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MSc Responsible Data Science

Start date
September 2021
Duration
1 year full-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught

Artificial Intelligence and data-driven approaches to decision-making are rapidly transforming almost every industry and policy sector in the world. 

These technologies have already generated extraordinary benefits. However, they bring with them new threats and challenges, creating many questions about the limits of their responsible use. 

To date, universities seek primarily to train data scientists or IT lawyers rather than to equip legal specialists with a proper understanding of these technologies and their potential social, democratic and ethical risks. Our MSc will equip you with the skills needed to identify these issues and respond thoughtfully to the regulatory challenges they raise.

The programme will consist of six fundamental core modules, group and solo project work and a supervised work placement, which will develop your understanding of the cutting-edge contemporary challenges raised by data science and some of the broader social, democratic and ethical issues that they may implicate.

Employability is at the forefront of the MSc in Responsible Data Science. Developed in collaboration with industry partners, the MSc aims to fill a skills gap in the sector. The ability to interpret and apply computer science-related skills, whilst critically understanding the legal and ethical impact of their work is integral to the future of the legal and commercial industry, and our Msc will give you these skills.

While Law Schools everywhere are now offering students a greater range of 'tech law' subjects, they do not equip them with an understanding of the core technologies, nor a broader understanding of the challenges of technology governance. At Birmingham we are developing the next generation of 21st-century lawyers, who understand both the fundamentals of data science and the core legal, ethical and regulatory implications in real-world settings’.

Karen Yeung, Interdisciplinary Professorial Fellow in Law, Ethics and Informatics

Why Study this Course?

  • Created in collaboration with industry and in parternship with Accenture, the MSc Responsible Data Science has the backing of top legal firms who will support the development of the programme, offering paid work experience as part of the degree. These include international firms such as Allen & Overy, Baker McKenzie, Eversheds Sutherlands, Fieldfisher, Kemp Little and Lewis Silkin.
  • Pursue a programme of study developed by world-leading academics including Professor Karen Yeung, Interdisciplinary Professorial Fellow in Law, Ethics and Informatics.
  • Develop a ground-breaking interdisciplinary mind-set that fuses innovations in data science with the development of legal and other critical analytic skills needed to advise organisations on how data-driven technologies can be developed and implemented in a socially responsible manner. 
  • Develop a speciality in the new and developing field of ‘Responsible Data Science’ with the opportunity to carve your expertise through industry projects and placements.
  •  Build your network from day one with personalised careers coaching provided by our award-winning careers service and mentorship with our partner firms.

Modules

Semester 1:

Summer Maths Bootcamp 

For applicants without an A-level maths qualification, a summer school maths training ‘Bootcamp’ will be offered (subject to additional course fees) in order to ensure that all candidates have basic maths competency prior to the commencement of the course

Programming for data science 

  • Develop your programming skills, motivated by examples drawn from across the spectrum of data science.
  • You will learn how to design and implement complete solutions to data science problems using a range of tools and libraries.

Algorithms for data science 

  • You will study a range of modern techniques from across the data science spectrum including supervised learning, data mining, and statistical pattern recognition.
  • The module will give the student a good understanding of how, why and when different methods work and experience of applying them in practice.

Storing and managing data 

  • This module will introduce you to the central concepts and tools needed for the effective management of data.
  • Topics covered will include database systems, data cleansing, quality assurance, data provenance.
  • The module will also address legal and ethical issues associated with data storage, including the requirements of data protection legislation. 

Semester 2:

Regulating Technology 

  • Primarily aimed at upskilling you with the technical competence, skills and expertise necessary to undertake AI and data science-related professional jobs.
  • Secondly, it will also equip them with the knowledge and analytical skills and capacities needed to understand and respond appropriately to the challenges, risks and opportunities required to regulate and govern AI and other data-driven and potentially ‘disruptive’ technologies responsibly. 

Contemporary Case Studies in the Governance of Complex Socio-technical Systems 

  • Module to enable you to reflect critically on the need for, and the risks and challenges associated with, attempts to regulate emerging technology through a series of concrete case studies, drawn from contemporary experience.  
  • In so doing, it is intended to build upon the companion module, Regulating Technologies, enabling you to apply and develop their understanding of the knowledge, concepts, analytical frameworks examined in that module via case study investigation. 

Group project

  • Cross-disciplinary group project - likely to consist of a hypothetical ‘use case’ which includes a technical component while also raising multiple issues concerning its social and ethical acceptability (and will invariably raise legal issues, specific to the context of the proposal).  
  • The project deliverable will consist of both a technical component and a critical non-technical component, requiring the group to provide advice on both the technical and legal dimensions and ‘legitimacy’ of the proposal from an ethical perspective (in terms of social legitimacy understood within an assumed liberal democratic political community) including concrete proposals for oversight and responsible governance.
  • Each group will consist of 4-5 you, who are expected to work together as a group and meet weekly with a supervisor.

Data Visualisation (Optional) 

  • Techniques for visualising complex datasets, including best practice for visual display, dimensionality reduction techniques, and tools for visualisation.

NB: You are not required to take this module. However, if they wish to, permission may be granted by the programme director on an individual basis, having regard to the student’s individual aims for the course and progress during the course.

