was launched in 2012 we have developed a great relationship with employers who are looking for the skills that we teach.

The University of Stirling is associated with The Data Lab, an Innovation Centre that aims to develop the data science talent and skills required by industry in Scotland. It also supports our students with funding, networking and routes into employment. We also have close links with the Scottish Informatics and Computing Science Alliance (SICSA).

As a graduate in Big Data you’ll be able to work in a wide range of sectors such as digital technologies, energy and utilities, financial services, public sector and healthcare.

Scotland is a growing and dynamic country with an exciting future at the heart of the data science revolution. £661 million invested in vision of turning capital city into the ‘Data Capital of Europe’ (Source: Scottish Development International).

I chose to study at the University of Stirling because of the vast and challenging variety of modules. The academic staff have been great doing a tremendous job. They're very helpful and always there to talk to. The campus is really beautiful and very comfortable to study with all necessary amenities around.

Vinod Kumar Sudan, MSc Big Data student

 

Top reasons to study with us

Course objectives

The syllabus for the MSc Big Data includes:

  • Mathematics and Statistics for Big Data
  • Python scripting
  • Business and scientific applications of Big Data
  • Big databases and NoSQL including MongoDB, Cassandra and Neo4J
  • Analytics, machine learning and data visualisation using Weka, R and ScikitLearn
  • Cluster computing with Hadoop, Spark, Hive and MapReduce
  • Student projects including the possibility of paid internships

On this Masters course you’ll gain:

  • 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
  • the programming skills to build solutions using big data technologies such as MapReduce and scripting for NoSQL, and the ability to write parallel algorithms for multi-processor execution

Professional accreditation

BCS (Chartered Institute for IT)

Free Microsoft Azure accreditation

Students on this programme are offered the opportunity to take Microsoft accredited courses in addition to their academic study. The additional courses are free and include access to the Microsoft Azure platform and the course exam. This year we offered Azure AI Fundamentals. The courses take one week and are taught by university lecturers. Students who pass the course receive Microsoft accreditation, which is highly sought after in the job market.

Work placements

The course features a substantial summer project, generally in partnership with a company or technology provider.

Flexible learning

If you’re interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email Graduate Admissions to discuss your course of study.

Research overview

Our team of academics in the department of Computing Science and Mathematics investigate novel and effective approaches to dynamic and uncertain real-world problems in complex systems and environments. They explore the interdisciplinary connections between computer science, mathematics, life sciences, social sciences and management.

We work collaboratively with a number of organisations, including The Data Lab (Scotland’s Data Science Innovation Centre, which supports students with funding, networking and routes to employment) and the Scottish Informatics and Computing Science Alliance (SICSA), to ensure our students have the best platform to succeed.

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

A minimum of a second class honours degree or equivalent. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.

Other routes of entry

If you don’t currently meet the academic requirements for this course, INTO University of Stirling offers a variety of preparation programmes that can earn you the qualifications and skills you need for direct entry.

Explore INTO Stirling programmes to see the pathway and pre-masters routes available for this course and others at the University of Stirling.

International entry requirements

View the entry requirements for your country.

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 Academic or UKVI 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each sub-skill 
  • Cambridge C1 Advanced (CAE) 169 overall with a minimum of 162 in each sub-skill
  • Cambridge C2 Proficiency (CPE) 180 overall with a minimum of 162 in each sub-skill
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic) 60 overall with a minimum of 59 in each sub-skill
  • IBT TOEFL 78 overall with a minimum of 17 in listening, 18 in reading, 20 in speaking and 17 in writing
  • IBT TOEFL Special Home Edition Test 78 overall with a minimum of 17 in listening, 18 in reading, 20 in speaking and 17 in writing
  • Trinity ISE II Pass overall with a Pass in each sub-skill, ISE III Pass overall and in all sub-skills, ISE IV Pass overall and in all sub-skills
  • Aptis (4 skills) CEFR B2 overall and B2 in all sub-skills
  • Duolingo 95 overall with a minimum of 90 in all sub-skills
  • LanguageCert International ESOL B2 Communicator - High Pass overall with minimum 25 in each sub-skill

Last updated: 24 March 2022

You must also check the specific English language requirements for your country.

For more information on ways that you can meet our English language requirements, including options to waive the requirement, please read our information on English language requirements.

Pre-sessional English language courses

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

Find out more about our pre-sessional English language courses.

Course details

Course structure

Mathematical Foundations

This course will equip student with the some basic mathematical knowledge and problem solving skills.

Statistics for Data Science

The course is intended to give students:

  • a basis for the analysis and interpretation of quantitative information
  • an understanding of the basic ideas underlying statistical methods at an introductory level
  • an understanding of how to overcome problems when analysing big data sets

Big Databases

  • After a recap of SQL, this course takes you through the various NoSQL databases, including document stores like MongoDB, column stores like Cassandra and graph databases such as 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

  • You'll learn the practicalities of big data analytics with techniques from data mining, machine learning, statistics, data visualisation and web analytics. You’ll explore how we’re training computers to understand the present and predict the future with data from finance, marketing and social media.

Analytical and problem solving methods you will learn include:

  • Maths and Statistics
    • Probability and likelihood
    • Information theory
    • Linear algebra
    • Statistics
  • Data Mining
    • Neural networks
    • Bayesian networks
    • Decision Trees
    • DM project management

Hadoop and MapReduce

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

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.

