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Professional Software Development

Providing high quality professionals for the software development industry.

The growth of the ICT industry has been identified as a top priority for the Northern Ireland Executive. According to Invest NI, Northern Ireland is the leading foreign direct investment region in Europe for software development and IT technical support centres. There are more than 900 companies in the ICT sector and many of these are international organisations.

The majority of new jobs have been in knowledge industries particularly ICT including software development, software testing and funds administration.

It is against this backdrop that we offer this course to graduates in subjects other than computing as an opportunity for career change, to enable them to exploit the opportunities for personal and professional development offered by this burgeoning sector.

The intensive one-year master's conversion course is aimed at highly-motivated graduates with a good honours degree in any discipline with no more than 50% computing content. While the course has a particular focus on the employment needs of the local economy, the skills and abilities developed are easily transferred to a more global stage.

The overall aim of this course is to provide graduates equipped to apply best practice in software engineering to the development of a wide range of software systems in a variety of organisations. Skilled software developers are needed to support Northern Ireland's burgeoning software industry.

Work placement / study abroad

Teaching and learning assessment
Teaching is delivered through a combination of lectures, directed tutorials, seminars and practical sessions. Support is also provided for project preparation and implementation.

Entry requirements

Entry conditions
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University's General Entrance Requirements. For general entrance requirements go to:

Entry Requirements
1) A second class honours degree or better from a university of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, from the Council for National Academic Awards, the National Council for Educational Awards, the Higher Education and Training Awards Council, or from an institution of another country which has been recognised as being of an equivalent standard; or

2) an equivalent standard (normally 50%) in a Graduate Diploma, Graduate Certificate, Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma or an approved alternative qualification; and

3) the content of the qualification presented (as described in (i) may have a maximum of 50% computing content.

You must satisfy the General Entrance Requirements for admission to a first degree course and hold a GCSE pass in English Language and Mathematics at grade C or above (or equivalent)

The Faculty of Computing and Engineering does not accept students with Essential Skills in Application of Number as the only mathematics qualification. Please contact the Faculty Office directly on Tel: 028 90 366305 if you have a query concerning this matter. Thank you.

In exceptional circumstances, where an individual has substantial and significant experiential learning, a portfolio of written evidence demonstrating the meeting of graduate qualities (including subject-specific outcomes, as determined by the Course Committee) may be considered as an alternative entrance route. Evidence used to demonstrate graduate qualities may not be used for exemption against modules within the programme.

English Language Requirements
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Exemptions and transferability
The entry requirements facilitate accreditation of prior learning.


This is a full-time, one year (12 month) programme, delivered across three semesters.

Careers or further progression

Career options
There is a strong demand in the local Northern Ireland economy and beyond for graduates with software development skills. Coupled with the skills and knowledge of their primary degree, graduates from this course will be well placed to find employment in private industry, public sector organisations and in research. They will have the necessary skills to work in initially work in roles such as software developers, software testers and/or academic or commercial researchers but will also have the capacity to diversify into other roles such as independent consultants.

Professional recognition
BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT 
Accredited by BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT for the purposes of partially meeting the academic requirement for registration as a Chartered IT Professional.

Further enquiries

School of Computing and Intelligent Systems
T: +44 (0)28 7167 5382

Course Director:Dr Tom Lunney
T: +44 (0)28 7167 5388

Dr Sandra Moffett
T:+44 (0)28 7167 5381

Subjects taught

Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.

Year one
Computer Hardware
Year: 1
This module introduces students to the basic hardware components from which a computer system is constructed and the organisation of these components. The architecture is discussed and key concepts considered in the context of the programmable machine. Students will also gain an understanding of how computers communicate in the context both of local and wide area networks.

Professional Software Development I
Year: 1
The module introduces software development concepts and practices in a scaffolding manner enabling students to progressively develop their knowledge. This will be reinforced by interwoven practical lab sessions and tutorial workshops which will focus on and enhance all the necessary practical skills: problem solving, software design, programming skills and software testing to the high level of competence required by industry. The module is also intended to equip students with the knowledge, skills and habits that enable them to function as autonomous, accountable IT professionals.

Operating Systems Fundamentals
Year: 1
This module gives students a detailed introduction to the functions of modern operating systems. Particular emphasis is placed on the practical implementation of theoretical concepts and on the key area of Resource Management and Shell Scripting. Students will have the opportunity to develop and consolidate their understanding of computer hardware as well as their software development skills, and will gain experience of using a modern Unix-like operating system.

Professional Software Development 2
Year: 1
This module uses interlinked lectures and lab sessions to introduce selection and repetition mechanisms with Java. This enables the introduction of arrays as an extended intermediate storage structure and also files as a permanent storage mechanism. The module extends their object-oriented techniques and the Java constructs into the hierarchy of super and sub classes and the area of inheritance. The module extends the area of interface applications within Android introducing more pre-defined GUI components and mechanisms available to them. The students will be provided with an opportunity to display strong personal management and team skills.

Database Systems
Year: 1
This module recognises the need for flexible and efficient storage of information in computer applications. The underlying principles of database organisation are presented, and practical implementation in a modern DBMS environment provides a basis for the construction of larger-scale e-business solutions.

Mobile Devices and Applications
Year: 1
This module will provide students with the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills that will equip them to obtain employment within companies specialising in mobile technologies. Students will gain detailed knowledge of the underlying wireless infrastructure and protocols and the relationships these have with the app creation process and developing software solutions targeted at mobile platforms such as Android, Windows Phone, iOS, and Browser apps based on HTML5.

Data Structures
Year: 1
This module seeks to extend student?s knowledge of and practical skills in programming in Java. This will be achieved by focussing on the theoretical underpinning knowledge of a range of data structures and common abstract data types and this will be supplemented by the practical implementation(s) of these leading to their use, and an understanding of their effectiveness through considered analysis and experimentation.

Concurrent Systems
Year: 1
Numerous computing systems are inherently concurrent in nature where multiple events or activities must be handled at the same time, or concurrently. This module introduces students to the fundamental concepts required to design and develop concurrent systems. The module will provide an overview of the underlying principles of concurrent programming and will give students the opportunity to develop simple practical applications illustrating specific aspects of concurrent systems.

Year: 1
Students are required to undertake a substantial individual project to complete the course. Its purpose is to provide an experience of developing a computing solution to a realistic problem, both to demonstrate capability and to enhance employability. This work combines skills and knowledge acquired previously on the course with those acquired during the project. In particular, students will have an opportunity to (i) strengthen their competence in project management, in taking an initial concept through to a successful implementation; and (ii) enhance their communication skills, in producing a dissertation and defending the work.


Academic profile
Ulster University academics are actively involved in both research and teaching and this ensures that the developments accrued through research can feed into the teaching of students. A significant percentage of staff are members of the Higher Education Academy, and all staff are expected to have a Postgraduate Certificate in University Teaching or equivalent. All Computing courses are subject to periodic Faculty Review and University Revalidation.

Assessment method

The course is assessed by coursework and/or written examinations.

Enrolment and start dates

Start date: September 2018

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