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    KCL has a high global ranking and has very high staring salaries for computer science (£29,000). However, Lancaster has a higher UK ranking in all league tables than KCL and performs better in the majority for the subject itself. However, it has low starting salaries (£21,000), which may be due to in being further up north.

    Are there any KCL students that could provide an opinion on studying computer science at KCL? Also, what are the social activities like at KCL for an English student (this is low on my agenda but may help me split the two apart)?

    I do find that Lancaster would provide me with a better "university experience", but employment is the most important aspect for me. Therefore, could any Lancaster alumni comment on any work experience/jobs they have had?

    Finally, do you believe that if I were to study at Lancaster that I would be able to find a job and move to London once graduated; with ease? Also, would employers favour a KCL computer science student over a Lancaster computer science student?

    Thanks all opinions would be greatly appreciated
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    I'm probably going to apply to KCL next year...take league tables with a healthy pinch of salt. KCL has a great reputation, both domestically and internationally (I've saw data that puts KCL as one of the top unis for recruitment in the US). Also, KCL apparently really throws you in the deep end when you start your degree, it's theoretical and your first year exams count. So whether you want a practical degree with plenty of programming or a theoretical degree is something to consider. Not to mention location. London is the best place to be for opportunities for internships and graduate employment.
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    KCL.
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    Things are more complicated here: Kings is a good institution, but their CS department is not as strong as (say) medicine. In computing, Lancaster is strong, particularly in areas such as mobile and pervasive, interaction design, software engineering and networks. They have one of the larger UK departments, in terms of research-active staff, and were in the top 10 at the last RAE. Which, to put it mildly, Kings were not (I think not even in the top 30).

    I've got links with both institutions, but I'd say that Lancaster's big plusses are that it is a campus university (if you like that style of university) and has a massively strong department. In comparison, Kings has its global reputation, and a city centre university which can be much to other people's liking!

    For computing as a whole, it's far from a one way street. While many just assume Russell Group universities are a meal ticket, be aware that people in the know in technical recruiters will be focussing more on the department than the institution, especially for their graduate schemes. If you're looking to move onto a generic IT role in global companies, then Kings is a better bet. (Kings btw do have strong points in Machine Learning and robotics - if that's your bag, it's probably the better bet).

    I hope that helps - these are chalk and cheese options, and ranking alone is not a good guide...

    George
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    (Original post by gbuchanan)
    Things are more complicated here: Kings is a good institution, but their CS department is not as strong as (say) medicine. In computing, Lancaster is strong, particularly in areas such as mobile and pervasive, interaction design, software engineering and networks. They have one of the larger UK departments, in terms of research-active staff, and were in the top 10 at the last RAE. Which, to put it mildly, Kings were not (I think not even in the top 30).

    I've got links with both institutions, but I'd say that Lancaster's big plusses are that it is a campus university (if you like that style of university) and has a massively strong department. In comparison, Kings has its global reputation, and a city centre university which can be much to other people's liking!

    For computing as a whole, it's far from a one way street. While many just assume Russell Group universities are a meal ticket, be aware that people in the know in technical recruiters will be focussing more on the department than the institution, especially for their graduate schemes. If you're looking to move onto a generic IT role in global companies, then Kings is a better bet. (Kings btw do have strong points in Machine Learning and robotics - if that's your bag, it's probably the better bet).

    I hope that helps - these are chalk and cheese options, and ranking alone is not a good guide...

    George
    You say that "If you're looking to move onto a generic IT role in global companies, then Kings is a better bet". Then what should Lancaster's students "look to move onto"?

    Thanks for the response by the way
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    Lancaster students are generally better prepared for more technical /advanced programming roles than Kings. These will tend to be in technically oriented businesses such as British Aerospace, or Google. Software engineering roles would be one example here as a role, but also mobile development or interaction design too.

    If you have the potential to operate at that level of technology, then tbh going into generic IT roles in in house teams in either consultancies or say a corporate like Marks and Spencer is unlikely to be your best career move (as a generalisation there are exceptions both ways). These roles want generalists and will mostly involve liaising with technical experts who are hired in. Progression is usually to project management, Or team leadership.

