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Build tomorrow’s technology

Computer Science

Big Data Engineering

Build technology for the information society

The Master’s in Computer Science covers this fascinating and hyper-relevant discipline from multiple angles. The technical side of Computer Science deals with computer operations, like system software, computer networks and programming environments. The theoretical foundations cover the limits of what can be computed, computational efficiency, correctness, and the intricacies of concurrent execution. Software engineering studies construction and maintenance of large and often mission-critical software systems that need to be maintained by large teams of people. Because of its prominent role in everyday life, non-functional aspects of information technology are gaining importance in Computer Science, most notably the energy efficiency of data centres and the security of computer systems.

The start dates of this programme are September 1st and February 1st.

Note: the track Computer Systems and Security is no longer available as part of this Master’s programme since September 2021. We offer a new Master’s programme Computer Security. For more information go to www.vu.nl/csec.

See also the study guide for a complete overview of the study programme. Or download the year schedule directly. 

Tracks

The Master's in Computer Science is a two-year programme that currently offers seven distinct tracks: 

  • Big Data Engineering
  • Foundations of Computing and Concurrency
  • Computer Systems and Infrastructure
  • Systems for Large-Scale Application
  • Software Engineering and Green IT
  • International track: Global Software Engineering European Master
  • International track: Software Engineers for Green Deal

Each track comprises five mandatory core courses – relating to Computer Science in general and your track specifically – plus certain restricted choices and electives. You’ll also carry out your Master’s project and write your thesis in the second half of your second year.

The tracks Computer Systems and Infrastructure and Systems for Large-Scale Application will be offered starting from 2023-2024. The complete overview of the programme and the year schedule for these two tracks will be published in June 2023. Notice that the tracks Parallel Computing Systems and Internet & Web Technology are being discontinued. It is no longer possible to enroll in these tracks.

Summary

Study the technology of data processing
In the internet era, data plays centre stage. We all continuously communicate via social networks; we expect all information to be accessible online; and world economies thrive on data-processing services where revenue is created by generating insights from raw data. These developments are enabled by a global data processing infrastructure, connecting the full range from small company computer clusters to data centres run by the world-leading IT giants.

In the Big Data Engineering track, you’ll study the technology that allows you to design and operate solutions for processing, analysing and managing large quantities of data. This track is part of the joint Master’s in Computer Science, in which renowned researchers from both VU and UvA contribute their varied expertise in one of the strongest Computer Science programmes available in Europe.

Compulsory courses

  • Large Scale Data Engineering
  • Data Mining Techniques
  • Data Preparation
  • Web Data Processing Systems
  • Data Protection Technologies

Summary

Explore formal methods for system design

Computing is a fundamental phenomenon in computer science. Concurrency naturally occurs in the specification of distributed systems; their analysis, verification and implementation require a systematic approach, aided by formal methods. In the Foundations of Computing and Concurrency track, you’ll take courses ranging from distributed algorithms to protocol validation, and from term rewriting to logical verification, as well as some general courses in logic and mathematics.

This track is part of the joint Master’s in Computer Science, aimed at students with an interest in computing and concurrency, and the application of formal methods for system design.

Compulsory courses

  • Protocol Validation
  • Logical Verification
  • Advanced Logic
  • Term Rewriting Systems
  • Distributed Algorithms

Summary

Understand computer systems and build with them tomorrow’s digital infrastructure

Computer systems and networks are the core components of all distributed data and information processing systems. Our modern society depends on them. Many computer systems are even not recognizable as such, because they are embedded in larger devices such as cars, airplanes, medical equipment, smart buildings, robotics, etc. 

The realization of modern computer systems is greatly complicated by their increasing complexity: these computer systems integrate increasingly more processors, often heterogeneous, sometimes in a distributed context, and possibly also resulting in complex systems-of-systems (such as can be found, e.g., in the Edge-to-Cloud computing continuum and in the high-performance memory-storage system). Meanwhile, computer networks interconnecting these systems are evolving with significantly increased customizability in addition to higher speeds. The energy consumption, sustainability, dependability, and security and privacy of these computer systems and networks also require increasing attention.