Modules

The module information below provides an example of the types of course module you may study. The details listed are for the current academic year (September 2021). Modules and start dates are regularly reviewed and may be subject to change in future years.

Course Details

Teaching

There’s a real mix of practical technology sessions taught in labs and workshops along with lectures, seminars and tutorials teaching you the Big Data theories.

You’ll carry out a project using a Big Data technology of your choice. With support from our staff, you’ll choose a specialist topic and become a real expert. You'll start with an in-depth 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 salary job.

We have a programme of invited speakers from industry giving you the opportunity to ask questions of people who are doing data science every day. Recent participants include MongoDB, SkyScanner and HSBC.

Assessment

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

Course director

Fees and funding

Fees and costs

  2021/22 2022/23
Students from the UK£9,350£9,850
Students from the Republic of Ireland£9,350£9,850
Overseas (non-EU) students£20,845£21,345
European Union students£20,845£21,345

Students from the UK

Course fees

Fees shown are for a full-time, one-year Masters course.

If you need to extend your period of study or repeat study, you will be liable for additional fees.

If you are studying part time, the total course fee will be split over the years that you study. The total fee will remain the same and will be held at the rate set in your year of entry.

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

Students from the Republic of Ireland

Course fees

Fees shown are for a full-time, one-year Masters course.

If you need to extend your period of study or repeat study, you will be liable for additional fees.

If you are studying part time, the total course fee will be split over the years that you study. The total fee will remain the same and will be held at the rate set in your year of entry.

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

European Union students

EU Postgraduate Scholarship

Eligible EU students will automatically receive our EU Postgraduate Scholarship, which provides a 40% fee discount on full-time, on-campus postgraduate degrees at the University of Stirling.

Course fees

Fees shown are for a full-time, one-year Masters course.

If you need to extend your period of study, you will be liable for additional fees.

If you are studying part time, the total course fee will be split over the years that you study. The total fee will remain the same and will be held at the rate set in your year of entry.

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

Overseas students (non-EU)

We offer a range of funding options for overseas students.

Course fees

Fees shown are for a full-time, one-year Masters course.

If you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for additional fees.

If you are studying part time, the total course fee will be split over the years that you study. The total fee will remain the same and will be held at the rate set in your year of entry.

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

Postgraduate tuition fee loans

This course is eligible for a postgraduate tuition fee loan from one of the UK’s governments. See the section, below, for more details.

Additional costs

There are some instances where additional fees may apply. Depending on your chosen course, you may need to pay additional costs, for example for field trips. Learn more about additional fees.

Scholarships and funding

Postgraduate tuition fee loans

Scottish students may be eligible to apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for loans of up to £10,000 to cover tuition fees and associated living costs.

English students can apply for a loan of up to £11,570 each year as part of the Postgraduate Masters Loan Scheme.

Welsh students can apply for financial support of up to £18,025 as a combination of grant and loan from Student Finance Wales.

Northern Irish students can apply for a postgraduate tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 from Student Finance NI.

If you have the talent, ability and drive to study with us, we want to make sure you make the most of the opportunity – regardless of your financial circumstances.

Learn more about available funding opportunities or use our scholarship finder to explore our range of scholarships.

Cost of living

If you’re domiciled in the UK, you can typically apply to your relevant funding body for help with living costs. This usually takes the form of student loans, grants or bursaries, and the amount awarded depends upon your personal circumstances and household income.

European Union and overseas students won’t normally be able to claim living support through SAAS or other UK public funding bodies. You should contact the relevant authority in your country to find out if you’re eligible to receive support.

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

We aim to be as flexible as possible, and offer a wide range of payment methods - including the option to pay fees by instalments. Learn more about how to pay

After you graduate

  • 95% of our postgraduate leavers are in employment or further study within fifteen months of graduating (Graduate Outcomes Survey 2021, HESA)
  • Our career services is 1st in Scotland, top 5 in the UK and top 15 in the world (UK International Student Barometer (ISB) Benchmark and Global ISB Benchmark 2018)

Big data skills are in high demand. You will have opportunities with data-driven companies from a wide variety of sectors and command a salary that’s typically higher than the IT average. As a graduate in Big Data you’ll be able to work in a wide range of sectors, such as digital technologies, energy and utilities, financial services, public sector and healthcare.

Our Masters in Big Data has been developed in partnership with companies that employ data scientists and includes the possibility of an internship that will enable you to make industry connections that could benefit your future career. We are also part of The Data Lab which supports students with funding, networking and routes into employment.

Big Data professionals earn an average 31% more than other IT professionals in the industry.

What our students said

Suprith Kumar
Suprith Kumar
MSc Big Data
Studying MSc Big Data at Stirling helped me learn more on advanced technologies, research works, new opportunities in the field of data science, and interpersonal skills. As part of the course, I did a placement with the Epidemiology Research Unit (FISH VET GROUP) as a Data Scientist Intern.
Read Suprith's story
Beth Watson
Beth Watson
MSc Big Data
The Big Data course was very well designed. The range of topics and technologies covered meant that students gained a basic knowledge in a variety of areas which can be further expanded in a future career.
Read Beth's story
Jinmo Yang
Jinmo Yang
Korea South
MSc Big Data
What firstly attracted me to study Big Data at Stirling was the well-structured nature of the course. I like that I can get a general and practical understanding of the Big Data field.
Read Jinmo's story

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