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What is computer science?

In today’s technological world, computational devices, such as laptops, desktops, mobile phones and tablets are part of everyday life. We use them for learning, shopping, playing games, creating and so much more. These devices and systems have all been built using the skills and expertise that are taught in a computer science degree, and many of the people that have built some of the most famous technologies and platforms in the world are computer science graduates.

Computer science is the study of computer technology and is often broken down into several core areas: hardware, software, computer theory and scientific computing.

What will I learn with a computer science degree?

As it is a very diverse field of study, an undergraduate degree in computer science aims to provide students with a broad overviews of the basic principles of the field, both theoretical and technical. At postgraduate level, students will have an opportunity to focus on a more specialized area of computer science that fits with their interest areas and career path goals. Some specialist areas that students may choose to pursue include:

  • Applied Mathematics
  • Digital Image/ Sound
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Microprogramming
  • Bioinformatics
  • Networks And Administration
  • Computer Architecture Networks
  • Cryptography
  • Computer Engineering
  • Operating Systems
  • Computer Game Development
  • Robotics
  • Computer Graphics
  • Simulation And Modeling
  • Computer Programming
  • Software Development
  • Software Systems
  • Data Management
  • Web Development
  • Design Databases
  • Parallel Programming
  • iOS Development
  • Mobile Development
  • Memory Systems
  • Computational Physics

Through a computer science degree, students will likely have the opportunity to work on many exciting projects, as well as networking and collaboration opportunities with industry partners, and professional internships to gain real world experience.

A computer science students works on some code

What are the prerequisites for studying computer science?

In order to be accepted into a bachelor-level computer science degrees, students are not generally required to have a specific background in computer science itself. However, many universities will require applicants to have some experience in related subjects such as mathematics, physics, psychology and sociology. The latter subjects will help you to understand how humans process information which is a lot of what computer science aims to achieve.

While it may not be a prerequisite, having knowledge of any programming languages can be a bonus. Some languages you may come across during your studies include Python, C++, Haskell, Pascal and Java, though any programming language experience would be highly beneficial.

Entry requirements will differ between schools and programs, so please make sure to enquire with the university about what specific prerequisites they have.

What can I do with a degree in computer science?

The skills and knowledge obtained through a computer science degree are in particularly high demand and attractive to prospect employers, so graduates can be confident they will be able to find a job relatively quickly after studying.

Some typical roles within the computer science industry that students can pursue include:

  • Application analyst
  • Applications developer
  • Data analyst
  • Database administrator
  • Games developer
  • Information systems manager
  • IT consultant
  • Multimedia programmer
  • SEO specialist
  • Software engineer
  • Systems analyst
  • UX designer
  • Web designer
  • Web developer

According to PayScale.com, particular roles within computer science may expect the following average salaries (from entry level to 10+ years experience): 

Computer programmer

USD $59,000 - $78,000

Web developer

USD $51,000 - $71,000

IT consultant

USD $64,000 - $100,000

Database administrator

USD $60,000 - $91,000


Or you might be interested in these other related subjects:

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