    Obviously, Lancaster students may still go into such roles, and I know do. However, their graduates are particularly highly prized by tech businesses and the plum jobs will typically be in those companies. Later in career, technical experts can enter high-level specialist consultancy work with clients from across the IT industry. That is often a highly lucrative role.

    I hope that's clear?

    George
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    (Original post by gbuchanan)
    Lancaster students are generally better prepared for more technical /advanced programming roles than Kings. These will tend to be in technically oriented businesses such as British Aerospace, or Google. Software engineering roles would be one example here as a role, but also mobile development or interaction design too.

    If you have the potential to operate at that level of technology, then tbh going into generic IT roles in in house teams in either consultancies or say a corporate like Marks and Spencer is unlikely to be your best career move (as a generalisation there are exceptions both ways). These roles want generalists and will mostly involve liaising with technical experts who are hired in. Progression is usually to project management, Or team leadership.

    Obviously, Lancaster students may still go into such roles, and I know do. However, their graduates are particularly highly prized by tech businesses and the plum jobs will typically be in those companies. Later in career, technical experts can enter high-level specialist consultancy work with clients from across the IT industry. That is often a highly lucrative role.

    I hope that's clear?

    George
    Thanks for the quick response. However, KCL seems to boast that their graduates go into from what I understand to be very technical rolls such as investment banking focusing on algorithms and HFT and as I said earlier they are very well paid compared to Lancaster.

    May I ask what is your background regarding education and how you know so much regarding employees view of universities recruiting computer science graduates?

    Thanks
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    (Original post by CSinterest)
    Thanks for the quick response. However, KCL seems to boast that their graduates go into from what I understand to be very technical rolls such as investment banking focusing on algorithms and HFT and as I said earlier they are very well paid compared to Lancaster.

    May I ask what is your background regarding education and how you know so much regarding employees view of universities recruiting computer science graduates?

    Thanks
    KCL has people who go into banking of course, as their strengths are in intelligent systems. Indeed, that is in many ways the core of their department. As Kings is in London, initial salaries are higher, and the finance sector does pay very well. Those students who enter financial computing naturally have a strong impact on average starting salaries. Conversely, AI and programming language design aren't commonly the most useful skills in, e.g., Apple or Google (this cuts both ways of course).

    In contrast, Lancaster isn't in London. Most graduates will go to tech-focussed companies who tend to pay lower when you start (but provide robust trainee schemes), then progress more rapidly in the years following, once you've earned your crust.

    There is also a question of comparing like with like here - even globally leading universities outside London take a wider range of student ability, and have fewer students who are from 'well connected' families. This has an impact on starting salaries. Batting averages on their own are a weak predictor of the individual benefits from attending an institution (e.g. I went to York, and its approach worked perfectly for my own aim of starting my own business).

    In terms of background, I've been an admissions tutor at Swansea, City and UCL; and currently lead a research group at City. At Swansea and City I ran the industrial liaison groups alongside my research, so I've coordinated with a large number of employers seeking the best graduates for placement or employment (students went to e.g. Apple, Aviva, Glaxo Smith Kline). I previously ran my own £1m+ business (sold it to a major US software brand), and have collaborated with a wide range of blue-chip tech and finance companies.

    I'd thought about saying about King's financial bent before, which I probably should have done, but I was trying to keep the length of post down....

    George
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    (Original post by CSinterest)
    Thanks for the quick response. However, KCL seems to boast that their graduates go into from what I understand to be very technical rolls such as investment banking focusing on algorithms and HFT and as I said earlier they are very well paid compared to Lancaster.
    Yes, our students go into good jobs, and are well paid. It's no accident - we have good links to industry, and a good location in central London, so most weeks there is something happening outside the classroom that makes a difference. It might be a speaker from industry, as part of our careers programme; a networking event organised by KCLCS or KCLTech, our two student societies; a hackathon, with a panel of external judges; and so on. All this helps our students find a good job; as well as good summer work in the meantime.

    (As noted in my profile, I'm the admissions tutor for CS degrees at King's - the department and our students make it very easy to be enthusiastic about what we do!)
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    (Original post by CSinterest)
    The only thing holding me back from going to KCL is that I get the impression that it may be more theoretical and maths based compared to Lancaster. Is this the case?
    I can't comment on the Lancaster degree, so I'd encourage you to look at their materials and ask them if you have any follow-up questions there.

    From our point of view, we take in students from a wide range of educational backgrounds (e.g. we don't insist on students having taken A-level maths), and from a wide range of countries. For computer science there is some core theory that has to be covered - e.g. graph theory, set theory, basic logic. But, it's a case of finding a balance between theory and practice, that I think we've got about right: in short, the core curriculum should be accessible to all of our students; and in the third year, where students get to specialise, they can take more or less theoretical modules, to suit their taste.
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    Hi,

    Just to add to what Andrew said above...

    There are more companies with London-based headquarters etc., but it varies immensely. Google's HQ here does a lot of some things a very little of others (e.g. it serves as a user experience hub, but does less core infrastructure work). While "regional" universities can suffer a bit, this varies immensely: e.g. Manchester is a go-to place for many companies in any case; York has extremely close ties with the aerospace industry (among others), and Edinburgh has strong links with finance just as London does.

    I think I understand your game-plan here, but whichever university you pick, I think there are a few cards you could play a little better. Presuming you have a three year degree, you'll find it easiest to get internships between 1st and 2nd year, and onwards, which only gives you three if you sacrifice each summer and take the one following your degree... I've seen people do this (including when I did my degree), and I'm not 100% sold it's the best approach for most. Let's just hold that thought for a moment.

    The second thing is that in most places, even in London, you'll struggle a bit to get a real experience of all three flavours, especially given that your own degree may not be equally strong in all regards. There are frankly precious few universities could even start to claim that, even among the elite in CS (and I mean global elite here). Geography also intervenes here in that London's good for finance and start-ups, but also to be honest, not outstanding for more technical work. [and I speak as a London-based person with that bias...why do I travel so much?!]

    I might suggest you could perhaps double your money and actually come out with a better option all round: consider doing a sandwich placement (regardless of which uni you choose), but take it away from 'base': e.g. if in Lancaster, take one in London; if in London, try Zurich or Barcelona [Google and Yahoo bases respectively...] Given you try something in your first summer, you should have some idea of where you might head, and a placement can also help shape your study choices for the vital third year when you choose your optional modules. Adjusting your 2nd year module choices to balance things can also be a shrewd game to play here.

    An alternative would be to use a specialist MSc to target your final direction...which may be a better idea if you're not sure where your bias actually lies. Why? Well, at the top end in many of your preferred directions, specialisation is key. However, covering all three bases across a three year degree may make you jack of all trades: master of none?

    To be honest, I'm inclined to suggest that overall, you might need a bit more bottom-up planning here. You're wanting to develop breadth, keeping your options open, but tempted by areas that prefer specialisation. It's a tricky balance to get right, and one I fortunately didn't have to try to do [my own biases were clear early on...] If you're doing Maths+Further Maths 'A' level, I might stack towards Kings (or similarly Maths oriented courses: Swansea, Leeds, etc.); if Maths only, perhaps more Lancaster (Bristol seems to be name I think would suit if you wanted to play really safe, btw, but follows here too); either way, find your feet in 3 years, and use the fourth to specialise.

    What is clear that you're not interested in a 'vanilla' business computing/IT programming role, which is a positive thing (according to my biases at least!); and you're wanting to push a boundary, if not exactly clear which one... Either way a three year degree is going to be a hard ask to find and get into the right specialism...and I think having the space for another year could save you a LOT of pain in the long run (and possibly free up a summer or two too...)

