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MSc Digital Systems Engineering

Engineer the digital systems which will revolutionise the world of tomorrow

Year of entry: 2023 (September)


1 year full-time

Start date

September 2023 (semester dates)

Online Open Day

Wednesday 7 June 2023
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Develop advanced knowledge and transferable skills in the design, modelling, implementation and evaluation of System-on-Chip (SoC) FPGA based digital systems, enabling you to contribute effectively to the increasingly complex and rapidly evolving technologies that are prevalent in industry and research.

The advances of digital technology over the past 50 years have paved the way to highly-integrated complex digital systems in a wide range of industrial sectors from automotive to communications and consumer electronics to entertainment systems.

The course will enable you to become an attractive candidate to a wide range of employers due to the vast application domains of digital systems such as autonomous vehicles, data centres, IP-core development, industrial automation, instrumentation, transportation, security, entertainment system, the internet of things and many more.


Accredited by the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) under licence from the UK regulator, the Engineering Council. Some employers recruit preferentially from accredited degrees, and an accredited degree is likely to be recognised by other countries that are signatories to international accords.

My experience with the course modules is overly positive with the professors being really friendly and supportive to all of our cohort. Concluding the Digital Systems Engineering MSc provides the foundations for well-rounded future engineers.
Spyros, MSc Digital Systems Engineering. Read more from Spyros.

Course content

You will learn new techniques to keep up-to-date with developments in industrial and research settings, and will have hands-on experience of the different stages of the design of a modern digital system, culminating in the construction of a complex device in a group project. This course uses System-on-Chip (SoC) FPGAs as a hardware platform and VHDL as the design language. It is built around an extensive laboratory programme which will allow you to gain greater familiarity with the industry standard tool chains and provide you with a solid grounding in both theory and practice. 

We take care to ensure our courses are relevant to your future career. Our professional development framework, designed in consultation with expert external advisors, will help to prepare you for industry, research or further study.


Core modules

Option modules

You will also study two option modules.


Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.

Research project

This group project will immerse you in a life-like scenario of a company developing digital systems. You will undertake building a complete System-on-Chip (SoC) FPGA-based digital system, and in doing so will gain practical experience of project management and team skills. The system will include both software (such as human-computer interface, low-level programming) and hardware (such as FPGA, A/D converters, communication interfaces).

The project will culminate in the design and realisation of a printed circuit board hosting an SoC FPGA interfaced to a variety of peripherals. Communication links allowing connection to a PC will enable the creation of a diverse range of multimedia, diagnostic and communication systems. At the end of the project, you will be able to take the board you have designed with you, providing you with a complete SoC FPGA development system to further investigate digital system design.

You will typically be working in a group of three to six students. Each group will be responsible for setting up a “company” in which quality control, organisation and execution of the design, development, test and integration of the product can be effectively documented. You will be assigned a target system to design, and provided with a budget for your group to prepare and present a tender document. As a group you will then prepare a design, implementation, test and integration plan that will be followed.

At the end of the project your group will prepare a presentation of the final system outlining everyone’s contribution and provide a demonstration of the final working system. You will also submit group documentation along with an individual report.

The York approach

Every course at York is built on a distinctive set of learning outcomes. These will give you a clear understanding of what you will be able to accomplish at the end of the course and help you explain what you can offer employers. Our academics identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need upon graduation and then design the course to get you there.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Subject Knowledge: Conduct research and development in applied electronic engineering and computing to advance the state of knowledge in digital system design methodologies, algorithms, devices and tools.
  • Engineering Analysis: Extract and critically evaluate literature and other data about complex systems through analytical and computational methods and modelling.
  • Engineering Design: Create innovative and optimised designs to address real-world problems involving reconfigurable hardware and software systems by synthesising novel research-based ideas into engineering specifications.
  • Practical Skills: Apply professional skills of programming, CAD, construction and measurement, test and verification, combined with an understanding of engineering systems and components, to independently solve complex and technically challenging research-based problems.
  • Technical Communication: Debate, defend and contextualise information in a succinct and technically accurate manner for engineers and non-technical audiences, and to write and interpret technical documentation.
  • Management & Personal Development: Proficiently manage themselves, teams and complex projects in preparation for technical careers as leaders in applied electronic engineering.


Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2023/24

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £11,770£27,200

Students on a Student Visa (formerly Tier 4 Visa) are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

Fees information

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status.

Find out more information about tuition fees and how to pay them.

Additional costs

All course text books and materials are available in the library or via the VLE. Depending on how you work, you may wish to pay for printing of notes and other material.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2023/24 throughout the year.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Funding opportunities

If available, subject-specific scholarship opportunities for our taught MSc courses will be advertised on the School funding information page.

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace.

Teaching format

You will learn via a mixture of lectures, lab sessions and seminars.

One of the main features of the course is the use of ZYNQ All Programmable System-on-Chip (SoC) that has multiple ARM cores and an FPGA fabric as the hardware platform and the use of VHDL as the design language for teaching and learning.

The course is built around an extensive laboratory programme which will allow you to gain greater familiarity with the industry standard tool chains and provide you with a solid grounding in both theory and practice. 


Students taking this course have the use of laboratories equipped with dedicated computing equipment including Zynq SoC platform - Zedboard and Xilinx Vivado tool chain, and STMicro ARM processor and expansion boards and licences for Keil uVision embedded C compiler, these will be used in a variety of modules including the group project.

Teaching location

The School of Physics & Engineering Technology is based on Campus West. The majority of teaching takes place within Campus West.

About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

You will be assessed through a mixture of exams, continuous assessments, presentations, viva, demonstration, report, and video presentations.

Careers and skills

This course will give you hands-on experience of the design and implementation of digital systems in a way which is applicable to many research or industrial settings. The group project which emphasises team working will enable you to become an attractive candidate for a future role.

Throughout your time here, you'll work with industry-standard tools to ensure you leave with experience relevant to real-world situations. You'll benefit from visits and talks from our industrial contacts and gain training in research methods as well as skills in personal effectiveness and project management. 

Career opportunities

  • Electronic engineer
  • Firmware developer
  • Testing engineer
  • Lecturer
  • UX software developer
  • Product development engineer

Transferable skills

  • The ability to analyse complex problems
  • The ability to design innovative solutions, and have the practical technical ability to bring novel ideas into being
  • Communicate effectively your questions, analysis, findings and solutions to a variety of audiences via a variety of media.
  • Become an effective team-player, adaptable to working alone or in different sized teams for a variety of different purposes
  • Gain technical skills in this field
  • Develop interpersonal skills
  • Increase management skills
  • Research skills 
  • Digital literacy
I selected this course because of its heavy focus on lab-based learning, with lots of hands-on experience. There’s a fantastic module on IC design and layout, which also helps to prepare you for positions in ASIC design. It is in this field that I have begun my new career. This is an amazing opportunity and I am confident that had it not been for my time at York I would not be in this role.
Matt, MSC Digital Systems Engineering.
Graduate CPU Design and Verification Engineer at Arm in Cambridge. Read more from Matt.

Entry requirements

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent in a subject with significant electronics and/or computing content. We are willing to consider applications from students with lower qualifications, particularly when the student has high marks in relevant modules or appropriate industrial experience.
International pre-masters programme Pre-masters from our International Pathway College
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Minimum requirement
IELTS (Academic and Indicator) 6.0, minimum 5.5 in each component
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 169, minimum 162 in each component
Duolingo 105, minimum 95 in all other components
LanguageCert SELT B2 with 33/50 in each component
LanguageCert International ESOL B2 Communicator: Pass with 25/50 in each component
PTE Academic/PTE Academic Online 55, minimum 51 in each component
TOEFL 79, minimum 17 in Listening, 18 in Reading, 20 in Speaking and 17 in Writing
Trinity ISE III Pass in all components

For more information see our postgraduate English language requirements.

If you've not met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current English language test scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


You can apply and send all your documentation electronically through our online system. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

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Liz Richardson and Helen Smith (Enquiries)
Dr Mahmoud Dhimish

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School of Physics, Engineering and Technology

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