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Meet Your Programme Lead - Dr Ian Watson

Discover more about Ian Watson, academic lead for our distance learning Computer Science MSc courses, and learn more about what studying at Northumbria will mean for your career.

Dr Ian WatsonTell us a little bit more about your professional and educational background, particularly in relation to computer science? 

My undergraduate degree is in Archaeological Sciences – studying how scientific techniques can be applied to help analyse archaeological materials, which are used most commonly to help date artefacts. A few modules on the programme focused on programming and graphical representation of artefacts and systems, which raised my awareness of computer systems and applications. Around 20 years ago, I took this interest further and undertook a Computer Science Masters. I then worked as an IT consultant advising SMEs in the North of England on suitable Enterprise and Management Information systems, network implementation and software applications. I joined the academic team at Northumbria University in 2000, becoming a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) in 2003. 

What is your particular area of academic expertise, and why are you passionate about it? 

My expertise and interest is in two areas: applications of computer systems to everyday life and Trans National Higher Education (TNHE). I love to see students reach their potential, no matter where they are from in the world. It is very satisfying to hear how students who have graduated from our programmes are applying new skills and technologies in their day-to-day roles in countries across the globe. 

Why should people choose to study Computer Science at Northumbria? 

Northumbria has been running distance learning computer science programmes for many years. In our two new Computer Science MSc courses, students have the opportunity to develop their practical computing skills – studying modules that explore everything from programming to secure web development. They’ll then have the choice of two specialist pathways  – Data Analytics or Artificial Intelligence. This course structure is quite unique  –  it’s perfect for people who have no previous experience or qualifications in computer science who want to kick start their career, as well as those who are looking to gain more specialised knowledge to open up new opportunities in a massive  – and rapidly growing – sector. 

Our department of Computer and Information Sciences here at Northumbria is part of the UK government Institute of Coding, meaning that everything our students will learn along the way will help them to develop the advanced skills that employers are looking for to fulfil the global digital skills gap.  

As distance learning students, they’ll also be immersed in the research-rich environment that transcends everything we do. They’ll be taught by a team of extremely experienced and dedicated academic staff, who are involved in some extremely exciting research. You can learn more about it here. 

What excites you most about teaching on the distance learning Computer Science MSc? 

I am most excited by following our distance learning students along their MSc journey. Many may begin the course with having a broad interest in computer science, but by the time they graduate they’ll be armed with the specialist skill set needed to create a smarter future. It’s a very rewarding experience to watch. As I was in their shoes once, I know first-hand the feeling of achievement they’ll have at the end. 

Aside from being able to meet the academic entry requirements, what makes a perfect candidate for this course? 

The perfect candidate for this course is someone who wants to achieve something special and they are prepared to dedicate time over several years to their studies. They’ll especially relish the opportunity to put their learnings and interests together during their dissertation – an independent project on a topic of their choice, which will also help them to grow their interpersonal, research and project management skills. 

Considering studying an online Computer Science masters at Northumbria University?  

Our Enrolment Advisors are here to help you find the right course for you. Call them on  0191 276 4874 or email 


Alternatively, find out more about our courses below: 

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