Semester 3:

Summer project 

  • The summer project will be jointly supervised via Law and Computer Science and will entail an industry placement, arranged by Accenture (within Accenture or one of the industry partners).

Final Dissertation on Summer project

Fees

Fees for this programme are still being confirmed. To be kept up to date on key information please register your details.

The Office for Students, in collaboration with the University of Birmingham, Accenture and our industry parterns are proud to be able to offer a number of full-fee scholarships. These scholarships are available to applicants from groups currently underrepresented in the AI and data science fields, and to encourage graduates from diverse backgrounds to consider a future in these occupations.  The scholarships will cover full tuition fees for the programme, and include enhanced careers and professional development support from the Birmingham Careers Network and our collaborative partners 

How To Apply

The MSc Responsible Data is not currently open for application for 2020. Please register your interest in the programme for entry for 2021. We will contact you with more information when applications open.

Our Standard Requirements

Applicants should have a good Law Honours degree or considerable comparative professional experience and have an understanding of applied mathematics via A in A-Level Mathematics (or equivalent). Applicants with a lower maths qualification will be considered, and if successful, will be required to pass an intensive on-campus Maths Bootcamp before beginning the programme.

International Requirements


Our MSc Responsible Data Science programme will immerse law graduates in data science during the first semester, enabling them to acquire solid knowledge and dexterity with relevant data science concepts.

Semester 2 builds on this by enabling graduates to acquire the critical and analytical skills needed to address challenging questions arising from with the development and use of technology in real world contexts. TThis includes identifying the risks associated with emerging technologies and how to regulate them, reflecting upon the role of science in society, design thinking, entrepreneurship, ethical analysis, and the challenges of global and democratic governance. During this time they will work in groups on a data science related project, further building team working skills and embedding data science within the role of a lawyer, legal adviser or legal technologist.

The final component of the course is an individual project and/or internship developed in conjunction with our industry partners (Accenture and their clients), through which law graduates have access to high quality academic opportunities in a business context with business relevance. 

Maths Bootcamp

Pre-sessional activities for this programme will include a maths Bootcamp for those lacking a Maths A-Level or equivalent to widen access. This Bootcamp will give you the foundations of Applied Maths required to undertake the course. A pass in the Bootcamp will be required by applicants looking to undertake the course and will be mandatory for applicants without an A at A-Level Maths. 

Teaching

This programme will be collaboratively taught across the School of Computer Science and Birmingham Law School, therefore core components of this degree course are taught modules, a cross-disciplinary group project and an individual summer project based around a work experience placement.

Taught module delivery includes

  • Seminars
  • Practical work
  • Lab sessions
  • Independent study

Assessment will consist of a variety of methods include

  • Examinations
  • Coursework
  • Written reports
  • Presentations

Our partners

Created in collaboration with industry, the MSc Responsible data Science has the backing of numerous legal firms who will support the development of the programme, offering paid work experience as part of the degree. These include international, national and local organisation & firms such as:

  • Accenture
  • Nesta
  • The Society for Computers and Law
  • Allen & Overy
  • Baker McKenzie
  • Black Solicitors Network
  • Eversheds Sutherland
  • Fieldfisher
  • Kemp Little
  •  Lewis Silkin
  • Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP)
  • Confederation of British Industry (CBI)

Employment options

Our MSc course will support growth in this sector and broaden potential options post graduation, in roles such as:

  • ‘Data Governance specialist’ (advertised by BNY Mellon with a salary range of £20,372 ‐ £24,977),
  • ‘Product Life Cycle Management and Digital Thread Consultant’ (advertised by Accenture with a salary range of £50,000‐ £65,000), and
  • ‘Research Associate ‐ Unlocking the Potential of AI for English Law’ (advertised by the University of Oxford with a salary range of £32,817 ‐ £40,322).

Without a workforce of individuals who understand both the fundamentals of AI and data science and the core legal, ethical and institutional concepts and frameworks that they implicate, it will not be possible to build and maintain societal trust in these powerful technologies, and to foster human well-being, human rights and democratic freedom in a data-driven digital age. Industry, government and other organisations require specialists who can help navigate these challenges

“We’re so proud to collaborate with education and industry partners to develop this fit‐for‐purpose and ground‐breaking course. By equipping a diverse group of legal professionals with future-ready skills, we can help them forge new and attractive career paths to work with companies like ours to ensure new technologies meet ethical standards.”

Christina Demetriades – General Counsel for Europe and Sales & Delivery Global Lead, Accenture

Careers Support

Centre for Professional Legal Education and Research

In 2012, the Law School launched the Centre for Professional Legal Education and Research (CEPLER), forging links with the profession through collaborative partnerships with solicitors firms and barristers chambers and through our network of alumni. CEPLER coordinates an unparalleled range of law careers events throughout the academic year.

The Careers Network

You will also benefits from the Central University 'Careers Network'. 

The Careers Network organises regular events including presentations by top firms and the annual Careers Fairs. It also runs workshops to help you prepare effective applications and to prepare for their next move. Its events on non-law careers, including journalism, marketing and working with charities, can be of accessed.

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