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Athabasca University

Prior to January 2010 Program Regulations

(Regulations for program students enrolled prior to January 1, 2010)

Information Systems Foundation Courses

The IS foundations reflect a minimum level of prerequisite IS knowledge, and are required to prepare students for the IS core.

  • COMP501: New Systems Development Technology - is the prerequisite for COMP504 and for any elective courses requiring knowledge of Java programming as part of the coursework. It is also strongly recommended for other courses requiring understanding of Java programming examples.
  • COMP503: Hardware and Software - is the required Foundations course for incoming students who have no academic background in systems architecture or computer organization. COMP503 may also be required as a prerequisite for certain core and/or elective courses.
  • COMP504: Programming, Data and Object Structures - is the required Foundations course for incoming students who have no academic background in programming. COMP504 may also be required as a prerequisite for certain core and/or elective courses.
  • COMP601: Survey of Computing and Information Systems - is required for all MSc IS program students

Depending on the incoming student's credentials, the IS Foundations of the MSc IS program may be completed in as few as three credits (one course), or may require a maximum of twelve credits (four courses).

IS Foundation Academic Regulations

Exemptions from IS Foundations Courses - Flexible entrance requirements are designed to recognize the range of academic credentials held by IT professionals applying to the program. Exemptions from IS foundations are based on appropriate undergraduate or graduate academic credentials supported by relevant professional-level work experience.

Advanced standing is limited by program residency requirements. Depending on the incoming student's credentials, the IS Foundations of the MSc IS program may be completed in as few as three credits (COMP 601), or may require a maximum of twelve credits (COMP 601 + 3 other foundation courses). That is, to meet the MSc IS foundation requirements, a student should complete or get exempted from THREE of the following courses in addition to mandatory COMP601: COMP501, COMP503, and COMP504.

Information Systems Core Courses

The IS core is a consistent set of information systems core courses offered by all institutions granting similar credentials. The following IS Core courses are required for all students:

  • COMP602: Enterprise Information Management
  • COMP603: Analysis, Modeling and Design - Permanently Closed as of Fall 2007 Session. Replaced with COMP610.
  • COMP604: Enterprise-wide Network Architecture
  • COMP605: Project Management for Information Systems
  • COMP610: Selected Topics in Software Engineering
  • COMP695: Advanced Technology Seminar

The following IS Core courses may be selected as electives in both the Core and Career Track components:

  • COMP607: Ethical, Legal and Social Issues in Information Technology
  • COMP610: Software Engineering - Moved to IS Core as of Fall 2007 Session.
  • COMP689: Advanced Distributed Systems

IS Core Academic Regulations

Depending on the incoming student's credentials, the IS Core of the MSc IS program may be completed in as few as nine credits (three courses), or may require a maximum of fifteen credits (five courses).

  • Incoming students may be exempted from taking any or all of COMP602, COMP603/COMP610, COMP604, and COMP605 based on specific academic credentials and/or professional designations.
  • Students must either complete or be granted exemptions for the following courses: COMP602, COMP603/COMP610, COMP604, and COMP605. An exemption granted means that the specific requirement has been met.
  • Regardless of exemptions granted for applicable credentials, students must complete a minimum of nine credits from the IS Core in the AU MSc IS program.
  • COMP695 is required by all students, effective September 2003.
  • COMP607, COMP610 (before Fall 2007 Session), and COMP689 may be taken as electives in the Core, or as electives in the Career Track program component.
  • Prerequisites are partly for guidance, and may be waived by the course professor.

Information Systems Elective Courses

  • MSc IS students who elect Essay route are required to complete three (3) courses from the following elective courses.
  • MSc IS students who elect Project route are required to complete one (1) course from the following elective course list in consultation with the project/thesis supervisor.
COMP 617 Designing Real Time Software
COMP 635 Green ICT Strategies
COMP 636 Enabling Technologies for E-Commerce
COMP 637 Mobile Computing
COMP 638 Enterprise Modeling
COMP 648 Human Computer Interaction
COMP 650 Social Computing
COMP 657 Artificial Intelligence
COMP 660 Enterprise Information Security
COMP 667 Multiagent Systems
COMP 674 Theory of Computation
COMP 682 Data Mining
COMP 688 Testing and QA Validation
COMP 689 Advanced Distributed Systems

Career Tracks and Integration

After students complete the foundations and core courses, they need to synthesize what they have learned. In the past neither synthesis nor integration were included in the curriculum. Furthermore, system integration is a pervasive aspect of IS practice. For this reason, the program includes an integrating capstone component. Current and emerging concepts and technologies are studied through "career tracks". These tracks allow students (within the competency and resources of the faculty) to "major" in a specific subject area for which there is demand, or to achieve breadth within a topic area or across a wider scope.

