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MSc in Software Development


Please note that this qualification is only available until 31 December 2017.

In order to claim this qualification you must have completed the required 180 credits by this time. This qualification is not available to new students.

If you have any questions about your eligibility for this qualification please contact the Centre for Qualifications and Ceremonies on +44 (0)1908 653003 or by email.

The increased complexity of software systems and the dependence of many organisations on reliable computing systems stress the need for skilled software developers equipped with the knowledge and techniques to become the professionals at the leading edge of their field.

This MSc course consists of modules from our postgraduate computing programme. It is designed to provide professionals in the field with a sound understanding of the software development process and the skills to take the lead in analysing complex problems and designing solutions. The diploma modules provide case study-driven learning, to provide extensible knowledge that can be applied to lead technological and organisational change in the business environment. Following completion of the Postgraduate Diploma, the final MSc dissertation module draws together the knowledge and skills you have gained, in a research-based project. This MSc course is designed to be a more specialist degree than the MSc in Computing for Commerce and Industry (F05).

Planning your studies

To gain your MSc, you must first obtain the Postgraduate Diploma in Software Development (D69). You then carry out research and study in a specialist topic by taking a 60-credit module.

We are currently reviewing our postgraduate computing programme which will include making changes to the selection of modules available. If there are specific modules that you are keen to study we recommend that you take these as early as possible in your study programme.

You will need to select a topic for your research project that is in the area of software development. You may choose a topic from a range offered by the University, or a topic of your own choice that is linked to one or more of the diploma modules you have studied.

You must take the research project module for the start date immediately after your completion of the diploma, or for the following start date. If you find that you are unable to meet the time limits set for study, you may switch at any time during your studies to the Computing for Commerce and Industry qualifications (see the Postgraduate Diploma in Computing for Commerce and Industry (C02)) or the Management of Software Projects qualifications (see the Postgraduate Diploma in Management of Software Projects (E19)) instead (please note that E19 will be withdrawn at the end of December 2014 and C02 at the end of December 2016).

You will need to complete a research project and write a dissertation of 10,000-15,000 words reporting on your work. A supervisor will be appointed to work with you on the development of your full project proposal.

Your spoken and written English must be of an adequate standard for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we recommend that you will need a minimum score of 6 under the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Please see the IELTS website for details.

Time limit – this qualification is only available until 31 December 2017 and in order to claim it you must have completed the required 180 credits by this time.

You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that the 60 credits from Research project (T802) must be unique to this qualification and not already counted towards any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.

Career relevance and employability

The modules in the postgraduate computing programme are for professional computer specialists, engineers, technical managers and scientists who need to update their skills and knowledge in specific areas, and gain recognised qualifications to develop their careers.

BCS - The Chartered Institute for IT offers exemption from some of its membership requirements for holders of an appropriate MSc in computing from The Open University. For more details view or download our Recognition leaflet 3.7 Computing. BCS regulations are on their website.

There is more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU’s Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.


For this 180-credit masters degree you require:

120 credits from the Postgraduate Diploma in Software Development (D69) 

And 60 credits from the following compulsory module:

Postgraduate compulsory module Credits Next start
Research project (T802)

This research module enables you to gain an MSc by building on the postgraduate diploma that you already hold. You’ll develop and submit a dissertation.

See full description

60 Oct 2014

Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills
Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes, and how they are acquired through teaching, learning and assessment methods.

Credit for previous study elsewhere

Credit transfer is not permitted for this MSc except for any awarded as part of the postgraduate diploma.

On completion

On successful completion of the required modules you can be awarded an MSc in Software Development entitling you to use the letters MSc Soft Dev (Open) after your name. You will have the opportunity of being presented at a degree ceremony.

If you obtain (i) a distinction grade in the module Research project (T802) and (ii) 30 credits at distinction grade and at least a further 30 credits at merit or above in the postgraduate diploma taught modules required for this MSc degree, you will qualify for the award of the degree with Distinction.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the following regulations:

These regulations are also available on our Essential Documents website.

How to register

If you want to study for this qualification, read the description and check you meet any specific requirements (for example, some of our qualifications, require you to be working in a particular environment, or be sponsored by your employer). Then select the module you wish to study first and ensure it is suitable for you before following the registration procedure for that module. During the registration procedure you will be asked to declare which qualification you are studying towards.

See a full list of modules available for this qualification

About this Taught Masters
Code F26
Level Postgraduate
Made up of 180 credits

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