We live in a world that’s driven and dominated by computers and some may see this as detrimental to society, but what if you want to make computers your life? A computer science degree can lead to some of the most cutting-edge jobs not just in the UK, but around the world.
Indeed, it is thanks to computers and the internet that the world is more globalised and connected than ever. You have a chance to play a part in that while making very good money after studying a computer science degree.
That being said, even though computer use is second-nature for many young people now, what’s involved in a degree in “computer science” can remain ambiguous and undefined. So… what goes into a computer science degree and what can you expect to get out of it?
In this article we will touch on all the information you need to help you decide if Computer Science is the degree for you, and provides all the information for both during your degree and options after to carry your career forward.
What Is a Computer Science Degree?
A computer science degree will teach you what goes into the development and production of software and hardware for all manner of computer systems. Even that description of computer science, however, feels quite vague. That’s because computer science is an umbrella term, covering everything from; programming the latest hardware; to creating software and apps; to running data analysis and so much more.
One thing to keep in mind is that, just as computer science is a bit of a catch-all term for learning a wide range of interconnected computer-related disciplines, so too are there several types and levels to a computer science degree. For example, you can obtain a BSc in Computer Science (Bachelors Computer Science degree) in three years, and an MSc in Computer Science (Masters Computer Science degree) in four years, and which one you get will naturally have an impact on your job prospects.
In addition to those two base degrees, you can also look into related degrees that can supplement your understanding and make you even better suited to certain jobs. For example, a BA in Theatre and Performance with Digital Media Arts concordant with one of the above Computer Science degrees can set you up nicely for a job in the technical side of the world of film, theatre, and TV.
This can be said for almost any other industry, too, as the world becomes more and more reliant on AI and other computer systems to automate more human processes across the board, the possibilities are well and truly endless!
What is a computer scientist?
A computer scientist is someone who takes ideas for software, apps and programs and makes them a reality. They may be writing software to keep satellites in orbit, or software for a dating app for dogs. The beauty of a computer science degree is the range of jobs a computer scientist could find available to them.
Being a computer scientist does not just limit you to the software side, the hardware is equally as important and equally as interesting. You could be involved in building computer components for advanced machinery, for civil purposes or military. You could be designing the latest and greatest computers, you could work for the mega tech companies like Apple, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Google.
Reasons why a Computer Science Degree may be suited to you
The computing and technology industry is rapidly becoming more diverse than ever, both demographically and in ways in which these fields are able to impact our lives. The importance of these two points cannot be overstated. It is crucial to have the people who create the devices and apps which help make us a global community reflective of the diversity within that community. These kind of people are the pioneers of our society and help drive the human race forward.
Tech is about breaking down the boundaries of the past and building a new future today, and the skills, insights, and understanding you gain from a computer science degree can help you do just that. There are many opportunities for women and people of colour, all around the world, to get into the technology industry. The more diverse the technology sector becomes as a whole, the more possibility there is for coming up with groundbreaking ideas.
Just as the technology community is becoming broader and more diverse, the same may be said of the effect that tech is having on our lives. Nowadays, it can seem that there’s an app for just about everything, but that’s only because someone had the idea to get them started – and why can’t that be you? The Bill Gates’es and Mark Zuckerberg’s of the world may seem like they come out of nowhere, but in fact they are often the product of seeing an opportunity and taking it, having a vision and taking steps towards executing it. Your first step could be a Computer Science degree!
Having a computer science degree can help you not just become more open to opportunities than you might otherwise be able to, but to seize hold of and make the most of them. Take strides where walking would be seen as the more comfortable option. Just as diamonds and other gems are formed under high pressure, you can raise the bar and there is no better time than the present.
There is no denying that a computer science degree can improve your job prospects. As you’ll see below, a Computer Science degree can be a lucrative employment route, and it represents one of the more stable employment opportunities in the UK and beyond. This is because it depends less on the physical import and export of goods, with the backbone of the industry existing computer systems and smartphones.
Worldwide opportunities are especially pertinent in a post-Brexit world. Obtaining work visas may be more difficult now that Brexit could have severed the ties the UK enjoyed with the EU. We are still yet to see what long lasting affect the UK’s exit from the EU could have on our economy. That being said, STEM jobs are always in demand, and can make it that much easier for you to find work abroad. Whether you want to work in London, Leipzig, Lagos, or Los Angeles a Computer Science degree can help take you there.
