FROM WHICH COURSE: AN INDEPENDENT EDUCATIONAL PUBLISHING MAGAZINE

Courses: Artificial Intelligence

'It conjures up images of human-like androids walking the earth'


What are the entry requirements for this course?

240 Ucas points or equivalent.

Who applies?

Anyone with an interest (as well as A-levels) in computing, IT and business studies could look to a career in artificial intelligence (AI). Those who are fascinated by complex systems and the technologies evolving to help us create and manage such systems should, perhaps, look to the rising number of courses offered by UK universities in AI-related fields.

What does the course involve?

There was a time when AI related to the efforts of scientists and mathematicians to somehow create a working model of the human brain.

The subject conjures up images of human-like androids walking the earth - perhaps relatives of prototypes like ASIMO, the humanoid robot created by Honda and seen recently on our TV screens interacting with its surroundings in a museum, which would make you believe that AI is at an advanced stage.

ASIMO is very clever. The little robot that looks like an astronaut wearing a backpack interacts by recognising movement, postures, gestures, sounds, even faces, but he doesn't have the capacity to think. He can only do what he is programmed to do and while he can move by means of remote control, he's very much earthbound by the technology that controls those movements.

Bournemouth University is one of many in the UK to offer honours degrees in artificial intelligence and human computer systems. Learning is achieved by doing projects with students that develop a keen commercial awareness, building on their research, teamwork and management skills. Programmes like these provide a good grounding in software development and modern computing with an option to spend the third year in placement, applying the skills developed at university in a professional, paid capacity.

How long does it last?

Four years with the 40-week industrial placement, three years without. Placement opportunities are provided by companies including IBM, Barclays Bank, Sun Microsystems and British Aerospace. This is in a software systems environment, in order to develop a deeper understanding of the industry, design processes, technological aspects and project management practices.

Following the placement year, students return to university for a final year to specialise in AI, with an opportunity to look more closely at artificial neural networks, fuzzy logic and case-based reasoning.

How will I be assessed?

Exams and continual assessment are all a key part of the learning process, but there is a real emphasis on personal development and group work, as modern software product design is usually accomplished in the context of a team.

Are there opportunities for further study?

At Bournemouth you can study an MSc in applied AI for one year full-time, and other institutions offer similar opportunities.

What career options are there when the course is completed?

For graduates, the shortage of software personnel worldwide opens the door to a range of prospects across various fields, including software design and development, design and evaluation of user interfaces, and project management. Demand for research is also high, including the development of "smart" systems that use nature as a source of inspiration to help us in our personal and professional lives.

Things have certainly come a long way as AI is used in smaller, more effective ways as part of larger projects by solving practical problems faced by businesses and other organisations.

A company in California, for example, uses AI to help retailers mine for consumer data by sifting through the ages, postcodes and buying habits of people who buy goods over the internet. Nasa uses AI to help plan and schedule space shuttle maintenance and companies such as Toyota and Bausch & Lomb use the technology to streamline their production supply chains.

Charles Elder, press and PR officer at Bournemouth University, www.bournemouth.ac.uk

Current student: Christopher Kimber, 21, is in his fourth year studying computing at Bournemouth University

"I studied computing, maths and business studies at A-level and electronics and human biology at AS-level.

I wanted to study AI because the prospect of getting a computer to learn something on its own is really exciting. The course has covered a large number of topics, from low-level assembly programming to formal methods. Generally we have one lecture for each module a week, along with a supporting lab or seminar depending on the subject being taught. Most of the modules have an exam and two assignments, although some - usually the programming modules - are entirely coursework assessed."

Recent graduate: Michael Haddrell, 25, is a scientist at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL)

"I wanted to study technology because it is a large part of the world that we live in, and helps to make it more fun. I received my results in June 2006 and successfully applied for my current role.

DSTL is an agency of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and supplies scientific and technical research and advice to the MOD.

Since joining I have had exposure to many aspects of science and engineering systems. In each area, I've been involved in blue-sky research and with the support of DSTL, I've become a chartered IT professional with the British Computer Society and a member of The Institution of Engineering and Technology."

WEB WATCH

ASIMO

Get more facts on the humanoid robot world.honda.com/ASIMO

Defence Science and Technology Laboratory

Find out more on recent graduate Michael Haddrell's employers www.dstl.gov.uk

The Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and Simulation of Behaviour

Useful contacts and resources www.aisb.org.uk

education.independent.co.uk/magazines

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Surrey - £25,000

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Croy...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Marketing & Social Media Executive

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a Marketing Graduate or...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer (Trainee) - City, London

£25000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A large financial services company...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Services Graduate Training Scheme

£20000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are a successful and establ...

SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future