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MSc Artificial Intelligence

Why we're great

  • Explore ways of linking artificial intelligence to real-world applications in a range of fields and industries
  • Develop a rounded understanding of theoretical, applied and practical aspects of artificial intelligence
  • Your degree is accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology – your first stage towards professional registration as a Chartered Engineer

Course options2017-18

Duration: 1 year
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Computer Science and Electronic Engineering (School of)
Fee (Home/EU): £7,200
Fee (International): £14,950
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
PGT fees information

Duration: 2 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Computer Science and Electronic Engineering (School of)
Fee (Home/EU): £3,600
Fee (International): £7,475
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
PGT fees information

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 872719

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About the course

Artificial intelligence deals with the theory, design, application, and development of biologically, socially and linguistically motivated computational paradigms.

You focus on linking artificial intelligence techniques to real-world applications and projects, including artificial intelligence in business and financial applications, artificial intelligence in games, artificial intelligence in biological sciences and medicine, and artificial intelligence in industrial control.

Our unique course covers the theoretical, applied and practical aspects of artificial intelligence, with an emphasis on:

  • Genetic algorithms
  • Evolutionary programming
  • Fuzzy systems
  • Neural networks
  • Connectionist systems
  • Hybrid intelligent systems

Our School is a community of scholars leading the way in technological research and development. Today’s computer scientists are creative people who are focused and committed, yet restless and experimental. We are home to many of the world’s top scientists, and our work is driven by creativity and imagination as well as technical excellence.

We are ranked Top 10 in the UK in the 2015 Academic Ranking of World Universities, with more than two-thirds of our research rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent (REF 2014).

This course is also available on a part-time basis.

Professional accreditation

This degree is accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).This accreditation is increasingly sought by employers, and provides the first stage towards eventual professional registration as a Chartered Engineer (CEng).

Our expert staff

Our research covers a range of topics, from materials science and semiconductor device physics, to the theory of computation and the philosophy of computer science, with most of our research groups based around laboratories offering world-class facilities.

Our impressive external research funding stands at over £4 million and we participate in a number of EU initiatives and undertake projects under contract to many outside bodies, including government and industrial organisations.

In recent years we have attracted many highly active research staff and we are conducting world-leading research in areas such as evolutionary computation, brain-computer interfacing, intelligent inhabited environments and financial forecasting.

Specialist facilities

We are one of the largest and best resourced computer science and electronic engineering schools in the UK. Our work is supported by extensive networked computer facilities and software aids, together with a wide range of test and instrumentation equipment.

  • We have six laboratories that are exclusively for computer science and electronic engineering students. Three are open 24/7, and you have free access to the labs except when there is a scheduled practical class in progress
  • All computers run either Windows 7 or are dual boot with Linux
  • Software includes Java, Prolog, C++, Perl, Mysql, Matlab, DB2, Microsoft Office, Visual Studio, and Project
  • Students have access to CAD tools and simulators for chip design (Xilinx) and computer networks (OPNET)
  • We also have specialist facilities for research into areas including non-invasive brain-computer interfaces, intelligent environments, robotics, optoelectronics, video, RF and MW, printed circuit milling, and semiconductors

Your future

Our course opens up employment opportunities designing intelligent software – in banks and businesses designing prediction systems, in computer games companies designing adaptive games, in pharmaceutical companies designing intelligent systems that model a given drug and its various interactions, and in heavy industries designing control systems.

Our recent graduates have progressed to a variety of senior positions in industry and academia. Some of the companies and organisations where our former graduates are now employed include:

  • Electronic Data Systems
  • Pfizer Pharmaceuticals
  • Bank of Mexico
  • Visa International
  • Hyperknowledge (Cambridge)
  • Hellenic Air Force
  • ICSS (Beijing)
  • United Microelectronic Corporation (Taiwan)

We also work with the university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

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Example structure

Postgraduate study is the chance to take your education to the next level. The combination of compulsory and optional modules means our courses help you develop extensive knowledge in your chosen discipline, whilst providing plenty of freedom to pursue your own interests. Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.

For many of our courses you’ll have a wide range of optional modules to choose from – those listed in this example structure are, in many instances, just a selection of those available. Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current postgraduate students, including details of all optional modules.

Year 1

What fascinates you? Apply your learning in computer science or engineering to solve a problem. Design, implement and evaluate a solution, producing a dissertation on your investigation and giving an oral presentation of your work. Test your knowledge, while gaining practical experience and building your project management skills.

View 'MSc Project and Dissertation' on our Module Directory

Humans can often perform a task extremely well (e.g., telling cats from dogs) but are unable to understand and describe the decision process followed. Without this explicit knowledge, we cannot write computer programs that can be used by machines to perform the same task. “Machine learning” is the study and application of methods to learn such algorithms automatically from sets of examples, just like babies can learn to tell cats from dogs simply by being shown examples of dogs and cats by their parents. Machine learning has proven particularly suited to cases such as optical character recognition, dictation software, language translators, fraud detection in financial transactions, and many others.

View 'Machine Learning and Data Mining' on our Module Directory

This module aims to prepare students for conducting an independent research project leading to a dissertation and to provide them with an appreciation of research and business skills related to their professional career. As a precursor to their project students, individually select an area of Computer Science, or Electronic Engineering, or Computational Finance and perform the necessary background research to define a topic and prepare a project proposal under the guidance of a supervisor. The module guides them by a) introducing common research methods b) creating an understanding of basic statistics for describing and making conclusions from data c) helping to write a strong proposal including learning how to perform literature search and evaluation and d) giving an in-depth view into the business enterprise, financial and management accounting and investment appraisal.

