MSc in Software Engineering | University of Oxford
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MSc in Software Engineering

About the course

The MSc in Software Engineering teaches the principles of modern software engineering, together with the tools, methods and techniques that support their application. It offers working professionals the opportunity to learn more about the technological advances that are changing their lives, through a course of part-time study at one of the world's leading universities.

The programme offers short courses in more than 35 different subjects: from requirements engineering to object-oriented programming; from security principles to the management of risk and quality; from software engineering mathematics to database design.

These courses may be used as credit towards a master’s degree. The award requires the successful completion of 10 courses, together with a master’s-level project and dissertation.

Each course is delivered by an expert in the subject, and includes an intense teaching week of classes, practical sessions, and group work; class sizes are kept small to facilitate interaction and to promote effective learning. Each subject is taught at least once a year - some are taught two or three times - and most can be studied in any order.

An assignment will be distributed on the last day of the teaching week. This has a dual purpose: it continues the learning process of the week, allowing you to test and extend your own understanding through application outside the classroom, in completing a personal "mini-project"; it also provides, through the subsequent submission within a six-week time frame, the basis for a formal assessment of ability and understanding. Assignments are treated as examinations of the University of Oxford.

In addition to the taught part, you must complete an extended project. Although the project needs to be an original demonstration of ability and understanding, there is no requirement to advance the state of the art in the field. You need only choose and apply an appropriate selection of existing ideas and techniques—provided that their choice, the process of application, and any outcomes are properly explained. New ideas and techniques are welcome, but they are not expected. The project component involves compulsory attendance at a project module in Oxford, at which you will present and refine your proposal, and attend teaching sessions on research skills, engineering in context, and social, legal and ethical issues.

The results of the project work are presented in a short dissertation of 15,000-20,000 words, or 45-60 pages. This forms the basis for formal assessment of the project, just as the written assignments form the basis for assessment of the taught modules. The dissertation can be submitted at any time during the allowed period of study, although it is usually the last piece of work you will submit before being examined.

You will be assigned a supervisor at the beginning of your period of study. Supervisors can provide advice on all academic matters, including course selection and examination entry. Supervisors will also provide guidance on the choice of a suitable MSc project, and on the preparation of a dissertation.

The programme also offers an alternative master’s degree, the MSc in Software and Systems Security, available to those who take the majority of their courses, and their MSc project and dissertation, in this area.

Graduate destinations

Students are usually in full-time employment and return to the same jobs after completing their degree.

Related courses

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2017-18

Information regarding the entry requirements for this course can be accessed at the following location:

MSc in Software Engineering entry requirements


The Department of Computer Science offers IT support and access to its library during office hours. Access is offered for other University libraries, such as the Radcliffe Science Library, the Bodleian Library and the Hooke Library.

The programme has two dedicated teaching facilities with lecture and lab space, dedicated tea and coffee making facilities and a student break area.

The department holds an annual dinner with academic and support staff, for current students to meet and network with alumni of the programme.


There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.

For students applying to programmes within the MPLS Division at Oxford, Research Council and other funding opportunities available, subject to eligibility. These opportunities are included in the Fees, funding and scholarship search.


Modular course fees

The fees for this course are charged on a modular basis. You will pay one programme or registration fee and an additional fee for each module studied. The registration fee is split into four instalments, which are due at or before the beginning of each year of study. This MSc can be undertaken in a minimum of two and a maximum of four years and all instalments will be due regardless of duration of study. Students must complete ten modules, together with a masters'-level project and dissertation. The cost of the project module is included in the MSc registration fee. Extension fees will apply at £100 per term beyond the four years.

Fees for the 2016-17 academic year (up to and including Trinity Term 2017 intake)

Fee status

Registration fee

Fee per module

Total estimated fees

(including Islands)
£8,040£1,850Please see the department’s website for further details

Fees for the 2017-18 academic year

Fee status

Registration fee

Fee per module

Total estimated fees

(including Islands)
£8,280£1,910Please see the department’s website for further details

The fees shown above include college fees. For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

For more information about tuition fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

Additional information

Please note that this course requires that you attend in Oxford for teaching, and you may incur additional travel and accommodation expenses for this. Further, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Depending on your choice of topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.

Living costs

In addition to your fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2017-18 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between £1,002 and £1,471 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our Living costs page. If you are studying part-time your living costs may vary depending on your personal circumstances but you must still ensure that you will have sufficient funding to meet these costs for the duration of your course.


The following colleges accept students on the MSc in Software Engineering:

How to apply

Admission to the Software Engineering programme is administered directly by the programme office. To apply and for further details about the programme, please see the Computer Science website.

Apply via CS

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