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Computer Systems Engineering (Top-Up) BSc (Hons) - University of Sunderland

Course overview

This one-year ‘top-up’ course develops a blend of academic rigour and practical skills as it brings you up to the level of an honours degree.

On the academic side, you will study a module on approaches to research. This will explore how to specify a problem and how to decide on appropriate methodologies, collect relevant data, analyse the data and develop sound conclusions and evidence-based action plans.

To develop practical skills, you will undertake a major hands-on project that involves developing a working solution to a particular problem. In doing this, you will be able to take full advantage of professional-level developer software and advanced hardware that we provide through accreditations with Microsoft, Cisco and other major companies.

Further modules include ‘Advanced Databases’, ‘Artificial Intelligence’ and ‘Product Development’. A module on ‘Project Management’ will equip you for working within project teams in large IT departments or specialist IT companies.

See what some of our staff and students have to say about Computing courses at the University of Sunderland:

Course content

Modules for this course include:

Final Year (Top-Up) (national level 6)

  • Research (20 Credits)

Introduces a variety of research approaches and examines how to specify and contextualise a research problem, collect data, analyse and present data, and evaluate the methodology adopted.

  • Project Management (20 Credits)

You will learn modern approaches to the development and management of IT-related projects, making use of the latest principles, techniques and research.

  • Advanced Databases (20 Credits)

This module explores solutions related to complex database systems such as: enhanced data models, query optimisation, clustering, scalability, security, forensic investigation, data warehousing, data analysis tools and more.

  • Artificial Intelligence (20 Credits)

This module develops your knowledge of current AI principles and your skills in this fast-moving area, which is a particular focus of Sunderland’s research.

  • Product Development (20 Credits)

The module aims to provide you with the opportunity to develop your abilities in solution development.

  • Advanced Mobile Development (20 Credits)

The aim of this module is to enable you to build a highly interactive and dynamic native mobile application.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching methods include lectures, tutorials, seminars and laboratory sessions. We also use the University’s virtual learning environment for group activities, discussions, assignments and links to resources. We encourage you to develop independent study skills as well as to work with other students on the course.

As well as assessments that count towards your degree, there are also on-going assessments for feedback and consolidating your learning. Assessment methods include coursework and exams.

To find out more about how modules, credits and how you will be assessed, please see how courses are taught. Information about our policies relating to student experience and quality assurance processes can be found on the Academic Services website.

Key Information Sets

All UK universities and colleges display Key Information Sets (KIS) on their undergraduate courses. The KIS gives you a quick overview of some standard information about a course, and has a link to more detailed information on Unistats.

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. In addition, the Remote Global Desktop Service allows access to our software whether you’re using the WiFi in our halls of residence or you’re at home.

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 have specialist dedicated computer forensics labs, a game software development lab and a final year project lab.

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 that covers hundreds of journals that include coverage of e-commerce and information management

Course location

The course is based at our Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter’s. The Campus is on the banks of the River Wear and is less than a mile from the seaside. It’s a vibrant learning environment with strong links to software companies and a constant exchange of ideas and people.


The David Goldman Informatics Centre

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

Entry requirements

The typical entry requirement is successful completion of one of the following:

  • HND or Foundation Degree in a subject related to computer science
  • 240 credits or equivalent of a recognised UK undergraduate award in a relevant subject

There is a range of qualifications that would satisfy the entry requirements and we will consider each application individually.

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

The annual fee for this course is:

  • £9,250 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £10,750 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.

Scholarships and bursaries may be available to you – please see the Fees and Finance section of this website for more information.

Employment & careers

Sunderland has a good reputation with employers and, according to the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education Survey 2015, 92.5% of our graduates are in employment or further study within six months of graduating. The top type of job gained by our graduates is ‘information and communication technology professional’.

Our graduates have become web programmers, IT managers, information analysts and software developers. Employers that have taken on our graduates include Sage, British Airways and the NHS. Other graduates have started their own businesses or become software contractors earning over £50,000 a year.