View 'Professional Practice and Research Methodology' on our Module Directory

Teamwork skills are essential for employability. The aim of this module is to provide students with the opportunity to apply their specialised knowledge to a realistic problem and gain practical experience of the processes involved in the team-based production of software. Wherever possible, teams are organised on the basis of shared interest, and the problem is designed to exercise their understanding of their area of specialised study. Starting from an outline description of a realistic problem, each team is required to develop a fully implemented software solution using appropriate engineering and project management techniques.

View 'Group Project' on our Module Directory

This module gives an introduction to intelligent systems and robotics. It goes on to consider the essential hardware for sensing and manipulating the real world, and their properties and characteristics. The programming of intelligent systems and real-world robots are explored in the context of localisation, mapping, and fuzzy logic control.

View 'Intelligent Systems and Robotics' on our Module Directory

Computer vision is the discipline that tries to understand the content of images and videos. It has an extraordinarily wide range of applications; well-known ones include inspection on production lines, reading number plates, mixing live and computer-generated action in movies, and recognising faces. However, researchers are working on applications such as driverless cars, building 3D models from photographs, robot navigation, gaming interfaces, and automated medical diagnosis -- in fact, whenever you as a human looks at the world and try to understand what you see is fair game for computer vision.This module introduces you to the principles of computer vision through a series of lectures and demonstrations. You have an opportunity to learn how to use these principles and algorithms on real-world vision problems in the associated laboratories using the industry-standard toolkit, OpenCV.

View 'Computer Vision (optional)' on our Module Directory

This module covers a range of Artificial Intelligence techniques employed in games, and teaches how games are and can be used for research in Artificial Intelligence. The module explores algorithms for creating agents that play classical board games (such as chess or checkers) and real-time games (Mario or PacMan), including single agents able to play multiple games. The course also covers Procedural Content Generation, and explores the techniques used to simulate intelligence in the latest videogames.

View 'Game Artificial Intelligence (optional)' on our Module Directory

Evolutionary computation is an exciting area of artificial intelligence that focuses on systematic methods (known as evolutionary algorithms) inspired by Darwinian evolution for getting computers to automatically solve problems starting from a high-level statement of what needs to be done. Evolutionary algorithms are today routinely used to solve difficult problems in industry, medicine, biology, finance, and much more. Evolutionary algorithms can even consistently solve difficult problems which require solutions in the form of computer programs. This is a form of automatic programming that is known as genetic programming. In this module you will learn how to use evolutionary algorithms and genetic programming to solve real-world problems from an international authority in these areas.

View 'Evolutionary Computation and Genetic Programming (optional)' on our Module Directory

As humans we are adept in understanding the meaning of texts and conversations. We can also perform tasks such as summarize a set of documents to focus on key information, answer questions based on a text, and when bilingual, translate a text from one language into fluent text in another language. Natural Language Engineering (NLE) aims to create computer programs that perform language tasks with similar proficiency. This course provides a strong foundation to understand the fundamental problems in NLE and also equips students with the practical skills to build small-scale NLE systems. Students are introduced to three core ideas of NLE: a) gaining an understanding the core elements of language--- the structure and grammar of words, sentences and full documents, and how NLE problems are related to defining and learning such structures, b) identify the computational complexity that naturally exists in language tasks and the unique problems that humans easily solve but are incredibly hard for computers to do, and c) gain expertise in developing intelligent computing techniques which can overcome these challenges.

View 'Natural Language Engineering (optional)' on our Module Directory

The aim of this module is to provide students with an understanding of the role of artificial neural networks (ANNs) in computer science and artificial intelligence. This will allow the student to build computers and intelligent machines which are able to have an artificial brain which will allow them to learn and adapt in a human like fashion.

View 'Artificial Neural Networks (optional)' on our Module Directory

Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games are the largest and most sophisticated computer games in existence. This extraordinary module – which is quite unlike any other in the School – covers their design, history, influence and artistry, and is delivered by one of the two individuals who co-invented the genre here at Essex University in the late 1970s. If you’re interested in game design in general and MMO design in particular, you’re not going to find a module quite like this anywhere else.

View 'Virtual Worlds (optional)' on our Module Directory

Acquire critical and transferable skills associated with the creation and growth of new business ventures. You focus on the development process from start up to early stage growth of new ventures, new small businesses spin offs from large firms, and especially innovative, technology-based firms. You study opportunity identification, self-efficacy, ideas generation, bricolage and bootstrapping, developing business models, networking, marketing, and finance.

View 'Creating and Growing a New Business Venture (optional)' on our Module Directory


  • Courses provide a thorough and up-to-date knowledge of the theory, methods and applications of computer science
  • Core components combined with optional modules, to enable you to gain either in-depth specialisation or a breadth of understanding
  • Our postgraduates are encouraged to attend conferences and seminars, as well as engage with the wider research community


  • Courses are assessed on the results of your written examinations, together with continual assessments of your practical work and coursework


  • Your research project allows you to focus in depth on your chosen topic from April
  • Close supervision by faculty staff

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UK entry requirements

We will consider applications with an overall grade of 2:2 and above.

International and EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Email for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the undergraduate qualification you have already completed or are currently taking.

IELTS entry requirements

IELTS 6.0 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

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Visit us

Open days

We hold postgraduate events in February/March and November, and open days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.


Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.


You can apply for our postgraduate courses online. You’ll need to provide us with your academic qualifications, as well as supporting documents such as transcripts, English language qualifications and certificates. You can find a list of necessary documents online, but please note we won’t be able to process your application until we have everything we need.

There is no application deadline but we recommend that you apply before 1 July for our taught courses starting in October. We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

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The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its course finder is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep prospective students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

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