Good part time Computer Science programmes (BSc & MSc)? Watch

Amadea
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I'm looking to re-qualify and go into software development / data science. I know one doesn't necessarily need a formal academic qualification to go down that path, but I feel having the qualification would look good on my CV and give me a confidence boost to apply for jobs I really want. My first degree is a liberal arts one with no quantitative element, but my work experience so far has been closely linked to systems admin / testing / development and working with databases - and that's something I would like to continue to do in the future in a more official/professional capacity (at the moment my role title doesn't indicate I take on the tasks mentioned at all, I largely got involved in the system-related projects out of interest.)

When I came to the UK to do my first degree I didn't know anything about Russel Group /red brick vs former Polytechnic etc and completed my first degree at a lesser university (that was nevertheless top 5 in the country for my chosen speciality, and hence my application.)

The second time around I really don't want to make the same mistakes as before, plus due to my family and financial situation, I need the course to be part time and not too far from Cambridge. I've been researching non-stop for the last few weeks and I'm unable to find anything that matches my criteria.

So to summarise, my criteria is as follows:

1) Good reputation, ideally RG but would consider other good unis such as East Anglia
2) Has to be part-time (this is crucial)
3) Within the East Anglia region (Cambridgeshire, Nottinghamshire etc) OR London
4) I'm keener on BSc rather than MSc conversion course, as the latter doesn't feel quite adequate (please note I and my husband might move countries in a few years, and as much as it is normal in the UK to do a Masters in a different subject to your first degree, this practice is not prevalent elsewhere, and I fear my future employers might be baffled to see an MSc Computer Science that follows a BA in English)

Believe it or not but there is absolutely nothing I was able to find so far. It seems that all top unis only run Computer Science as full time. Am I missing something in my research? Are my criteria a bit too much, and if so what would be the best compromise here (can't compromise on part-time.)

Please, guys, help me out here!
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ByEeek
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I'm afraid you are going to have to do the ground work on this. What I will say is that the perceptions of red-brick vs old polytechnic are rather old in the teeth. Certainly the computing world is more interested in what you can do compared to where you did it. I have just finished a PGCE at Manchester Met and the facilities in that university were vastly better, brighter and more pleasant than my first uni at Aston. I also have two relatives that are at uni, one at Birmingham and the other at Keele. The Birmingham lad was telling me that the level of support he gets is minuscule compared to his sister who gets options to study outside her chosen subject in order to broaden her education as well as many tutorial sessions and lots of support around finding work and going into the big wide world. Birmingham are only really interested in the lucrative research contracts they get. So open your mind to the idea of non-red brick institutions.

Good luck!
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Amadea
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Thank you for your reply. Birkbeck and Goldsmiths are constantly in the back of my mind, but I am quite concerned re: reputation. My first degree was completed at a former poly, and I was not impressed. Perhaps it is also down to the fact that I very quickly realised I chose a wrong subject, and actually took optional computing modules where I could.
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username3079870
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(Original post by Amadea)
Thank you for your reply. Birkbeck and Goldsmiths are constantly in the back of my mind, but I am quite concerned re: reputation. My first degree was completed at a former poly, and I was not impressed. Perhaps it is also down to the fact that I very quickly realised I chose a wrong subject, and actually took optional computing modules where I could.
You could also do 2 masters degrees in the time that it takes you to do a part-time degree. It may not cost that much more depending on where you are doing them. I don't know if it's a huge deal in every country. A friend of a friend did the Software Development conversion masters at QUB (they were originally an Economics grad) and were able to get a grad job as a software developer in Australia no problem.

So have you considered doing one masters in a conversion course, then doing a more advanced CS masters degree after that? It might give you a deeper knowledge of CS. Most RG unis do not offer part time degrees to undergrads.

I would also say the doing data science requires a lot more mathematical ability than CS degrees usually.

I would say you have these choices really:

1) If going to a RG university is more important, do a conversion masters. When it comes to working in the tech sector, experience is king. Doing a masters + 2 or 3 years of industry experience is much better than a BSc with no experience.

2) Do a BSc, but accept it won't be in a "big name" university. I would agree that academically speaking, you will learn a bit more doing a BSc than a conversion masters IME.

As the other poster alludes too, I would also suggest to you that going to a RG university is no guarantee of quality. I went to Ulster Uni (non-RG) and then QUB (RG), and Ulster was far better. You can get good and bad courses at RG and non-RG unis. It depends on the rep.
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Amadea
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(Original post by jestersnow)
You could also do 2 masters degrees in the time that it takes you to do a part-time degree. It may not cost that much more depending on where you are doing them. I don't know if it's a huge deal in every country. A friend of a friend did the Software Development conversion masters at QUB (they were originally an Economics grad) and were able to get a grad job as a software developer in Australia no problem.

