Applied Computing

BSc (Hons)


A major skills gap is opening up in Scotland’s Computing Sector and up to 11,000 job opportunities will be available each year. 

The BSc Honours Degree in Applied Computing is a unique course developed to meet the identified skills shortages within the industry by allowing students to develop skills in key areas identified by the Scottish computing industry. Much of the focus is on software development with particular emphasis on the development of analytical skills.

This degree is taught jointly at Forth Valley College and the University of Stirling and benefits from expertise located at both of these sites. The degree has been developed with input from the Scottish computing industry who recognise the need for highly skilled “work-ready” graduates. Input from about 50 employers has contributed to the design of the curriculum.

There will be a strong focus on employability and industrial awareness and involvement throughout the four year degree.

A particular component of the programme which sets it apart from other degrees is a compulsory 3-month industrial work placement in the summer following the third academic year.

Key information

EU Applicants
The Scottish Government has confirmed that EU students enrolling in the 2018 and 2019 academic year will be entitled to free tuition fees in Scotland. EU Students will retain that status for the duration of their four year degree.

  • UCAS: T5G6
  • Qualification: BSc (Hons)
  • Study methods: Full-time
  • Start date: August
  • Course Director: Dr Mario Kolberg, Senior Lecturer, University of Stirling. Vivien Gallacher, Curriculum Manager, Forth Valley College
  • Faculty: Faculty of Natural Sciences
Download course leaflet
Download undergraduate prospectus

Vivien Gallacher, Curriculum Manager

Falkirk Campus
Grangemouth Road

View fees and finance

Course objectives

The key objective of this programme is to develop students into highly employable and sought after IT professionals. 

This course will equip you with the necessary knowledge and expertise to embark on a successful career in the IT and software development industry. The mandatory company placements will provide an ideal pathway into the industry.

What makes us different?

A major skills gap is opening up in Scotland’s Computing sector. The 2013 survey from Trade Body Scotland IS suggested that the gap is growing four times faster than for any other sector in Scotland and it calculated an additional 45,000 IT professionals would be required over the next five years and that a lack of skills is a "critical barrier as companies report increasingly hard-to-fill vacancies and specific skills shortages”. This trend is confirmed by the latest survey (2015) stating that "The demand for graduates continues to rise with 74% of businesses being likely to recruit in 2015. This is up 8% from last year."

Among the skills in greatest demand are programming, software and web development, which create ideal opportunities for well-prepared graduates.

The BSc Honours Degree in Applied Computing is a unique course developed to meet the identified skills shortages within the ICT industry through an integrated skills programmes being delivered in partnership between Forth Valley College and the University of Stirling.

The curriculum for this degree programme will continue to be driven by the evolving needs of the ICT sector in Scotland and across the world.

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

Four-year Honours degree

SQA Higher:

GCE A-level:

IB Diploma:
28 points.
Essential subjects:
To include one of Chemistry, Computing, Mathematics or Physics.
BTEC (level 3)

Other qualifications


Foundation Apprenticeships

considered to be equivalent to 1 Higher at Grade B

Essential subjects:
As listed above or equivalent.

Additional information

Mathematics Standard Grade (2), National 5 (B), Intermediate 2 (C), GCSE (C) or equivalent required.
Please note that selection will be made via a successful interview and completion of a skills test.

If examinations are taken over two sittings, or there are repeats or upgrades, the entrance requirements may be higher.

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

More information on our English language requirements

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.

Fees and costs

Fees 2018/19

Overseas students (non-EU) £ 14,460
Scottish and EU students £ 1,820.00
Students from the rest of the UK £9250 – with a generous package of scholarship options

From 2016/7 onwards, the fees for overseas undergraduates will be held at the level upon entry.

If you plan to commence your studies at the University of Stirling in January 2018, please note you will be subject to our 2017/18 fees. Please contact us for more information.

Please note: Scottish and EU students can apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have tuition fees paid by the Scottish government. Students from the rest of the UK can apply for financial assistance, including a loan to cover the full cost of the tuition fees, from the Student Loan Company.

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 should you choose to attend a graduation ceremony. View more information

Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

Scholarships and funding

Scottish and EU students can apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have tuition fees paid by the Scottish government.

