Computer science, Where would you recommend?

(66 Posts)
Serin Sun 27-Jan-19 20:07:12

DS2 wants to study computer science, we have no experience in this field at all. He is doing ok academically (pretty much all 7 and 8 at GCSE and doing maths, CS, and physics at A level , all predicted A grades).

Does anyone have any experience of studying CS at university? Where is recommended?

OP’s posts: |
DancingintheSpoonlight Sun 27-Jan-19 20:09:06

UEA- brother studied degree onto phd and loved it. Great facilities and teaching, and Norwich is a great city.

RolyRocks Sun 27-Jan-19 20:30:51

Imperial is definitely the best! Also the hardest to get into, even over Oxbridge (which is very theoretical)

Otherwise, Sussex has a great Infomatics department, as well as Warwick, Birmingham and Canterbury (Michael Koenig is a professor there) and Queen Mary’s (professor Paul Curzon is also fab) is good to look at, if interested in straight Computer Science.

Serin Sun 27-Jan-19 22:33:44

Thanks, this is very helpful, I will pass the messages on. Imperial looks great but I'm not sure we could subsidise the London lifestyle!

OP’s posts: |
ErrolTheDragon Sun 27-Jan-19 23:20:11

Imperial would want an A* so might be a bit of a stretch anyway. So does Warwick and a few other 'high ranking' CS courses, but there's lots of other good options for 3As on those subjects.

celtiethree Mon 28-Jan-19 18:52:52

Manchester would be worth a look. If your DC would travel to Scotland then St. Andrews, Glasgow.

Clavinova Mon 28-Jan-19 20:32:43

Surrey University has a good reputation for computer science. Nice campus and town - ds1 has had several school trips there.


ShanghaiDiva Mon 28-Jan-19 22:50:31

Warwick is vg for computer science and the campus is lovely.

LosingHerMissMarbles Tue 29-Jan-19 07:32:35

A number of DC I know are very impressed with the CS course at Bath. Might be another to look at.

ReflectentMonatomism Tue 29-Jan-19 07:35:43

If the OP is worried about the cost of west London for Imperial, St Andrews rents are almost as high.

anniehm Tue 29-Jan-19 07:38:25

Most universities do offer it, courses vary a lot from very theoretical to hands on and style of teaching varies too. As a general rule, the traditional universities are more theoretical and are taught via lectures and exams and the ex poly's are more hands on practical and crucially often have work experience built in, have younger friends at de Montfort and Northampton who love their courses and they didn't need super hot grades (b's & c's)

donajimena Tue 29-Jan-19 07:45:01

Have a look at Cardiff Met. Its not even a former poly shock Former HE college. wink but the course is in the process of being accredited and offers year long placements. Some former polys and HE colleges offer better courses in respect of employability. Strong links with employers and to second the PP who mentioned the all important work experience.

MsAwesomeDragon Tue 29-Jan-19 07:48:56

My DD is at Lancaster. She's just in her first year.

She looked at Durham, Liverpool, Manchester, St Andrew's. She liked the look of all of them, but Lancaster was the uni she felt most comfortable with as a campus uni. She loves the course and she will get industry experience as well during her 4th year.

I would suggest looking into the modules each uni offers. DD ruled out anywhere that had a lot of compulsory hardware courses or not enough AI courses. She also considered practicalities and finances so went for Northern unis because a. That's where we live so cheaper to come home and b. Living expenses are a bit cheaper.

LoopyLu2019 Tue 29-Jan-19 08:29:59

Southampton Comp Sci Grad here.

You can't really tell what uni's he's pitching at until he starts AS levels. Some teens just don't react well to A levels. Although 8-9s are a good indicator of RG Unis.

Your son needs to do some research. He needs to find what sort of course he wants. Some are very theoretical, not far off a pure maths degree (Oxford) and some are very practical/programming, and some are in between. Southampton is inbetween. This will help cut down the list.

Then, does he have an idea about career or companies afterwards? I say this because some companies target certain unis. Some unis can help target careers.

If he doesn't know any of the above, I would go for unis in the top 25 for computer science that are a spread across the board. I would go look at a few that are high offers (A*AA or greater), some that are more AAA-AAB. Any with offers below will normally have spaces at clearing so it's not essential to put them on initial UCAS. It is really important that you visit unis to get a feel for them. Some your son will love and some he will hate. There's no point applying to the latter even if they're number 1.

Does he definitely want uni? Has he considered an apprenticeship? Some of the top companies have really good degree apprenticships that are good for teens that just want to crack on with a career rather than study specifically. I know I should have done one instead of uni because I wasn't fussed about the uni experience.

ReflectentMonatomism Tue 29-Jan-19 09:15:24

Has he considered an apprenticeship?

Or a degree apprenticeship, some of which pay you to do a mainstream CS degree (for example, PwC at Belfast, Leeds or Birmingham).

Serin Tue 29-Jan-19 20:09:23

Oh wow! Thanks for all the advice, I think he does want to go to uni and is looking forward to it. He is a quiet lad, loves choral singing but I think most places have a chamber choir or similar.

He loved the cities of York and Bath when we visited as tourists as few years ago.
He spent a week on the Cyberfirst course at Lancaster last summer, loved the course but didn't like Lancaster at all.
We have booked him on a summer course at Southampton so will see what he thinks.
I haven't heard of PwC reflecting, will have to Google that!

OP’s posts: |
JITSOG Tue 29-Jan-19 20:14:33


My DD also wants to study computer science. She’d like to get into cyber security.