    I really get why you've got a dilemma here: you want to grasp the hard challenges, but seldom do more than 2/3 fall to any particular programme, even at a good university...heck, though, it's a great problem to have!

    FWIW, as final notes: Lancaster wouldn't stop you getting into finance, particularly if you choose your options right there; e.g. they're doing a lot more on data science right now, which would be incredibly well timed for you...; Kings is more Maths-based, and its theories etc. are also more in that line; Lancaster is in that respect more hands-on and engineering driven...but to be clear, theories are found in both approaches!

    George

    (Original post by CSinterest)
    Interesting. My intention is to get internships in the summers (3) of my time at university and I plan on working in three sectors (Finance [London], Blue chip tech company and product development) to see what sector I want to pursue as a career. However, I worry that attending Lancaster University may prevent me from working in the finance sector as the university does not emphasise connections to this sector unlike KCL. Furthermore, as noted by DrAndrewColes; KCL has a "good location in central London", which will mean that they are likely to get employees and speakers in frequently; leading to potential job offers. An example of this was their recent Hackathon where employers offered interships to some of the participants "right on the spot", and Facebook were also there. I can't see companies such as Facebook travelling all the way up to Lancaster.

    The only thing holding me back from going to KCL is that I get the impression that it may be more theoretical and maths based compared to Lancaster. Is this the case?

    Also would Lancaster really prevent me from entering the finance sector?

    Thanks
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    (Original post by gbuchanan)
    Hi,

    Just to add to what Andrew said above...

    There are more companies with London-based headquarters etc., but it varies immensely. Google's HQ here does a lot of some things a very little of others (e.g. it serves as a user experience hub, but does less core infrastructure work). While "regional" universities can suffer a bit, this varies immensely: e.g. Manchester is a go-to place for many companies in any case; York has extremely close ties with the aerospace industry (among others), and Edinburgh has strong links with finance just as London does.

    I think I understand your game-plan here, but whichever university you pick, I think there are a few cards you could play a little better. Presuming you have a three year degree, you'll find it easiest to get internships between 1st and 2nd year, and onwards, which only gives you three if you sacrifice each summer and take the one following your degree... I've seen people do this (including when I did my degree), and I'm not 100% sold it's the best approach for most. Let's just hold that thought for a moment.

    The second thing is that in most places, even in London, you'll struggle a bit to get a real experience of all three flavours, especially given that your own degree may not be equally strong in all regards. There are frankly precious few universities could even start to claim that, even among the elite in CS (and I mean global elite here). Geography also intervenes here in that London's good for finance and start-ups, but also to be honest, not outstanding for more technical work. [and I speak as a London-based person with that bias...why do I travel so much?!]

    I might suggest you could perhaps double your money and actually come out with a better option all round: consider doing a sandwich placement (regardless of which uni you choose), but take it away from 'base': e.g. if in Lancaster, take one in London; if in London, try Zurich or Barcelona [Google and Yahoo bases respectively...] Given you try something in your first summer, you should have some idea of where you might head, and a placement can also help shape your study choices for the vital third year when you choose your optional modules. Adjusting your 2nd year module choices to balance things can also be a shrewd game to play here.

    An alternative would be to use a specialist MSc to target your final direction...which may be a better idea if you're not sure where your bias actually lies. Why? Well, at the top end in many of your preferred directions, specialisation is key. However, covering all three bases across a three year degree may make you jack of all trades: master of none?

    To be honest, I'm inclined to suggest that overall, you might need a bit more bottom-up planning here. You're wanting to develop breadth, keeping your options open, but tempted by areas that prefer specialisation. It's a tricky balance to get right, and one I fortunately didn't have to try to do [my own biases were clear early on...] If you're doing Maths+Further Maths 'A' level, I might stack towards Kings (or similarly Maths oriented courses: Swansea, Leeds, etc.); if Maths only, perhaps more Lancaster (Bristol seems to be name I think would suit if you wanted to play really safe, btw, but follows here too); either way, find your feet in 3 years, and use the fourth to specialise.

