Network Systems MSc - University of Sunderland

Course overview

If you already have a degree related to computing, this Masters gives you additional expertise in network systems. Employment in IT is forecast to grow more than three times faster than for UK employment as a whole, according to e-skills UK.

You will gain hands-on experience of building and testing networks in our specialist labs, which are packed with Cisco equipment. Sunderland is among the UK’s top 10 universities for ‘spend per student’ in IT, according to The Guardian University Guide 2013.  

Our Department has been a Cisco partner for over 10 years and our team members have relevant instructor certifications. As part of the course, we will prepare you for certification as a CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate).

This course is accredited by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT for the purposes of fully meeting the further learning academic requirement for registration as a Chartered IT Professional. British Computing Society BCS Accredited degree logo ‌ ‌

It is also accredited by BCS on behalf of the Engineering Council for the purposes of fully meeting the academic requirement for Incorporated Engineer and partially meeting the academic requirement for a Chartered Engineer.

Your Masters project will involve a real-world project that is supported by a sponsor. It will include both a research and a practical element. The outcome will demonstrate your expertise not only to academic assessors but also to potential employers when you are applying for rewarding and fulfilling jobs.

The programme has recently been rewritten to include new modules and new networking topics. It has been designed to enhance the skills and career opportunities of those students with existing qualifications in a science or engineering discipline. It aims to provide graduates with a sound understanding of how to design and deploy complex networks.

Network Systems graduate Fawwad Khan talks about his experience as an international postgraduate student at the University of Sunderland:

Course content

Modules on this course include:

  • Research Skills and Academic Literacy (15 Credits)

This module covers research methods including qualitative and quantitative approaches. You will carry out literature surveys, data collection, data analysis, critical evaluation and appraisal of published work and data sets. You will also learn how to research and write a technical paper.

  • Client Server Networking (15 Credits)

This module covers the design and deployment of a modern client server network and the core services that are required to operate it. This is a highly practical module and you will be required to install and configure clients and servers and deploy critical services across your network such as file shares, security and name resolution.

  • Network Infrastructure (30 Credits)

This module examines the role of the networking devices that would be found in a large multi-site network and the core protocols and services that they use. This is a highly practical module so you will be expected to setup a number of prototype networks during the course of your studies. You will be configuring routers and both layer 2 and layer 3 switches as well as wireless LAN devices. You will also learn about network addressing and the routing protocols and core services that large networks and service providers use to optimise traffic flow.

  • Network Design (15 Credits)

This module looks at current network design strategies that aim to optimise network performance and provide ease of management and scalability. It will focus primarily on larger networks and will cover many design issues that larger networks have to face such as wireless LAN integration and server farm deployment. It will also examine a number of network management protocols and network support protocols that enable key design features to function. There is a significant practical element to this module. You will be expected to build prototype networks that follow good design practices and make use of the management and support protocols that are covered in the lectures.

  • Network Security (15 Credits)

This module examines the weaknesses in many of the core protocols and devices found within the modern network. It also considers how these weaknesses may be exploited and how a network engineer may harden the network against attack. Several current security protocols and security devices will be considered. The module will examine current VPN technologies, firewalls, Intrusion prevention and detection systems and edge security. This is a highly practical module and students will be expected to build, secure and defend a number of prototype networks using the University’s well stocked laboratories. You will have access to our security hardened layer 2 and layer 3 switches and routers and have access to a number of dedicated firewall appliances.

  • Digital Telephony (15 Credits)

This module looks at the design and deployment of a network wide VoIP service. It will consider current best design and deployment practises and will examine the many protocols and issues surrounding the integration of a VoIP service into a network. This will include an examination of Quality of Service. This is a highly practical module and you will be expected to setup several prototype networks and provision them with VoIP and voice mail services in the University’s laboratories.

  • Virtualisation and Cloud Computing (15 Credits)

This module examines the impact of virtualisation and cloud services on modern networks. You will examine the advantages and challenges that desktop and server virtualisation have brought to networking and the increasing dependence that companies have on cloud services. This module is highly practical and you will be expected to setup prototype networks that make use of both desktop and server virtualisation in the University’s laboratories.

  • Masters Project (60 Credits)

You will undertake a real-world project through the support of a sponsor. It will include both a research and a practical element.

Teaching and assessment

We use a wide variety of teaching and learning methods which include lectures, group work, research, discussion groups, seminars, tutorials and practical laboratory sessions.

Compared to an undergraduate course, you will find that this Masters requires a higher level of independent working.

Assessment methods include written reports and research papers, practical assignments and the Masters project. 

Information about our policies relating to student experience and quality assurance processes can be found on the Academic Services website.

Facilities & location

Sunderland’s outstanding IT facilities include the David Goldman Informatics Centre, which has hundreds of computers so it’s easy to find a free workstation with the software you need. 

We are an accredited Cisco Academy and have two laboratories packed with Cisco networking equipment including routers, switches, terminals and specialist equipment for simulating frame relay and ISDN links.

We host high-performance computing platforms, including a Big Data machine and a High Performance Computing Cluster system, for concurrent processing of complex computational tasks. We also have the equipment and licences for our own public mobile cellular network.