That said, for as great as the impact on your bank account may be, the biggest reason to look into a Computer Science degree is that you feel a passion for technological innovation and find meaning in it. The difference between a mere “job” and something that is truly a “career” is the ability to find passion, excitement, and fulfilment in the work you do every day. If you find that fulfilment in building computers, designing apps, coding programmes, or engaging in any number of other activities which have made the computer and tech industry what it is today, go after it with all your heart.
Finally, as previously mentioned, there’s the fact that with a Computer Science degree you can make a real difference outside the technology industry as well. From chartering to outer space; to assisting with life-saving medical research and treatments; to helping charities get organised and conduct outreach, applied Computer Science can have an immense humanitarian impact on people around the world. Maybe that’s why jobs that require a Computer Science degree rank among those with the highest rate of job satisfaction.
Skills Required for and Gained during a Computer Science Degree
If a computer science degree sounds good so far, you’ll want to know the skills and requirements for a computer science programme. These include:
- A basic functional understanding and interest in computers
- A-level requirements: ABB, with strong grades in both maths as well as computing
- International Baccalaureate requirements: 34 points
- For International Students: an IELTS score of 6.5 overall with no component lower than 6.0
So, let’s say that you meet all those requirements and are lucky enough to get into a Computer Science degree programme. The skills you’ll be able to take away from a quality Computer Science programme are as diverse as they are invaluable, helping you not just get into work after graduation, but gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of your field in the process. Among the skills you’ll gain with a computer science degree are:
- Fluency in programming languages (eg, C++ and Python)
- Hardware design and construction of circuitry
- Network design and engineering
- Software design and engineering
- Multimedia design
- Teamwork and communication skills
- Problem-solving skills
The Best Universities to Study Computer Science
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford has a specialised Computer Science department. For the second year running the University of Oxford has been ranked first in the world for Computer Science in The Times Higher Education 2020 World University Rankings
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is not far behind, coming in at third in the world for Computer Science in The Times Higher Education 2020 World University Rankings
Imperial College London
Ranked 2nd in the UK in the Complete University Guide 2017 and 12th in the world, Imperial College London is another example of a fine education establishment.
St Andrews University
St Andrews Computer Science courses help train you in a range of fundamental principles, including; networks and distributed systems, human-computer interaction, software engineering and development of artificial intelligence.
Warwick University’s Computer Science course approaches the subject in a “rigorous, challenging and enjoyable way”, helping you to develop “robust technical capabilities and transferable skills, such as communication and teamwork.”
Career Opportunities for those with a Computer Science Degree
Apple was famously born from Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak puttering around in the former’s basement until they’d created the Macintosh computer – and the rest is history. Since that point, a degree in computer science has been a great way to reward tech-minded people who love to innovate. In a globalised world built and maintained by evermore complex computers, there are more job opportunities for degree holders than ever before. A 2018 study showed computer science to be the fastest-growing subject for undergraduates, and the tech sector in the UK is growing more than twice as quickly than the UK’s overall economy.
Some of the biggest jobs you can get with a degree in computer science are:
- Applications developer
- Data analyst
- Game designer
- Information systems manager
- IT consultant
- Web designer
- Digital copywriter
- Technical author
- Web content manager
Salary and Timetable for graduates of a Computer Science Degree
Things have come a long way since the days when innovators like Steve Wozniak and Nolan Bushnell were forced to work out of their garages to bring their tech dreams to life. Today, computer-centric careers can result in well-paid jobs with multi-branching prospects.
A computer science degree holder can expect to make a fair amount of money. How much that is, however, will vary a great deal depending on several factors like; the type of degree you hold; the amount of experience you have; the industry you are in; and what kind of work you are doing; and perhaps what you feel you can do to drive the company forward and how they value this creator mindset (if it suits your job role).
At the very bottom of the pay scale are jobs that do not require a degree. These can be held by students who are still working on their Computer Science degree, and they pay as much as £17,200 per annum. After you graduate, you’ll be able to progress to a full-time job, with these potentially being worth £25,000+ per annum.
Going forward, a wide range of options and pay grades exist. For example if you are able to pair your Computer Science degree with a general computing degree, as per a study in The Guardian in October 2019, you can make nearly £68,000. That same article notes that Computer Science degrees in particular are among those “punching above their weight” in terms of earning power.
All of these factors combine to make a Computer Science degree among the most versatile, exciting, fulfilling, and rewarding career opportunities in the UK today. They have the potential to set you up in any number of industries, teach you the skills you need to be successful, creative, and contribute to the advancement of life.
With a degree in computer science, you can plot out your path forward to present and future prosperity one line of code at a time.