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Information Science MSc

The MSc in Information Science is an ideal career development programme for librarians, archivists and other information professionals who wish to update their skills and experience in the use of information technology, the internet and digital media, or for those from a computer-oriented background who wish to specialise in information fields.

What will I learn?

The programme includes both practical and theoretical work through which students develop a deeper understanding of not just the technologies themselves but also the implications of applying and managing these technologies in varied information environments. The wide range of optional courses allow students to tailor the programme to fit their individual career specialism and needs.

The programme prepares students for management roles in the information industries with an emphasis on technology: for example information systems manager, systems librarian, web manager, information architect, knowledge manager, data manager, or indeed any information management role. Our graduates find work all over the world with electronic systems for managing, retrieving, distributing and archiving vast quantities of information.

A typical student?

Our students come from a very wide range of backgrounds, and a typical student is very hard to define. Many are already working in libraries, records centres, archives or other information units, and wish to deepen their knowledge of technical issues, undertake professional development, or gain a formal qualification to enhance their career prospects. Others increasingly come from a more computing-oriented background and want to specialise in the information fields and develop their information and management skills. Others may already be experts in niche areas but are looking to gain a broader range of expertise.

As a result we have a very diverse student body, with ages ranging from the early 20s to mid 50s and a good mixture of UK, EU and overseas students. One of the tenets of the programme is that students should learn from each other as well as from the faculty, and benefit greatly from sharing their ideas and experience with each other.

The programme is suitable for:

  • UK and international students interested in applying and managing technology effectively within information environments
  • Those who wish to develop their computer-related skills with a view to improving their expertise and employment opportunities in the library, archives, records and information management areas
  • Those with a more technical background wishing to move into those areas.

Why should I study this degree at UCL?

Reputation: UCL Information Studies combines the best of traditional library and archive studies with the latest developments in internet technologies and electronic communication and publishing.

Research: It brings together an outstanding team of researchers, teachers, students, practitioners and information industry leaders to help you understand, develop and shape the emerging information environment while elucidating and building on the historical developments that have created this environment.

Location: Students benefit from UCL's central London location, close to many major libraries and repositories and information centres, including the British Library and many specialist collections, giving ready access to an underpassed range of materials.

Masters: Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits (full time 1 year, modular/flexible 2-5 years). The programme consists of 5 core modules (75 credits), 3 optional modules (45 credits) and a research dissertation (60 credits). 
PG Diploma: Students undertake modules to the value of 120 credits (full-time nine months or flexible study over 2-5 years). The programme consists of 5 core modules (15 credits each) and 3 optional modules (15 credits each).
Postgraduate Certificate: Students undertake modules to the value of 60 credits (full-time 15 weeks or flexible study over a period of up to 2 years) is offered. Students can take any 4 of the modules available (15 credits each).

Core Modules

MSc/Dip students must take the following core modules:

Systems Management

Internet Technologies

Database Systems Analysis and Design

Introduction to Programming and Scripting

Fundamentals of Information Science

Options

Students select three optional modules. Common choices include:

Server Technologies and Programming Data

XML

Digital Resources in the Humanities

Legal and Social Aspects of Electronic Publishing

Managing Information Organisations

Electronic Publishing

Encoded Archival Description and Digitisation of Archives

Individual Approved Study

Introduction to Digitisation

Information Governance

Knowledge Representation and Semantic Technologies

Introduction to Digital Curation

This list is indicative only. In principle any DIS module may be taken if appropriate.

Dissertation/report

All MSc students undertake an independent research project on a specific aspect of information technology and its application, which culminates in a dissertation of 10,000-12,000 words. For more information, view the 'Features' tab.

Teaching and Learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, tutorials, seminars, computer laboratory practicals and classroom practicals, with a strong emphasis on informal teaching and the acquisition of practical skills. Assessment is through a mixture of essays, reports, examination, peer assessment and practical projects such as website design and data modeling.