University Library Services

We’ve got thousands of books and e-books on computing topics, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. We also subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals so you can access the most reliable and up-to-date academic and industry articles.

Some of the most important sources for computing students include:

  • British Standards Online which offers more than 35,000 documents covering specifications for products, dimensions, performance and codes of practice
  • Association of Computing Machinery digital library, which includes full-text articles from journals as well as conference proceedings
  • Science Direct, which offers more than 18,000 full-text journals published by Elsevier
  • Archives of publications from Emerald, including over 35,000 full-text articles dating back to 1994 on a range of subjects including technology
  • Business Source Elite from EBSCO Publishing which covers hundreds of journals and includes articles on topics such as e-commerce and information management


The David Goldman Informatics Centre

The Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's, St Peter's Way, Sunderland, SR6 0DD

Entry requirements

We usually require applicants to hold at least a 2:2 honours degree in computer science, Information Technology, electrical or electronic engineering, or any related discipline.

If English is not your first language, please see our English language requirements.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

If you feel you already know some of the topics covered in this course, either due to previous learning or from experience of work, then you may not need to study all of the course.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) is the name given to the process of gaining credit towards a qualification because of something you have learnt in the past. If you are eligible for APL you won't have to learn the same topic again, and so you can be exempt from a module, set of modules or year of a course. 

Read more about APL in the Quality Handbook (.pdf). If you think you may be eligible for APL, please contact the course leader.

Fees & finance

Postgraduate loans

From 2016/17, tuition fee loans will be available to UK/EU postgraduate students for the first time. Find out more about the eligibility criteria.


The annual fee for this course is:

  • £4,750 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £11,500 if you are an International student

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or International student, please see the International section of this website.

Employment & careers

Accredited by British Computer Society (BCS)

This course is accredited by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT for the purposes of fully meeting the further learning academic requirement for registration as a Chartered IT Professional. British Computing Society BCS Accredited degree logo ‌ ‌ ‌

It is also accredited by BCS on behalf of the Engineering Council for the purposes of fully meeting the academic requirement for Incorporated Engineer and partially meeting the academic requirement for a Chartered Engineer.


On completing this course, you will be equipped as a skilled professional with essential up-to-date knowledge in computer networking and mobile communication technologies. You will also have advanced knowledge of systems development, including web-based development.

Potential roles include:

  • Network planner
  • Network manager
  • Systems designer
  • Network programmer of convergent voice and data networks
  • Administrator of convergent voice and data networks

Employers that have taken on Sunderland graduates include Sage, British Airways and the NHS.  Network and computer systems programmers can earn up to £36,000 with salaries of up to around £50,000 for network managers.

A Masters degree will also enhance opportunities in academic roles or further study towards a PhD.

Representatives from Accenture, GE & Huntsman talk about employment opportunities and recruiting University of Sunderland graduates:


Support for your learning

From the start of the course you will be allocated a Personal Tutor who will meet with you at agreed times throughout your course. Personal Tutors encourage your personal development and are a useful point of contact for any queries about your course, extracurricular activities and issues where they can point you towards specialist services at the University. These include student counselling, financial advice and chaplaincy support.

Further support is provided by our technicians who help you make the most of the University’s equipment and software.

Support for your development

To help ensure the course is meeting aspirations for personal development, we invite students to fill in questionnaires at the end of modules. This provides a structured way for you to keep us up-to-date with your views.

During your course, and particularly towards the end of it, we encourage you to make full use of the resources at our Careers & Employability Service. The Service helps you explore your options, clarify your ideas, develop a career focus and make effective applications.

Extracurricular activities

The University supports student-led initiatives that enhance the extracurricular activities available to you. Some of these are related to particular subjects while others allow you to pursue interests and social activities. It’s all part of the vibrant and life-changing atmosphere at the University of Sunderland.

"Studying at Sunderland, you will find a very strong focus on industry links and future employability."

Prof Alastair Irons


"Our courses are designed in collaboration with employers and we work hard to get the balance of theory and practice right in such a way that students are in a strong position to find quality employment when they complete their studies.

"All courses attract high quality external speakers who talk to students about their work, and the Department of Computing has very strong links with organisations like Microsoft, Cisco, SAP and Sony, as well as local employers such as Nissan.

"Students are encouraged to be enterprising and the Department of Computing has its own software hatchery where students are encouraged to establish their own software business."

Apply for this course

You can apply online using the link below.

    Next Open Day

  • Date: Thursday 16th February 2017
  • Time: 2:00pm-7:00pm
  • Type: University Open Day
  • Location: Gateway, City Campus, University of Sunderland

Contact Sunderland

Contact the Student Helpline for further information about studying at the University of Sunderland:

Telephone: 0191 515 3000 

Programme Starts  
Monday 16th October 2017 Apply now

The details

Course Name Network Systems
Classification MSc
Course Mode Full-time
Course Level Postgraduate
Duration 60 weeks
Study Location On-campus (Sunderland)
Starting 16 October 2017
UK/EU Fee £4750
Intl Fee £11500

Entry requirements

2:2 or above in a Science, Computer Science, IT or Electrical and Electronic Engineering related subject

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