Course overview

This programme is delivered by QA and awarded by Northumbria University

Level of study: Postgraduate
Award: MSc Digital and Technology Solutions Specialist
Apprenticeship Standard: Digital and Technology Solutions Specialist (Integrated Degree)
Awarding body: Northumbria University
Fees: This programme is fully funded by your employer through the Apprenticeship Levy
Entry requirements: 2:2 (second class) honours in a related discipline, or relevant professional qualifications and/or work experience
English language requirements: GCSE at Grade C 
Mode of study: Part-Time, blended work-based learning
Duration: 2 years + EPA, typically 6 months
Assessment methods: Coursework, assignments and final End-Point Assessment 
Start date: October, January, April and July
Locations: London, Leeds, Newcastle, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol


The MSc Digital and Technology Solutions Specialist programme is designed for those wishing to enhance their career through engaging in a work based learning programme and developing an understanding of Computing, IT and Digital Technology.  You will choose a specialist pathway to follow in areas including:

  • Software Engineering
  • Data & Analytics
  • Enterprise Architecture
  • Cyber Security
  • IT Ops Management (Cloud Computing)
  • IT/Digital Futures (DevOps)

Each pathway will have a combination of research-led specialist modules, and professional practice modules where you will focus on demonstrating your understanding of applying contemporary research into your current practice.

Alongside developing your capabilities in the areas of the Computing, IT and Digital Technology subject discipline, the programme will also develop you as a digital leader.  As such you will engage in a range of modules designed to develop your competences in areas such as Technical Leadership, Business & Technology.

How will I be taught?

As an apprentices, you are entitled to 20% of your working time off for studying. This will be agreed between your employer, you and us – we can advise how best to do this.

You will have 2 2-day block teaching workshops for each taught module, coupled with a 2 hour 1-2-1 coaching session every 8 weeks throughout the programme.

Our blended approach is highly work-based – you will spend 80% of your time in the programme on the job, actively applying what you’ve learned right away in the workplace.

You’ll spend the other 20% in off-the-job learning, which includes classroom sessions, digital learning activities, and learning and development activities at your workplace outside your normal day-to-day working duties.

A range of coursework approaches will be used throughout the programme. This will include research informed assignments for ‘core’ and ‘principles’ modules, negotiated, research informed work based projects for ‘Professional Practice’ modules and Technical Projects for ‘specialist technical’ modules.

You will be equipped to work in a range of Computing, IT, and Digital Technology roles.  Depending on your chosen specialist pathway, this will include those in the areas of Software Engineering, Data & Analytics, Enterprise Architecture, Cyber Security, IT Ops Management (Cloud Computing), or IT/Digital Futures (DevOps).

All modules are 20 credits unless otherwise stated.

Common Modules

Business and Technology (Core)

In this module, you will develop critical knowledge and skills in Innovation in Business and Technology.  Typical topics covered in the module include; understanding the typology of innovation, how firms leverage internal and external resources to compete in the digital environment, and how to plan for innovation in your organisation. This module prepares students to think about innovation activities in the context of their IT specialism as well as the wider organisation and business ecosystem.

Technical and Digital Leadership (Core)

In this module, you will develop a critical knowledge and skills in Technical & Digital Leadership.  Typical topics covered in the module include; understanding the art and science of leading engineering and technology organisations and how to leverage a combination of individual capabilities and technology management practices and tools to deliver business impact and performance. This module addresses a critical gap in the learning and career development of future leaders operating in complex technological environments.

Major Postgraduate Project (Core, 60 credits)

In this module you will engage in a major applied research project, which demonstrates your ability to:

  • Undertake an extensive academic literature review
  • Develop evaluative skills and research outcomes in Digital & Technology Solutions
  • Apply them in your workplace context
  • Critically analyse the implementation and recommend potential future improvements.

The module shall commence with a coverage of the research oriented skills required to undertake such a project, before the direction of the project is tailored towards your specific workplace requirements.

Software Engineering Pathway

Software Engineering Principles (Core)

In this module, you will develop critical knowledge and skills in Software Engineering.  Typical topics covered include; software life cycle models, agile development, continuous integration and source control, organising development projects, object-oriented modelling and test driven development – all areas considered to be essential for a Software Engineering professional.