    What is clear that you're not interested in a 'vanilla' business computing/IT programming role, which is a positive thing (according to my biases at least!); and you're wanting to push a boundary, if not exactly clear which one... Either way a three year degree is going to be a hard ask to find and get into the right specialism...and I think having the space for another year could save you a LOT of pain in the long run (and possibly free up a summer or two too...)

    I really get why you've got a dilemma here: you want to grasp the hard challenges, but seldom do more than 2/3 fall to any particular programme, even at a good university...heck, though, it's a great problem to have!

    FWIW, as final notes: Lancaster wouldn't stop you getting into finance, particularly if you choose your options right there; e.g. they're doing a lot more on data science right now, which would be incredibly well timed for you...; Kings is more Maths-based, and its theories etc. are also more in that line; Lancaster is in that respect more hands-on and engineering driven...but to be clear, theories are found in both approaches!

    George
    Thanks, George. In the end I chose Lancaster. Furthermore, KCL didn't even go into clearing/adjustments in the end for CS!

    I believe Lancaster was definitely the right choice, for me anyway. Moreover, if I had to say which one has the most potential in the future it has to be Lancaster. They are a "young department", with ever expanding areas of research and the Cyber security course has just been approved by GCHQ! Also, the university is spending a fortune on facilities all of which are state of the art. Therefore, I can only see Lancaster rising in the league tables for both the course and overall.

    However, Lancaster do not offer the option of a sandwich year :/
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    (Original post by CSinterest)
    However, Lancaster do not offer the option of a sandwich year :/
    Maybe this could be of interest to you? http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/study/und...sci-hons-g404/

    I'm in a similar boat as you with trying to choose between Lancaster and London universities :confused:
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    (Original post by JackHodkinson)
    Maybe this could be of interest to you? http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/study/und...sci-hons-g404/

    I'm in a similar boat as you with trying to choose between Lancaster and London universities :confused:
    Hi Jack. If you look at the timestamps I'm already attending Lancaster and at the time of the original post I was already aware of Computer Science (with Industrial Experience) MSci Hons at Lancaster, but it only offers around 8 weeks of experience.

    Anyway, I still maintain that Lancaster was the right decision for me. They do in fact offer the ability for you to take a year out between years 2 and 3 just not as a separate degree (you need to request it). The balance of theory and practical seems pretty much perfect and the lecturers are well educated in the field as you would expect.

    Employment is no longer a concern for me, we have careers fairs throughout the year some of which are specifically for SCC students. I hope to gain internships next summer and and summer after and may consider the MSci. I will probably then work in London after that.

    Looking back on my contemplation on whether or not to study in London, I'm glad I didn't. I have a few friends who are studying and KCL, UCL and Imperial; and they are always moaning about the commute and the standard of accommodation. It takes me 5 minutes max to walk to any lecture on campus!

    Good luck with your results ;)
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    (Original post by CSinterest)
    Hi Jack. If you look at the timestamps I'm already attending Lancaster and at the time of the original post I was already aware of Computer Science (with Industrial Experience) MSci Hons at Lancaster, but it only offers around 8 weeks of experience.

    Anyway, I still maintain that Lancaster was the right decision for me. They do in fact offer the ability for you to take a year out between years 2 and 3 just not as a separate degree (you need to request it). The balance of theory and practical seems pretty much perfect and the lecturers are well educated in the field as you would expect.

    Employment is no longer a concern for me, we have careers fairs throughout the year some of which are specifically for SCC students. I hope to gain internships next summer and and summer after and may consider the MSci. I will probably then work in London after that.

    Looking back on my contemplation on whether or not to study in London, I'm glad I didn't. I have a few friends who are studying and KCL, UCL and Imperial; and they are always moaning about the commute and the standard of accommodation. It takes me 5 minutes max to walk to any lecture on campus!

    Good luck with your results
    Oops! Sorry, I was just browsing over all the Lancaster/Computer Science related threads when I was trying to make my decision - I never twigged about that!
 
 
 
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