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

The Enterprise Place

If you have a good idea for a new business and have the dedication and motivation to make it happen, then we want to hear from you. The Enterprise Place, based on-campus at St Peter's Gate Business Centre, is the perfect environment for entrepreneurial students and graduates to turn their business ideas into reality. You will have access to free hot desk space, IT facilities, specialist advice and support and business mentors and networking opportunities.

To find out more about how we can help you start a business, please contact the University's Enterprise Team:

Tel: 0191 515 3751

University Language Scheme

It is usually possible to take a module from the free University Language Scheme. This can be studied on top of your 120 credits or in some cases, can earn credits towards your degree.

Language skills increase your international mobility and you can choose between French, German, Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese and Arabic at a range of levels. If your first language is not English, please check with your tutor about entry requirements.

Staff and students talk about the benefits of the University Language Scheme: 


The University of Sunderland is committed to ensuring that every student has an impressive range of opportunities to enhance their CV and gain valuable experience:

  • Work placements
  • Graduate internships
  • Studying abroad
  • Student Ambassador Scheme
  • Mentoring
  • Starting your own business
  • Student jobs and volunteering
  • Careers advice

For full details, please see our Employability page.


Support for your learning

You can expect stimulating contact time that includes lectures, seminars and practical activities. There is also non-contact time when you will be studying on your own. If you have any particular problems with certain assignments, it’s usually possible to arrange one-to-one surgeries with tutors.

From the start of the course you will be allocated a Personal Tutor. You’ll meet your Tutor at agreed times throughout each year of the 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.

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 and 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.

For more information about all the support services you will have access to as a Sunderland student, please see Student support and guidance.

"Studying at Sunderland will help you embark on a successful career in computing."

Susan Jones

Susan Jones - Academic

Programme Leader, Computing

"I always tell my students that my favourite day in the academic calendar is Graduation Day.

"Every year when I see students walk across the stage to pick up their certificate, I know that through all their hard work and commitment they have dramatically improved their life chances and I am proud to have been with them along that journey. As an academic, this is where my job satisfaction comes from.

"To make sure our programmes give students the domain knowledge and employability skills they need, our academic teams work with external advisors from the computing industry as well as computing specialists from other universities in the validation of our programmes.

"Studying computing at Sunderland will help you embark on a successful career in computing and help you too to open doors to new opportunities and the life changing experiences you deserve."

"Thanks to Sunderland I was able to fulfill my potential."

Paul Taylor

Paul Taylor - Graduate

Head of Software Development at Mancala Technology

"From an early age I always knew I wanted a career in computers and computing. I had a plan to go to the University of Sunderland and I knew the course I wanted to take - so it couldn't have worked out better for me.

"The University's Placement Office were absolutely brilliant and helped me get the right placement to set me on the way.

"I now work for Newcastle-based Mancala Technology where I'm Head of Software Development. So it's thanks to Sunderland I was able to fulfill my potential."

"You will find a very strong focus on industry links and future employability."

Alistair Irons

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.

"The nature of the programmes are such that students get the opportunity to put into practice the theoretical aspects of the programme and there is a strong emphasis on real case studies from employers."

Apply for this course

Interested in this course? Apply straight away through UCAS, or read our 7-step guide to applying to university.

Want to know more about this course or the University of Sunderland? Order a prospectus or come to our next Open Day to see the facilities and talk to academic staff:

    Next Open Day

  • Date: Thursday 23rd February 2017
  • Time: 3:00pm-8:00pm
  • Type: University Open Day
  • Location: Science Complex, City Campus, Sunderland SR1 3SD

Contact Sunderland

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

Telephone: 0191 515 3000 

The details

Course Name Computer Systems Engineering (Top-Up)
Classification BSc (Hons)
Course Mode Full-time
Course Level Undergraduate
Duration 1 year
Study Location On-campus (Sunderland)
Starting 18 September 2017
UK/EU Fee £9,250
Intl Fee £10,750

Entry requirements

HND or Foundation Degree in Computer Science related subject

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