A levels versus HE access course for computer science

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Essa9696
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I will be turning 21 in a couple of months and wish to go to university to study computer science after having my A-levels interrupted by health issues 3 years ago. My initial plan was to self-study A-level physics, maths and geography at home over the course of 2 years, however I have been met by hefty financial realisations and stress regarding science 'practical endorsements' for the physics topic which will cost me around £2000 alone.. simply impossible. My question is should I continue with these A-levels and hope universities will accept me without the endorsement, after-all computer science does not require lab work. Or should I take a science access to higher education course which will cost me around £3000 but not have a chance at going to good universities, especially not Russell group as they require Relevant work experience in the field which I do not have.
This has been troubling me for many weeks and I would appreciate any feedback and advice.
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Snufkin
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(Original post by Essa9696)
I will be turning 21 in a couple of months and wish to go to university to study computer science after having my A-levels interrupted by health issues 3 years ago. My initial plan was to self-study A-level physics, maths and geography at home over the course of 2 years, however I have been met by hefty financial realisations and stress regarding science 'practical endorsements' for the physics topic which will cost me around £2000 alone.. simply impossible. My question is should I continue with these A-levels and hope universities will accept me without the endorsement, after-all computer science does not require lab work. Or should I take a science access to higher education course which will cost me around £3000 but not have a chance at going to good universities, especially not Russell group as they require Relevant work experience in the field which I do not have.
This has been troubling me for many weeks and I would appreciate any feedback and advice.
Do the Access course. You can take out an Advanced Learner Loan to pay the fees, and you don't need to repay the loan if you graduate from university, so it is effectively free. Pretty much all universities accept Access to HE courses, including Russell group universities. No university requires relevant work experience.
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artful_lounger
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Physics is largely irrelevant for CS anyway. Taking Further Maths would be more useful, and lack any science endorsement requirements. Geography isn't particularly relevant unless you have a specific interest in GIS - also many universities accept mature students who have taken "one or two recent A-levels" rather than a full complement so it's not an absolute requirement if you took Maths and Further Maths. It's worth checking individual university requirements beforehand however. Usually they are very receptive and helpful if you email them explaining your situation and future plans and want to check if that would be an applicable path to applying there.

Different access courses are accepted by different courses at different universities. What is acceptable to one course somewhere may not be acceptable to another elsewhere - or even within the same university, for a similar course. They are widely accepted in general though, but it's important to check with the universities you're interested in applying to if the specific access course you're looking at would be acceptable. I would probably recommend taking A-level Maths alongside it unless you are 100% certain that the course contains the relevant maths and the universities will accept it - Maths is usually the primary requirement for CS courses.
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BigYoSpeck
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(Original post by Essa9696)
I will be turning 21 in a couple of months and wish to go to university to study computer science after having my A-levels interrupted by health issues 3 years ago. My initial plan was to self-study A-level physics, maths and geography at home over the course of 2 years, however I have been met by hefty financial realisations and stress regarding science 'practical endorsements' for the physics topic which will cost me around £2000 alone.. simply impossible. My question is should I continue with these A-levels and hope universities will accept me without the endorsement, after-all computer science does not require lab work. Or should I take a science access to higher education course which will cost me around £3000 but not have a chance at going to good universities, especially not Russell group as they require Relevant work experience in the field which I do not have.
This has been troubling me for many weeks and I would appreciate any feedback and advice.
The Access course won't cost you anything. You get an Advanced Learner Loan for it, and that loan is written off once you complete a degree.

An Access course can also get you into Russell Group universities. I had offers from Leeds, Nottingham, and Liverpool though I studied Access to HE in computing and ICT, but if the maths modules on the science course you are looking at are strong enough that would suffice. Doing a Maths A-Level in conjunction would definitely help your application.
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Essa9696
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(Original post by BigYoSpeck)
The Access course won't cost you anything. You get an Advanced Learner Loan for it, and that loan is written off once you complete a degree.

An Access course can also get you into Russell Group universities. I had offers from Leeds, Nottingham, and Liverpool though I studied Access to HE in computing and ICT, but if the maths modules on the science course you are looking at are strong enough that would suffice. Doing a Maths A-Level in conjunction would definitely help your application.
Which access course do I apply for, Computing with maths or science and engineering? And is it worth re-taking my maths GCSE to bump it over B grade as most good unis ask for such?
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Notoriety
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(Original post by Essa9696)
Which access course do I apply for, Computing with maths or science and engineering? And is it worth re-taking my maths GCSE to bump it over B grade as most good unis ask for such?
Yes, obviously if universities require a B then you should get that B.

They won't waive that requirement.