She’s currently on track to get mostly 8’s and is thinking of doing maths as well as computer science at A-Level.

What path would you recommend for her? Or uni? Thanks smile

RolyRocks Tue 29-Jan-19 22:36:54


Get your DD to sign up to CyberDiscovery next year if she hasn’t already done so last month (this year’s deadline has passed)
I’ve had a couple of students get accepted onto GCHQs training apprenticeship straight after A Levels, as well as a student applying for Cyber Security degrees this year. I would also recommend she takes Further Maths if she can.

JITSOG Wed 30-Jan-19 06:44:21

Thanks. She is planning on taking further maths as well as maths. Fortunately she’s at a grammar school and she is academic, as it seems maths is important in this industry.

I shall look up CyberDiscovery.

Ethelswith Wed 30-Jan-19 06:52:21

Imperial CompSci offers are A* A* and then As for all remaining subjects, plus STEP2.

Cambridge is just as highly regarded, standard offer A* A* A

Of the rest, next would be Oxford, Warwick, Southampton, maybe St Andrews and Loughborough then the rest of the pre-92s. Person I know with most successful CompSci career went to York.

LoopyLu2019 Wed 30-Jan-19 09:23:08

@JITSOG I would recommend that she doesn't pigeon hole herself into cyber security straight away, I thought that's what I'd go into but as soon as I got a taste I ran a mile!!! So I would stick to computer science rather than specialisms. Southampton offer computer science with lots of "with" options for their integrated masters courses. I would recommend going for an RG that offers these where you get the "with" if you choose certain modules in 3rd and 4th year. This way you know that there will be good robust modules in the area she's interested in, whilst not being a wishy-washy course some unis do.

Anyone looking to going into tech I would recommend:

-Summer uni taster courses, this is how I chose comp sci over electronic engineering.
-pre university year in industry, this enabled me to see that there were jobs I'd enjoy at the other end of the degree and kept me motivated when it was tough. It also got me (and a few others on my course) sponsored (inc. Hard to come by 1st year internships) and with a healthy bank balance for uni (especially because the loan system does not favour middle income families that can't top up maintenance loans to £8k) it stops you worrying about money in term time because STEM degrees are intense. I also think this might encourage the right teens into apprenticeships as they find work more interesting than study.
-apply for apprenticeships, year in industry, as well as uni. You can have a confirmed uni offer and a signed apprentice contract on results day, the ability to choose between them when everything is set in stone results wise helps make the right decision because you finally have a clear head with all the options available. It wasn't until 3 days after results that I deferred my uni place for my year in industry. For me it was the right choice.
- make sure your DCs do not feel overwhelmed at needing to know what they want to do. My employer (v. Big tech company) say you shouldn't be able to definitively answer the question "where do you see yourself in 5 years" because in tech our future job titles might not exist yet.
- in tech Oxbridge isn't the same course style as other unis. They are theory heavy. I got an Oxford offer and turned it down because I reviewed the course and it was not for me. I wanted a practical degree with a focus on industry skills, not an academic degree.
- you do not have to do computer science to do programming/software jobs. Far from it. You just have an easier/faster earlier career. So don't be afraid to take something else.

Oblomov19 Wed 30-Jan-19 09:27:25

Very interesting. Uni's for computer science seem fascinating.

ErrolTheDragon Wed 30-Jan-19 10:27:32

* - you do not have to do computer science to do programming/software jobs. Far from it.*

It's worth reiterating this to people who enjoy coding more as a means to an end rather than loving 'tech' as an end in itself. I've had a >30 year career developing scientific software, the entry level in my field is a PhD in chemistry - 'coding' is the easier part to pick up for most people with a 'science brain'.

Computer science, of course, encompasses much more than 'coding'!

* Summer uni taster courses, this is how I chose comp sci over electronic engineering.*

If you've got a DC who might lean the other way on reflection, make sure they don't limit their options with their A level choices more than necessary. If they can do 4 then maths, FM and physics plus CS or another subject leaves more doors open.

LoopyLu2019 Wed 30-Jan-19 11:14:10

I agree with pp 're uni choices. At the start of a levels I wanted to study vet med so took bio and chem! My other two we're maths and physics because in the back of my mind I was an engineer at heart!!! You only need Maths + one other stem related subject for MOST degrees (not all, some will expect further maths but of it is a theory heavy course this will help sanity). There is not a single one I know of that needs computing/computer science a level because not all schools offer it. Most engineering degrees need maths and physics so id recommend those two for keeping doors open in the engineering world. Dc's should be encouraged to do a levels they enjoy otherwise the two years will be hard and miserable (for me chemistry was my nemesis, I should have done history or classics!)

ReflectentMonatomism Wed 30-Jan-19 11:27:58

There is not a single one I know of that needs computing/computer science a level because not all schools offer it.

That’s true, but equally not all schools offer German or Music and yet they are required for those degrees. I don’t do undergraduate admissions, but my impression is that popular departments could insist on CS if they were willing to drop a grade overall and not everyone did it; about 75% of home CS students, in the Russell Group at least, now have it. But there isn’t a generally equivalent qualification outside the UK, so it would be a somewhat pointless thing to do as we would still have a majority of students overall who did not have A Level CS or equivalent.

I wouldn’t want to bet against someone not as reliant on overseas students positioning themselves as a premium CS course building on A Level, or offering two programmes, one with and one without A Level CS. It would be a way for a department with strong industry links and a good year in industry scheme to differentiate themselves.

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