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Concepts of Machine Learning

Short name: CML
SITS code: BUCI034H6
Credits: 15
Level: 6
Module leader: George Magoulas
Lecturer(s): George Magoulas
Online material:

Module outline

Using a combination of lectures and lab work, the module covers bio-inspired machine learning paradigms giving students knowledge of advanced features of various methods at the theoretical and practical levels. This is an MSc level module which is also offered to undergraduate students.


The module covers computational algorithms for learning from data, data-driven decision making and complex problem solving. It provides an introduction to machine learning methods, such as neural networks, fuzzy logic, fuzzy clustering, bio-inspired computing, and covers basic concepts of feature selection and generalisation.

Learning Outcomes

  • Discuss essential facts, concepts, principles and theories of machine learning.
  • Discus fundamental issues relating to the design and implementation of systems that employ machine learning
  • Apply theoretical understanding of machine learning paradigms to solve data modelling, classification and decision making problems.
  • Recognise social, ethical & professional issues and risk involved in the application and use of machine learning methods.
  • Recognise and analyse specifications appropriate to specific problems and plan strategies for their solution.
  • Describe the process involved in the effective deployment of machine learning.
  • Evaluate machine learning methods in terms of general quality attributes and possible trade-offs presented within the given problem.


  • Learning from data

  • Feature selection and generalisation

  • Supervised and unsupervised learning methods, and clustering as an unsupervised learning problem

  • Fuzzy logic and fuzzy clustering

  • Deep networks:architectures and learning algorithms

  • Natural computing: genetic algorithms, evolutionary algorithms, evolution strategies, swarm intelligence

  • Advanced learning and evolution schemes: ensembles, boosting, hybrid algorithms, neuro-evolution


No specific module is pre- or co- requisite but knowledge of calculus and linear algebra is essential as the module uses mathematical concepts, such as vector, matrices and their operations, functions and graphs, gradient, derivative. The module also uses trigonometry concepts, statistical concepts and the notion of probability, data structures, first-order and second-order optimisation methods and general algorithmic concepts. MATLAB and Python are used in the labs.


Indicative timetables can be found in the handbooks available on programme pages. Personalised teaching timetables for students are available via My Birkbeck.


There is no coursework element for undergaduate students.


Two-hour written examination (100%)

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