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BSc Computer Science (4 Years Including Foundation Year)

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  • We equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed at Essex and beyond.
  • Our international students benefit from a single visa for all four years of study.
  • Small class sizes allow you to work closely with your teachers and classmates.

Course options2017-18

UCAS code: G403
Duration: 4 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Essex Pathways
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £11,750
International students: The standard undergraduate degree fee for international students will apply in subsequent years
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

UCAS code: G403
Duration: 4 years
Start month: January
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Essex Pathways
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £11,750
International students: The standard undergraduate degree fee for international students will apply in subsequent years
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 873666
Email admit@essex.ac.uk

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About the course

Our BSc Computer Science (including foundation year) is open to Home, EU and international students. It will be suitable for you if your academic qualifications do not yet meet our entrance requirements for the three-year version of this course and you want a programme that increases your subject knowledge as well as improves your English language and academic skills.

This four-year course includes a foundation year (Year Zero), followed by a further three years of study. During your Year Zero, you study four academic subjects relevant to your chosen course as well as a compulsory English language and academic skills module.

You are an Essex student from day one, a member of our global community based at the most internationally diverse campus university in the UK.

After successful completion of Year Zero in our Essex Pathways Department, you progress to complete your course with the Department of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering. This course is the most flexible of our courses in computing, allowing you to choose from a wide choice of optional modules and to specialise in areas as diverse as assistive technologies, computer games, artificial intelligence, evolutionary computation, Big Data and robotics.

You also acquire key skills for computer science in the areas of:

  • Algorithm analysis and basic computability
  • Software engineering
  • Java language principles and application programming interfaces

We were ranked 8th in the UK in the 2015 Academic Ranking of World Universities, with more than two-thirds of our research rated “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” (REF 2014).

Please note, a January start date is also available for this course.

Professional accreditation

This degree is accredited by both the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the British Computer Society (BCS). These accreditations are increasingly sought by employers, and provide the first stage towards eventual professional registration as a Chartered Engineer (CEng).

Our expert staff

Our original Department of Computer Science was founded by Professor Tony Brooker, who came to Essex from Manchester where he had worked with Alan Turing. Professor Brooker invented the compiler-compiler, one of the earliest applications of a formal understanding of the nature of programming languages.

In recent years we have attracted many highly active research staff and we are conducting world-leading research in areas such as evolutionary computation, brain-computer interfacing, intelligent inhabited environments and financial forecasting.

Specialist facilities

By studying within our Essex Pathways Department for your foundation year, you will have access to all of the facilities that the University of Essex has to offer, as well as those provided by our Academy to support you:

  • We provide computer labs for internet research; classrooms with access to PowerPoint facilities for student presentations; AV facilities for teaching and access to web-based learning materials
  • Our new Student Services Hub will support you and provide information for all your needs as a student
  • Our social space is stocked with hot magazines and newspapers, and provides an informal setting to meet with your lecturers, tutors and friends

Our School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering also offers excellent on-campus facilities:

  • We have six laboratories that are exclusively for computer science and electronic engineering students. Three are open 24/7, and you have free access to the labs except when there is a scheduled practical class in progress
  • All computers are dual boot Windows 10 and Linux. Apple Mac Computers are dual boot MacOS and Windows 10
  • Software includes Java, Prolog, C++, Perl, Mysql, Matlab, DB2, Microsoft Office, Visual Studio, and Project
  • Students have access to CAD tools and simulators for chip design (Xilinx) and computer networks (OMNet++)
  • We also have specialist facilities for research into areas including non-invasive brain-computer interfaces, intelligent environments, robotics, optoelectronics, video, RF and MW, printed circuit milling, and semiconductors.

Your future

The Government and industry are increasingly concerned that there will be a shortfall in skilled personnel to meet the needs of the IT industries.

Past Essex graduates in computer science have found employment as systems analysts, software engineers, programmers and systems engineers, while a number go on to postgraduate study or research.

Our department has a large pool of external contacts, ranging from companies providing robots for the media industry, through vehicle diagnostics, to the transforming of unstructured data to cloud-based multidimensional data cubes, who work with us and our students to provide advice, placements and eventually graduate opportunities.

Our recent graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of high-profile companies including:

  • Formula One
  • Light Speed IT Solutions
  • IBM
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Accenture
  • Google

We also work with the university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

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Example structure

We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of compulsory modules and options chosen from lists. Below is just one example of a combination of modules you could take. For a full list of optional modules you can look at the course’s Programme Specification.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore all modules listed are subject to change.

Year 0

Want to use a modern Unix/Linux based operating system? To build and text digital logic circuits and electronic circuits with a computer-based electronics simulator? Gain fundamental knowledge in computer science and electronic engineering. Understand computer architectures and components, and operating systems. Examine the principles of electronics and simple electronic circuits.

How do you test and evaluate the operation of simple computer programs? Or develop a program using tools in the Python programming language? Study the principles of procedural computing programming. Examine basic programming concepts, structures and methodologies. Understand good program design, learn to correct coding and practice debugging techniques.

