This area covers the theory and application of information and computation, and some universities also include information technology in this field.
76,490 students were studying this subject in 2014/15.
- 87% UK
- 13% international
- 83% full-time
- 17% part-time
76.4% of graduates went directly into employment.
Top five graduate destinations:
- Wholesale and retail trade
- Professional, scientific, and technical
What courses are available?
Universities and colleges in the UK are offering courses in the following subject areas:
'Careful consideration of the content of any course prior to selection is key, as course titles may not accurately reflect the content. IT is continually evolving and developing, and degrees are subject to annual review and adaptation, students are advised to look out for new elements and options which may develop during the course.’
Chartered Institute for IT
Subject combinations and available course options include:
- single, joint, and multiple subject combinations
- full-time, part-time, and flexible study options, as well as courses with a placement (sandwich courses)
- qualifications ranging from BA, BSc, BEng (Hons), and MSci degrees, through to HND, HNC, and Foundation Certificates
A number of universities offer four year undergraduate or integrated masters degrees (MSci) in computer science. Many also offer an opportunity to work in industry for a year or study abroad as part of the degree.
Apprenticeships are available in the following areas:
- Business analyst
- Data analyst
- IT security analyst
- Network engineer
- Software engineer
- Information security – e.g. cyber security technologist
- Network engineer
- Software developer
Find out more about apprenticeships
A levels – To get on to a computer science related degree you will usually require at least two A levels or equivalent.
‘Specific entry requirements vary considerably, depending on the focus of the course. For example, a very theoretical course may require A level mathematics, whereas Business IT programmes would probably not ask for any science background beyond GCSE. Few courses specify A level Computing or equivalent.’
Institute of Analysts and Programmers
In addition to the different A level requirements above, you will also need at least five GCSEs (A-C) including science, English, and maths. Some universities require a B in maths GCSE for computer science degrees.
Vocational courses – Other relevant Level 3 qualifications such as the BTEC Diploma in computing are accepted by some universities. You will need to check specific entry requirements individually with course admissions tutors.
Universities are looking for:
- evidence that you are well informed about the subject and have strong interest/motivation
- a range of interests outside of academic study
- a well written statement that demonstrates your ability to write persuasive statements
- an ability to work individually and in teams
- the personal qualities required for successful study
How to write your personal statement
Where can I find out more?
Visit the websites of the following professional bodies to find out more about courses and careers in computer science.
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THE LEGACY OF COMPUTER SCIENCE
Gerald Jay Sussman, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
We have witnessed and participated in great advances, in transportation, in computation, in communication, and in biotechnology. But the advances that look like giant steps to us will pale into insignificance by contrast with the even bigger steps in the future. Sometimes I try to imagine what we, the technologists of the second half of the 20th century, will be remembered for, if anything, hundreds of years from now.
In the distant past there were people who lived on the banks of the Nile River. Each year the Nile overflowed its banks, wiping out land boundaries but providing fertile soil for growing crops. As a matter of economic necessity the Egyptians invented ways of surveying the land. They also invented ways of measuring time, to help predict the yearly deluge. Similar discoveries were made in many places in the world. Holders of this practical knowledge were held in high esteem, and the knowledge was transferred to future generations through secret cults. These early surveyors laid the foundation for the development of geometry (“earth measurement” in Greek) by Pythagoras and Euclid and their colleagues around 350 BC. Geometry is a precise language for talking about space. It can be taught to children. (Euclid’s Elements has been used in this way for more than 2000 years.) It makes the children smarter, by giving them ways of expressing knowledge about arrangements in space and time. It is because of these Greeks that we can tell a child, “If you build it out of triangles it will not collapse the way it does when you build it out of rectangles.”
The Rhind Papyrus from Egypt (c. 1650 BC) is the earliest document that we have that discusses what we now think of as algebra problems. Diophantus, another Greek, wrote a book about these ideas in the third century A.D. Algebra was further developed by Abu Abd-Allah ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi (c. 780–c. 850) and others. (Note: “algebra” = al’jabr is an Arabic word meaning “the recombining of broken parts.”) Algebra is also a precise language that gives us the ability to express knowledge about the relationships among quantities, and to make deductions from that knowledge, without necessarily knowing the values of those quantities.
For a long time people were able to predict the motions of some of the heavenly bodies using ad hoc theories derived from observation and philosophical considerations. Claudius Ptolemy wrote the Almagest, a famous compendium of this knowledge, in the second century. About 350 years ago Descartes, Galileo, Newton, Leibnitz, Euler, and their contemporaries turned mechanics into a formal science. In the process they