This track is part of the joint Master’s in Computer Science, aimed at students with an interest in computer systems and infrastructure.

Compulsory courses

  • Advanced Computer Networks
  • Storage Systems
  • Energy-efficient Edge Computing
  • Multi-core Processor Systems
  • Cryptographic Engineering

The track Computer Systems and Infrastructure will be offered starting from 2023-2024. The complete overview of the study programme and the year schedule for this tracks will only be published in June 2023.

Summary

Discover the systems driving the world we live in
Everywhere you look, you can see digital data and processes. Modern digital applications often access up to hundreds of thousands of servers in data centers distributed across the whole world. The largest supercomputers now have millions of cores and can be used for detailed simulations like climate modeling and astrophysics. High-performance parallel and distributed computing therefore now is at the core of our digital society and drives our economy. In this track you will learn how parallel, distributed, and cloud-based systems enable impactful, often  society-scale, applications. The track covers theory, principles, development (programming), deployment, and analysis. You’ll also carry out practical work that uses a unique, world-class infrastructure, such as the Netherlands-based Distributed ASCI Supercomputer (DAS). You’ll also benefit from the local SURF supercomputing centre and the Netherlands eScience Center for science and engineering, and through them get involved with numerous real-world applications.

This track is part of the joint Master’s in Computer Science, in which leading research groups in the areas of parallel and distributed systems team up to educate the future experts in this area.

Compulsory courses

  • Distributed Systems
  • Web Services and Cloud-based Systems
  • Programming Large-Scale Parallel Systems
  • Parallel Programming Practical
  • Distributed Algorithms

The track Systems for Large-Scale Application will be offered starting from 2023-2024. 

Summary

Build green software systems
Software engineering applies a systematic and quantifiable approach to the development, execution and maintenance of complex software. Green IT is the study and practice of environmentally sustainable computing. The combination of Software Engineering and Green IT gives you the tools needed for a holistic understanding of large-scale complex software systems. This will enable you to manage their evolution, assess their quality and environmental impact, quantify their value and sustainability potential, and organise their development in different local and distributed contexts. 

Software engineering and green IT is a broad and comprehensive field, in which engineering plays an important role in parallel with social, economic and environmental priorities. The field continually evolves, influenced by development paradigms like outsourcing, global software development, service orientation, smart and pervasive computing, and energy-aware software engineering.

This track is part of the joint Master’s in Computer Science, and is a combination that’s unique in the Netherlands.

Compulsory courses

  • Service Oriented Design
  • Digital Architecture
  • Fundamentals of Adaptive Software
  • Software Testing

Summary

International track: Global Software Engineering European Master
The Global Software Engineering European Master (GSEEM) is an international double degree Master’s programme for students in Computer Science, specialising in Software Engineering. The GSEEM focuses on domains that are strategically important for software-intensive products and services, helping you develop the skills needed to work in companies active in global software engineering. You’ll spend one academic year at the VU Amsterdam and one academic year at the University of L’Aquila in Italy.

Each partner university awards a double degree to all students who are regularly enrolled and have obtained at least 60 ECTS in Master’s modules at both universities (including 30 ECTS for the Master’s thesis in the second year). In addition, students visiting VU Amsterdam must be regularly enrolled at the moment the degree is granted. The degree granted by VU Amsterdam is the Master’s in Computer Science specialising in Software Engineering and Green IT.

Summary

International track: Software Engineers for Green Deal

The Software Engineers for Green Deal (SE4GD) is an International Master’s programme for students in Computer Science, specializing in Software Engineering. The SE4GD aims at educating software engineers with a sustainability mindset to improve the well-being of people through software solutions. Admitted students spend one semester at each host university (respectively, semester 1 at University of L’Aquila in Italy, semester 2 at Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finland, and semester 3 at VU Amsterdam. Finally, semester 4 is dedicated to the Master's project which can be carried out at one of the host universities or one of the SE4GD associated partners.

