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Master's (MSc, MAppSc)

Two students sitting at a computer.

Master's study in Computer Science at Otago University involves coursework and/or supervised research in a wide range of topics, including Artificial Intelligence, Neural Networks, Computer Theory, Graphics, Vision, Information Retrieval, and Systems. For more information about the areas we specialise in, please visit the department's research page.

Our postgraduate programme has various levels. A student who has majored in Computer Science for a Bachelors degree, or obtained the equivalent of such a major via a re-training qualification, may enter our postgraduate programme at 400-level. The relevant 400-level qualification would normally be a Postgraduate Diploma, either in Science or in Applied Science, and involves coursework that may include a project. After completing such a 400-level qualification, the next step would be a 500-level qualification in the form of a Master's degree.

There are two Master's degrees in Computer Science: the Master of Science (MSc) and the Master of Applied Science (MAppSc). The former is a research Master's degree and the latter a Master's by coursework.

The MSc

To complete an MSc in Computer Science at Otago one undertakes a 2-year (4-semester) programme of study consisting of a coursework year (400-level) followed by a research year (500-level).

Students begin by enrolling for the coursework year as a PGDipSci (Postgraduate Diploma in Science). When you select papers, be sure to select COSC 480 plus four more of the available COSC 400-level papers. Since COSC 480 is a full-year project paper, you will have to commence your study in Semester 1 (late February to June).

The research component at 500-level constitutes the MSc degree. Progression to this stage is not automatic. If you obtain a grade of B or better overall in the PGDipSci, then you will be considered for MSc thesis supervision, and selection would then depend largely on the quality of your COSC 480 project.

Should you wish to follow this 2-year pathway (PGDipSci + MSc), simply apply for the PGDipSci and select your 400-level papers as described above. You would then apply for the 500-level MSc by thesis upon completing the PGDipSci.

Students with a 400-level qualification from another institution sometimes ask about direct entry to the 500-level MSc by thesis. This is granted occasionally, but the normal route to our MSc thesis year runs through our own 400-level papers.

The MAppSc

To complete an MAppSc in Computer Science involves a 3-semester programme of study.

Students begin by enrolling to do a year of 400-level coursework for a Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Science (PGDipAppSc). This would then be followed by one semester of supervised independent study which adds the MAppSc to the PGDipAppSc. (In principle, the 3 semesters of study culminating in the MAppSc can be compressed into one calendar year if a very heavy workload is tolerated successfully, but we strongly recommend the 3-semester duration.)

For the PGDipAppSc portion of the MAppSc you need to choose 6 400-level COSC papers (or 4 400-level COSC papers and COSC 480, which is worth 2 papers).

Progression from the PGDipAppSc to the MAppSc is not automatic. It is expected that the PGDipAppSc shold be completed with a B or better average.

The MAppSc itself may then be completed by a third semester of study involving a seventh 400-level paper plus an APPS597 supervised independent study project/paper. The MAppSc need not have a significant research component, unlike the MSc, and if you intend to continue to PhD you should definitely do the MSc. On the other hand, if you plan to work in the IT industry, the MAppSc may be more appropriate.


Intending postgraduate students are expected to communicate with the department in order to determine the correct level of study and to discuss the selection of papers for the coursework stage. Please email our adviser of studies.