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Cambridge Computer Science Students and Applicants

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    (Original post by bestofyou)
    I have no idea what CS entails. But I could guess quite a large part of it is taught on computers maybe?

    It would be harder to accomodate 600 students than it would be 70 for such a class.
    That's certainly not the reason.
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    Computer science is very little to do with what you studied in ICT and largely to do with programming.
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    (Original post by fluteflute)
    That's certainly not the reason.
    as I said I have no idea what CS involces, im only trying to suggest why...

    Your suggestions are excellent btw...
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    (Original post by bestofyou)
    I have no idea what CS entails. But I could guess quite a large part of it is taught on computers maybe?

    It would be harder to accomodate 600 students than it would be 70 for such a class.
    I would suggest it's because not many people from school level know what the discipline actually is and for those that think they do they assume it's like ICT or something that's closer to electronic engineering. In fact, only the vast minority of topics in a computer science course would involve using computers and depending on the particular course, even programming may not be a dominant component. The saying goes "computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes". Usually computer science at university will be a mixture of engineering and mathematics, with some die-hard believers saying that strictly only the latter part counts as "real" computer science.

    Personally I believe computer science as a subject only lives up to its mettle as a science because it comprises of key areas that are worthwhile to pursue in even if computers were never invented.
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    I've got an offer for CS next year so I'm going to buy a laptop soonish. I'm thinking of getting a Mac as I do quite a bit of iOS development at the moment and I'd like to carry that on, however they're more expensive so that's a factor. Also, how much of the course is centered around using Linux in some way? Although I could dual boot with either a Windows or a Mac laptop, I've found dual booting with something non-Apple a bit easier in the past (but I probably just did something wrong when I was trying to force Ubuntu onto my Mac). What're people's opinions on Mac vs PC (in the context of the course, I don't want to start a flame war )?
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    (Original post by MrMorris)
    I've got an offer for CS next year so I'm going to buy a laptop soonish. I'm thinking of getting a Mac as I do quite a bit of iOS development at the moment and I'd like to carry that on, however they're more expensive so that's a factor. Also, how much of the course is centered around using Linux in some way? Although I could dual boot with either a Windows or a Mac laptop, I've found dual booting with something non-Apple a bit easier in the past (but I probably just did something wrong when I was trying to force Ubuntu onto my Mac). What're people's opinions on Mac vs PC (in the context of the course, I don't want to start a flame war )?
    No operating system is really preferred in the course, although the PCs provided by the computer lab are dual boot Windows-OpenSuSe. It is possible to avoid using the lab's PCs entirely though. Colleges and libraries provide the same plus the occasional Mac on its own.

    The course does at various points encourage you to use or at least learn Linux (and there is a non-examinable topic called "Unix Tools") but that's only because it's probably the most useful OS to learn for a compsci and it is very common for group and individual projects to require the use of it in some way. However using Linux is not a requirement at all if you really don't want to.
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    (Original post by ukdragon37)
    No operating system is really preferred in the course, although the PCs provided by the computer lab are dual boot Windows-OpenSuSe. It is possible to avoid using the lab's PCs entirely though. Colleges and libraries provide the same plus the occasional Mac on its own.

    The course does at various points encourage you to use or at least learn Linux (and there is a non-examinable topic called "Unix Tools") but that's only because it's probably the most useful OS to learn for a compsci and it is very common for group and individual projects to require the use of it in some way. However using Linux is not a requirement at all if you really don't want to.
    OK, sounds good. Thanks
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    Just out of interest, does anybody know of anyone, and i mean ANYONE, who managed to hold a CompSci offer, without an A2 in physics? I'm feeling more and more disadvantaged day by day :|
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    (Original post by Sketch)
    Just out of interest, does anybody know of anyone, and i mean ANYONE, who managed to hold a CompSci offer, without an A2 in physics? I'm feeling more and more disadvantaged day by day :|
    A few in my year, who went on to not choose Physics in first year and did something else instead. There's no reason why Physics is any more important than say Chemistry or Biology (or even Psychology, since that's a first year option that could replace Physics too).

    EDIT: I see you have Econ instead of a science. Incidentally the Psychology and Geology options do not require you having done any of them before so that's one possibility. +Maths is also a possibility but just be careful that the college may include STEP as part of your offer. It doesn't really matter anyway once you are past first year because everyone does the same thing afterwards.
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    (Original post by ukdragon37)
    +Maths is also a possibility but just be careful that the college may include STEP as part of your offer. It doesn't really matter anyway once you are past first year because everyone does the same thing afterwards.
    Thanks for the speedy reply! and yes I was hoping to study the CompSci + Maths option - I just seem to prefer straight maths to Natural Sciences for some reason.. So would you would think that doing STEP would be better than studying, say an additional AS in physics in my A2 year (maybe dropping eco), or simply doing EVERYTHING? ..haha, year 13 is going to be funfunfun
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    (Original post by ukdragon37)
    In fact, only the vast minority of topics in a computer science course would involve using computers and depending on the particular course, even programming may not be a dominant component. The saying goes "computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes". Usually computer science at university will be a mixture of engineering and mathematics, with some die-hard believers saying that strictly only the latter part counts as "real" computer science.
    Can you elaborate on that?

    Not the impression I got from looking at the modules here.