Each host university awards a triple degree to all students who are regularly enrolled and have successfully completed the study programme which entails at least 30 ECTS in Master’s courses at each host university and a 30 ECTS Master’s thesis. In addition, students visiting VU Amsterdam must be regularly enrolled at the moment the degree is granted. The degree granted by VU Amsterdam is the Master’s in Computer Science specializing in Software Engineering and Green IT.

Prospective students must apply to the programme. Visit the SE4GD website for more information about the application process (such as scholarships and deadlines) and the curriculum

  • Big Data Engineering

    Summary

    Study the technology of data processing
    In the internet era, data plays centre stage. We all continuously communicate via social networks; we expect all information to be accessible online; and world economies thrive on data-processing services where revenue is created by generating insights from raw data. These developments are enabled by a global data processing infrastructure, connecting the full range from small company computer clusters to data centres run by the world-leading IT giants.

    In the Big Data Engineering track, you’ll study the technology that allows you to design and operate solutions for processing, analysing and managing large quantities of data. This track is part of the joint Master’s in Computer Science, in which renowned researchers from both VU and UvA contribute their varied expertise in one of the strongest Computer Science programmes available in Europe.

    Compulsory courses

    • Large Scale Data Engineering
    • Data Mining Techniques
    • Data Preparation
    • Web Data Processing Systems
    • Data Protection Technologies
  • Foundations of Computing and Concurrency

    Summary

    Explore formal methods for system design

    Computing is a fundamental phenomenon in computer science. Concurrency naturally occurs in the specification of distributed systems; their analysis, verification and implementation require a systematic approach, aided by formal methods. In the Foundations of Computing and Concurrency track, you’ll take courses ranging from distributed algorithms to protocol validation, and from term rewriting to logical verification, as well as some general courses in logic and mathematics.

    This track is part of the joint Master’s in Computer Science, aimed at students with an interest in computing and concurrency, and the application of formal methods for system design.

    Compulsory courses

    • Protocol Validation
    • Logical Verification
    • Advanced Logic
    • Term Rewriting Systems
    • Distributed Algorithms
  • Computer Systems and Infrastructure

    Summary

    Understand computer systems and build with them tomorrow’s digital infrastructure

    Computer systems and networks are the core components of all distributed data and information processing systems. Our modern society depends on them. Many computer systems are even not recognizable as such, because they are embedded in larger devices such as cars, airplanes, medical equipment, smart buildings, robotics, etc. 

    The realization of modern computer systems is greatly complicated by their increasing complexity: these computer systems integrate increasingly more processors, often heterogeneous, sometimes in a distributed context, and possibly also resulting in complex systems-of-systems (such as can be found, e.g., in the Edge-to-Cloud computing continuum and in the high-performance memory-storage system). Meanwhile, computer networks interconnecting these systems are evolving with significantly increased customizability in addition to higher speeds. The energy consumption, sustainability, dependability, and security and privacy of these computer systems and networks also require increasing attention.

    This track is part of the joint Master’s in Computer Science, aimed at students with an interest in computer systems and infrastructure.

    Compulsory courses

    • Advanced Computer Networks
    • Storage Systems
    • Energy-efficient Edge Computing
    • Multi-core Processor Systems
    • Cryptographic Engineering

    The track Computer Systems and Infrastructure will be offered starting from 2023-2024. The complete overview of the study programme and the year schedule for this tracks will only be published in June 2023.

  • Systems for Large-Scale Applications

    Summary

    Discover the systems driving the world we live in
    Everywhere you look, you can see digital data and processes. Modern digital applications often access up to hundreds of thousands of servers in data centers distributed across the whole world. The largest supercomputers now have millions of cores and can be used for detailed simulations like climate modeling and astrophysics. High-performance parallel and distributed computing therefore now is at the core of our digital society and drives our economy. In this track you will learn how parallel, distributed, and cloud-based systems enable impactful, often  society-scale, applications. The track covers theory, principles, development (programming), deployment, and analysis. You’ll also carry out practical work that uses a unique, world-class infrastructure, such as the Netherlands-based Distributed ASCI Supercomputer (DAS). You’ll also benefit from the local SURF supercomputing centre and the Netherlands eScience Center for science and engineering, and through them get involved with numerous real-world applications.