Want to use mathematical techniques to solve problems? And to calculate basic statistical measures? Develop mathematical skills like number work, algebra, geometry, probability and statistics that can be used on any course requiring mathematics above Higher GCSE standard. Learn to solve relevant problems and know how to present data clearly.

Academic Skills covers the key areas that you will experience during your degree, preparing you for aspects of academic study at undergraduate level. The module enables you to develop and enhance your existing abilities by focusing on the core skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking in an academic context. It does this with both generic texts and also, crucially, those related to your subject area. Academic Skills provides strategies for successful communication and interaction through independent and collaborative learning offering opportunity to further enhance your research skills. The content is designed to ensure that you acquire a range of transferable employability and life skills.

Year 1

This module introduces students to three key aspects of professional development. These are product development, team work, and project management. In teams of six you work throughout the year to develop a performance for a Nao robot, with a Python module at the core of the product. Apart from the core skills you also learn about contextual issues such as intellectual Property (IP), sustainability, ethical issues, and health & safety. The module is a great opportunity to build a product in a team of fellow students and have that wonderful feeling of having created something original.

The aim of this module is to cover fundamental mathematics for Computer Scientists. It does not assume A-level mathematics, and the emphasis and delivery will be on understanding the key concepts as they apply to Computer Science.

The aim of this module is to provide an introduction to the fundamental concepts of computer programming. After completing this module, students will be expected to be able to demonstrate an understanding of the basic principles and concepts that underlie the procedural programming model, explain and make use of high-level programming language features that support control, data and procedural abstraction. Also, they will be able to analyse and explain the behaviour of simple programs that incorporate standard control structures, parameterised functions, arrays, structures and I/O.

Want to become a Java programmer? Topics covered in this module include control structures, classes, objects, inheritance, polymorphism, interfaces, file I/O, event handling, graphical components, and more. You will develop your programming skills in supervised lab sessions where help will be at hand should you require it.

Databases are everywhere. They are employed in banking, production control and the stock market, as well as in scientific and engineering applications. For example, the Human Genome Project had the goal of mapping the sequence of chemical base pairs which make up human DNA. The result is a genome database. This module introduces the underlying principles of databases, database design and database systems. It covers the fundamental concepts of databases, and prepares the student for their use in commerce, science and engineering.

The aim of this module is to provide students with an introduction to the principles and technology that underlie internet applications and the techniques used in the design and construction of web sites. Students showcase their skills by designing and building both client and server components of a data driven web site.

This module introduces the fundamentals of networking including wiring and configuration of switches and routers and associated subnetting. Laboratory sessions give practical hands on experience in our purpose built networking lab. The module uses the Cisco CCNA exploration Network Fundamentals course which is the first of four Cisco courses that can be used to obtain a Cisco CCNA qualification and participants will gain the CCNA1 qualification whilst on this course.

Computers, embedded systems, and digital systems in general have become an essential part of most people's lives, whether directly or indirectly. The aim of this module is to introduce the software and hardware underpinnings of such systems at an introductory yet challenging level suitable for future computer scientists and engineers. Topics covered in the module include both top-view as well as bottom-view approaches to understanding digital computers. They range from the more theoretical (e.g., state machines, logic circuits, and von Neumann's architecture) to the more practical (e.g., how transistors produce binary signals, operating system functions, memory management, and common hardware devices). The module also includes problem solving classes in which a guided discussion of weekly exercises is aimed at giving the student an opportunity to consolidate his/her understanding of the topics involved. Upon completion of this module, students should have a good conceptual and practical understanding of the nature and architecture of digital computer systems and their components.

Year 2

This course covers the principles of project management, team working, communication, legal issues, finance, and company organisation. Working in small teams, students will go through the full project life-cycle of design, development and implementation, for a bespoke software requirement. In this course, students gain vital experience to enable them to enter the computer science/Electrical engineering workforce, with a degree backed by the British Computer Society, and by the Institute of Engineering and Technology.

This module aims to equip students with the main principles guiding the activities involved in software development throughout its lifecycle, including software requirements, object-oriented analysis and design, software validation and testing, and software maintenance and software evolution.

This module extends the students' knowledge and skills in object-oriented application programming by a treatment of further Java language principles and of important Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). The Java Collections API is explored in some more detail with emphasis on how to utilise these classes to best effect. A particular focus will be on the interaction with databases (e.g. via JDBC) and on writing secure applications.

Data structures and algorithms lie at the heart of Computer Science as they are the basis for the efficient solution of programming tasks. In this module, students will study core algorithms and data structures, as well as being given an introduction to algorithm analysis and basic computability.

The aim of this module is to build on the foundations of data and information systems laid down in the first year, learn how to design and manage fully structured data repositories and explore the rather different principles and techniques involved in representing, organising and displaying unstructured information.

Human-Computer Interaction is about making software usable - not requiring users to think very hard in order to carry out whatever operation they need to do. In this module we start by covering the cognitive foundations of usability - what we know about the perceptual and motor limitations of our users - before introducing Norman's theory of human / computer interaction and its applications, using web design as the main application scenario - considering both web access from a desktop and web access from a smartphone, with all its implications. Finally, we look at how to use visualization to facilitate access to information.

