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Is computer science necessary fora DC who wants to do something computer related?

(25 Posts)
Mookbark Wed 29-Jun-16 09:08:58

DS1 has just got his option choices back. As well as the core subjects, he is doing separate sciences, history, economics and BPE. Because he is doing separate sciences, he knew he would only get to do three out of the four other choices. The one they haven't given him is computer sciences. I suspect because this is a popular option, compared to some of his other choices. unfortunately, it is the one he most wanted. he is going to see if he can swap it (hopefully with BPE), but I suspect the school will say this isn't possible.
So, background out of the way, my question is, if he wants to do something computer related, does it matter? He doesn't know what he wants to do. Law has been mentioned, but also computer programmer and he goes to coding club at school, which he enjoys.
Thanks for any advice.

ImperialBlether Wed 29-Jun-16 09:14:46

Universities are more interested in students with high level Maths skills than with computer skills. My students were at a talk by a Professor in Computing at York University - she said she didn't care which subjects students had (someone asked if they had to have ICT) - she wanted them to be good at Maths and to be clever. She said if they were clever, they could be taught computing; if they weren't, they couldn't. My students were very upset by this. grin

If you look at a good university's website for entry criteria for Computing you'll see that Computing A level isn't a requirement. The university would be far more interested to know what he does with computing in his spare time than what he does in school.

Mookbark Wed 29-Jun-16 09:17:55

Thanks Imperial. That is what I was hoping to hear. If he can't change it, he will be disappointed but hopefully I can reassure him that it won't stop him from going down that route, if he decides he wants to.

evilgiraffe Wed 29-Jun-16 09:18:37

I don't have teens, but my DH is a software engineer. He doesn't have any qualifications in computer science, but spent most of his teens learning several programming languages and playing around with code. He still does, in his thirties! DH's job is rather mathematical, so his A levels and degree in maths and physics are still relevant.

So, I'd say it's not strictly necessary to study computer science, so long as he's getting experience through his own interest.

Having said that, the other programmers that I know have all studied computer science...

ImperialBlether Wed 29-Jun-16 09:59:05

My students who went on to study computer science (rather than ICT) preferred to do things on their own rather than be constricted by a syllabus. I'd encourage him to follow his own projects and teach himself - the level at which GCSE is taught is very low, really.

Balletgirlmum Wed 29-Jun-16 10:02:51

Quite a few schools don't offer it so I doubt it's necessary. Dds school doesn't, ds's school does but only as an after school club.

Badbadbunny Wed 29-Jun-16 10:04:01

At our son's school, they don't even offer any computer/IT GCSE options nor at A level. We were worried as computing is one of his potential choices for a degree, but when we looked at the Uni entry requirements, they are indeed more interested in Maths/Further Maths to A level, computing isn't mentioned.

eyebrowsonfleek Wed 29-Jun-16 11:39:55

Physics and Maths will be important for computer programming (gaming).

Mookbark Wed 29-Jun-16 12:14:06

Thanks everyone, it is good to know. After all this, I bet he won't want to do any sort of computing anyway. To say he is uncertain is an understatement!

TeenAndTween Wed 29-Jun-16 12:42:50

I think maths/physics is important for any computer programming, not just gaming. It is not so much that you need the maths (though for some areas you obviously do), it is that the type of brain that can do maths is the type that can do programming well too.

(maths degree, then started work as a programmer)

NotCitrus Wed 29-Jun-16 13:45:36

Definitely more maths and physics. I did do computer science GCSE and then did it for AS as well as my teacher said it was so easy I could re-use the same project. I then worked for a large computer company and was at a huge disadvantage compared to other students who had maths plus hobby programming experience - what I had learnt wasn't much more than what my Y2 ds has learnt in coding club! I did know more theory but it really wasn't very useful. I was the only one who could write comprehensible documentation, though!