    (Original post by Sketch)
    Thanks for the speedy reply! and yes I was hoping to study the CompSci + Maths option - I just seem to prefer straight maths to Natural Sciences for some reason.. So would you would think that doing STEP would be better than studying, say an additional AS in physics in my A2 year
    Not better, different. Most colleges require STEP as an additional requirement. It's considered separate from A levels (because.. it is).

    For example, you might get an offer of A*AA and 1,1.
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    (Original post by FO12DY)
    Can you elaborate on that?

    Not the impression I got from looking at the modules here.
    The vast majority of the courses are taught in lectures with no practical component. The lectures may be *about* computers but you don't need to own or even use one to learn all the content. Out of the list of first year courses you linked, only "ML under Windows", "Programming in Java" and "Hardware Practical Classes" are lab-based and only the former two requires you to even program. The quality of those labs are only assessed as pass-fail and you'd be very unlucky to fail even one component of them. Even "Object-Oriented Programming" is a pure lecture course - it teaches OOP concepts using Java as a vehicle but it has no practical element.

    This is why the Cambridge CompSci course is one of the most "theoretical" in the country - most courses are lecture-based with no practicals, maths content will be coming in fast and furious as you advance in years and the amount of things you have to memorise and learn (as opposed to do) is overwhelming.

    (Original post by Sketch)
    whoops.. sorry, i don't think i typed that very clearly

    basically, what would your advice be on doing the additional AS in physics next year? of course along with the compulsory STEP.. Would the AS be worth the effort?
    I wouldn't say it would be worth it, no. Becoming much better at Maths is far more valuable and attractive, especially if you shine in interview with it. Physics is just one possible option in one of the years, whereas Maths is used throughout.
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    (Original post by FO12DY)
    Not the impression I got from looking at the modules here.
    Can you clarify what you feel is counter-evidence? It's worth noting that IA, partly by virtue of its continuing roots in natural science, is particularly applied.

    Computer use (realistically) required:
    • IA Java
    • IB Java
    • IA ML
    • IB C and C++ or Prolog
    • IB Group project
    • IB FPGA work
    • II Individual project


    Note that, with the exception of the individual project (which leads to a dissertation worth about 25% of the year, modulo curving - and for which a theory project is technically permissible if uncommon) these are all very minor courses representing at most a single exam question.

    Computer use advisable:
    • IA Algorithms
    • IA OO and Software Design
    • IB Algorithms
    • IB Unix tools (n.b. entirely optional, unassessed course)
    • II DSP


    These are more major courses which lend themselves directly to comprehension via implementing concepts introduced. Lecturers may recommend doing so, but it is entirely optional.

    Computer-free:
    Every single other course.
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    (Original post by TheUnbeliever)
    Computer use advisable:
    • IA Algorithms
    • IA OO and Software Design
    • IB Algorithms
    • IB Unix tools (n.b. entirely optional, unassessed course)
    • II DSP
    Am I naughty for having used a computer during only one of these courses?

    EDIT: Actually, you can almost certainly work out which one it was...
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    (Original post by ukdragon37)
    EDIT: Actually, you can almost certainly work out which one it was...
    Having actually been in that lecture, I certainly can :p: As for naughtiness, I think I am particularly well-placed to be incapable of judging such matters!
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    (Original post by TheUnbeliever)
    Having actually been in that lecture, I certainly can :p: As for naughtiness, I think I am particularly well-placed to be incapable of judging such matters!
    :console:

    I meant that as a way of saying I feel I've been lazy over the course of this degree and should really have put in more of an effort, as well as not procrastinate all the time and cram in the last minute. Although nowadays I can't say that to anyone anymore without appearing conceited.
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    Hi guys,

    I was thinking about applying for CS with natural sciences. I'm not sure which college to choose - any suggestions? (I was thinking about Churchill or Homerton; but is Churchill a lot harder to get in to?). I also want to avoid TSA - adds another layer of uncertainty.

    Thanks
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    I'm interested too.

    Location and facilities wise, churchill is perfect, but I've read they have a very data driven admission process and in 2011, they had 75 or something applicants!
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    From when I did the TSA I found it pretty easy, it was definitely less intimidating than I thought it would be. Plus even if you avoid a TSA, the majority of other colleges have a 'test at interview' which, as it's an incredibly vague statement, could easily be worse than a TSA.

    Another thing I took into account when choosing my college (Caius) was the admission statistics. Even though Cambridge says not to pay attention to them, some colleges seem to take many more students than others and I thought the Caius odds were pretty good (20 applicants in 2011, 8 offers) so that moved it up my list. I don't think that relying on admission stats solely is a good way to pick a college, however I was stuck between Trinity Hall and Caius and the statistics definitely made my decision easier.
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    (Original post by Smithy94)
    From when I did the TSA I found it pretty easy, it was definitely less intimidating than I thought it would be. Plus even if you avoid a TSA, the majority of other colleges have a 'test at interview' which, as it's an incredibly vague statement, could easily be worse than a TSA.

    Another thing I took into account when choosing my college (Caius) was the admission statistics. Even though Cambridge says not to pay attention to them, some colleges seem to take many more students than others and I thought the Caius odds were pretty good (20 applicants in 2011, 8 offers) so that moved it up my list. I don't think that relying on admission stats solely is a good way to pick a college, however I was stuck between Trinity Hall and Caius and the statistics definitely made my decision easier.
    Please can you tell me why you thought about Trinity Hall (the odd according to the statistics aren't good) and also Pembroke looks good too statistically speaking... - why did you chose Caius?

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