Students from the rest of the UK can apply for financial assistance, including a loan to cover the full cost of the tuition fees, from the Student Loan Company.

Scholarship finder

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

This course is a collaboration between Forth Valley College and the University of Stirling. Students will spend the first two years of this four year programme at the college following an enhanced HND curriculum before transferring to the university for years three and four. During the second year at the college the students will also take a module at the university to support the transition. The programme contains a compulsory three-month industrial work placement after year three.

Delivery and assessment

In the first two years most of the course will be delivered at Forth Valley College in small classes. The College’s Learning and Teaching strategy focusses on Empowering Learners. The College strives to adopt creative approaches to learning, teaching and assessment that create engaging and stimulating opportunities for every student to develop as an effective and successful learner and increasingly take responsibility for their own learning. These approaches aim to support students as they progress onto the University full time in year three.

At the University learning will take place through lectures, small tutorial groups and most of all through laboratory work. Applied Computing is taught as a very practical subject, and almost all modules include practical assignments. Typically these count for 50 percent of the assessment grade, with the remainder given to the examination.

For an Honours degree, the grades for all advanced modules taken in semesters 5–8 are combined to give your final degree classification.

Within Forth Valley College and the University of Stirling many staff are involved in research projects in their subject area that allow them to link directly with industry. This benefits their knowledge which is then passed on to students.


Year 1

  • Computer Systems Fundamentals
  • Developing Software: Introduction
  • Troubleshooting Computing Problems
  • Professionalism and Ethics in Computing
  • Mathematics: Calculus and Matrices for Computing
  • Software Development: Programming Foundations
  • Computing: Introduction to Project Management
  • Systems Development: Introduction
  • Team Working in Computing
  • HNC Computing: Graded Unit 1 (Exam)
  • SQL: Introduction
  • Software Development: Developing Small Scale Standalone Applications
  • Computer Forensics Introduction
  • Multi User Operating Systems

Year 2

  • Software Development - OOP
  • Systems Development - Object Oriented Analysis & Design
  • Developing Mobile Web Based Applications: an Introduction
  • Software Development: Developing Websites for Multiplatform Use
  • Graded Unit 2
  • Software Development - Data Structures
  • Relational Database Management Systems
  • Mathematics for Interactive Computing: Essential Techniques
  • Managing Information (XML)

Year 3

  • Software Engineering I
  • Multimedia and Human Computer Interaction
  • Database Principles and Applications
  • Software Engineering II
  • Communications and Networks
  • Computer Game Technologies
  • Information Systems
  • Industrial Work Placement (compulsory)

Year 4

  • Honours project (compulsory)
  • Big Optimisation Spaces
  • NoSQL Databases
  • Concurrent and Distributed Systems
  • Technologies for eCommerce
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Internetworking on the Wide Scale
  • Enterprise Portals
  • Computer Security and Forensics
  • Telecommunications Systems and Services
  • Web Services

Modes of study


Why Stirling?


In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), 90 percent of the research in Computing Science & Mathematics was graded as ‘Internationally Excellent’, with the top five percent judged to be ‘World-leading’.

International Students

The University of Stirling welcomes applications from all countries.

Study abroad opportunities



This is a highly practical degree with a compulsory work placement directly addressing a major skills shortage of IT professionals. The degree has been designed in partnership with the Scottish IT industry using feedback from 50 companies to shape the programme.

Computing Science and Mathematics has strong links with Scottish industry through its Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) – with members from both Scottish and international industries such as IBM, HSBC and Adobe. Through the IAB we:

  • Maintain links with potential employers, giving students an insight into the types of job they may find and giving employers a chance to find the right employees now and influence what is taught in the future
  • Transfer knowledge and technology from the University to a wide user base
  • Make our research relevant to the user base
  • Collaborate with the user base on joint research and development projects.

At Forth Valley College, students are encouraged to take part in activities that extend and utilise their knowledge. As a STEM Assured college, students participate in STEM events such as STEM club and STEM Ambassador opportunities.