The aim of this module is to provide an understanding of the principles that underlie the design of web applications, and to provide practical experience of the technologies used in their construction.

Artificial intelligence will be a great driver of change in the coming decades. This module provides an introduction to three fundamental areas of artificial intelligence: search, knowledge representation, and machine learning. These underpin all more advanced areas of artificial intelligence and are of central importance to related fields such as computer games and robotics. Within each area, a range of methodologies and techniques are presented, with emphasis being placed on understanding their strengths and weaknesses and hence on assessing which is most suited to a particular task.

Final year

The highlight of our undergraduate degree courses is the individual capstone project. This project module provides students with the opportunity to bring together all the skills they have gained during their degree and demonstrate that they can develop a product from the starting point of a single 1/2 page description, provided either by an academic member of staff or an external company. In all the student spends 450 hours throughout the academic year, reporting to their academic tutor, and in the case of company projects, to a company mentor. All projects are demonstrated to external companies on our Project Open Day.

The world demands software systems with ever increasing richness of behaviours and degrees of complexity. However, traditional software engineering techniques, which were inherited with relatively minor adaptations from other, older branches of engineering, have been struggling to scale up to the challenges posed by modern software systems. As a result, a large proportion (as much as a quarter!) of software projects based on traditional methods end up being cancelled at some point in their lifecycle, with many more being late, over budget and with less features than initially stipulated. In this module you will learn why traditional software engineering techniques fail, and you will become very familiar (through lectures, labs, videos and a large group project) with a novel set of techniques, known as Extreme Programming and Agile Software Development, which fundamentally solve these problems. In the last decade, these techniques have been so successful that today as many as 80% of all projects adopt agilite methods.

How do you configure Internet routing protocols for interconnecting WAN and LAN technologies? How suitable are WAN protocols within a modern communications infrastructure? Study the theories behind simulating and analysing network performance. Understand the fundamental principles behind contemporary network architecture and protocols, and evaluate why new protocols are created.

Embedded systems have become more pervasive and powerful to take on truly sophisticated functions in recent years. When facing with the rapid technical updating and complicated market requirements, the designers have to use advanced design techniques to deal with the complexity. In this module, you will gain the experience of full embedded system design process, and the fundamental knowledge on hardware components and real time programming. The hand-on practice helps your understanding of embedded system design process.

How do you secure networked computers and systems? What are the methods you can apply to detect, mitigate and stop attacks? Examine common network security vulnerabilities and design computer network architectures that reduce risk. Study suitable security techniques and key management skills required for encrypted communication/authentication.

Evolutionary computation is an exciting area of artificial intelligence that focuses on systematic methods (known as evolutionary algorithms) inspired by Darwinian evolution for getting computers to automatically solve problems starting from a high-level statement of what needs to be done. Evolutionary algorithms are today routinely used to solve difficult problems in industry, medicine, biology, finance, and much more. Evolutionary algorithms can even consistently solve difficult problems which require solutions in the form of computer programs. This is a form of automatic programming that is known as genetic programming. In this module you will learn how to use evolutionary algorithms and genetic programming to solve real-world problems from an international authority in these areas.

Teaching

  • A typical timetable includes around eight to fourteen one-hour lectures per week with associated classes or laboratories
  • Any language classes involve language laboratory sessions
  • Courses are taught by a combination of lectures, laboratory work, assignments, and individual and group project activities
  • Group work
  • A significant amount of practical lab work will need to be undertaken for written assignments and as part of your learning

Assessment

  • Your assessed coursework will generally consist of essays, reports, in-class tests, individual or group oral presentations, and small scale research projects
  • All credit-bearing modules will involve a final exam, which will be either essay-based or in the form of a test

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Qualifications

UK entry requirements

A-levels: DDD, or equivalent in UCAS tariff points, to include 2 full A-levels.
GCSE: Mathematics C

International and EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Email admit@essex.ac.uk for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the high school qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

English language requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 5.5 overall. Specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.

Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels required. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications

If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

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Applying

Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.

Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.

The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are ‘L’ and ‘S’ respectively.

Applicant Days and interviews

Resident in the UK? If your application is successful, we will invite you to attend one of our applicant days. These run from January to April and give you the chance to explore the campus, meet our students and really get a feel for life as an Essex student.

Some of our courses also hold interviews and if you’re invited to one, this will take place during your applicant day. Don’t panic, they’re nothing to worry about and it’s a great way for us to find out more about you and for you to find out more about the course. Some of our interviews are one-to-one with an academic, others are group activities, but we’ll send you all the information you need beforehand.

If you’re outside the UK and are planning a trip, feel free to email visit@essex.ac.uk so we can help you plan a visit to the University.

Visit us

Open days

Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. In 2017 we have three undergraduate Open Days (in June, September and October). These events enable you to discover what our Colchester Campus has to offer. You have the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing tours@essex.ac.uk and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

Exhibitions

Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

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The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its course finder is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep prospective students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

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