Study programme

Software Engineering (MSc)


The SE course load is based on the process of software engineering and its fixed components. There are three courses on the technical aspects of software engineering:

  •  Software Evolution (1st semester, 6 EC) -- How do you keep your system relevant and useful as long as possible? How can automatic analysis and transformation tools help with this?
  • Software Testing (1st semester, 6 EC) -- How does automatic testing work? How can you substantiate quality?
  • Software Construction (2nd semester, 6EC) -- Which building techniques should you use, to write clear and concise for others to read?

and three courses on the managerial/ human aspects of software engineering:

  • Software Architecture (1st semester, 6 EC) -- How do you make a first design for a system, with so many uncertainties? What does each component do and how do they relate to one another?
  • Requirements Engineering (1st semester, 6 EC) -- Which system is needed? What should it be able to do? Which conditions must it meet?
  • Software Process (2nd semester, 6 EC) -- Which problems occur often in software processes? Which measures can you take to counter them? What role do methods like Scrum and RUP play hereby?

Research projects

Lab assignments are part of the programme. Most are conducted in small groups and have to be completed in one or two weeks. This requires that you work together with other students at the faculty, and do all your reading in advance at home. As the year progresses, more and more projects are carried out on an individual basis under supervision.

The end of the year is reserved for your individual Master's project (24 EC), which requires real academic research. There is an extensive array of possible subjects. Many students choose to conduct their project within the National Research Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science (CWI, located next to the faculty). Part-time students who combine the programme with a job can choose a subject that is of interest to their employer. Another great way to help you choosing an appropriate research project is the SE Thesis Fair. At this event students and organisations meet during speed dating sessions while trying to make a match.

Bring your own device

All students enrolled in Software Engineering are requested to bring their own laptop, due to the nature of the programme. More information on specific system requirements can be found here.

Educational guidance

Due to the pace and intensity of the study programme, personal supervision is essential. The SE staff members will provide you with substantive feedback on your many final products and interim results. You will meet with your coordinators on a weekly basis, to discuss your own individual progress as well as the study programme as a whole. This can result in measures to adjust general facilities or the content of courses. It also helps to signal the possible overburdening of students, and to monitor the functioning of study groups.

Part-time study

SE can be done as a part-time study, in two years instead of one. Various companies offer the possibility to follow the programme within working hours. There are two part-time variants:

2-day variant:

  • study hours: per week 16 contact hours (two days: Monday and Tuesday, or Wednesday and Thursday) + approximately 4 hours self-study
  • study load: 6 EC (one course) per block
  • first year: three courses + preparation Master's project
  • second year: three courses + completion Master's project

1-day variant:

  • study hours: per week 8 contact hours (one day: Monday or Wednesday from September to December, Monday from January to May) + approximately 12 hours self-study
  • otherwise the same as the 2-day variant

The part-time programme is very intensive. Students typically have 6 to 7 years of work experience and a senior position, and they still have to put in at least 20 study hours a week. With the 1-day variant, this means you have to put in 12 hours in the weekend, every weekend, in the first year for at least 32 consecutive weeks. This is very hard, and if there are other major events in your life (for example a new child or a new job), it is almost impossible to sustain. Therefore, we strongly recommend you to opt for the 2-day variant. This is a programme with a more reasonable work-life balance.

One of the biggest challenges for part-time students is the Master's project. For most, the project will cause a significant increase in the duration of their study. Choosing a subject that is of interest to your employer can provide you with extra study time. We prescribe the following time allocation for the Master's project:

Year 1:

  • January: subject selection, part-time

  • April - June: preparation and start, part-time

Year 2:

  • April - May: execution, full-time
  • June: finishing up, part-time


26 maart 2015