Software Engineering Professional Practice I (Core)

A key element of your journey towards becoming a Digital and Technology Specialist is your ongoing skills development.   This is the first of two core modules in which you shall engage in a recognised CPD programme relating to your specialist pathway and to reflect upon how such learning can be embedded back into the workplace. To enable this we will consider the following areas:

  • Identification of a relevant skills need and subsequent CPD programme, embedded into your module delivery
  • Design and presentation of a Professional Practice Log using appropriate reflective framework
  • Strategies to embed learning from your CPD into practice

Software Engineering Professional Practice II (Core)

A key element of your journey towards becoming a Digital and Technology Specialist is your ongoing skills development.   This is the second of two core modules in which you shall engage in a recognised CPD programme relating to your specialist pathway and to reflect upon how such learning can be embedded back into the workplace. To enable this we will consider the following areas:

  • Identification of a relevant skills need and subsequent CPD programme, embedded into your module delivery
  • Design and presentation of a Professional Practice Log using appropriate reflective framework
  • Strategies to embed learning from your CPD into practice

Building OO Applications (Optional)

In this module, you will develop knowledge and skills in Object Oriented (OO) Applications.  Typical topics covered include; Analysing real-world software systems challenges and development of structured solutions, object oriented analysis and design methodologies, graphical object oriented software modelling and associated tools, key object oriented design concepts and features such as data abstraction, classes and class hierarchies (inheritance), polymorphism, encapsulation  and implementing OO solutions in modern object oriented programming languages.

Professional Practice (Optional)

A key element of your journey towards becoming a Digital and Technology Specialist is your ongoing skills development.   This module requires you to engage in a recognised CPD programmes relating your specialist pathway and reflect upon how such learning can be embedded back into the workplace. To enable this we will consider the following areas:

  • Identification of a relevant skills need and subsequent CPD programme, embedded into your module delivery.
  • Design and presentation of a Professional Practice Log using appropriate reflective framework
  • Strategies to embed learning from your CPD into practice.

Data and Analytics Pathway

Data and Analytics Principles (Core)

In this module, you will develop a critical knowledge and skills in Data Analytics.  Typical topics covered in the module include; Scalable data management architectures, data-parallel problems in e-science, patterns and technology for exploiting cloud infrastructure on data-parallel problems, graph databases and their application to social media analysis, and scalable real-time data processing – all areas considered to be essential for a data analytics professional.

Data and Analytics Professional Practice I (Core)

A key element of your journey towards becoming a Digital and Technology Specialist is your ongoing skills development.   This is the first of two core modules in which you shall engage in a recognised CPD programme relating to your specialist pathway and to reflect upon how such learning can be embedded back into the workplace. To enable this we will consider the following areas:

  • Identification of a relevant skills need and subsequent CPD programme, embedded into your module delivery
  • Design and presentation of a Professional Practice Log using appropriate reflective framework

Strategies to embed learning from your CPD into practice

Data and Analytics Professional Practice II (Core)

A key element of your journey towards becoming a Digital and Technology Specialist is your ongoing skills development.   This is the second of two core modules in which you shall engage in a recognised CPD programme relating to your specialist pathway and to reflect upon how such learning can be embedded back into the workplace. To enable this we will consider the following areas:

  • Identification of a relevant skills need and subsequent CPD programme, embedded into your module delivery
  • Design and presentation of a Professional Practice Log using appropriate reflective framework
  • Strategies to embed learning from your CPD into practice

Databases (Optional)

In this module, you will develop a critical knowledge and skills in databases.  Typical topics covered in the module include; Data modelling, database management, relational databases, relational database languages: relational algebra, transaction management and recovery, concurrency and normalisation – all areas considered to be essential for an IT professional.

