BSc Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science with a Year in Industry,
School of Computer Science
Home Country: Vietnam
"Learning alongside people who share the same academic interests is very rewarding. Even outside lectures, students discuss topics of common interest, which may or may not be about class materials. This doesn't just enhance friendships but also knowledge in a fun way."
Why did you originally apply to do your chosen course at Birmingham?
The modules are some of the most interesting topics you could learn, for example Robot Programming, which not many universities teach in their first year. Also Birmingham is known as a leading institute in Artificial Intelligence. The course also gave the option of changing speciality or from a BSc to an MSci (given that certain requirements are met). The University was also ranked 1st in the Guardian for Computer Science in the year I applied. The reason I made Birmingham my firm choice, was based on my positive experience at an Applicant Visit Day.
What are the best points of your course?
The skills that I am gaining; the course does not just teach knowledge, it trains us in certain skills which can be applied outside of the course, for example many students develop software that has been published, gained them an internship or enhanced their CVs. Also the lecturers are very good and make the lectures interesting, if we need help they always try their best to accommodate us.
What’s the best thing about studying at the University of Birmingham?
- Learning alongside people who share the same academic interests is very rewarding. Even outside lectures, students discuss topics of common interest, which may or may not be about class materials. This doesn't just enhance friendships but also knowledge in a fun way.
- Societies! They are not just fun (although they are fun), they also teach skills that may help enhance our career prospects. Some societies further develop student's technical skills, others may help them develop their soft skills, such as debating.
- The convenience of a campus university. With the busy life of a student, having everything so close by is the best thing, including places for lunch, stationary shops, banks and even a phone repair shop.
What’s your highlight of your time here so far?
Some of my best moments are:
- Staying in the computer labs until very late at night to do assignments with friends - strangely productive and satisfying.
- Participating in BrumHack, a 24-hour hack to make something technical, tiring at the end but awesome and I learnt a lot of new knowledge.
- Working with friends on an app for a University-wide competition.
- Being part of Games Development Society where I finally learnt how to make games, which is something I always wanted to do.
What advice would you give to other international students?
With these two pieces of advice I would say, do not try to learn them all, pick 1 or 2, learn the rest whilst at university, you want to get good grades first.
- This advice applies to only those who haven’t programmed before. The course offers java as a programming language, don’t worry if you haven’t learnt java, don’t think you have to attempt to learn it before arriving at university, though you could and it would be very useful. I would even advise learning a different programming language, C# is very good when you want to transfer to java later, scripting languages like Ruby has some popularity, a good C++ book could teach you a lot of low-level concepts which is very fun (in my opinion) and perhaps Scala if you’re into the new and trending.
They all are based around similar concepts, with some language features of their own, so it matters little when it comes to learning your first programming language, so why not learn different things and make yourself special.
- There are certain technologies out there the course would touch on, but not teach, learning these things will make your life forever easier as a Computer Scientist and programmer.
Look these things up if you haven’t already:
- Git/Subversion for version control
- Really learn to use a text editor: Sublime, Emacs, Vim, notepad++. I know you got an IDE but it create dependencies
- You can live with just Windows, but linux is great to know, learn to use the terminal, not just GUI. I suggest start by just navigating around, then manipulating files and directory. Remember, Google is your best friend.