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MSc Computer Science after BSc Economics?

Hi,

I'm in my final year at the University of Southampton reading Economics and will be graduating this summer. My grades currently reflect a 2.1 (66 avg).

I've always had the intention of working in the financial services industry, looking at asset management/trading but seem to have had a slight change of heart.

I've always been interested in computers from a young age. My father bought me my first computer (which ran Windows 3.1) when I was 7 and technology has been a large part of my interests ever since. I went to a grammar school and for whatever reason they didn't offer ICT or any computer-related qualification at GCSE or A-level. Most students tended to gravitate towards more traditional subjects such as Maths, Economics, the sciences etc. As such I don't have any computer science related qualifications (I studied Maths, Economics, Chemistry & Geography). Throughout however I have always followed blogs on the latest technology, built computers for friends and clients. I also had a brief stint of repairing Xbox's and selling them on eBay (not quite the same thing I know).

I've had a Macbook for the last few years and it wasn't until recently when I decided to build a PC specifically to run OS X that I remembered how much fun it was build something from the bottom-up and tinker around/tweak the software to your liking.

I'm at a point where I don't know whether to pursue a finance related qualification (bearing in mind top courses cost £23-27k) or a computer science qualification.

I often have ideas for websites and apps that I think could be successful. Although I know most of them probably wouldn't be, it would be nice to have the skills to facilitate developing these ideas beyond a collection of notes jotted down on paper. I also believe that skills in programming will only become more valuable in the future as technology and software continues in our day-to-day life. I'm somewhat envious of the children in Estonia who have the opportunity to study programming from such a young age. Throughout university I've made friends who are currently studying electronic engineering who sometimes ask me why I chose to study Economics when I share so many things in common with them. I don't real know in all honesty, aside from my own conception that Economics graduates tending to stand quite well in finding employment after uni.

Ideally i'd like to study in London. I've looked over the entry requirements for UCL and though they mention you don't need to have studied a Computer Science related course in the past, they stress that you must have at least 1 module in programming and/or relevant experience in industry. The structure of my Economics course was quite rigid with the only optional module choices coming from the schools of Management and Psychology..

I have my heart set on doing a masters. However I would like to spend this next year focusing on self-development then and apply for a course towards the end of this year. I didn't take a gap year and would like to spend some of the time travelling to help learn another language as well as taking a course/teaching myself some basic programming.


The main questions I'm seeking advice on are:
1. Is it unheard of for someone who studied Economics to go into computer science?
2. If I were to graduate with a mid-high 2.1, would that be enough whilst targeting London-based unis?
3. What sort qualifications/experience can I work for once I graduate from uni that would demonstrate to admissions advisors that I am interested and capable of working for it
4. Would an MSc Computer Science hold much weight in applying for jobs in the finance sector (e.g. positions relating to algorithmic trading)


I think the main question really to summarise this post would be: Is there any way that I could get onto a decent MSc Computer Science course with my current qualification set and what would I need to do in my year off to demonstrate that I am capable.


Thanks to anyone reading the post. I appreciate that it's fairly long and I'm likely to have made a bunch of grammatical errors...
Reply 1
i don't think so, computer science postgrad require mathsy degrees and econ is enuff for top unis. work on learning java/android and then c++ as that is all qualification u need
Reply 2
I apologise but I don't think I understand what you're saying too clearly. Are you saying you don't think there is a chance for me to get in? But economics is (or isn't?) enough to get into top unis?
Reply 3
its enuff, just need java, c++
Original post by Fergie
1. Is it unheard of for someone who studied Economics to go into computer science?
2. If I were to graduate with a mid-high 2.1, would that be enough whilst targeting London-based unis?
3. What sort qualifications/experience can I work for once I graduate from uni that would demonstrate to admissions advisors that I am interested and capable of working for it
4. Would an MSc Computer Science hold much weight in applying for jobs in the finance sector (e.g. positions relating to algorithmic trading)



1. I know someone who did a masters after doing psychology. If you get the right course they won't expect you to have done programming (but you better pick it up very quickly...)

2. If you show willingness to work and the ability to pick up new skills, I should think they'll take you on. It's not in their interest to turn people away, only if they think you'll find it too hard and drop out.