Dissertation/report

In addition, MSc students will undertake their own research, guided by an expert tutor, into a specific aspect of information technology and its application, which culminates in a dissertation of 12,000-15,000 words. This dissertation will form an integral part of the learning experience as well as making a major contribution to the collective research effort of DIS. The best dissertations may form the basis for a publication in a scholarly journal or a presentation at an academic conference. Students with connections to a sponsoring organisation (particularly modular students on day release) often undertake projects of direct relevance and benefit to their sponsoring organisation or place of work.

Certificate

A Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits, full-time 15 weeks or flexible study over a period of up to two years) is offered. The PG Certificate comprises four taught modules selected by the student in consultation with the Programme Director, and is a shorter programme of study, which is not accredited by CILIP and not recognised as a full professional qualification. It is designed for those who wish to gain some basic knowledge of information science, but are not (currently) intending to take it up as a professional career.

Depending on the modules chosen, the Certificate may be completed in approximately a half year of full-time study (late September-late January or early January-early June), or may be taken more gradually over nine months (late September-early June). Applicants to the PG Cert apply in the normal way: you may choose to apply online or download application materials; for details visit www.ucl.ac.uk/gradapps

In term time, mostly classes are held in the morning (10:00-1:00) or afternoon (2:00-5:00). In addition, time should be allowed for private study and for completion of coursework. Classes are normally held on UCL's main site in Gower Street, London WC1; field visits and practical sessions may involve travel to other central London locations.

Full-time

Full-time study for the MSc requires a calendar year (September-September), with the summer months being occupied by work on the MSc dissertation.

Modular/Flexible study

Modular/flexible study (attending one or two days per week) is available for the MSc/PG Dip/PG Cert in Information Science. Modular students' attendance will depend on which modules are selected per year/term and are agreed on an annual basis. Modular students registered for the MSc and the PG Diploma can complete their studies flexibly over a period of 2-5 years; students registered for the PG Certificate can complete over a period of 15 weeks min to 2 years max.

Timetables

The timetable provided serves only as a guide. Final timetables are made available at enrolment.

Download a sample timetable.

What follows is supplementary to UCL's information about Application and Entry, and should not be considered without reference to that first.

Entry requirements

Academic: The programme requires a minimum of a second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. An appropriate professional qualification is preferred. Applicants with relevant experience in an information or computing discipline may also be considered.

English language proficiency: The English Language Proficiency Requirement for all non-native English speakers is a minimum of an IELTS 7.0 with no less than 6.5 in each sub-set.

Accredited Prior Learning (APL):

APL may be considered for advanced entry to a UCL taught programme where a student has already completed certified learning of a UCL programme e.g. a student who has completed a UCL PG Diploma and wishes to enrol on a UCL Masters. Please view details about UCL's Accredited Prior Learning Scheme.

How to apply

Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

Deadlines: Applications for the Diploma or MSc programmes must be submitted by 1 July in the year of entry, although late applications will be considered up to UCL's general application deadline in early August. Selected candidates will be invited to an informal interview, usually held between March and July.

Required documentation: Applicants should provide two references, of which at least one should be an academic reference. A transcript of results from your previous academic institution should also be included. It is usually possible to obtain confirmation of your results, even if you graduated some years ago. Online applications will not usually be processed until they are complete i.e. the necessary documents are all uploaded.

Who can apply?

The programme is particularly suitable for those who wish to develop their computer-related management skills with a view to improving their employment opportunities in all areas of information management, library, records and archives work. It will also appeal to students interested in applying and managing technology effectively within any information environment.

What are we looking for?

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Information Science at graduate level
  • why you want to study Information Science at DIS
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this programme
  • where you would like to go professionally and/or academically with your degree

What happens after you apply?

Processing applications: Your application will initially be dealt with by the UCL Registry, and then assigned to the Department where it will be checked. You will be told that your application has been received, and is being processed. At this stage you may be asked to provide further information, or to clarify any ambiguities; this doesn't mean that there is a problem with the application.Contact with applicants is usually via email, so be sure that your account details are current and correct, and that you check the account regularly. Please feel free to email us with any queries or problems you may have.