    This track is part of the joint Master’s in Computer Science, in which leading research groups in the areas of parallel and distributed systems team up to educate the future experts in this area.

    Compulsory courses

    • Distributed Systems
    • Web Services and Cloud-based Systems
    • Programming Large-Scale Parallel Systems
    • Parallel Programming Practical
    • Distributed Algorithms

    The track Systems for Large-Scale Application will be offered starting from 2023-2024. 

  • Software Engineering and Green IT

    Summary

    Build green software systems
    Software engineering applies a systematic and quantifiable approach to the development, execution and maintenance of complex software. Green IT is the study and practice of environmentally sustainable computing. The combination of Software Engineering and Green IT gives you the tools needed for a holistic understanding of large-scale complex software systems. This will enable you to manage their evolution, assess their quality and environmental impact, quantify their value and sustainability potential, and organise their development in different local and distributed contexts. 

    Software engineering and green IT is a broad and comprehensive field, in which engineering plays an important role in parallel with social, economic and environmental priorities. The field continually evolves, influenced by development paradigms like outsourcing, global software development, service orientation, smart and pervasive computing, and energy-aware software engineering.

    This track is part of the joint Master’s in Computer Science, and is a combination that’s unique in the Netherlands.

    Compulsory courses

    • Service Oriented Design
    • Digital Architecture
    • Fundamentals of Adaptive Software
    • Software Testing
  • International track: Global Software Engineering European Master

    Summary

    International track: Global Software Engineering European Master
    The Global Software Engineering European Master (GSEEM) is an international double degree Master’s programme for students in Computer Science, specialising in Software Engineering. The GSEEM focuses on domains that are strategically important for software-intensive products and services, helping you develop the skills needed to work in companies active in global software engineering. You’ll spend one academic year at the VU Amsterdam and one academic year at the University of L’Aquila in Italy.

    Each partner university awards a double degree to all students who are regularly enrolled and have obtained at least 60 ECTS in Master’s modules at both universities (including 30 ECTS for the Master’s thesis in the second year). In addition, students visiting VU Amsterdam must be regularly enrolled at the moment the degree is granted. The degree granted by VU Amsterdam is the Master’s in Computer Science specialising in Software Engineering and Green IT.

  • International track: Software Engineers for Green Deal

    Summary

    International track: Software Engineers for Green Deal

    The Software Engineers for Green Deal (SE4GD) is an International Master’s programme for students in Computer Science, specializing in Software Engineering. The SE4GD aims at educating software engineers with a sustainability mindset to improve the well-being of people through software solutions. Admitted students spend one semester at each host university (respectively, semester 1 at University of L’Aquila in Italy, semester 2 at Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finland, and semester 3 at VU Amsterdam. Finally, semester 4 is dedicated to the Master's project which can be carried out at one of the host universities or one of the SE4GD associated partners.

    Each host university awards a triple degree to all students who are regularly enrolled and have successfully completed the study programme which entails at least 30 ECTS in Master’s courses at each host university and a 30 ECTS Master’s thesis. In addition, students visiting VU Amsterdam must be regularly enrolled at the moment the degree is granted. The degree granted by VU Amsterdam is the Master’s in Computer Science specializing in Software Engineering and Green IT.

    Prospective students must apply to the programme. Visit the SE4GD website for more information about the application process (such as scholarships and deadlines) and the curriculum

Fellowships and internships

A limited number of fellowships are available for (partial) funding of this Master’s through the VU Fellowship Programme. The application deadline for the VU Fellowship Programme is 1 February. More information can be found here

Change your future with the Computer Science programme

Change your future with the Computer Science programme

On completing this Master’s programme, you can choose from a variety of careers, ranging from software development to system design, at organisations spanning from local companies up to the big multi-national players. As a graduate in Computer Science, you could also found your own startup company and monetise your product idea, or continue your academic career and apply for a PhD position.

Explore your future prospects
A student looks at data on a computer screen

Partners