3. You need to learn programming definitely. And don't be put off when you find it hard to begin with, programming very much is very hard and then it just later on makes sense. If you can't get an internship or job in a company that does programming (which isn't impossible) then you should probably focus on app or web development as you'll probably find it more exciting. If you do Android app development you'll be learning Java which is a great language to learn on (it's forgiving but powerful, and teaches you the theoretical fundamentals of modern programming). Once you understand Java a bit I would move onto C. C++ is incredibly hard and I wouldn't recommend it to a beginner like the other poster. C should give you a good starting point to move onto C++ (which is a newer version of C in some ways).

4. A computer science degree is usually liked by the finance industry yes, whether you're programming or not. That's because CS graduates are good logical thinkers and great at solving problems. However, it wouldn't guarantee you a place in the industry as it's quite competitive. I would have said economics would be a good degree to get you into that industry. I know some companies like Bloomberg don't always expect programming experience. In fact I think they have entry level jobs where they'll teach you programming. I would imagine a lot of large financial companies will have similar schemes (but if you join these schemes expect to work very very hard and be pushed to your limits. People spend years to become good programmers.)


If you would like to talk to me about this more you can PM me or reply in this thread.
Reply 5
A very informative answer, thank you!

I'm almost certain now that I want to pursue CS over finance after doing some research.

I emailed the admissions at UCL to ask about what I can do to aid my application without any programming experience. Apparently they code using Java to start and so I've ordered the textbook she mentioned they use and I'm going to try to go through it over the summer. When applying in November/December time i'll need to submit a program (1-4 pages long) with a description of how it works.

I know there are numerous online resources for learning to code but one course in particular I think I might follow are those offered by Stanford online. They provide video lectures in addition to assignments, solutions and exam papers. - also coding in Java.

http://see.stanford.edu/see/courses.aspx

I don't know how advanced a program they are expecting given the time-scale but i'm sure after completing the online courses in addition to going through the textbook I should be able to submit something something acceptable.

In addition to this I'll be trying to get a hold of some work experience, although I'm not sure whether these will be finance or CS based. You mentioned Bloomberg might not expect programming experience so i'll have a look at what roles may be suitable for me.

I'd appreciate if anyone could comment/suggest improvements on this plan.
Hello Fergie, I was thinking that I'm alone who is thinking in the same way as you do. I was feeling very nervous, pessimistic, but suddenly googled and your post came to appearance. Your post has been motivation to me as soon as I saw it.

I'm currently second year student studying Economics at University of Manchester.

I have also started my first experience with computers when I was at the age of 7. My first PC had Pentium II 350 MHz CPU, 16MB RAM, 16MB GPU, 4GB HDD with Windows 95 OS in it. I always enjoyed making some customizations to my PC, even damaged it couple of times. Those are quite nice memories to remember. Since my childhood I always interested in Hardware, Software, Solving Problems in PC, and while in high school I attended some IT Olympiads, and got first place couple of times. At high school, at university, almost everywhere whom I know first, people always asked me "Are you studying Computer Science?" and my response was "No" with grumpy face. I was feeling very desperate for choosing Economics area which I have no/less interest, but now feeling a bit optimistic.

My question to you, did you manage to enrol any university with masters in CS so far? If you did, can you share your experience? Your experience would be very helpful for me.

Tahnks!
Second year Econ Student at Southampton too thinking about taking the same path. By some chance you still look at your student room, did you do the masters in the end? How was it?
Original post by mileskdumba
Second year Econ Student at Southampton too thinking about taking the same path. By some chance you still look at your student room, did you do the masters in the end? How was it?

Hi @mileskdumba

I'm currently an undergrad CS student at the Uni of Birmingham.

Our MSc in Computer Science is designed for those who have completed an undergrad degree in a subject that is not CS, and is open to anyone who graduates with a 2:1 or First.

Previous experience isn't required, and you'll learn programming on the course, but it might be worth trying to learn some before if you have the time!

Here's the link to our MSc programme if you're interested: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/postgraduate/courses/taught/computer-science/computer-science.aspx

Zoe :smile:
Reply 9
java , c++, python and good algorithmic thinking

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