So have you considered doing one masters in a conversion course, then doing a more advanced CS masters degree after that? It might give you a deeper knowledge of CS. Most RG unis do not offer part time degrees to undergrads.

I would also say the doing data science requires a lot more mathematical ability than CS degrees usually.

I would say you have these choices really:

1) If going to a RG university is more important, do a conversion masters. When it comes to working in the tech sector, experience is king. Doing a masters + 2 or 3 years of industry experience is much better than a BSc with no experience.

2) Do a BSc, but accept it won't be in a "big name" university. I would agree that academically speaking, you will learn a bit more doing a BSc than a conversion masters IME.

As the other poster alludes too, I would also suggest to you that going to a RG university is no guarantee of quality. I went to Ulster Uni (non-RG) and then QUB (RG), and Ulster was far better. You can get good and bad courses at RG and non-RG unis. It depends on the rep.
Thanks so much for taking the time to write such a thorough reply!I have to say the idea of doing two masters never crossed my mind before - I can certainly see myself going down the path of MSc Computer Science (generalist) + MSc Data Science, and I think doing both would show good commitment to a career change, and (hopefully) sufficient academic background/level of knowledge in the field(s).The only issue here is funding. Even though it seems like the cost of two masters would pretty much be equal to one BSc, in my particular situation it is not exactly that straightforward. My employer are willing to make a significant contribution - they trust me to research this and put together a proposal for further education needs. I feel that hitting them with a proposal for two MSc would not go down too well. I would likely have to finance the second MSc by myself - not a complete no-go but something to keep in mind.There is definitely more material covered on the BSc course. I compared Birkbeck BSc Computing with UCL MSc CS conversion, and we are talking about 24 modules (BBK) vs. eight (!) at UCL. Plus the course at BBK is not even that long (considering it's part-time), it's 4 years. As I am not 100% sure of the direction I'd like to take within CS (I'm thinking relational databases/ SQL /data analysis and manipulation but I've also found great enjoyment in writing HTML / JavaScript some years back), I feel it would benefit me to get a wider scope of knowledge. Re: uni reputation - I browsed through many posts on TSR and your views of RG vs. non-RG standards of teaching etc are somewhat reflected. May I ask if going to an RG uni for an undergrad still only entails about 15 teaching hours a week? I think that was the greatest annoyance with my BA uni, but perhaps 15 hours a week is a UK-wide standard? I know there's a strong focus in the UK on self-study etc but seriously, 15 hours a week teaching should not be advertised as full time.
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username3079870
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(Original post by Amadea)
Thanks so much for taking the time to write such a thorough reply!I have to say the idea of doing two masters never crossed my mind before - I can certainly see myself going down the path of MSc Computer Science (generalist) + MSc Data Science, and I think doing both would show good commitment to a career change, and (hopefully) sufficient academic background/level of knowledge in the field(s).The only issue here is funding. Even though it seems like the cost of two masters would pretty much be equal to one BSc, in my particular situation it is not exactly that straightforward. My employer are willing to make a significant contribution - they trust me to research this and put together a proposal for further education needs. I feel that hitting them with a proposal for two MSc would not go down too well. I would likely have to finance the second MSc by myself - not a complete no-go but something to keep in mind.There is definitely more material covered on the BSc course. I compared Birkbeck BSc Computing with UCL MSc CS conversion, and we are talking about 24 modules (BBK) vs. eight (!) at UCL. Plus the course at BBK is not even that long (considering it's part-time), it's 4 years. As I am not 100% sure of the direction I'd like to take within CS (I'm thinking relational databases/ SQL /data analysis and manipulation but I've also found great enjoyment in writing HTML / JavaScript some years back), I feel it would benefit me to get a wider scope of knowledge. Re: uni reputation - I browsed through many posts on TSR and your views of RG vs. non-RG standards of teaching etc are somewhat reflected. May I ask if going to an RG uni for an undergrad still only entails about 15 teaching hours a week? I think that was the greatest annoyance with my BA uni, but perhaps 15 hours a week is a UK-wide standard? I know there's a strong focus in the UK on self-study etc but seriously, 15 hours a week teaching should not be advertised as full time.

I only went to a RG for my masters, but at that level you get even less lectures. I got around 8 hours a week for my masters.
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