Why study AI or data science?

This page explains more about the OfS funded postgraduate conversion courses in AI and data science, who they are for and their benefits. It also includes frequently asked questions on the courses, how to apply and funding options.

Contact us at [email protected]

About the courses

Postgraduate conversion courses provide graduates with the skills they need to start a career in artificial intelligence (AI) and data science.

  • AI is the development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision making, and translation
  • data science refers to the analysis of data and in this context is understood to be the practice needed to use AI.

The courses that we fund seek to address the shortage of data science and AI specialists in the UK, which costs businesses more than £2 billion a year. 

Conversion courses are designed to help students from a range of backgrounds to develop fundamental knowledge and skills in AI and data science. They offer opportunities to those who already have expertise in the area to enhance the knowledge they already have, or to equip those without prior knowledge with new capabilities ready for a career change.  

The courses include opportunities to connect with employers to support your progression into the AI and data science workforce. These could include work placements and internships, work-based projects, employer mentoring and other opportunities. You should check with the universities providing the courses to find out what opportunities will be available and how they can support your career progression.

The courses cover a range of specialisms within AI and data science. Modules will depend on the university, but could vary from programming and machine learning to ethics.

Some universities are running courses related to specific sectors such as healthcare, business and finance.

All courses include input from employers to ensure that teaching reflects workplace demand. 

Read more about the courses on offer or find further details on university websites.

This will depend on which university you choose. Universities are offering a variety of different options to help students balance their time with other commitments, such as employment or care responsibilities. 

Check the university's website for full details of the options they're offering.

The conversion courses that are part of this programme have been designed to suit the needs of a diverse workforce. Some courses will include blended learning and part-time learning, meaning you can study alongside existing employment or caring responsibilities.

Please check with the universities you are interested in for full details of the options they're offering.

On successful completion of your course you will receive a postgraduate qualification.

Specific details will be available from the university's website. 

How courses will be delivered will vary between each university. Some will offer a blend of online and face-to-face teaching.

Please liaise with the specific university you are interested in for details of how they plan to teach the course.

The OfS provides funding to universities involved in the programme to deliver the postgraduate conversion course scholarships to meet specific policy aims. The OfS does not directly manage scholarships or application processes. We take steps to make sure that universities we’ve funded are delivering the aims of this programme.

You can read more about our role in the postgraduate conversion courses

Please liaise directly with the university you are interested in for further details of their courses and how to apply for scholarships.

The UK is home to a third of Europe’s AI companies, meaning graduates are ideally placed to enter employment following the completion of their conversion course.

AI and data science are used in a wide range of sectors. AI and data science courses offer opportunities for students to develop skills and capabilities relevant to careers in medicine, transport, social sciences, biosciences, sports business and more.

Professions could range from jobs requiring specialised data science expertise, to roles in a business management context.

Salaries are usually generous, with itjobswatch.co.uk predicting the salary average in the UK for data science professionals to be £70,000.

Many organisations are increasing recruitment in this field, including the BBC and WhatsApp. Graduates will have opportunities to apply their knowledge and build up networks throughout the course, for example, through connecting with industry or work placements.

Useful websites to help you plan for study include Prospects and UCAS, or British council website, Study UK if you are an international student. 

Entry requirements

Universities will have different entry requirements. To find out more about the funded courses and their entry requirements please visit our course webpages and check the individual university’s webpages for further details.

Courses are open to anyone who meets a participating university’s entry requirements. But research highlights that the current tech workforce is not representative of the wider population, and that lack of gender and ethnic diversity is affecting the capability and credibility of the sector.

Scholarships are therefore available to support students from various underrepresented groups to complete these courses.

We agreed to fund universities that were actively taking steps to increase applications from women, black students, students who are registered disabled, students from low socioeconomic background and other groups underrepresented in higher education and in tech. 

Find out how to apply for a scholarship. 

How and where to apply

Details of how to apply and application deadlines are available on the universities’ websites. Read more about which universities you could apply to.

We have also published information about funding and scholarships.

The application process will vary between universities. You may be asked to complete an application form or attend an interview, particularly if you are applying for a scholarship. 

Check the course pages for full details.

Published 10 June 2020
Last updated 09 October 2023
09 October 2023
updated page structure and content to improve clarity
30 March 2023
Minor updates
22 September 2022
Small changes to the page in the light of plans for new courses in 2023.
13 June 2022
Information updated to reflect that from September 2023 scholarship eligibility will be extended to students from low socioeconomic backgrounds
22 October 2020
Updated questions
30 July 2020
New Q&A on online learning

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