The University of Southampton

MSc Embedded Systems (1 year full-time)

PLEASE NOTE: This programme is not recruiting for entry in 2020

Our MSc Embedded Systems degree equips you with the highly sought after skills required to design embedded systems in all sectors of the economy. This one year course includes hardware design and verification, real time computing, embedded processors, architectures and the extensive practical use of cutting-edge and industry-standard tools and methods.

Introducing your degree

This program allows you to develop a thorough understanding of the embedded system design process, from concept to implementation and testing.

It also provides you with a strong hardware design skills and software development knowledge backed with applications-led modules.


Embedded systems are electronic systems specifically built for a particular task. The applications of these can be found in all sectors of the economy: consumer electronics, car industry, media and process industries and also banking and commerce.

The rapid growth of tools, techniques and application in this area has led to a significant skills shortage, particularly for engineers who have both hardware and software skills.

This course will equip you with the key skills required to design embedded systems. This includes hardware design and verification, real time computing, embedded processors, architectures and the extensive practical use of cutting-edge and industry-standard tools and methods.

You will be taken through the embedded system design process, from concept to implementation and testing. 

View the 2019/20 programme specification document for this course

View the 2020/21 programme specification document for this course

Programme Structure

One year, full-time.

This MSc provides strong skills and knowledge in hardware design and software development backed with applications-led modules.

It has been designed to maximise student choice by allowing you to tailor the structure to suit your own interests. You can choose areas that reflect your personal interests and work on an individual project. You will also take a number of compulsory modules to ensure you are exposed to key topics in all areas.

To Apply

You can apply for the programme through the University of Southampton's online postgraduate application system. Visit our how to apply pages for more information. Please note that we belong to the Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering (FPSE).

The deadline for new applications to this course is 31 July each year.

Key Facts

We have pioneered many of the most important advances in electronics and microelectronics over the past 30 years

We lead the UK for the volume and quality of Electrical and Electronic Engineering research (REF 2014)

97% of our Electrical and Electronic Engineering research outputs are rated as world-leading or internationally excellent (REF 2014)

The Guardian University Guide 2019 shows the University of Southampton second in the UK for Electronics and Electrical Engineering

We are ranked second equal for graduate prospects in Electrical and Electronic Engineering in the Complete University Guide 2019

Southampton is ranked in the top 100 universities for Electrical and Electronic Engineering in the 2018 QS World Rankings, and top 10 in the UK

We are Europe’s top-ranked university for Telecommunication Engineering – ShanghaiRanking's Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2018

We have outstanding experimental research facilities, including our world-class high-voltage laboratory and our £110m interdisciplinary clean room

Uvis Senkans: Applications of Energy -Driven Computing

MSc Embedded Systems student, Uvis Senkans, has been researching a battery-free bicycle computer measuring cycling speed, distance and time, that is powered entirely from the energy harvested from a small magnet mounted on the wheel.

Entry Requirements

Typical entry requirements

Honours Degree:

Our normal entry requirement is an upper second-class honours degree or higher (or equivalent) in electronic engineering or in a closely related discipline.

We require a minimum 2:1 degree overall (or equivalent) in a related discipline and 2:1 in the required modules.  Electronics modules, circuit design, programming languages.

English Language Requirements:

If English is not your first language, you will be required to pass an approved English test. We normally ask for IELTS 6.5 overall with at least 6.0 in each competency. For information on other accepted English language tests, please visit

International Qualifications:

We welcome applications from international students. For information on applying, visit the International Office website

Selection process:

All individuals are selected and treated on their relative merits and abilities in line with the University's Equal Opportunities Policy. Disabled applicants will be treated according to the same procedures as any other applicant with the added involvement of the Disability Office to assess their needs. The programme may require adaptation for students with disabilities (eg hearing impairment, visual impairment, mobility difficulties, dyslexia), particularly the practical laboratory sessions, and we will attempt to accommodate students wherever possible.


Career Opportunities

This programme provides an excellent platform for further research in either industry or academia.

