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MA (Honours) Computer Science and Philosophy

MA (Hons) Computer Science and Philosophy Degree Programme Table 2011/12

Note: Programme closed.


1. Awarding Institution: University of Edinburgh

2. Teaching Institution: University of Edinburgh

3. Programme Accredited By: see accreditation pages

4. Final Award: M.A. (Honours) Computer Science and Philosophy

5. Programme Title: M.A. (Honours) Computer Science and Philosophy

6. UCAS Code: pending

7. Relevant QAA subject benchmarking: Computing, Philosophy

8. Mode of Study: Full time

9. Educational aims of programme:

The most pronounced area of common interest between Computer Science and Philosophy is clearly logic, a subject of immense and still increasing importance in both theoretical and applied Computer Science, as well as an area of very active research in the contemporary field of Philosophical Logic. As an academic discipline, Logic began as a branch of Philosophy, and the abstract theory of computation was first investigated by logicians, and grew out of the attempt to provide a logical foundation for Mathematics.

Thus a very natural intellectual rationale underlies the educational aims of this combined degree, which at its core is designed around the formal methodologies and techniques that apply, on the one hand for example, to arguments and patterns of reasoning formulated in natural language, and on the other, to providing powerful meta-level characterizations of diverse computational phenomena.

The principal aims of the degree are to:

  • introduce students to the relevant approaches and methods in both Computer Science and Philosophy;
  • develop graduates possessing a thorough understanding of the theoretical and practical aspects of Computer Science;
  • equip students with a firm grasp of theoretical issues in Philosophy, especially in Logic, the Philosophy of Language, and the Philosophy of Mind;
  • provide an interdisciplinary programme of study that benefits from our research strengths in Informatics and in Philosophy at Edinburgh;
  • enable students to develop communication skills, initiative, and the ability to work independently as well as with others;
  • provide graduates with the knowledge and skills necessary for their professional careers or for postgraduate study.

10. Programme Outcomes

The programme provides opportunities for learners to achieve the following outcomes:

(a) Knowledge and understanding

  • understand the underlying theory of computation and its logical/mathematical foundations
  • understand the mathematical concepts that allow computer scientists to reason about computers and computer based systems
  • understand the nature of algorithms and their complexity
  • have knowledge and understanding of the principles of actual computer operation, from application programs down through system software to hardware
  • have awareness of the scope and limitations of computational methods, both theoretically and in practice;
  • have a good understanding of the broad range of issues studied in Philosophy;
  • understand key theoretical topics in Philosophy and Logic that impact the field of Computer Science.

(b) Intellectual Skills

On completing the programme students should have the ability to:

  • specify and design appropriate computer-based systems;
  • apply formal logical methods to characterize abstract phenomena
  • derive abstract representations and formulate appropriate solutions for problems
  • conceptually analyze and evaluate theoretical claims
  • argue rigorously and effectively in a theoretical context

(c) Professional/subject/specific/practical skills

On completing the programme students should have the ability to:

  • develop and implement appropriate computer-based systems;
  • formulate relevant assessment criteria and evaluate computer based systems;
  • operate computing equipment and software systems effectively;
  • formulate clear and concise pieces of verbal expression and analysis.

(d) Transferable skills

  • deploy logical, analytical, and problem solving skills and to synthesise solutions
  • show self-direction and time management skills when working independently
  • work effectively as part of a team
  • provide and accept peer evaluation
  • communicate effectively through a variety of media including oral, visual, written, diagrammatic and on-line
  • make effective use of learning materials and to acquire and apply knowledge from a variety of sources.

11. Programme Structure and Features

For formal definitions, including details of compulsory and optional course choices, consult the Degree Programme Table. Consult the List of Informatics courses to discover which courses belong to which subject area.

12. Entry Requirements

Please consult the current University Undergraduate Prospectus.

13. Degree Classification

The final degree classification is based equally on performance in third and fourth years. Degrees are classified according to the University's standard marking scale with boundaries at 70%, 60%, 50%, 40%.