University subject profile: computer science and information systems


Study the design and technology surrounding computing – includes software engineering, programming and AI

What you’ll learn
At its heart, computer science is about problem-solving. Students study the design of software and hardware used to provide solutions for business, scientific and social problems.

Most computing courses focus on software engineering – things like database design, websites, network systems and the internet. But there are other options, such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence, cyber security, multimedia and games design, and app design.

Specialisms, facilities and course content vary. Kingston University has partnered with Sony, so its students have the opportunity to develop games for the PlayStation 4, while Nottingham Trent University has a robot arena.

These are practical, skills-based courses, so depending on your temperament you may consider combining your degree with something more academic. Advancements in tech and computing have brought myriad moral and ethical questions, so now universities such as Oxford, St Andrews and Stirling offer courses combining computer science with philosophy.

How you’ll learn
Computer science students get about 14 hours’ contact time a week. You’ll spend your time in lectures, seminars and workshops. You might be asked to pitch and develop an idea for a project. You could end up producing a product for a third party, and managing freelance work as part of your degree.

Your assessment is likely to involve written and practical coursework.

Entry requirements
These vary. Some courses require maths A-level (or equivalent) and/or IT, computing or computer science. A-levels in further maths, physics, sociology and philosophy are also likely to help your application. Some coding skills will give you a useful head start, but are rarely essential to your application.

What job can you get?
Lots of graduates get work in the industry in technical fields, such as computer operations, computer systems sales and service, or software engineering. This could mean working in specific IT firms or in companies outside the industry that use computers as a core part of the job.

If you graduate bursting with ideas, maybe you could start your own business or build the next essential lifestyle app.

Top tech companies and the best-paid positions often require a computer science degree, but there are other routes into the industry. If you are interested in software engineering, practical skills are valued, which you could learn through modules on your course, from online courses or from coding bootcamps.


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