Level of Maths ability required to do well in a Computer Science degree?

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Agamemnon
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Hello

Could you give me an estimation of the level of maths ability required to do well in a Computer Science degree?

I mean, does it in practice, exceed GCSE level?
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Mathemagician. Funny?
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You need maths a-level. I asked this question ages ago and decision maths is what you find in computer science apparently.
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Agamemnon
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(Original post by Mathemagician. Funny?)
You need maths a-level. I asked this question ages ago and decision maths is what you find in computer science apparently.
Could you elaborate please?

Why do many universities not ask for Maths at A-level if you need it?
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Psyk
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You can find any sort of maths in computer science. Seriously, anything could come up. Computer science is all about using computers to solve real world problems by building a mathematical model of it. The maths you need to build that model depends entirely on the nature of the problem.

I'd say computer science needs a generally good mathematical ability rather than knowledge of specific areas. Generally speaking a maths A-level shows you've got that ability.
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Leigh
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(Original post by Agamemnon)
Why do many universities not ask for Maths at A-level if you need it?
Many do. Oxbridge, York, Imperial definitely do, others will put heavy weight on your predicted Maths grade, I don't doubt.
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Agamemnon
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Many in the top-30 and top-20 for Computer Science, only require a C grade at GCSE Maths. (They do not even say GCSE Maths at grade B or A preferred)

I'll probably only be seeking work on the areas of employment which do not require extremely adept Maths skills - i.e. programming, web development etc.

My father, who is a Software Engineer, believes that you only need GCSE level Maths ability, except for highly specialised areas of Computer Science, and more advanced levels of it.

It may be true that universities look for Maths, as it would indicate having a mathematical/logical mind, perhaps not because the level of Maths needed is A level standard.
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loopymeg
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Out of the 9 universities I looked at thoroughly, the lowest maths requirement was a B at GCSE. All of the others asked for A Level maths in some form.

You may have to use stats, core, decision....etc., so I would recommend that you work on your maths ability because it can be very important.
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Kolya
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I think it might depend what type of computer science you want to do. Different degrees will have different focuses. I think, in general, a CS degree that focuses on the "implementation and application" of computers is likely to require less Maths than one that emphasises a study of the "theoretical foundation of information and computation".
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Agamemnon
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(Original post by loopymeg)
Out of the 9 universities I looked at thoroughly, the lowest maths requirement was a B at GCSE. All of the others asked for A Level maths in some form.
You probably looked at better universities than I am. Lancaster would be my first choice - it's rated highly for Computer Science (16th in TGUG) and looks to have a good course, the requirements are BBB at A level and only a C grade at GCSE Maths though. However, B at GCSE is certainly within my capabilities.

You may have to use stats, core, decision....etc., so I would recommend that you work on your maths ability because it can be very important
How much of your course would you say involved the use of the above?

I'd appreciate it if you could give me some more advice (and others here) as someone actually studying a Computer Science degree. (although I do recognise everyone's course will be slightly different)
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Mathemagician. Funny?
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Sorry I acted like I knew a lot about Computer Science. I was just saying that I asked the question a while ago and I got the response of "Have you ever heard of Decision Maths?".

Surely you want to go to as good a university as possible and in order to go to the better universities you need Maths A-level. This is what I've seen by looking at the times university guide thing and just looking at the "best universities that offer it" and most but not all ask for Maths. It is safe to say that the better unis for computer science ask for maths.
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Agamemnon
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(Original post by Lusus Naturae)
I think it might depend what type of computer science you want to do. Different degrees will have different focuses. I think, in general, a CS degree that focuses on the "implementation and application" of computers is likely to require less Maths than one that emphasises a study of the "theoretical foundation of information and computation".
I'm interested primarily in the use of applications like programming applications, which the courses I've looked at seem to focus on. I'm interested in getting a reasonable job at the end of it, not going on to do a PhD in it, as i'm sure many of you would be capable of doing.

Perhaps if I just list the basic course contents at Lancaster, and perhaps then some of you could advise me? (tell me whether you think any of the course is likely to exceed GCSE level Maths)

Computer Science -

1st Year -

Computing I: Java Programming, Programs and Data, Systems
Architecture

Computing II: Computational Fundamentals, Web Technologies,
Software Engineering

One other subject: see page 38

Average Computing weekly workload: lectures 6 hrs, tutorials 1
hr, practicals 4 hrs (plus private study time)

Assessment: coursework (written and programs) 60%, final exam 40%

2nd and 3rd years -

Core second and third year courses

Concurrent Programming and Operating Systems: C
programming, programming with multiple threads, operating system
internals

Distributed Systems: principles of distributed systems; practical
studies of distributed systems software (including Java RMI)

Networks: internetworking, reliable and high performance networks

Databases: relational models, object-oriented and XML-based systems

Languages and Compilation: languages and machines, the
compilation process

Software Engineering: requirements engineering, formal specification

Human-Computer Interaction: interactive systems engineering,
designing for usability

Software Design and Project Skills (second year): software design,
generic skills (group work, report writing), group project

Computing Project (third year): normally developing a prototype of
a computer-based solution to a problem, and writing a report
Optional second and third year courses

Students take a total of three optional courses: Information Retrieval,
Advanced Networking. Artificial Intelligence, Software Project
Management, Advanced Database Technology, Critical Systems
Engineering, Multimedia Computing, Component-Based Systems,
Embedded Systems, Special Topics in Computer Science
The list of available options may change from year to year.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

I appreciate all your help - sorry if I sound ignorant.
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Agamemnon
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(Original post by Mathemagician. Funny?)
Sorry I acted like I knew a lot about Computer Science. I was just saying that I asked the question a while ago and I got the response of "Have you ever heard of Decision Maths?".

Surely you want to go to as good a university as possible and in order to go to the better universities you need Maths A-level. This is what I've seen by looking at the times university guide thing and just looking at the "best universities that offer it" and most but not all ask for Maths. It is safe to say that the better unis for computer science ask for maths.
Many in the top 20 do not, perhaps all those in the top 10 do, but I do not have the grades to go to those anyway.
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Mathemagician. Funny?
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(Original post by Agamemnon)
Many in the top 20 do not, perhaps all those in the top 10 do, but I do not have the grades to go to those anyway.
Even if there was some maths exceeding GCSE at universities that say that you don't need maths, they would teach you the maths anyway so you would be fine.
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loopymeg
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(Original post by Agamemnon)
You probably looked at better universities than I am. Lancaster would be my first choice - it's rated highly for Computer Science (16th in TGUG) and looks to have a good course, the requirements are BBB at A level and only a C grade at GCSE Maths though. However, B at GCSE is certainly within my capabilities.

How much of your course would you say involved the use of the above?

I'd appreciate it if you could give me some more advice (and others here) as someone actually studying a Computer Science degree. (although I do recognise everyone's course will be slightly different)
I looked at: Oxford, Cambridge, York, Warwick, Leeds, Bristol, Exeter, Loughborough and Bath. So really, I looked at some top unis and some "normal" ones too.
Exeter wanted a B at GCSE; Loughborough wanted 50 points from maths at AS/A2; while the others asked for A/B at A2. I think that even Worcester asked for a bit of maths when I read the prospectus....

This year - my first - I've done a maths module which included A Level material (and more), which ranged across the maths families. Whether or not you need maths after your core modules depends entirely upon which route you decide to take. Of course, you're unlikely to know right now exactly which route you'll want to take in the future, so it's advisable to carry on with maths as far as you possibly can (without driving yourself mad in the process).
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Agamemnon
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(Original post by loopymeg)
I looked at: Oxford, Cambridge, York, Warwick, Leeds, Bristol, Exeter, Loughborough and Bath. So really, I looked at some top unis and some "normal" ones too.
Exeter wanted a B at GCSE; Loughborough wanted 50 points from maths at AS/A2; while the others asked for A/B at A2. I think that even Worcester asked for a bit of maths when I read the prospectus....

This year - my first - I've done a maths module which included A Level material (and more), which ranged across the maths families. Whether or not you need maths after your core modules depends entirely upon which route you decide to take. Of course, you're unlikely to know right now exactly which route you'll want to take in the future, so it's advisable to carry on with maths as far as you possibly can (without driving yourself mad in the process).
Well all of those universities you've listed there are considered among the best in the country for many subjects, and all of those ask for some of the top grades for many Arts degrees, with the exception of Leeds which is slightly lower, and Loughborough which is quite a lot lower but very good for Science subjects (I think). I don't know what they're like for Computer Science in relation to other universities. So I think you have looked at universities a lot better than I can get into. As I said Lancaster would be my first choice.

Does it appear from the description i've given of the Lancaster course (taken from the prospectus) that any of that requires a level of Maths higher than GCSE level?
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loopymeg
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Well as a general rule, you should aim to get the grades stated in the "typical offer". Sometimes you'll find that the grades in the typical offer are higher than you really need, but the university has raised them due to the popularity of the course. However, it's still a good indication of the difficulty of the material covered during your course.
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jermaindefoe
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i think that if you want to lean something badly enough and you have a very big interest then your ability wont matter, you will naturally learn it

thats why this a-level maths is just for the top institutes, becuase they try to make the places like a club for the "top" academics

look at kent, they have one of the biggest links with sun, one of the best places to study cs and you dont need maths a-level there
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Agamemnon
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OK, but does it appear from the description i've given of the Lancaster course (taken from the prospectus) that any of that requires a level of Maths higher than GCSE level?
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jcoatz
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why are you so against doing maths alevel anyway?! surely the analytical skills it would teach you, would be more suited to CS then many alevels, although not as useful as computing, and perhaps IT, i'd say its an excellent a-level to have. Some of the applied modules (decision maths) are basically methods to tell a computer how to do things (algorithms) - very useful for programming!

Also even if some of the maths is only gcse level, who's to say you'll remember everything from your GCSE two years down the line!
I highly recommend maths alevel you could just do AS?
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Agamemnon
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(Original post by jcoatz)
why are you so against doing maths alevel anyway?! surely the analytical skills it would teach you, would be more suited to CS then many alevels, although not as useful as computing, and perhaps IT, i'd say its an excellent a-level to have. Some of the applied modules (decision maths) are basically methods to tell a computer how to do things (algorithms) - very useful for programming!

Also even if some of the maths is only gcse level, who's to say you'll remember everything from your GCSE two years down the line!
I highly recommend maths alevel you could just do AS?
I've completed my A levels already you see, and they do not include a Maths A level or Maths AS. I am going to have a gap year before going to university, and could do Maths AS then? (although I don't want to do it and get a low grade)
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