Imperial launches one of world’s first online Masters in Machine Learning

Gideon Shimshon

Gideon Shimshon

Launching in autumn 2020, the degree will be one of the first online courses that focuses on Machine Learning and its applications.

The degree, developed in partnership with the online education platform Coursera , will teach students in the computational, mathematical and statistical foundations of Machine Learning.

Students will also have the opportunity to work with industry-standard tools like PySpark and PyTorch to develop and apply their Machine Learning and data science skills.

What is Machine Learning?

Machine learning is the scientific study of algorithms that computer systems use to perform specific tasks without using explicit instructions, relying on patterns and inference instead. It is seen as being closely related to Artificial Intelligence and has a number of applications in products and services used in daily life.

"[We are] equip[ping] the data scientists and Machine Learning specialists we train with the skills to ethically apply these techniques to their future work." Professor Niall Adams Department of Mathematics


Professor Niall Adams , one of the course leaders for the new degree, said: "The degree integrates training in ethics and the limitations of Machine Learning in order to equip the data scientists and Machine Learning specialists we train with the skills to ethically apply these techniques to their future work.

"This is a rigorous programme with a deep focus on the foundations of Machine Learning; applicants should have an undergraduate degree in a subject such as computer science, mathematics, statistics, economics, or physics."

Imperial’s Machine Learning heritage

The College is world-renowned for its AI and Machine Learning expertise. One of the first high-level programming languages, Autocode, was invented at Imperial, and the university has more than 600 people working in areas related to AI.

Imperial’s alumni are also having a big impact in the world of AI, with one start-up, Improbable , recently valued at $1billion. Alum, Peter Lipka (MEng, Computing 2011) founded the company which uses cloud-based distributed computing to enable the creation of virtual worlds for use in games and massive scale simulations of the real world.

In April 2018 the College’s reputation was confirmed by the decision by the UK government to launch its 1bn artificial intelligence fund on the campus. The deal, announced by Business Secretary Greg Clark and then Digital Secretary Matt Hancock, will fund 1,000 new government AI PhDs to keep the UK at the forefront of innovation and build the UK’s status as an AI research hotspot.

Talent shortage

There is an enormous demand for AI professionals globally, with the sector estimated to contribute 630bn of value to the UK economy alone by 2035. The next generation of Machine Learning and AI leaders will have to be prepared not only to exploit these opportunities, but also to grapple with a number of global challenges.

"AI and Machine Learning are rapidly growing sectors. Through this new online Masters we are helping to train, at scale, the future workforce of highly skilled workers and researchers.” said Gideon Shimshon , Director of Imperial’s Digital Learning Hub. “We are providing a flexible learning experience that enables people from all over the world to access content that otherwise would only be available to a few who can reach our campus.”

Delivering digital

“Degrees continue to be the most valuable credential in today’s job market, and this new program provides learners with critical machine learning skills businesses all over the world want to leverage." Jeff Maggioncalda CEO, Coursera


The degrees Imperial is offering on Coursera provide students with flexible learning options. The MSc in Machine Learning is module-based, allowing learners to start by studying individual courses that can count toward their degree upon acceptance to the full program.

“Degrees continue to be the most valuable credential in today’s job market, and this new program provides learners with critical machine learning skills businesses all over the world want to leverage,” said Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO of Coursera. “We’re thrilled to partner with Imperial College London, a world-renowned university with a reputation for excellence in teaching and research, to offer a flexible degree program that will open doors for learners everywhere.” Photos and graphics subject to third party copyright used with permission or Imperial College London.

Murray MacKay
Communications and Public Affairs