some-student
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I am going into year 12 at sixth form and was wondering which of Oxford or Cambridge would be more suited for me to do Computer Science. Even though it may be early I feel the earlier I can make a decision, the more I can focus on finding alternative universities if I don't get an offer, and also on trying to get an offer from the Oxbridge university of my choice.

I have done extra reading in the holidays and have found the theoretical side: regular languages, automata etc. to be really interesting and am hoping to learn more than the A-level syllabus as I feel that there are topics that really interest me that are not on the A-level syllabus.

I also really enjoy the programming side and find the classification of languages (functional/imperative etc.) very interesting and am intrigued by functional programming and have started to learn Haskell.

From this, the Oxford course seems very well suited to my interests.

However, I also very much am interested in the practical side such as networking and hardware, which I have read is covered in more depth in the Cambridge course, which leaves me torn.

Another reason for me to consider Oxford more is that I know they look more at GCSE results; my GCSE results are:
Maths: A*
Further Maths: A^
Computer Science: A*
Chemistry: A*
Physics: A*
Biology: A*
French: A*
German: A*
Religious Studies: A*
History: A*
English Language: A*
English Literature: A

I have also read that Cambridge has a higher intake of Computer Science students, which may be a factor for me as well because I feel that I would really enjoy the tutorial/supervision style of learning and would not want to miss an offer.

For A-levels I am taking: Maths, Further Maths, Computer Science and Chemistry - hopefully all to A2.

Looking at all of this, however, I am not sure as to which university would provide the best course for me.

I am visiting Oxford on the 16th September open day, and will try and visit Cambridge quite early as well.

Thanks in advance
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shawn_o1
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None of that matters once you fail your A Levels, especially the subjects that aren't maths or computer science. So put them first if Oxbridge is your aim
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Computer Geek
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Cambridge is better than Oxford for CS. Oxford is comparable to Imperial College London and UCL.
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newblood
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Cambridge is regarded as better for Computer Science out of the two
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thecsstudent
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Cambridge for sure. Oxford has a really really small Computer Science department so smaller chances of getting in and lower quality.
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EnglishMuon
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Agree with thecsstudent . Cambridge (in my opinion) has a greater reputation for this, and related, subjects. Plus I know many very good compsci applicants who applied to Oxford- all of which rejected because of the MAT exam (which I dont know if is still required). But this is mainly a test of crap maths in order to select for interview. Id say its much easier to impress at interview at Cambridge and then get some mediocre STEP grades as apart of the offer.
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some-student
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(Original post by EnglishMuon)
Agree with thecsstudent . Cambridge (in my opinion) has a greater reputation for this, and related, subjects. Plus I know many very good compsci applicants who applied to Oxford- all of which rejected because of the MAT exam (which I dont know if is still required). But this is mainly a test of crap maths in order to select for interview. Id say its much easier to impress at interview at Cambridge and then get some mediocre STEP grades as apart of the offer.


(Original post by thecsstudent)
Cambridge for sure. Oxford has a really really small Computer Science department so smaller chances of getting in and lower quality.
(Original post by newblood)
Cambridge is regarded as better for Computer Science out of the two
(Original post by Computer Geek)
Cambridge is better than Oxford for CS. Oxford is comparable to Imperial College London and UCL.
(Original post by shawn_o1)
None of that matters once you fail your A Levels, especially the subjects that aren't maths or computer science. So put them first if Oxbridge is your aim
Thank you very much everyone for your responses. They have been very useful in making me consider Cambridge more than I had. My only concern however is that my brother may be applying for Maths at Cambridge at the same year as me and so may be problematic. Should I let this influence my choice? And would Oxford be quite a bit worse than Cambridge or would it be marginal? Thanks

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some-student
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Ok, thanks very much

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sweeneyrod
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(Original post by some-student)
...
Cambridge has a slightly better reputation, but Oxford isn't exactly bad. It is still certainly a top 3 university for CS (the other one being Imperial). One significant difference between them is that Cambridge doesn't offer joint degrees in CS, but it does let you study another subject (maths or science) in your first year. Oxford is the opposite. Allegedly, Oxford have more good applicants than they can take in, whereas Cambridge don't actually fill their capacity (in terms of how many students they can fit in a lecture theatre etc.) because they don't have enough applicants that meet their standards.

You seem to have a pretty good handle on the difference between the courses, but I would mention that the Cambridge course (and indeed most decent CS courses) will cover automata and other aspects of theoretical CS, and one of the main languages used is ML, which is functional (although not quite as much as Haskell). Also, Oxford has far fewer CS students than Cambridge -- ~30 per year rather than ~100. Oxford has a lower success rate, but that might be misleading as it may have weaker applicants making the difference in numbers (i.e. the success rate might be the same for people with the same grades). It's also worth considering whether you would prefer to live in Oxford and Cambridge.

N.B. I went for Cambridge in the end (although it was a hard choice because I liked the Oxford joint degrees), so the above may be biased.
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EnglishMuon
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(Original post by some-student)
Thank you very much everyone for your responses. They have been very useful in making me consider Cambridge more than I had. My only concern however is that my brother may be applying for Maths at Cambridge at the same year as me and so may be problematic. Should I let this influence my choice? And would Oxford be quite a bit worse than Cambridge or would it be marginal? Thanks

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No it won't affect it at all- Ill be a 1st year mathmo at king's this year and there is one guy also doing maths there, and his twin will also be doing maths at Trinity.
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some-student
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(Original post by EnglishMuon)
No it won't affect it at all- Ill be a 1st year mathmo at king's this year and there is one guy also doing maths there, and his twin will also be doing maths at Trinity.
Ok, thank you very much
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some-student
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(Original post by sweeneyrod)
Cambridge has a slightly better reputation, but Oxford isn't exactly bad. It is still certainly a top 3 university for CS (the other one being Imperial). One significant difference between them is that Cambridge doesn't offer joint degrees in CS, but it does let you study another subject (maths or science) in your first year. Oxford is the opposite. Allegedly, Oxford have more good applicants than they can take in, whereas Cambridge don't actually fill their capacity (in terms of how many students they can fit in a lecture theatre etc.) because they don't have enough applicants that meet their standards.

You seem to have a pretty good handle on the difference between the courses, but I would mention that the Cambridge course (and indeed most decent CS courses) will cover automata and other aspects of theoretical CS, and one of the main languages used is ML, which is functional (although not quite as much as Haskell). Also, Oxford has far fewer CS students than Cambridge -- ~30 per year rather than ~100. Oxford has a lower success rate, but that might be misleading as it may have weaker applicants making the difference in numbers (i.e. the success rate might be the same for people with the same grades). It's also worth considering whether you would prefer to live in Oxford and Cambridge.

N.B. I went for Cambridge in the end (although it was a hard choice because I liked the Oxford joint degrees), so the above may be biased.
Thank you very much - so would I be right in saying that Oxford is more theoretical but Cambridge is still very theoretical? Thanks
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sweeneyrod
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(Original post by some-student)
Thank you very much - so would I be right in saying that Oxford is more theoretical but Cambridge is still very theoretical? Thanks
Kind of (although I don't know too much about the details of either course). I think both of them have a fixed first year, and a choice of courses from then on. So you should be able to choose to study whatever you're interested in from the second year onward at either place. From a brief look at the first year courses for both (Oxford prelims and Cambridge IA) Cambridge has a lot more on hardware and operating systems. At first glance it seems like Oxford has a lot more maths, but that's because most Cambridge students do the natural sciences maths course as well. Oxford possibly has slightly more on logic and proof, it's difficult to tell.
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some-student
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(Original post by sweeneyrod)
Kind of (although I don't know too much about the details of either course). I think both of them have a fixed first year, and a choice of courses from then on. So you should be able to choose to study whatever you're interested in from the second year onward at either place. From a brief look at the first year courses for both (Oxford prelims and Cambridge IA) Cambridge has a lot more on hardware and operating systems. At first glance it seems like Oxford has a lot more maths, but that's because most Cambridge students do the natural sciences maths course as well. Oxford possibly has slightly more on logic and proof, it's difficult to tell.
Ok thank you very much
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username738914
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Ok, but the thread is about which of Oxford or Cambridge OP should apply to, considering one can only apply to one of those.



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alevelstresss
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visit both and decide, your final choice should be about which uni you'd prefer to study at in terms of the environment and opportunities, and not one being 0.5% more prestigious or academic
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MarkovBrain
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I would suggest taking a close look at the course structures and the courses available each year at both Oxford and Cambridge, and seeing what you think suits you best.

I studied Maths and CS at Oxford so I admit I'm slightly biased, but I should point out that Oxford has excellent teaching for the topics you're interested in - such as automata theory and functional programming - right from the first year. The course covers theoretical computer science and programming paradigms very well. Cambridge does appear to have a little bit more of networks and hardware, but note that you can definitely take these and other practically-oriented courses at Oxford too, especially if you do just CS.

Someone else pointed out that Cambridge has no joint honours degrees with CS, and this is what put me off applying. With the interests you mentioned, you may also want to consider Maths and CS or CS and Philosophy at Oxford - check out the course pages!

Your grades are excellent, so with a good application and smart test/interview prep I think you will stand a good chance of an offer at either place! Avoid basing your choice on which uni seems to have fewer CS applicants or supposedly focuses more on GCSEs, because these are not hugely reliable indicators of your chances and your fit for the course.
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some-student
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(Original post by MarkovBrain)
I would suggest taking a close look at the course structures and the courses available each year at both Oxford and Cambridge, and seeing what you think suits you best.

I studied Maths and CS at Oxford so I admit I'm slightly biased, but I should point out that Oxford has excellent teaching for the topics you're interested in - such as automata theory and functional programming - right from the first year. The course covers theoretical computer science and programming paradigms very well. Cambridge does appear to have a little bit more of networks and hardware, but note that you can definitely take these and other practically-oriented courses at Oxford too, especially if you do just CS.

Someone else pointed out that Cambridge has no joint honours degrees with CS, and this is what put me off applying. With the interests you mentioned, you may also want to consider Maths and CS or CS and Philosophy at Oxford - check out the course pages!

Your grades are excellent, so with a good application and smart test/interview prep I think you will stand a good chance of an offer at either place! Avoid basing your choice on which uni seems to have fewer CS applicants or supposedly focuses more on GCSEs, because these are not hugely reliable indicators of your chances and your fit for the course.
Ok thanks very much Is the Maths and CS joint honours Maths separately with Computer Science or the Mathematical aspects of Computer Science? Thanks
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username738914
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The admissions deadline for Oxbridge is earlier than other unis, it's perfectly understandable.

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MarkovBrain
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(Original post by some-student)
Ok thanks very much Is the Maths and CS joint honours Maths separately with Computer Science or the Mathematical aspects of Computer Science? Thanks
No problem! The joint honours Maths and CS degree covers both maths and CS rigorously as subjects of their own (with a little more emphasis on pure maths and theoretical CS, but giving you a strong grounding in both subjects overall). So you will learn algebra, analysis, calculus, etc. in addition to programming, logic, etc. When there are useful connections between your courses in each subject, these are usually pointed out and explored
Check out the course descriptions for more detail!
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