Graduates from our MSc programme are employed worldwide in leading companies at the forefront of technology.  ECS runs a dedicated careers hub which is affiliated with over 100 renowned companies like IBM, Arm, Microsoft Research, Imagination Technologies, Nvidia, Samsung and Google to name but a few.  Visit our careers hub for more information.

Typical careers may include:

  • academia
  • consumer electronics
  • car industry
  • media and process industries
  • banking and commerce

Through an extensive blend of networks, mentors, societies and our on-campus startup incubator, we also support aspiring entrepreneurs looking to build their professional enterprise skills. Discover more about enterprise and entrepreneurship opportunities.

Fees & funding

Tuition fees

Fees for postgraduate taught courses vary across the University. All fees are listed for UK, EU and international full-time and part-time students alphabetically by course name.

View the full list of course fees


Scholarships, bursaries, sponsorships or grants may be available to support you through your course. Funding opportunities available to you are linked to your subject area and/or your country of origin. These can be from the University of Southampton or other sources.

Explore funding opportunities

Costs associated with this course

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

There will also be further costs for the following, not purchasable from the University:

Approved CalculatorsCandidates may use calculators in the examination room only as specified by the University and as permitted by the rubric of individual examination papers. The University approved models are Casio FX-570 and Casio FX-85GT Plus. These may be purchased from any source and no longer need to carry the University logo.
StationeryYou will be expected to provide your own day-to-day stationery items, e.g. pens, pencils, notebooks, etc). Any specialist stationery items will be specified under the Additional Costs tab of the relevant module profile.
TextbooksWhere a module specifies core texts these should generally be available on the reserve list in the library. However due to demand, students may prefer to buy their own copies. These can be purchased from any source.

Some modules suggest reading texts as optional background reading. The library may hold copies of such texts, or alternatively you may wish to purchase your own copies. Although not essential reading, you may benefit from the additional reading materials for the module.
Printing and Photocopying CostsIn the majority of cases, coursework such as essays; projects; dissertations is likely to be submitted on line. However, there are some items where it is not possible to submit on line and students will be asked to provide a printed copy. A list of the University printing costs can be found here:

In some cases you’ll be able to choose modules (which may have different costs associated with that module) which will change the overall cost of a programme to you. Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

Pre-course Reading List

The following is a list of subjects with which you are expected to be familiar at the start of the course. Some of these subjects are covered explicitly in lectures; other subjects are considered pre-requisites for units on the course. In all cases, you should be familiar with the material in the chapters specified. If you are unable to obtain the recommended books, similar books may be used instead, but most of the books listed below will be used as course texts.

C Programming
Programming is not explicitly taught as part of the MSc. You will be expected to be able to program in C for some units and for the project. There are many suitable books available (for example Buchanan, W., C for Electronic Engineering, Prentice Hall, 1995). You should be familiar with:

  • Functions (arguments, return, scope, recursion)
  • Dynamic memory allocation
  • Structures (declaration, definition, pointers, arrays)
  • Header files and modular programming

Real-Time Systems
Burns, A and Wellings, A, Real Time Systems and Programming Languages: Ada 95, Real-Time Java and Real-Time POSIX, Pearson Education (2011). Read: Chapters 1-2.
Hermann Kopetz, Real-Time Systems: Design Principles for Distributed Embedded Applications (second edition)

Digital Design
Zwolinski, M., Digital Design with VHDL, Addison Wesley Longman, 2000, ISBN 0-201-36063-2 [Shops]
You should read and understand the material in chapters 1 to 7.

Signal Processing
Proakis J. G. and Manolakis D., Digital Signal Processing: Principles, Algorithms and Applications, 3rd ed., Prentice Hall, 1996

Digital Communications
Sklar, B., Digital Communications: Fundamentals and Applications (2nd Ed.), Prentice Hall PTR, 2001.
Read: Chapters 1-4, 6, 7, 12.

Wireless Communications
Rappaport, T. S., Wireless Communications: Principles and Practice (2nd Ed.), Prentice Hall PTR, 2002.
Read: Chapters 1-5.


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