MSc Intelligent Robotics

Intelligent Robotics




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What our students say:

"York has its own robot lab with a comprehensive selection of robots to work with. You'll even get to design & build your own robots." Len Newbrook

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The use of robotics in many aspects of life is on the increase. From autonomous transportation, to farm machinery, to medical and environmental applications, to logistics, robots are present. Developing robots that are capable of adapting, and learning from experience, is a significant driver in the robotics industry and at the cutting edge of research development. The MSc Intelligent Robotics provides you with the tools and skills necessary to become a leader in these expanding areas. Through lectures and hands-on experience, you will learn about the development of mechanisms, control systems, algorithms that can learn and adapt, and swarm systems - multiple robots working together. There is a strong focus on practical implementation, both in hardware and simulation.

The MSc culminates in a large research project focussed on collective robotic systems, ranging from ground-based units to flying robots and new mechanisms at variable scales for manufacturing. You will work in a state of the art, dedicated, robotics laboratory for some modules and the final project (see the York Robotics Laboratory website for more details on the lab). This will prepare you for employment in robotic and autonomous systems related industries or pursuing further research into Intelligent Robotics.

Professional Development Framework

All our MScs programmes follow the principles of a carefully designed Professional Development Framework, developed in consultation with our Departmental Advisory Board, with key contributors from Industry, Research and Academia. This ensures that all students gain awareness of the essential skills that employers need and opportunities to develop their personal and team-based effectiveness. This begins with an Induction Week including an introduction to masters-level learning, and student team activities. Throughout the Autumn and Spring Terms students develop their personal effectiveness in a series of workshops (covering such issues as literature, research, referencing, teamwork, leadership, reflective learning, ethics, and business skills). These lead on to Interdisciplinary Masterclasses which cover key research and development cross-curricular topics in emerging technology.

All students are timetabled to be able to attend these sessions. Some programmes incorporate these Workshop and Masterclass elements as an assessed part of credit-weighted modules, but every one of our MSc students is encouraged to attend all sessions in order to develop their skills and to learn from people in different, but related, disciplines. In the Summer Term students are prepared for research methodology and digital literacy, and undertake regular developmental training in project management. This all leads to a major project (60 credit units) which is designed to give research and industry-relevant experience to individuals and teams as a key component of each programme.


Course Content

The MSc provides a strong grounding in techniques applied to intelligent robotic systems, equipping you with the skills required to work in robotics research and development.

The table below shows at what stage of the programme the various modules are taught.

Autumn termSpring termSummer termJuly - September
Swarm Robotics  Neural Networks and Neural Computing Critical Evaluation of Intelligent Robotic Systems Group Robotics Project
C Programming for MSc Critical Evaluation of Intelligent Robotic Systems
Practical Robotics for MSc
Control Systems Engineering for Robotics
 MSc Personal Effectiveness

The MSc is of 12-months duration, starting at the beginning of the Autumn term (late September) until the following September. For term dates, please visit the University term dates page.

Click on the links below to find out more about each module.  Please note that the detailed module contents and timetabling are subject to change.

Autumn term

Swarm Robotics

You will understand collective and emergent behaviour, as observed in natural systems such as ants, fish and other social animals, and the application of those concepts to robotics. You will be able to apply a range of swarm intelligence algorithms to a variety of application areas and understand their limitations (by working on graded software labs on swarm algorithms and completing an analysis-based coding assessment).

C Programming for MSc

This is an introduction to designing, writing and testing computer programs using the C Programming language. You will learn to analyse real-world problems and convert these to a series of steps that can run effectively on a computer. You will then be able to design, write, test and evaluate a computer program written in the C language to solve a given task.

Practical Robotics for MSc (Autumn and Spring)

You will learn about the mechanisms, fabrication and theoretical background of intelligent robotic systems. You will gain practical experience of designing, developing and controlling various types of robots on the ground, in the air and under water, ranging from the micro-scale to the human-scale.

Control Systems Engineering for Robotics (Autumn and Spring)

You will understand how control engineering sits within robotics system design and implementation, learning about the analysis and design of static and dynamic controllers for linear, time-invariant, continuous and discrete dynamic systems. You will be able to apply the Laplace transform and Z transform in the development of transfer functions for a range of simple dynamic systems, and design static and dynamic control systems to achieve a set of desired control objectives.

MSc Personal Effectiveness (Autumn and Spring)

Personal effectiveness covers presentation skills, effective use of Word/Excel, research strategies, assessment, poster design and production, body language, negotiation, leadership, reflective practice, teamwork and ethics etc. You will become familiar with a wide range of generic management and technical skills that will be useful in everyday working situations.