Professional Practice (Optional)

A key element of your journey towards becoming a Digital and Technology Specialist is your ongoing skills development.   This module requires you to engage in a recognised CPD programmes relating your specialist pathway and reflect upon how such learning can be embedded back into the workplace. To enable this we will consider the following areas:

  • Identification of a relevant skills need and subsequent CPD programme, embedded into your module delivery
  • Design and presentation of a Professional Practice Log using appropriate reflective framework
  • Strategies to embed learning from your CPD into practice

Cyber Security Pathway

Cyber Security Principles (Core)

In this module, you will develop critical knowledge and skills in Cyber Security.  Typical topics covered in the module include; Developing appropriate security policies and network architectures to minimise the threats from network intrusion, producing strategies to minimise risks of security breaches in a range of network environments, analysing the shortcomings of a range of security strategies, techniques used to penetrate a Web application, assessing the different types of threat posed by different classes of hacker and by different categories of malware, applying the principles of key cryptography and message digests, providing appropriate access controls and authentication techniques at different levels.

Cyber Security Professional Practice I (Core)

A key element of your journey towards becoming a Digital and Technology Specialist is your ongoing skills development.   This is the first of two core modules in which you shall engage in a recognised CPD programme relating to your specialist pathway and to reflect upon how such learning can be embedded back into the workplace. To enable this we will consider the following areas:

  • Identification of a relevant skills need and subsequent CPD programme, embedded into your module delivery
  • Design and presentation of a Professional Practice Log using appropriate reflective framework
  • Strategies to embed learning from your CPD into practice

Cyber Security Professional Practice II (Core)

A key element of your journey towards becoming a Digital and Technology Specialist is your ongoing skills development.   This is the second of two core modules in which you shall engage in a recognised CPD programme relating to your specialist pathway and to reflect upon how such learning can be embedded back into the workplace. To enable this we will consider the following areas:

  • Identification of a relevant skills need and subsequent CPD programme, embedded into your module delivery
  • Design and presentation of a Professional Practice Log using appropriate reflective framework
  • Strategies to embed learning from your CPD into practice

Technical and Network Security (Optional)

In this module, you will develop critical knowledge and skills in Technical and Network Security.  Typical topics covered in the module include; physical attacks, DNS, queries and resolvers, DNS poisoning, ARP, principles, spoofing and poisoning, network and port scanning, network packet factory, firewall and Intrusion Detection technologies, web security: server side (SQL, Xpath and code injections), web security: client side (Phishing, XSS), email security, anonymity and privacy (networks), public key infrastructures (networks) and denial of service.

Professional Practice (Optional)

A key element of your journey towards becoming a Digital and Technology Specialist is your ongoing skills development.   This module requires you to engage in a recognised CPD programmes relating your specialist pathway and reflect upon how such learning can be embedded back into the workplace. To enable this we will consider the following areas:

  • Identification of a relevant skills need and subsequent CPD programme, embedded into your module delivery
  • Design and presentation of a Professional Practice Log using appropriate reflective framework
  • Strategies to embed learning from your CPD into practice

Enterprise Architect Pathway

Enterprise Architecture Principles (Core)

In this module, you will develop a critical knowledge and skills in Enterprise Architecture.  Typical topics covered in the module include; Business resilience and requirements: organisation-wide solutions identification and quality maintenance of agile systems development, Data architecture: the design and implementation of Solution architecture for database administration, Infrastructure: design and planning for hardware and infrastructure, considering flexibility and scalability, Risk assessment of IT systems: network, digital-assets infrastructure and information security plus Architecture implementation, change management and organisational governance.

Enterprise Architecture Professional Practice I (Core)

A key element of your journey towards becoming a Digital and Technology Specialist is your ongoing skills development.   This is the first of two core modules in which you shall engage in a recognised CPD programme relating to your specialist pathway and to reflect upon how such learning can be embedded back into the workplace. To enable this we will consider the following areas:

  • Identification of a relevant skills need and subsequent CPD programme, embedded into your module delivery
  • Design and presentation of a Professional Practice Log using appropriate reflective framework
  • Strategies to embed learning from your CPD into practice

Enterprise Architecture Professional Practice II (Core)

A key element of your journey towards becoming a Digital and Technology Specialist is your ongoing skills development.   This is the second of two core modules in which you shall engage in a recognised CPD programme relating to your specialist pathway and to reflect upon how such learning can be embedded back into the workplace. To enable this we will consider the following areas:

  • Identification of a relevant skills need and subsequent CPD programme, embedded into your module delivery
  • Design and presentation of a Professional Practice Log using appropriate reflective framework
  • Strategies to embed learning from your CPD into practice

Technical Architecture (Optional)

In this module, you will develop knowledge and skills in Technical Architecture.  Typical topics covered in the module include; Typical technical architecture found in businesses, including:

  • End user devices
  • Operating Systems
  • Applications
  • Databases
  • Servers
  • Communications infrastructure
  • Security
  • Middleware

Low level technical architecture including:

  • Pipelined CPU architecture, Caches: associativity, allocation and replacement policies, sub-block placement, Dependence in loop-based programs: dependence analysis, parallelisation, Implementations of shared memory and Graphics processors and ‘manycore’ architecture.

Professional Practice (Optional)

A key element of your journey towards becoming a Digital and Technology Specialist is your ongoing skills development.   This module requires you to engage in a recognised CPD programmes relating your specialist pathway and reflect upon how such learning can be embedded back into the workplace. To enable this we will consider the following areas:

  • Identification of a relevant skills need and subsequent CPD programme, embedded into your module delivery
  • Design and presentation of a Professional Practice Log using appropriate reflective framework
  • Strategies to embed learning from your CPD into practice

IT Ops Management (Cloud Computing) Pathway

Cloud Operations Principles (Core)

In this module, you will develop critical knowledge and skills in Ops Management (Cloud).  Typical topics covered in the module include; An introduction to the Cloud and Cloud Computing; Virtualisation at both the Desktop and Server levels; Common cloud types which include SaaS, PaaS and IaaS; Benefits and disadvantages of cloud computing; Security considerations with respect to the Cloud; Managing resource consumption in the Cloud; Storage and archiving in the Cloud and Creating scalable deployments.

Cloud Operations Professional Practice I (Core)

A key element of your journey towards becoming a Digital and Technology Specialist is your ongoing skills development.   This is the first of two core modules in which you shall engage in a recognised CPD programme relating to your specialist pathway and to reflect upon how such learning can be embedded back into the workplace. To enable this we will consider the following areas:

  • Identification of a relevant skills need and subsequent CPD programme, embedded into your module delivery
  • Design and presentation of a Professional Practice Log using appropriate reflective framework
  • Strategies to embed learning from your CPD into practice

Cloud Operations Professional Practice II (Core)

A key element of your journey towards becoming a Digital and Technology Specialist is your ongoing skills development.   This is the second of two core modules in which you shall engage in a recognised CPD programme relating to your specialist pathway and to reflect upon how such learning can be embedded back into the workplace. To enable this we will consider the following areas:

  • Identification of a relevant skills need and subsequent CPD programme, embedded into your module delivery
  • Design and presentation of a Professional Practice Log using appropriate reflective framework

Strategies to embed learning from your CPD into practice.

Linux, Networking & Scripting (Optional)

In this module, you will develop critical knowledge and skills in Linux, Networking & Scripting.  Typical topics covered in the module include;

  • What is UNIX? Origins and variants.
  • Architecture and purpose, working with Linux/Unix main shell:
  • BASH, navigating the file system and manage files and directories, understanding the client/server nature of X Window System and X applications, editing files using vi and GUI editors,
  • Manipulating data with a selection of filter tools, using redirection and piping techniques, performing basic administrative tasks, controlling processes, file systems, job scheduling, and simple networking and backups and reading and writing simple BASH scripts
  • Automating networking tasks using scripting tools and languages.

Professional Practice (Optional)

A key element of your journey towards becoming a Digital and Technology Specialist is your ongoing skills development.   This module requires you to engage in a recognised CPD programmes relating your specialist pathway and reflect upon how such learning can be embedded back into the workplace. To enable this we will consider the following areas:

  • Identification of a relevant skills need and subsequent CPD programme, embedded into your module delivery
  • Design and presentation of a Professional Practice Log using appropriate reflective framework
  • Strategies to embed learning from your CPD into practice

IT/Digital Futures (DevOps) Pathway

DevOps Principles (Core)

In this module, you will develop a critical knowledge and skills in DevOps.  Typical topics covered in the module include; Use of agile and other development processes and methodologies, How to reconcile demand for an increased rate of production releases from application and business unit stakeholders, Virtualised and cloud infrastructure from internal and external providers, alongside Data centre automation and configuration management tools  – all areas considered to be essential for a DevOps professional.

