Frequently Asked Questions by Applicants

Is the course held in Sheffield and Leeds or do I choose where I want to learn?

The course is offered jointly by Sheffield and Leeds Universities. This means that you will need to typically take half of the course work from one University and the other half from the other. You will also do a project, which will be at one of the two Universities (not both). We try very hard to minimise travel between the two sites. This means that typically about 25 journeys are made per year. This number is not exact and will also depend on the course you choose. We also do not start teaching until 10:00, so you will be able to travel at a more convenient time.

How do I travel between Sheffield and Leeds?

Sheffield and Leeds Universities are situated about 40 miles (64 km) apart. Students generally travel between the two sites by train which takes approximately one hour. You can expect to have travel to the other site for lectures around 20-25 times during the year, costing around £200. Students are responsible for their own travel costs.

Where should I live, Leeds or Sheffield?

The choice of Sheffield or Leeds depends largely on your own preferences. You can learn more about the two cities from the University websites to help you make this choice. An important factor, however, should be your likely preference of project area. If you are offered a place on any of our courses, a list of last year’s projects will be sent to you, as a guide to the topics available at each site. For convenience, you are advised to seek accommodation at the site where you are most likely to choose projects. However, please note that the specific project titles offered vary from year to year as the research activities evolve.

How much maths is there in this course?

Many people regard mathematics as the language of science and engineering. Because we have to cater for people from different disciplines, our courses are not as mathematical as single discipline courses such as Physics, but experience tells us that people with a limited ability in mathematics tend to perform rather poorly overall. As a guide you should be comfortable with basic calculus. This means that you should be able to integrate and differentiate relatively standard functions; for example, if you don’t know and never knew that the integral of 1/x is log x, then you might struggle on some parts of the course. Both Universities do have maths support options, which you can take advantage of if you require extra help.

I have a mathematical sciences/computer science background, am I eligible to apply?

We rarely accept people with mathematical sciences or computer science backgrounds for our courses although we have in the past made exceptions. If you are likely to get the highest degree result and exceptionally good references, we would probably consider you. In Britain, for example, you would need a first class degree from one of the better Universities.

If you are determined and know that you are one of the best students in your University, then you should certainly consider applying.

How do I check the status of my application?

The University of Sheffield central admissions office has an online application tracking system in operation. This allows you to log into their system to see what stage your application is at. In order to do this you will need to access the web pages at and enter your Application Number which will have been provided in your confirmation letter.

I have not heard anything about my accommodation, what should I do?

All accommodation matters are handled by our central University Accommodation Office (not the MSc Course Administrator). Therefore for help or advice on accommodation issues you should direct your enquiry to:

Email: or telephone 0114 222 4488 .

Email: or telephone 08701 2001 89

Please direct your enquiry to the office in which city you have applied for accommodation.

What English Language qualifications do I need?

For all EU and Overseas nationals who do not have English as their first spoken language, we expect all successful applicants to have either:

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)

Score of 575 or above in the paper-based test or 232 or above in the computer-based test.


IELTS (International English Language Testing Service)

Average of 6.5 or above with a least 6.0 in each component.

In certain circumstances we may allow candidates with the 550 or 213 in the TOEFL paper-based and computer-based tests or 6.0 in the IELTS but such candidates will be required to undertake extra English Language tuition on arrival in Sheffield or Leeds.

Are there teaching assistantships or other employment opportunities to help me support my studies?

The short answer is “no”. Laboratory demonstrating is restricted to those undertaking doctoral studies. Ph.D. students have the possibility of doing these jobs for more than one year and we find that their extended registrations allow for very important continuity in the supervision process. This is not the case for Masters students. There are no exceptions to this rule. Students studying for a Ph.D. with integrated studies (i.e. one year Masters followed by three years of Ph.D.) cannot undertake demonstrating duties in their first year.

Some students try to get part-time employment. This is possible for UK and EU students, or, for overseas students, if your visa allows it. Our experience is that students undertaking part-time employment perform poorly or even fail in their studies. No student undertaking part-time employment whilst studying on a nanofolio course has ever achieved a Distinction. Although we are powerless to stop students supplementing their income with part-time employment, we strongly discourage it. You should not come to the UK to study if you cannot support your entire studies without recourse to income earned during your time in Sheffield or Leeds.

What job or PhD prospects are there in the UK after I have finished the course?

This is question very often asked by non-EU applicants who need a work permit or VISA. The right reasons to take one of the courses are linked to personal development. You might, perhaps, want to be educated in a foreign country to have had an experience that would set you apart from your peers. You might be attracted to the high standard of teaching in the UK and especially the outstanding level on offer in Leeds and Sheffield. You might have identified the course portfolio on offer here as the best of its kind. The wrong reason to come to the UK is to get a permanent job here, because it is not as easy as you may think. European law requires that British companies hire European applicants where possible. It is not impossible to hire foreign applicants but you would need to be one of the best in the year and you would also need a lot of luck.

Getting PhD funding is also difficult for foreign students in the UK. If you want to do a PhD the best approach is to do an outstanding project for your MSc. In this case you might be able to persuade the University or Department to grant you a fee waiver or Scholarship on your PhD costs. A distinction in the MSc would be very helpful in demonstrating that you are worthy of such a scholarship. However, this is difficult to come by and you really need to be very good in your studies.

The above applies to any other postgraduate courses in the UK as well as this one. You should not come to study here as a means to get into the UK to work unless you have seriously thought about the difficulties and challenges facing you.

When is the closing date for applications?

The closing date for overseas students who need a visa to study in the UK is the last Monday in July. For EU and home students, there is no fixed deadline, but please be aware that we shall be unable to take people a week before registration. If you apply before the end of the first week in September, and ensure that references are also received by this time, your application should be considered.