Interviews: Selected candidates will be invited for an informal interview, either in person or via Skype, which lasts about 30 minutes. You won't be expected to give a presentation, or anything of that kind.

Letting you know the outcome: We consider applications as they are received, and make decisions about offers of places accordingly until places are filled.

Successful candidates will be sent further information during the course of the summer, and you should also watch the Departmental website.

Successful applicants

UCL offers different types of accommodation to suit different students' requirements: there are halls of residence, student houses and intercollegiate halls. Information about applying for accommodation is available on the website of the UCL student residence office. Students are also free to make their own accommodation arrangements, but are recommended to live within easy travelling distance of UCL. If you are offered a place at DIS, it will be important to arrange accommodation before you arrive in London.

Under UK government regulations, international students are allowed to undertake a limited amount of paid employment to help meet the costs of their studies, and students often take casual jobs at evenings or weekends to provide a small supplement to their income. Full-time students often undertake casual paid employment at evenings or weekends, but full-time study cannot be combined with a part-time job.

International applicants that are offered a place at UCL:DIS, should familiarize themselves with the information UCL provides to help international students with arriving, living and studying in London.

 What follows is supplementary to UCL's information on Fees, Costs and Funding, and should not be considered without reference to that first. To search for details of programme specific tuition fees, follow the relevant links to the tuition fees table and search by 'Programme Title'.

UCL:DIS have a small number of scholarships (details on the Funding Options for Graduate Students webpages) but these are likely only to be awarded to students of exceptional academic ability.

Most students are self-financing, relying on savings or career development loans. Part-time work (in libraries and elsewhere) is fairly readily available in London, and most full-time students can find something that fits in with the course.

New UK Government Postgraduate Loans Scheme – 2016/17

The UK government has confirmed its commitment to student loans for 2016/17. Full details will be made available on www.gov.uk from January 2016. Loan applications, eligibility, queries and decisions will be dealt with directly by the government, not by UCL.

However, currently the expectation is that the following key details to be included in the loan scheme:

  • All UK Masters degrees awarded by universities in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are included in the scheme. Courses that are lower than a full master's level, for example postgraduate diplomas or certificates, are NOT covered by the loan.
  • Loans will be available up to a maximum value of £10,000.
  • Postgraduate loans will be available for all full-time and part-time Masters programmes. It is not yet clear whether modular study will be included.
  • UK Nationals or anyone having settled status in the UK, and having been resident in the UK for three years on the first day of the academic year of the course start date are eligible.
  • Students aged under 60 will be eligible for Masters loans.
  • Other EU nationals, and those with refugee status, may also be eligible.
  • Loans will be subject to an interest rate of RPI+3%. and repayments will not begin until 2019.
  • Repayments will be income-contingent and made concurrently with undergraduate loans. Rates will be set at 6% of annual income over 21,000.
  • Students who already have a master's level qualification, or equivalent level qualification, or a higher level qualification, such as a PhD, will not be eligible.

The MSc in Information Science prepares students for management roles in the information industries with an emphasis on technology: for example; information systems manager, systems librarian, web manager, information architect, knowledge manager, data manager, or indeed any information management role. Our graduates find work all over the world with electronic systems for managing, retrieving, distributing and archiving vast quantities of information. The programme is recognised and accredited by CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, for professional qualifications purposes.

Top career destinations for this programme

  • IHS James, Knowledge Analyst, 2012
  • Chelsea & Westminster NHS Trust, Information Analyst 2011
  • China Unicom, Senior Manager, 2012
  • Reykyavik University, Information Specialist, 2012
  • Royal Society of Arts, Librarian, 2011
  • University of Oxford, Functional Developer/Senior Analyst, 2012

Employability

This programme challenges students to think more deeply about the implications of using information technology of all kinds in the workplace, and to consider better ways of designing, specifying, implementing and managing systems in order to promote organisational success. Understanding these issues and having the skills to develop and manage practical solutions equips our students to succeed individually and to help their organisations succeed. Our students achieve a high employability rate on graduating, and rise in organisations as their skills are recognised. Many past students now occupy senior positions in the information world in government, commerce, industry and academia.