DevOps Professional Practice I (Core)

A key element of your journey towards becoming a Digital and Technology Specialist is your ongoing skills development.   This is the first of two core modules in which you shall engage in a recognised CPD programme relating to your specialist pathway and to reflect upon how such learning can be embedded back into the workplace. To enable this we will consider the following areas:

  • Identification of a relevant skills need and subsequent CPD programme, embedded into your module delivery
  • Design and presentation of a Professional Practice Log using appropriate reflective framework
  • Strategies to embed learning from your CPD into practice

DevOps Professional Practice II (Core)

A key element of your journey towards becoming a Digital and Technology Specialist is your ongoing skills development.   This is the second of two core modules in which you shall engage in a recognised CPD programme relating to your specialist pathway and to reflect upon how such learning can be embedded back into the workplace. To enable this we will consider the following areas:

  • Identification of a relevant skills need and subsequent CPD programme, embedded into your module delivery
  • Design and presentation of a Professional Practice Log using appropriate reflective framework

Strategies to embed learning from your CPD into practice

Linux, Networking and Scripting (Optional)

In this module, you will develop critical knowledge and skills in Linux, Networking & Scripting.  Typical topics covered in the module include;

  • What is UNIX? Origins and variants.
  • Architecture and purpose, working with Linux/Unix main shell:
  • BASH, navigating the file system and manage files and directories, understanding the client/server nature of X Window System and X applications, editing files using vi and GUI editors,
  • Manipulating data with a selection of filter tools, using redirection and piping techniques, performing basic administrative tasks, controlling processes, file systems, job scheduling, and simple networking and backups and reading and writing simple BASH scripts
  • Automating networking tasks using scripting tools and languages.

Professional Practice (Optional)

A key element of your journey towards becoming a Digital and Technology Specialist is your ongoing skills development.   This module requires you to engage in a recognised CPD programmes relating your specialist pathway and reflect upon how such learning can be embedded back into the workplace. To enable this we will consider the following areas:

  • Identification of a relevant skills need and subsequent CPD programme, embedded into your module delivery
  • Design and presentation of a Professional Practice Log using appropriate reflective framework
  • Strategies to embed learning from your CPD into practice

  • Honours degree (2:2 or above) in an appropriate Computing, Technology or Engineering discipline
  • In order to attempt the EPA apprentices must have achieved GCSE Maths and English at Grade C – you may still enter the programme but will need to evidence Level 2 Maths and English qualification before starting the gateway and EPA

Non-standard entry

  • Relevant qualifications and/or work experience will be taken into consideration where the applicant has the judged potential to benefit from the programme. Requests will be considered on an individual basis where appropriate.

Informal Interviews
Informal interviews will be held where

  • The suitability of a candidate is in doubt and further evidence is sought.
  • The candidate presents an unusual set of qualifications taken or pending, and an appropriate conditional offer needs to be determined.
  • Candidates may need advice on the appropriateness of the programme.

Applicants invited for an informal interview will always be informed of its purpose.

End Point Assessment

You must be able to evidence level 2 English and Maths before you start your End Point Assessment. You may still be begin the programme without these but must obtain the qualifications in order to begin the EPA.

There is no cost to you as a degree apprentice. Degree Apprenticeships are fully funded by the Apprenticeship Levy through your employer.

If you’re an employer, the total funding for this programme is:

  • £21,000

Travel expenses to travel to QA centres should be covered by the employer.

All textbooks are provided free of charge as e-books. Any students wishing to use paper copies will need to pay for these themselves, typically at an average cost of £30 per book.

In order to join a Degree Apprenticeship, the employer will either recruit new staff or select existing staff that are suitable for the programme. Individuals wishing to join the Degree Apprenticeship should apply for vacancies at qa.com or contact their employer.

  1. Once you have your employers agreement – QA will send you a link to an online application.
  2. New vacancies will be published at qa.com

To find out more please visit the Apprenticeship page.

 

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