Spring term

Neural Networks and Neural Computing

You will understand the structure and function of a neural computing unit, multiple types of artificial neural networks (Perceptron, Multilayer perceptron and deep networks, Hopfield, Kohonen, Hebbian, Competitive and Boltzmann machines), and of the range of learning rules applied to them (Widrow-Hoff, Backpropagation, Hebbian, Oja and Sanger rules, Competitive, Kohonen rule and Boltzmann rule). You will be able to apply theoretical knowledge of neural networks to solve problems.

Critical Evaluation of Intelligent Robotic Systems (Spring and Summer)

You will explore current literature in the area of intelligent robotics (ranging from autonomous land, air or water based systems, swarm and collective robotic systems, human-robot interaction, ethics of robotics) and apply the knowledge gained during the taught component of the MSc to critically evaluate a particular area of intelligent robotic systems. You will gain skills in research and critical understanding of advanced scholarship.


Group Robotics Project

You will assess state-of-the-art research in an appropriate topic and contribute to the field of multi-robot systems. You will integrate and practice all the knowledge and skills learnt on the programme so far, through the design and practical implementation of a complex multi-robot system, tested in the Robotics Laboratory.

Group Project

Group Project

The aim of this substantial group project is to immerse the students in a life-like scenario of a group of engineers developing a large scale multiple robotic system. The project will involve the design, construction and implementation of the control of a heterogeneous robotic system, providing students with practical experience of project management and team skills. The system will include both software (such as individual and collective robotic control, low-level programming) and hardware (such as hardware design or customisation) components. The project will culminate in the design and realisation of a multiple robotic system that will undergo various test scenarios in the robotics laboratory.

Prior to the Summer vacation term, groups of 4-6 students will be formed, assigned a target system to design, and provided with a budget. In the Summer vacation term, the students will prepare a design presentation that will be followed for the remainder of the project.  Detailed system specifications will be established and initial prototypes developed.  The students will make full use of the Robotics Laboratory and spend the vast majority of their time working on robotic systems and attempting to develop an innovative solution to the problem given.  Full technical support is available in the laboratory.

A final presentation of each group is done in September where physical demos of the system developed have to be provided.  This is combined with a group presentation on the work undertaken and contributions made by each individual.  Group documentation is submitted along with an individual report.

Entry Requirements

Entry Requirements

Applicants are normally expected to hold (or expected to gain) the equivalent of a 2:1 honours degree or above from a university recognised by the University of York. This degree should either be in computer science, computer science/mathematics joint honours, electronic engineering, mechanical engineering or arelated subject. We are willing to consider applications from students with lower qualifications, particularly when the student has high marks in relevant modules and/or appropriate industrial experience.

For applicants whose native language is not English, the minimum University English language requirements of IELTS 6.0 (with at least 5.5 in each of the four language components) or the equivalent are required.

Pre-sessional language courses

The Centre for English language Teaching (CELT) runs a specific subject 8 week pre-sessional language course for Electronic Engineering:

Who the course is for: applicants who have accepted an offer to study a taught MSc programme in the Department of Electronic Engineering, subject to obtaining IELTS 6.0 (or equivalent).

For more information, including entry requirements, fees and how to apply: Electronic Engineering: 8-week pre-sessional, Centre for English Language Teaching


Teaching Staff

The department prides itself on the quality of its teaching. Lecturers on the Intelligent Robotics MSc include the following academic staff. Click on the links below to find out more about the staff, their backgrounds, and research and teaching interests.


Careers and Graduate Destinations

The MSc courses at York don't just give you academic qualifications. They are also designed to enhance your employability and to prepare you for entering the world of work or research after graduation.

Some of the ways we do this are:
"...modules such as Practical Robotics and a Group Robotics Project provided me expertise and experience of working with real robots and to develop abilities of working in a team."

Edgar Buchanan Berumen (former MSc student)

  • Group projects which simulate project work within a company - working and problem solving in a team
  • Work with industry standard tools to make you attractive candidates for prospective employers
  • Visits and careers talks from our industrial contacts
  • Lifetime support from the University Careers Service
  • Training in research methods and project management.
  • Opportunities to develop presentation skills and report writing.
  • Research led teaching - providing exposure to cutting edge methods from acknowledged experts.
  • York Alumni Association provides support and opportunities to network with other former York students after you graduate.

QR code to link to Chinese Alumni WeChat pages.

For example there are currently around 500 active alumni attending social events and career talks in Beijing and Shanghai. Our networks are facilitated through WeChat with daily conversations occurring between alumni in China. To see our latest events in China please follow Yorkers_China . During the events in China you will find out how to join our WeChat groups.


As the first cohort of students on the MSc Intelligent Robotics completed in 2017, we can't provide details of their destinations yet. However, more information on destinations from across our MSc programmes can be found at Careers and Graduate Destinations.

Any questions?

Admissions Enquiries
Helen Smith

Postgraduate Admissions Tutor
Prof. Stephen Smith

(+44) 01904 324485

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