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I'm trying to choose the best university in the UK for a computer science master's course, leaning in a more theoretical direction. But sites like prospects.ac.uk are too broad, I don't want to filter 350 results which consist of basically the same buzzwordy text about carreer opportunities manually.

My current approach is checking out universities I've heard of in the field, trying to find the actual course listing and guessing from that the actual direction teaching might take (currently Glasgow is my first choice because it's the only one to list a "functional programming" course, which is at least a first step into the direction I want); but even the course descriptions in the listing are quite fuzzy…

The problem of looking at publications from areas I would like to work in and choosing a university from that (hoping that a master's there might set me on a PhD route) is that, at least in undergrad studies, there's little connection between the researcher's work and teaching. But I haven't nailed down an exact direction to go in either, so directly finding research groups I'm interested in and working backwards from there would be hard, too, since there would probably be more than 350 of those as well.

So, is there a specialised computer science master's course ranking website with a column for “philosophical direction” or some kind of “business vs academic career” weighting?

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    Not an answer, but if you're interested in functional programming and language theory, Edinburgh has some really cool stuff. Philip Wadler, one of the pioneers of Haskell's Monads, is a professor there, along with others. – jmite Jul 29 '13 at 17:44
  • Yeah I just noticed that on the second round through, I think I prematurely kicked it out because of the strong emphasis on applied "informatics", totally missing the part about an optional theoretical CS focus – pascal Jul 30 '13 at 4:45
  • There's a whole institute for Foundations of Computer Science there. – jmite Jul 30 '13 at 5:20
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So, is there a specialised computer science master's course ranking website with a column for “philosophical direction” or some kind of “business vs academic career” weighting?

No. While it would be nice if there was a system that you could enter your definition of "best" and it would spit out the school for you, it just doesn't exist. While it probably is not a fair system, if you want the "best" according to your grandmother's definition, you probably want to limit yourself to the Russell group. You could also look at the 2008 RAE for what HEFCE thinks is the "best". You can also use league tables. The best approach would be to actually define what you mean by "best". Factors you may want to include are location, course size, research component, course work, faculty, and reputation.

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