Student work has been recognised nationally. At the Scotland’s Colleges Annual Awards 2011 students were awarded Highly Commended in the Professional Learning and Enhancement Award category for a project in which the learners investigated two pieces of specialised software used by computer games developers and then cascaded their knowledge. In 2012 students ran a free PC Support service to staff and students which won the Scotland's Colleges Team Volunteering Award.

Our staff

Mario Kolberg is a senior lecturer within the Institute of Computing Science and Mathematics at the University of Stirling. He is the Stirling programme director for the BSc Hons Applied Computing. He is also the founding programme director for the Stirling MSc programmes on Software Engineering, Computing for Financial Markets and Computing for Business. He has a keen interest in improving the employability of computing science graduates. In doing so he works closely with local industry to provide industry placement opportunities to both undergraduate and postgraduate students. He is working closely with the Making the Most of Masters initiative to provide company sponsored MSc projects to Stirling MSc students.

Mario also works with industry on his research projects where his research interests include Peer-to-Peer overlay networks, Home Automation, and IP Telephony. He was leading a project funded by Panasonic (USA) and he was also the academic supervisor in a Knowledge Transfer Partnership working with a local SME on mobile phone applications. He currently works with a number of SME and international telecommunication companies on research projects. Mario has published more than 50 papers in leading scientific journals and conferences. He is a Senior Member of the IEEE and holds a PhD from the University of Strathclyde, UK.

Vivien Gallacher is the Curriculum Manager within Science and Computing at Forth Valley College.  Vivien completed a BSc in Mathematical Sciences at Strathclyde University before going on to complete her PGSE in Computing and Mathematics at Jordanhill College.  Vivien is currently responsible for HN/BSc Computing and Mathematics provision at Forth Valley College.  She is a member of the SQA Sector Panel for Computing and a member of the SQA QST for Computing.  Vivien is also a STEM Ambassador.

Careers and employability

Career opportunities

Currently, there exists a major skills shortage within the IT industry in Scotland and the UK more generally. Within Scotland, an additional 45,000 IT professionals are required over the next 5 years.

Stirling computing graduates have an excellent track record in finding well-paid jobs. Previous students have been very successful in obtaining suitable employment in a considerable diversity of posts – with small companies, with major international organisations including Accenture, IBM, HP, Yammer, Google, Microsoft, Reuters and major financial institutions such as HBOS, as well as with Local Authority and Government bodies. Potential careers might include:

Software Engineer, Systems Designer, Systems Analyst, Systems Architect, Systems Engineer, Software Developer, Web developer, Project Manager, Mobile App Developer, Java Developer

Some sample job profiles of our graduates are:

  • As a Systems Analyst, you will work on solving computer problems. This might involve adapting existing systems or using new technologies designing a new software solution In doing so, you will design software, write code, and test and fix software applications. You might also be involved in providing documentation for users. Typically you would work as part of a larger team.
  • IT Consultants closely work with clients (often at the clients premises) and advise them on how to use computer technology and applications to best meet their business needs. You will work with clients to improve their efficiency of using computer systems. This may involve the adaptation/customisation of software applications, or the development of custom applications for the specific needs of the customer. As well as technical duties, you may be involved in project management.
  • Applications Developers translate software requirements into programming code, and will usually specialise in a specific area, such as computer games or web technology. Often developers work as part of a larger team. You may be in charge of developing a certain component or part of a larger application.

Success stories

"The knowledge and skills taught in educational programmes must reflect those currently in use in the industry to ensure employability for students. Consequently, the input of businesses to educational programs is necessary to ensure that they contain relevant material to the industry. The new BSc Hons Applied Computing by Forth Valley College and the University of Stirling matches this requirement, as the software industry was involved in shaping the programme.

"On graduation, students need to show a clear understanding of the dynamic between business clients and developers, as well as an awareness of the management of a project with particular focus on deliverability, scheduling, and finances. This knowledge can only be obtained from real working experience, which is why students need opportunities to use skills that they have obtained from education in real life scenarios. This makes the industrial placements included in this new programme particularly valuable to the students. The software sector is a rapidly evolving industry where only graduates with relevant skills and solid working experience can hope to find employment."

Ross Tuffee
MD and Co-Founder, DOGFI.SH Mobile Ltd

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