BSc Computer Science, School of Computer Science
"Birmingham is a research university, so what you learn in class is relevant to what is happening in the world of computer science."
What interests you about computer science and what does it mean to you?
Computer science teaches you about how to create a future. The skills you learn can be applied in almost any industry and means that you can make a real difference to people's lives. It's a vocational degree without being too specific, so although you are learning programming languages and software engineering skills, you are able to then apply them in a variety of different ways in the future. It leaves your options open but what you learn is incredibly worthwhile.
Why did you originally apply to do your chosen course at Birmingham?
My family home is in a village in West Sussex. When I looked at universities, I wanted to find a place that was green (like home) but also in a city (an upgrade from village life!). Birmingham was the first university I visited where there was a green centre in the middle of campus but close to a big city - it ticked all the boxes! Also, I have played cello since I was 6 years old and was keen to continue playing at university. University of Birmingham offer a music scholarship to those who do not study music at University. This showed me that the University were keen for students in other disciplines to get involved with music. Other universities didn't have such an 'open door' policy for non-music students.
What do you think are the best points of your course?
The computer science school at Birmingham has always felt like a friendly academic community.
When you first start your course you are given a tutor who is able to offer advice on university life and give you guidance with the academic side of your course. Having 1:1 contact with an academic allows an open space to solve any confusion in your first year before they become greater problems in the future. In doing this the University is taking an active interest in your first year to try to ensure that it goes as smoothly as possible. This also makes you more comfortable as a student to attend office hours where you are able to question them further on what you have learnt in class and debate current advances in their fields.
All the year groups interact and are willing to help each other out. One of the best ways to understand computer science is to teach others and talk about the subject. By helping other year groups you are able to both question your knowledge and also help those who are struggling to understand some of the more technical areas.
What’s the best thing about studying at the University of Birmingham?
Birmingham is a research university, so what you learn in class is relevant to what is happening in the world of computer science. You don't learn dead programming languages because Birmingham wants you to have the skills needed for employment. This means what you learn within the course is directly applicable to life outside of university. As a student you feel more comfortable applying to jobs and feel secure in the relevance of the knowledge you receive within class.
Did you take a year out? If so where, and how did it go?
Before university I took a gap year, this was to work out what I wanted to study at university. Whilst at school I applied for a deferred entry place at Birmingham to study Philosophy. However, whilst working at an international shipbroking firm during my year out I realised how important technology is within industry. Philosophy to computer science may seem like a huge jump but they are both rooted in logic, so I decided to change my degree to computer science, and I have not looked back.
Although I did not take a year out within my 3-year course, I did do lots of work experience. The Computer Science school hold computing specific careers fairs within their atrium. It was here that I first met JP Morgan Chase and was able to attend their women in technology event in London. I was then fast-tracked onto the spring week and later on to the summer internship. I was then offered and accepted a graduate contract with them before going into my third year which I start in September 2016.
What advice would you give to students thinking about studying on the course?
University is so much more than academics. Join lots of societies, its a great way to meet people from lots of different backgrounds and continue any hobbies you may have.
Before starting at Birmingham, look into all the different scholarships on offer. I was awarded a music scholarship before starting and it gave me the confidence to join the music society ensembles and funding to receive lessons from the Birmingham Conservatoire.
Birmingham is the second largest city in England. There are concert halls, art galleries, independent restaurants and lots of places to shop! Although you are part of a campus university, the train journey into the city only takes 10 minutes and it means you can take advantage of all that Birmingham has to offer. It is also a good escape when university life gets too much.