What is Computer Science?

Computers are a core part of our lives: social networking, media streaming, security, computer games, office applications and online shopping are all obvious examples of things that computer science has brought us that many people are very familiar with.

At its most fundamental level, computer science, is about information: how to represent, store, communicate, manipulate, understand and make use of it.

Information is a tremendously valuable commodity, and there is a vast industry dedicated to making sense of it: from generating adverts specific to your interests on social networking sites, to identifying trends in financial markets. The role of the computer scientist in this process is not just about writing computer programs to perform a particular task (although this can be a significant part of what computer scientists do), it is about developing new ways of thinking about information, and what you can do with it. This can have a profound impact on other areas of science and engineering, and also humanities, social sciences and business.blackboard writing

Thinking about problems from a computational perspective is leading to fundamental new insights in other areas and allows us to:

  • Extract the crucial features from very large datasets such as those generated in the search for gravitational waves.
  • Develop new drugs for cancer.
  • Understand how the brain works, through the analysis of artificial neural networks, and by drawing on our knowledge of information processing to formulate computational theories of mind.
  • Analyse data from social networks and mobile systems in order to understand the movements and motivations of people.
  • Model and analyse business processes to understand how to improve the efficiency of a company's operations.
  • Identify and fix security flaws in computational systems from travel cards to voting systems.

So, at its most fundamental level computer science is about understanding, analysing, and designing information processing systems. This is a complex multi-faceted process that can involve mathematical analysis, engineering, human factors and ethical considerations. 

What types of roles can Computer Science graduates go on to?

As a computer science graduate you can be employed in many different industries. 

Understand job titles and their definitions >

Dr Sandy Gould

Lecturer, Human Computer Interaction (UK campus)

“Computing technologies are embedded into virtually every part of our lives. We carry computers in our pockets. Athletes have computers stitched into their clothes. Computing technologies create new kinds of art and help to look for new treatments for cancer. As computer scientists, we think about problems in terms of information - How can our world be represented as information that computers can make use of? How can information be transported and stored? How can different kinds of information be processed?”