Computer Science

  • UCAS Code: G400 BA/CS
  • Campus Code: 4
  • Duration: 3-4 years
  • Places per year: 2-4

Cambridge’s Computer Science course is challenging, exciting, inspiring and highly marketable. The course attracts the best students from the UK and beyond. It provides a broad and deep education into all aspects of Computer Science and it is taught by some of the world’s experts in the field at the Computer Laboratory (the name we give the Department of Computer Science).

Course Overview

The course moves quickly from the fundamentals of the subject in first year, through the core material in second year, to advanced topics in the third year, some of which are only covered in Master’s degrees elsewhere. We expect a lot from our students, but we know that they are capable.

Graduates in Computer Science are highly sought after by industry. In a typical year, around 50% go into the IT sector, 20% into banking and investment, 20% go on to research degrees at Cambridge and elsewhere, and the final 10% on to a range of other jobs. The Cambridge Computer Lab Ring is the department’s graduate association which provides mentoring to graduates of the department.

How You Learn

In the first year you’ll be taught how computers work from top to bottom and get a grounding in digital electronics (theoretical and practical). You’ll also meet two programming languages (don’t worry: most of our students haven’t programmed before); get a grounding in the mathematical underpinnings of computing and the art of software design; and take a good look at how to evaluate and design algorithms (essentially puzzle solving). Teaching is provided through lectures, practical classes and supervisions. In Year 1, you can typically expect 20 hours of teaching every week, including up to 12 lectures.

In the first year, you will also take practical classes. Each week the Computer Laboratory provides computer facilities and demonstrators to help you through a series of assessed exercises across a broad range of topics. This includes hands-on programming experience in ML and Java, as well as building a series of electrical circuits in the hardware practicals. Each practical contains a core set of tasks that everyone completes as well as a few optional exercises to challenge you if you found the core task easy.

The group project is one of the highlights of the second year. The year group is split into small teams, each provided with an exciting CS project to complete as well as a ‘customer’ for the end product. These are very popular with industry, who invariably provide us with the project and also play the role of customer. It’s not easy work, but our students typically love this aspect of the degree and we are always staggered by what they can achieve in such a short time.

The third year provides a large set of courses to choose from, each letting you explore specific areas in depth with an expert in that field. You also get to choose your own project to work on, and a supervisor will give you one-to-one help to achieve your goals.

The fourth year is designed to support students who are considering a career in either academic or industrial research.

Typical Offer Conditions

A-Level:

A*A*A

IB

41-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level

Other:

See the University’s Entrance Requirements page

Subject Requirements

Essential:

Mathematics

Desirable:
Further Mathematics and/or a physical science

 

Written Work

None.

Admissions Assessment

All applicants for Computer Science are required to take the Test of Mathematics for University Admission (TMUA), at an authorised assessment centre (usually their school or college), for which they must be registered in advance. The registration deadline is 29 September 2023. Please note that open centres may set an earlier deadline for accepting entries, and it is your responsibility to check if this applies at your centre. The TMUA will take place on 18 October 2023.

Please see the TMUA website for further information about dates and registration deadlines, and check admission assessments for further details.

General Comments

Computer Science may be approached from a variety of backgrounds. The Cambridge course rapidly teaches a broad range of practical and theoretical computer science topics. It is assumed that students will have a sound mathematical background but other topics (e.g. electronics) will be taught from their foundation. A physical science is also beneficial. An A Level in Computer Science is useful, but not a requirement. An A Level in ICT is of less use in terms of preparation for the Cambridge course.