Integration can be viewed from three perspectives. Enterprise integration and integration of the IS function are management perspectives, and will not be pursued in the MSc IS at this time. The integration of IS technologies will be the main approach for MSc IS students integration courses or projects. This view concerns the development of an integrated IS enterprise architecture including the evaluation and selection from architectural and platform choices, priorities, and policies, the assessment of the impact of emerging technologies, evaluation of the role of standards, and evaluation of the effect of vendor strategies.

The requirements for the Career Track component of the MSc IS may be met in one of two ways:

Integration Essay

The Master's essay is a single 3-credit requirement completed in addition to the foundations, core, and three career track courses. The essay provides a generalist rather than a specialist view, and may be a comprehensive critical survey of aspects of integration (applications, IS organization, and technology). Topics should show how different computer platforms and networks can be integrated to provide a flexible and efficient infrastructure for the organization. This course addresses both the WHAT and HOW of integration. The essay may identify significant open problems, but it is not expected to contribute significantly to their solution.

An essay supervisor is required, plus one additional reader. In addition to the essay, the student will be required to pass an oral examination on the contents of the Master's essay, to be administered by the essay supervisor and reader.

  • MSc IS students who elect Essay route are required to complete the following course:

    COMP 696 Master's Essay

Integration Project

This requires completion of the IS foundations and core, a "career track" elective course, and a project that is considered equivalent in effort to three elective 3-credit courses. A project supervisor is required, plus one additional reader. This additional reader may be a faculty member or an industry resource person approved by the faculty. The project should deal with the development of technologies for intra- and inter-organizational systems in the form of an integrated technical architecture (hardware, software, networks, and data) to serve organizational needs in a rapidly changing competitive and technological environment. The project must also satisfy an acceptable combination of the following criteria:

  1. It deals with a novel exploratory implementation, the results of which will be of some interest to a portion of the IS community.
  2. It involves novel implementation techniques.
  3. It involves the implementation of a practical piece of nontrivial software whose availability could have some impact on the IS user community.

Project Credits

Project credits consist of three, three-credit elements, namely, COMP 697, COMP698, and COMP 699. These elements are not conventional courses; however, they are treated similarly for administrative purposes.

COMP697 (three credits): Decision Making, Research Methodologies, and Proposal Writing are the first element of project work. This three-credit course focuses on research methodologies and on the suitability and applicability of these methodologies to distance education research. In-depth analyses of masters-level proposals and projects will be carried out. All students taking the project route must successfully complete COMP 697 before they can register in COMP698.

COMP698 (three credits) is the second element of project work. Students can register in COMP698 any time after they have successfully completed COMP697, produced an acceptable project proposal, and have established a project supervisory committee consisting of a supervisor and two other committee members. Upon completion of COMP698, the implementation of the project research should be done.

COMP699 (three credits) is the final element of project work. Students should register in COMP699 in the term in which they anticipate completing the project report and in which they will schedule the oral defence and final project report revision of this work.

COMP 697-699 course syllabus

Completion Requirements

Program completion requirements for the MSc IS are dependent on the student's academic credentials and professional-level work experience: a recent graduate of a CS or IS undergraduate program, or an IT professional with the right combination of academic credentials and work experience, may require as few as 24 credits (eight 3-credit courses or five 3-credit courses plus an integrative technology project). Others, with less appropriate academic credentials and/or marginal professional-level work experience, may require the maximum of 39 credits (thirteen 3-credit courses or ten 3-credit courses plus an integrative technology project equivalent to three 3-credit courses).

MSc IS Component Minimum Credits


Foundations 3

Core 9

Electives/Integration 12

MSc IS 24

MSc IS Component Maximum Credits


Foundations 12

Core 15

Electives/Integration 12

MSc IS 39

Updated June 30 2014 by FST Technical Staff

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