SmellOfPythonInTheMorning Wed 29-Jun-16 14:48:19

Maths, Maths, Maths.

irvineoneohone Wed 29-Jun-16 15:01:36

Very interesting. My ds is learning programming on line, and he was stuck at advancing because he had no knowledge of trig.(The course specified need of trig knowledge.)
I asked on MN should I let him learn it, or wait until a bit older, and lots of posters( who said they are programmers) said they don't need maths for programming!

mrsmortis Wed 29-Jun-16 16:07:08

I work in software. My bachelors is in engineering. I second that maths is the most important thing for him to be doing. Followed by physics.

But really - writing software is about learning to think. To break down a problem and reconstruct it. The best programmer I've ever met had a degree in Philosophy.

If he needs a general intro to the subject then have him look at this course on edx:

Otherwise just let him play. In this industry hands on experience is way more important than the stuff you learn to get a degree.

I don't think the GCSE will do him any harm. But it isn't needed.

mrsmortis Wed 29-Jun-16 16:20:16

irvineoneohone I think I remember that thread. I think your son was quite a lot younger?

The thing with maths is it teaches you how to think in a logical way. It's the way of thinking that is helpful if you want to be a good programmer, rather than the maths itself.

Specific types of advanced maths are used but only in very specific areas: calculus in some areas of financial services, geometry (inc trig) in some areas of graphics for example. In all my years as a coder I've only needed advanced mathamatics once (to help me write something involving compound interest).

So the advice we were giving you was that your son wouldn't need the more advanced maths to learn more about programming if he wanted to. But the advice here is that maths will be more helpful that the not very deep or current computer science courses. The two statements aren't contradictory, just take into account the different position the two boys in question are in.

BlueBelle123 Wed 29-Jun-16 16:36:09

DD is in yr12 and we are currently looking at Uni's for CS, some uni's are saying that if you take A level computer science(the new spec) they will look favourably on it, we take that to mean a grade lower! Yes maths is very important, incidentally DD didn't do GCSE CS school only offered ICT and went straight into A level.

irvineoneohone Wed 29-Jun-16 16:44:58

mrsmortis, thank you. It makes perfect sense.

Mookbark Wed 29-Jun-16 17:56:31

Well, sorry to waste everyone's time. DS asked today if he could swap CS for BPE and they said yes straightaway? So, no drama and no need for this thread. grin Thanks anyway, I've found it very useful. I'm pleased he is doing CS, mainly because he is pleased, but also because I thought his options were a bit essay heavy and DS is not renown for his essay writing skills.

grumpysquash3 Thu 30-Jun-16 00:25:43

Redundant now, but what is BPE? I have never heard of it (and have a year 10 DS)

TeenAndTween Thu 30-Jun-16 05:35:43

grumpy My guess is Business, Politics (or Philosophy) and Economics.
But it would be good to know for general interest.

mollie123 Thu 30-Jun-16 06:03:27

Back in the very early days of computing (think 1970s) I entered IT with a degree and by passing an aptitude test. Many of us then started with programming (logical thought processes) from many disciplines - language degrees particularly relevant but many were not graduates at all.
I know the world has changed but IT is not all about maths (unless in the gaming/sharp end of the process) computers are the tool to give businesses ways in which they can manage their business needs and I drifted over from programming to systems/business analysis as it suited my form of logical thinking. When I see some badly designed websites that are not fit for purpose I feel more emphasis should have been put on analysis before a single word of code is written.
Just my opinion of course and maths rather than ill-taught computer science (as it often is) would be better. Sorry went off-topic there.

Mookbark Thu 30-Jun-16 06:31:27

BPE is the modern equivalent of RE. I think it stands for beliefs, philosophy and ethics. From what DS had described, it sounds interesting ( but then I do have an interest in an area of ethics grin)

TeenAndTween Thu 30-Jun-16 06:40:33

Thank you OP. I was completely wrong.

Mookbark Thu 30-Jun-16 08:07:08

Teen I had no idea either until DS1 started secondary school. It's a whole new learning curve. grin

Witchend Thu 30-Jun-16 14:46:01

Dh works with computers in a very successful company. They look for a good science degree, and have found generally any computer Science qualifications (including degree) does not equate to the skills they're looking for.

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