However, a small proviso, it depends on what universities you are applying to. The above posters are talking about pretty established RGs. If you're applying to Portsmouth, you might find the application procedure is a lot more flexible.
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imanzie
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To study at most universities you don't need an A level in computer sciences because they cover the foundations you need during the course.
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username1221160
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The access course is fine. It is a misconception that you won't get into good universities with an access course. What may be an issue is with maths. For maths heavy subjects some universities ask for maths a level in addition to an access course or have their own assessments. I know people applying for maths, physics and engineering have had this issue but I'm not sure if it is applicable to computer science.
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Gazmoop
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Same situation here:
Did my (science) access course at 20, just finished it and have a place to study Biomedicine. There are people on my course going to do optometry and dentistry and one studying to be a vet!
You really can do anything, and they are brilliant courses that give you so many opportunities
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Essa9696
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(Original post by imanzie)
To study at most universities you don't need an A level in computer sciences because they cover the foundations you need during the course.
I hope so!
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Essa9696
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(Original post by Quantex)
The access course is fine. It is a misconception that you won't get into good universities with an access course. What may be an issue is with maths. For maths heavy subjects some universities ask for maths a level in addition to an access course or have their own assessments. I know people applying for maths, physics and engineering have had this issue but I'm not sure if it is applicable to computer science.
Most of the good universities ask for at least a B in maths, despite having an advanced mathematics unit in your access course, this is what bugs me (I have a C) Wish I revised when I was a kid.. Do you think they will overlook the req?
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Essa9696
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(Original post by Gazmoop)
Same situation here:
Did my (science) access course at 20, just finished it and have a place to study Biomedicine. There are people on my course going to do optometry and dentistry and one studying to be a vet!
You really can do anything, and they are brilliant courses that give you so many opportunities
This gives me hope, though i'm stuck between two access course options: computing (with advanced math) or science and engineering.. which do I apply for?
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username1221160
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(Original post by Essa9696)
Most of the good universities ask for at least a B in maths, despite having an advanced mathematics unit in your access course, this is what bugs me (I have a C) Wish I revised when I was a kid.. Do you think they will overlook the req?
I covered maths in my access course and it was extremely superficial compared to the A level I studied previously. For mature students, universities can be more flexible but you still need to demonstrate you are competent. Your best bet to get a definite answer is to email the admissions tutors for courses you are interested in.
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Gazmoop
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(Original post by Essa9696)
This gives me hope, though i'm stuck between two access course options: computing (with advanced math) or science and engineering.. which do I apply for?
I cant give you an answer myself, but i had to pick between science (Bio and Chem) or Healthcare (Bio and Psyc).
What i did, and you should do, is think about the future.

Are going planning on going to uni after?
If so, pick a course (or 2), look at it on different unis, and look at their entry requirements for the access courses. Pick the course that fits those requirements.
If in doubt, you can email the university and ask about what course would be better for you to get in.

If you want a job after, look into what skills you need.
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BigYoSpeck
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(Original post by Essa9696)
Which access course do I apply for, Computing with maths or science and engineering? And is it worth re-taking my maths GCSE to bump it over B grade as most good unis ask for such?
How many maths modules do those two courses have respectively?

My Computing with ICT course had 5 maths modules worth 15 credits, 2 of which were pure maths. This was sufficient for Leeds, Nottingham and Liverpool. Leeds did stipulate that I would need distinctions in the maths modules as part of my entry requirements. Nottingham just asked for 30 credits at distinction and 15 at merit with no maths stipulation. Liverpool comically asked for all 45 credits at distinction despite being considerably ranked below both Leeds and Liverpool.

Sheffield only offered me a place on the foundation degree though because their entry requirements are 6 maths modules.

From those two courses if they have the same number of maths modules then take computing, the course content will be helpful in providing a foundation for the degree. If the science and engineering contains more maths though then that may be worth doing as you don't need computing based qualifications for a Comp Sci degree.

I have a B in maths at GCSE, when you say bump it over a B does that mean you already have a B? If you do that's good enough. If you only have a C then it might be worth taking it again. Most colleges are happy to let you do one GCSE in conjunction with an Acess course.
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BigYoSpeck
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Looking at Leeds entry requirements:

"Grade B or above in GCSE Mathematics is required if no Mathematics A-level is taken."

I don't know if this is an A-level specific entry requirement as it just says:

"Pass 60 credits overall with 45 credits at Level 3, 30 credits with Distinction (including Mathematics) and the remaining 15 credits with Merit or above."

For Access requirements. They may be happy with your C at GCSE provided you get distinctions in the maths modules of the Access course.
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LordFifth
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(Original post by Gazmoop)
Same situation here:
Did my (science) access course at 20, just finished it and have a place to study Biomedicine. There are people on my course going to do optometry and dentistry and one studying to be a vet!
You really can do anything, and they are brilliant courses that give you so many opportunities
Hi congrats on ur place for biomed. Just wanted to ask where u did ur access course? Also what kind of grades did u achieve? (if u dont mind me asking)
Thx!
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LordFifth
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(Original post by Essa9696)
This gives me hope, though i'm stuck between two access course options: computing (with advanced math) or science and engineering.. which do I apply for?
Hey Essa have u decided which course to take? I'm thinking of doing a science access course in conjunction with maths a levels (if the college allows me) just to keep my options open.
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Essa9696
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(Original post by LordFifth)
Hey Essa have u decided which course to take? I'm thinking of doing a science access course in conjunction with maths a levels (if the college allows me) just to keep my options open.
Hey mate,
Yep. I'm doing an access to computing course right now and it's great. They should just scrap A-levels and design courses like this IMO.
Go for it, I have received Uni offers and interviews already.
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R3negade
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For anyone doing an access course for compsci without an A level maths I highly recommend you take time with supplementary maths. Look at the A level syllabus and watch videos and get familiar with concepts if you can. I did access combined science and in the first degree term we covered the whole years worth of college maths in the first 3 or 4 lectures.
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