Applying for an MSc in Computer Science - Calling both undergrads and PGs for advice!

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Four things that unis think matter more than league tables 08-12-2016
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    I'm currently in the middle of applying for MScs in Computer Science. My background is in Aeronautical Engineering (high 1st class from Imperial, exchange at NUS-singapore). I have a decent amount of CS background, not comparable to a full undergrad degree, but decent. I'll also have half a year experience in a machine learning research team at a top research center in Japan. </background>

    I'm looking for MScs which have specialisms (or at least a hefty amount of modules) within AI/ML/NLP as this is my field of focus. The courses must accept non-CS students, but I don't want straight conversions which anyone can do, as I've most likely covered the majority of the content. The best course by far that I've seen that provides for those in the middle, per se, is the one by Oxford.

    My other choices so far are:
    Cambridge (research)
    Imperial - machine learning
    UCL - machine learning
    Bristol - adv. cs

    If you're a current postgrad, or have taken the respective courses before, I'd like your opinion on them.

    If you're an undergrad but study at one of these unis, I'd like your opinion on the teaching and current research.

    Basically, if in the event I get one more than offer, I'd like something to work off of apart from modules alone to choose between them. And of course, if you're at a different uni that you think should have made it to my list, please let me know.

    On a side note, in the CS rankings off of QS, Bristol is at 100-150, whereas in its overall rankings it's much higher. Is there CS department not that well respected?

    Will be handing out rep to anyone with good answers . Thanks!
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    Have you looked at Edinburgh? They have arguably the best NLP and AI provision in the UK. They also allow you to enter with a non-CS degree (usually Engineering, Linguistics, or CogSci, I think).
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    I wasn't considering it mainly due to location. I don't want to be too far from London for personal reasons. Otherwise it definitely would have been on my list!

    I was looking into the Southampton course yesterday and it seemed really good. But I got half way through the application process before closing my computer due to how un-user friendly the system is. Is it bad that I judge a uni's CS competence by their website xD?

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    Hi,
    I see where you are coming from, and can very easily put myself in your shoes - hang on !: correction - I was in your shoes recently!!

    I actually had NO experience of coding or CS (background in medicine and clinical pharmacology, having worked mainly in the pharmaceutical industry including PG lecturing) - OK, you say you are not looking for a straight conversion course, but I just completed an MSc in CS from Uni of Birmingham (lower entry requirements than Bristol or Imperial - the latter actually turned me down so you are a much better candidate than myself!!) - several points I would consider before making a decision:-

    A] Bham was No 1 for CS in 2013 in the country, just beat Oxford (Times ranking I think), but there was no distinction made between UG and PG, just the CS courses in general. If you judge a uni mainly by the entrance requirements, then bham would be lower. Having said that, bham is still in the Russell group.
    B] At bham, there are (or at least, were) two streams in the Masters class, one for those with little or no coding experience, and one for those with CS Bachelors or some coding knowledge - if you want to join latter group, you have do a short exam. You will probs pass that, since you have considerable exposure to coding and AI, etc. (I did not even try it!!)
    C] The teaching is not brilliant, in that it does not cater v well for people like me who are beginners, but jumps in at an advanced level (paticularly in what is called Software Workshop module [java]) and at a blistering pace, even for the first stream. This might sound negative, but it might be a silver lining for you in that, whichever stream you join, you will probs be at the correct level of difficulty/pace.
    C] The course is modular with some compulsory modules (Software WS [20 credits], Databases [10 credits], Intro to CS [10]+ recently Operating Systems). There are optional modules and they do include AI and ML.
    D] The AI guy, Prof John Barnden [Google him if you like!], is brilliant [at his subject, and as a teacher], although, in fairness, he can get a bit stroppy at times [I know because he was my project superviser, though mine was not in AI]. Having said that, his attention to detail and extreme precision make him a very good mentor.
    E] Bham is approx the same distance from London as Bristol (aprox. 150 miles on M25/M40 and 2+ hours by slow train - faster with Virgin but not for student budget!).
    F] Social life does matter - (i) there are students in the class who are examined at a lower level who are doing an intercalated year with us, and get degree e.g. BA in English with a Year in CS, so you meet people with different interests/hobbies even during lectures. Also, helping these students aids your own learning (teaching is the best way of learning, one might say!) and gives you the gratification feeling of having done a good deed!
    (ii) v good events held at the uni and in Broad Street, where there are night clubs to meet every taste (although the Masters is so intensive, there is little time for fun)
    (iii) In my opinion, a better shopping centre than even the ones in and around London, although if you happen to be Islamophobic, you may not like the ethnic breakdown in bham
    G] Very attractive uni campus (like own villages of Selly Oak and The Vale) - latter even has a lake! V good eating places in and out of uni.
    H] Own bookshop, hairdresser, farm shop and optician within campus.
    I] Lots of established and startup IT companies in the West Midlands, so job prospects very good - many of them attend the CS dept on certain days specifically to recruit.
    Sorry, sounds like I am blowing the trumpet for bham, but I hope I have also given the negatives, too - and I have no first hand experience of other CS depts.

    J] SPORT IS BIG AT BHAM! One of the best sports centres in UK (Munrow centre) when I was there, but now an even better, bigger one is being built, that was due to open this year (don't know current situation) if you are into sport. I was an active hockey player (2 Englnd players mens, and 6 womens England under 21s; international standard hockey pitches on campus), member of cycling club (rides every Sunday through some beautiful countryside), table-tennis club [has squad and social level sessions with tournaments for each] and gym [old one has separate sections for machines/bikes and weights]. I don't do athletics now but in London 2012 olympics, the Jamaican team trained here.

    Thank you!
 
 
 
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