Computer Science

 

 

What courses? Include: Computer science; computing; computing science; computing information technology; information technology; applied computing; information systems; geographical information systems; computer game applications development; internet engineering; software engineering; information security; business information systems; artificial intelligence; IT management.

What do you come out with? A BSc, BEng, MEng or MComp, depending on your course’s title and focus.

Why do it? "The modern world depends on technology for everything from the financial markets to your weekly shop, and a good computer science degree will teach you all you need to know to create the next generation of technology and beyond. Computer science would suit you if you like to solve puzzles, enjoy mathematics at school and want a degree that involves technology and creative thinking, with a good blend of practical and theoretical work." - Robert Harle, lecturer, and Alastair Beresford, academic fellow, the Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge

What's it about? Fundamentally computer science is the study of logical reasoning and practical techniques to build solutions to real-world problems using modern technology. Any broad computer science degree will equip you with powerful analytical and programming skills as well as expose you to project management, software and hardware development Computer science is also an umbrella term used to account for many specialist or vocational degrees involving computers and technology. Specialist degrees will begin by covering the fundamentals of computer science before concentrating on a specific area such as artificial intelligence, games development or computer security. Vocational courses typically cover management and development on current platforms with less of an emphasis on underlying theory. The list of computing pathways is getting longer by the year – in 2012, there’s over 1,200 different courses – enabling you to focus all of your attention on areas such as software engineering, artificial intelligence and games development; Abertay now even offers a four-year degree in ethical hacking and countermeasures. In your first year, theory is likely to dominate most courses, but lab time tends to increase as the years progress, with large-scale, research-led final projects on a piece of software being commonplace in the final year.

Study options: As with most degrees, you’re looking at three years full-time studying, or four years in Scotland. However, a large proportion of courses offer an industrial placement year, and MEng courses last for four years. At Bath, you can study a five-year MComp, which incorporates a sandwich year, while at Buckingham, you can complete a BSc in two years.

What will I need to do it? Most universities want a maths A-level, with Cambridge and Imperial both requiring an A*, as well as a further A-grade A-levels. Cambridge prefers applicants to have physics as well, and further maths is also recommended. Surprisingly, a study of computer science itself is not usually a compulsory pre-requisite. Given the number of courses at over 100 different institutions, entry grades vary widely – London Met asks for just 220 UCAS points (CCD at A-level, or equivalent).

What are my job prospects? The majority of graduates go into the computer industry, working as managers, product developers and engineers at companies such as Google, Microsoft, IBM and Apple. There is also a vibrant start-up culture emerging in the UK, and graduates often work for smaller technology companies or start their own business. Despite the financial crash, computer science graduates remain in high demand in the financial sector at companies such as Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank or Goldman Sachs. The broader problem-solving and practical skills developed by computer science graduates are highly transferable and thus graduates are in demand in almost every sector. Further study is also a popular choice, with graduates going on to careers in industrial research or teaching. Although you may find reports of high unemployment amongst new computer science graduates, your prospects will vary greatly according to the course and institution you study at. For example, this year’s Good University Guide, compiled by The Times, points out that graduate unemployment is highest among new computer science graduates, at 17 per cent. However, data from Unistats, a website run by UCAS, shows that graduate employment rates for those studying the broader computer science degrees at top universities are typically above 95 percent – higher than students studying most other subjects at the same institutions.

Where’s best to do it? Cambridge topped the Complete University Guide 2012, followed by Oxford and Imperial. However, students at Stirling were most satisfied with their course, and St Andrews and Loughborough also fared well in this area.

Related degrees: Mathematics; physics; engineering; animation.

Many thanks to Robert Harle and Alastair Beresford at the University of Cambridge.

Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Sport
Steven Fletcher scores the second goal for Scotland
cricketBut they have to bounce back to beat Gibraltar in Euro 2016 qualifier
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Evans is the favourite to replace Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear
TV

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing