MICE
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Hi, I have an offer to study msc compsci at Newcastle university. The course is advertised as a conversion course which is aimed at non CS grads but I still have concerns about whether I will be in over my head should I choose to accept the offer.

I graduated with a 2:1 in politics last year so it isn't the most obvious subject transition; I would imagine most people on the course will come from science backgrounds. I am good with and am very interested in computers (although I have no real coding/database design knowledge) and would love to learn more about programming etc. the employment prospects for graduates of the course are also very good which is obviously something which attracts me to it. However, I am worried that others on the course will have more prior experience and knowledge in the field than me and as a result I will find it hard to keep up. Would this be the case or will the course be made up of people, like me, who are in essence starting from scratch in the subject?

I plan on ringing the department to have a chat about the course but just thought I'd try posting here first. If anyone has any experience doing a conversion course such as this or can help address my concerns in any other way then that would be great. Thanks


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synaxerror
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You can always start preparing for the course by taking online courses, reading computer science textbooks etc.

I understand your concern, but you should be confident in your ability to undertake the course considering that the university obviously sees you fit for the program.
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WokSz
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(Original post by synaxerror)
You can always start preparing for the course by taking online courses, reading computer science textbooks etc.

I understand your concern, but you should be confident in your ability to undertake the course considering that the university obviously sees you fit for the program.
The University is not always interested in whether they find you suitable. A lot of the times these conversion courses are a good way to make money as they charge nearly the same rate as a Masters.

OP, I recommend doing some preparatory courses. Maybe e-mail Newcastle University and ask them to recommend you a few books, which they feel will prepare you for the course.
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MICE
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Well they charge the same rate as masters because it IS a masters (Msc). I've been learning java script online in my spare time so hopefully that will go some way to prepare me for certain aspects of the course. My main concern is that I will be the only person on the course coming from a B.A degree and will fall behind because I haven't had the same experience studying a science discipline as those who studied Bsc degrees.


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WokSz
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(Original post by MICE)
Well they charge the same rate as masters because it IS a masters (Msc). I've been learning java script online in my spare time so hopefully that will go some way to prepare me for certain aspects of the course. My main concern is that I will be the only person on the course coming from a B.A degree and will fall behind because I haven't had the same experience studying a science discipline as those who studied Bsc degrees.


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I can't comment on the price as they vary between Unis. My alma mater was known to have a very well-known conversion course for Economics and it attracted some bright people; however, a very close acquaintance of mine did it and said that it essentially was undergraduate courses, but without the 'formality'. So, one would do second and third year courses, but wouldn't have the foundations for the third year course. Does that make sense?

I'm no Computer Scientist, but from the little I do know, Java won't be enough. If you really want to prepare, I recommend brushing up on your Maths skills, e.g. Algebra, and also working on learning about other programming languages as well (e.g. C++).
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Natkin
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I'm doing Msc CS conversion at Kent. Have you applied to other unis? What's made you choose Newcastle? The course at Kent includes a placement, which is pretty cool!
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Novezeil
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Hate to say this and really don't mean to offence, just helping you to understand the reality: it seems you are far away from CS...

The basic js you mentioned (I presume something like codeacademy?) is just something kindergarten kids do, or maybe primary kids to be fair since RS has distributed tons of RPi to schools. Normally candidates who stepping into CS master are expecting to have at least 10k+ lines of coding experience OR have gained great exposure of non-coding experience such as network infrastructure, data mining or infiltration. However, such knowledges require years of relevant experiences which can't be done within few weeks. If you have not enough experience in c, cpp, c# or .net you might feel you are an alien for your first day.

This doesn't mean you can't join CS, but you will feel very struggle due to the lack of experience. For regular modules I think you still might stand a chance to pass, however for most CS masters, they will expect a medium/large scale project and a dissertation (means two projects). The first project is not something like building a wordpress or compiling a hello world, and dissertation is more tricky to handle even though for students from CS background. For dissertation I can imagine many titles, for example, parallel computing, dynamic interpolation algorithm, cloud computing optimization, industrial engineering simulation, embedded low power devices blah blah - there're so many approaches but usually they require large amount of relevant experiences to back you up.

About employment prospects, I've been invited by several computing companies as external assessor since they currently have no people in a specific field. Despite interview, the very first online application usually requires you to indicate your best skills with optional supporting examples - it's a serious problem on how you can fill it in. For interview, the barrier for experiencer and non-experiencer will be magnified with even a very easy question - What is pre-compilation? In which circumstance we will need that?

I do admit the existence of genius since I met some guys while taking mensa test whom I believe can accomplish this in 1 month. But for most people, to be honest I personally don't recommend to choose this career unless you really really really like it and want to do it in your rest life. Even though you have graduated from CS, your resume will looks very weird to HR whom will think you only have one year exposure in this field. However, your politics background might do a great help if you going to join CS related PhD in future, since currently a number of positions prefer cross disciplinary candidates who has professional knowledge of new area while PhD requires less practical experience.
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poohat
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You have 3 months to prepare, so the solution is to stop posting nervous posts on internet forums and instead pick up a few books and a C compiler and teach yourself basic programming skills. Yes, you are currently behind the level of the average person on the course, but you have plenty of time to make up the difference.

In general: computer science is not a particularly difficult degree, but if you start a compsci masters with a skillset so low that you cant even write a basic for/while loop then are you going to go down in flames.

To make things clear - computer science is _not_ about programming/coding. It is assumed that people have basic programming/coding background knoweldge so they can actually learn the more important things. Noone is going to hold your hand and cuddle you into printing "hello world" at postgraduate level, at least if your masters course isnt a complete joke. You have enough time to learn the background knowledge though, so I suggest you start doing this ASAP.
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poohat
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(Original post by MICE)
Well they charge the same rate as masters because it IS a masters (Msc). I've been learning java script online in my spare time so hopefully that will go some way to prepare me for certain aspects of the course. My main concern is that I will be the only person on the course coming from a B.A degree and will fall behind because I haven't had the same experience studying a science discipline as those who studied degrees
Javascript is not a serious programming language and is not gong to teach you anything of value. Stop, and learn either C or Python (the latter is better for most day-to-day programming, but the former is better for understanding computer science)

Dont be intimdated by science students, the majority of those students will have takent a single scientific programming module during their first year, and probably nothing else. There is no reason why you shoudlnt be above that level given a few months of (sensible) self-directed study.
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poohat
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(Original post by Novezeil)
Hate to say this and really don't mean to offence, just helping you to understand the reality: it seems you are far away from CS...

The basic js you mentioned (I presume something like codeacademy?) is just something kindergarten kids do, or maybe primary kids to be fair since RS has distributed tons of RPi to schools. Normally candidates who stepping into CS master are expecting to have at least 10k+ lines of coding experience OR have gained great exposure of non-coding experience such as network infrastructure, data mining or infiltration. However, such knowledges require years of relevant experiences which can't be done within few weeks. If you have not enough experience in c, cpp, c# or .net you might feel you are an alien for your first day.

This doesn't mean you can't join CS, but you will feel very struggle due to the lack of experience. For regular modules I think you still might stand a chance to pass, however for most CS masters, they will expect a medium/large scale project and a dissertation (means two projects). The first project is not something like building a wordpress or compiling a hello world, and dissertation is more tricky to handle even though for students from CS background. For dissertation I can imagine many titles, for example, parallel computing, dynamic interpolation algorithm, cloud computing optimization, industrial engineering simulation, embedded low power devices blah blah - there're so many approaches but usually they require large amount of relevant experiences to back you up.

About employment prospects, I've been invited by several computing companies as external assessor since they currently have no people in a specific field. Despite interview, the very first online application usually requires you to indicate your best skills with optional supporting examples - it's a serious problem on how you can fill it in. For interview, the barrier for experiencer and non-experiencer will be magnified with even a very easy question - What is pre-compilation? In which circumstance we will need that?

I do admit the existence of genius since I met some guys while taking mensa test whom I believe can accomplish this in 1 month. But for most people, to be honest I personally don't recommend to choose this career unless you really really really like it and want to do it in your rest life. Even though you have graduated from CS, your resume will looks very weird to HR whom will think you only have one year exposure in this field. However, your politics background might do a great help if you going to join CS related PhD in future, since currently a number of positions prefer cross disciplinary candidates who has professional knowledge of new area while PhD requires less practical experience.
I think you have misunderstood. The actual truth is that these conversion masters programs are not designed for people with many years of experience - they are designed for undergrads who have fairly quantative backgrounds in scinetific disciplines and have experience with writing basic C/MATLAB code in order to implement very basic scientitifc algorithms (fourier transforms, numerical optimisation, whatever) but have no experience coding in a more structured way. The usual idea is to give them a basic background in software engineering techniques such as object oriented programming, databases, etc so that they are vaguely competitive for low-level programming jobs in industry. Noone is going to expectmthem to have mulitiple years of experience (otherwise they would do a straight compsci masters not a conversion course), and certainly noone is expecting them to be familiar with codemonkey stuff like C# or .NET - I doubt any academics in the department even know these things, let alone the students (why would they?)

Obviously you arent going to get a job at Google with a conversion MSc from Newcastle but that isnt the point - its to give people who otherwise arent very employable a step up so they can hopefully break into the industry, and build their skills up from there.
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MICE
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Just to reiterate, the course is a conversion masters for people who have never studied compsci before. It is not your usual masters in CS (if it was then yes, obviously I would be out of my depth). It is essentially and intense undergraduate CS degree packed into one year. The reason I have been learning java is because that's what's taught on the course. Here's an extract from the course info section on their website to help you understand further:

Programme Overview

Starting with an introduction to the fundamentals of computing science, this conversion course will equip you with the basic skills you will need later in your career.

The programme will teach the fundamentals of the subject through lectures and practical work covering topics such as requirements analysis, database design, network technologies and programming (using the Java programming language). Towards the end of the programme you will have the opportunity to devote your time to an individual project which will include a dissertation and presentation.

The programme will develop your knowledge, skills and experience in:

Object-oriented design and implementation
Data structures
Evaluation in system design and development
Usability, accessibility and cognitive dimensions in system design
Identification and modelling of system requirements
Management of the software development process
Qualitative and quantitative research methods

Graduates of subjects related to computer science will be considered, but applications will be dealt with on an individual basis because of the potential overlap between the first degree and the modules on the programme. We will also consider applicants on an individual basis with lower or non-standard qualifications provided they have relevant experience.


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poohat
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(Original post by MICE)
Just to reiterate, the course is a conversion masters for people who have never studied compsci before. It is not your usual masters in CS (if it was then yes, obviously I would be out of my depth). It is essentially and intense undergraduate CS degree packed into one year. The reason I have been learning java is because that's what's taught on the course. Here's an extract from the course info section on their website to help you understand further:





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java and JavaScript are completely different languages, they have nothing in common at all
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MICE
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(Original post by poohat)
java and JavaScript are completely different languages, they have nothing in common at all
Ok mate


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KD22
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Hi all,Britain does Computer Science conversion courses, but do any other countries?
I have found load in the UK but none abroad?

UK ones include:
Imperial College London, University College London, Bristol University, Nottingham University etc.
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KD22
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So I guess no one know of any Computer Science 'conversion courses' at universities outside of the UK? I really want to do this course but also experience life in a different country for a short while!
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Amadeus777
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Hey Mice,
Any updates? Did you complete the course? How was it? Did you find a job afterwards​? Thanks.
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Amadea
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(Original post by KD22)
So I guess no one know of any Computer Science 'conversion courses' at universities outside of the UK? I really want to do this course but also experience life in a different country for a short while!
Hey, I'm not sure if you're still reading this thread but I've been doing a lot of research into CS both BSc and MSc conversion courses, and I came across an article somewhere that mentioned CS conversion courses ran by some Ivy League unis, suggesting these are also present in the US.
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redsone
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Any updates? Did you finish the course/get a job? Interested in doing a conversion course myself.
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Amadeus777
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(Original post by redsone)
Any updates? Did you finish the course/get a job? Interested in doing a conversion course myself.
Hi redsone,

Here's an update from me. I am currently on the MSc Computer Science (conversion) at Newcastle University and I'm about to graduate in August. If I had to rate the course, I would give it 3 out of 5 stars. The reason for this is that this particular course is not as ambitious as I would have wanted it to be. I want to be a software engineer, so my rating is based on the extent to which the course has been able to support my career goals. Specifically:

Pros:
Course content is quite good. The two programming modules are very good in my opinion. Covered everything from Java basics to advanced programming, design patterns, Java generics, best practices, immutability, concurrency and event driven programming. It gives you a good and solid basis to move ahead as a software engineer. There is also a web technologies module that covers basic Front-End Web Development. There was a module covering database design and modelling, SQL and mySQL, as well as Linux, command line basics and regular expressions. The course is pretty intensive in terms of content and coursework assignments.

Cons:

No optional modules. Personally, I would have preferred to do more algorithms and data structures, maths for CS and the kind of thing that would consolidate my programming skills. Instead, too much time was wasted on modules that I personally found unnecessary, i.e.
1. UX design (which is good, but IMO should be optional for those who want to move in that direction.)
2. Computer architecture (a favourite subject of mine), wasn't ...covered enough.
3. A software engineering group project. We were given a brief and we had to produce a piece of software as a team. It sounded good, but it was a huge disappointment for several reasons. Firstly, because your marks depend on how other team members will perform (shared assessment.) Some team members brought the whole team down, because they were just not particularly interested. I would have really enjoyed it, if the module leader had chosen a list of open source projects (REAL WORLD projects) and asked us to work on them, instead. That would have been good experience and practice.
4. Finally, a research module which should be optional. It is suited for students who want to do a PhD, but it is not necessary for everyone else.

Too much time was wasted on lectures. It would have been better if the course was more project-driven. Instead, it was in a sense quite academic. We did have a lot of practical coursework to do, but I don't see why the theory/lectures couldn't be delivered through the practicals/projects.

I don't know where you're coming from and what you want to achieve. Some people on the course did not want to become software engineers, but move into things like teaching, or ...I don't know what. But if you want to become a software engineer and are ambitious, then I would go for something like Imperial.

Newcastle is not bad, course content, like I said, is pretty good, but there's certainly plenty of room for improvement. Career prospects look good. With some prep, you will get interviews for Graduate Schemes.

Good luck.

P.S. Career support is also very good. The University provides an excellent career support service, plus we had several guest lecturers from software firms in Newcastle, who are interested in hiring graduates and offered good advice.
P.S.2 A year after graduation, I came to realize that while what I have stated above is more or less true for me, Newcastle gave me some excellent and very solid foundations in software engineering, that, as I found out, people from other courses in other universities, don't have. So, my rating just went up a star, 4/5
Last edited by Amadeus777; 7 months ago
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AD8888
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(Original post by Amadeus777)
Hi redsone,

Here's an update from me. I am currently on the MSc Computer Science (conversion) at Newcastle University and I'm about to graduate in August. If I had to rate the course, I would give it 3 out of 5 stars. The reason for this is that this particular course is not as ambitious as I would have wanted it to be. I want to be a software engineer, so my rating is based on the extent to which the course has been able to support my career goals. Specifically:

Pros:
Course content is quite good. The two programming modules are very good in my opinion. Covered everything from Java basics to advanced programming, design patterns, Java generics, best practices, immutability, concurrency and event driven programming. It gives you a good and solid basis to move ahead as a software engineer. There is also a web technologies module that covers basic Front-End Web Development. There was a module covering database design and modelling, SQL and mySQL, as well as Linux, command line basics and regular expressions. The course is pretty intensive in terms of content and coursework assignments.

Cons:

No optional modules. Personally, I would have preferred to do more algorithms and data structures, maths for CS and the kind of thing that would consolidate my programming skills. Instead, too much time was wasted on modules that I personally found unnecessary, i.e.
1. UX design (which is good, but IMO should be optional for those who want to move in that direction.)
2. Something that was supposed to be computer architecture (a favourite subject of mine), but which wasn't ...really. Just wasted time.
3. A useless software engineering group project. We were given a brief and we had to produce a piece of software as a team. It sounded good, but was a huge disappointment for several reasons. Firstly, because your marks depend on how other team members will perform (shared assessment.) Also, because we didn't really do anything. I would have really enjoyed it, if the module leader had chosen a list of open source projects (REAL WORLD projects) and asked us to work on them, instead. That would have been good experience and practice.
4. Finally, a research module which should be optional. It is suited for students who want to do a PhD, but it is not necessary for everyone else.

So for me, this was wasted time. Also, too much time was wasted on lectures. It would have been better if the course was more project-driven. Instead, it was in a sense quite academic. We did have a lot of practical coursework to do, but I don't see why the theory/lectures couldn't be delivered through the practicals/projects.

I don't know where you're coming from and what you want to achieve. Some people on the course did not want to become software engineers, but move into things like teaching, or ...I don't know what. But if you want to become a software engineer and are ambitious, then I would go for something like Imperial.

Newcastle is not bad, course content, like I said, is pretty good, but there's certainly plenty of room for improvement. Career prospects look good. With some prep, you will get interviews for Graduate Schemes.

Good luck.

P.S. Career support is also very good. The University provides an excellent career support service, plus we had several guest lecturers from software firms in Newcastle, who are interested in hiring graduates and offered good advice.

  1. Hi Amadeus777, I am in a similar position to you but a year behind, I am about to study a computer science MSc (conversion) but at the University of Birmingham instead of Newcastle. I have little to no prior computer science training minus the small amount of prep I have been doing for the masters. I am also hoping to move careers into software engineering. Just wondering how your job hunt was going and if you managed to get any offers or interviews for grad schemes or junior developer/engineer roles and how competent you feel in coding after a year? Also did you end up doing much prep work for the course prior to starting? Finally, out of interest what did you end up doing your final project on? I know at Birmingham your are expected to develop a piece of software as your project and just wondered if it was the same for you and how easy/difficult you found that or how much help and guidance the university provided you with for that?
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