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    Hi,

    I am sitting my GCSES this year and I am not reliant on getting a good enough grade to do A Level maths at my school (and also doubt i'd enjoy it :/) However I am excelling in my OCR Computing course, I achieved a Level 9 in our specimen NEA programming task and am confident in all theory.

    I noticed that all top universities require a Maths A Level to do Computing courses. Is there any work around or similar course I can do?
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    (Original post by RonnieEl7)
    Hi,

    I am sitting my GCSES this year and I am not reliant on getting a good enough grade to do A Level maths at my school (and also doubt i'd enjoy it :/) However I am excelling in my OCR Computing course, I achieved a Level 9 in our specimen NEA programming task and am confident in all theory.

    I noticed that all top universities require a Maths A Level to do Computing courses. Is there any work around or similar course I can do?
    Hey there. Yes there are some excellent uni's that do not require A level maths. IIRC the following do not require A Level maths:

    Cardiff
    QUB
    Newcastle
    Nottingham
    Kings College

    There are more too i just can't recall atm.
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    The problem with a Maths A level for it is that it is largely algebra & calculus which you need to be capable of doing, and yet this will cover far more. Maths is a form of applied formal logic and this is what is really important to be able to grasp for CS, not so much the various specialised areas an A Level will cover. They also probably require it because if you go on to become a computer scientist, and not e.g. a software developer, you need a strong grasp of maths. It's not at all unreasonable for universities to require it, because it is the best A level for testing formal logical reasoning, however I would get in touch with universities and see if some are willing to be flexible. What I've found is that I am very good at certain areas of maths, like algebra and calculus, but struggle with others. King's College may not require Maths specifically but it does stipulate you may need Computer Science at A Level instead. I'd approach the universities and ask, e.g. if there's other A levels they'd accept in lieu. FYI, Glasgow is willing to accept it at B.

    Myself, I am looking at doing Computing conversion courses at Masters level. As an example, Edinburgh formally requires a Maths A level but when asking their admissions tutor if this is a strict requirement, they stated that it's not and that they place far more weight on experience in coding.

    What are your concerns with doing a Maths A level, though? I mean surely the Decision module at A2 would be of use to an aspiring CS undergrad? Is it the subjects at AS?
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    Lancaster Uni
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    I'd just remind to check the university rankings in the subject league tables as well as its overall standing, as some very good universities can be lacking in given subject areas. Lancaster is a worthy mention and it has some advantages to how its undergrad structure works, as well.
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    (Original post by TCA2b)
    The problem with a Maths A level for it is that it is largely algebra which you need to be capable of doing, and yet this will cover far more. Maths is a form of applied formal logic and this is what is really important to be able to grasp for CS, not so much the various specialised areas an A Level will cover. They also probably require it because if you go on to become a computer scientist, and not e.g. a software developer, you need a strong grasp of maths. It's not at all unreasonable for universities to require it, because it is the best A level for testing formal logical reasoning, however I would get in touch with universities and see if some are willing to be flexible. What I've found is that I am very good at certain areas of maths, like algebra and calculus, but struggle with others. King's College may not require Maths specifically but it does stipulate you may need Computer Science at A Level instead. I'd approach the universities and ask, e.g. if there's other A levels they'd accept in lieu. FYI, Glasgow is willing to accept it at B.

    Myself, I am looking at doing Computing conversion courses at Masters level. As an example, Edinburgh formally requires a Maths A level but when asking their admissions tutor if this is a strict requirement, they stated that it's not and that they place far more weight on experience in coding.

    What are your concerns with doing a Maths A level, though? I mean surely the Decision module at A2 would be of use to an aspiring CS undergrad? Is it the subjects at AS?
    I've worked for over a decade in the tech sector and 90% of the jobs in the tech sector do not require major mathematical ability. I've seen math geniuses who are rubbish coders. Being good at math is only really important, as you say, if the OP wants to be an academic in CS. Most of those jobs are either in a select few private research labs or in academia. Unless you're a Cryptographer or working with big data/machine learning you really won't need much maths ability in industry.
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    I'm no computer science student so correct me if I am wrong? but if you aren't likely to get a B at GCSE maths (which most 6th forms require to do A level maths.) Then how can you expect to handle the maths in a computer science degree, which I'm sure is far more complex
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    It isn't necessarily more complex. Algorithmic theory (and this is beyond what you will encounter on most undergrad CS courses) and big data do require specific types of mathematical proficiency, but if you read my post, you will see that it's not necessarily the reason the A level is being required. Two possible reasons are that 1) they value it because it implies strong logical reasoning ability and A2 does offer modules specifically relevant to CS and 2) they consider it to be conducive towards the ends of their grads, which in many cases may be deeper study of theoretical computer science or big data. Obviously, not all top unis require it, so it's very dependent on your objectives. However, these universities have their choice of students and can afford to be as picky as they like. Many of them are more interested in churning out research papers and retaining students for PHDs, which slots into reason 2) quite neatly.


    (Original post by jestersnow)
    I've worked for over a decade in the tech sector and 90% of the jobs in the tech sector do not require major mathematical ability. I've seen math geniuses who are rubbish coders. Being good at math is only really important, as you say, if the OP wants to be an academic in CS. Most of those jobs are either in a select few private research labs or in academia. Unless you're a Cryptographer or working with big data/machine learning you really won't need much maths ability in industry.
    Yeah, I think many of these courses are intended for the type of student aiming at those sort of jobs, or further research, in which case it makes sense to require it, so as to not limit options for further study, and also because it's a good, hard subject within which to demonstrate academic ability. Unis offering conversion courses with a specific aim of going into software development by and large eschew the requirement. This includes Imperial, which requires a 2:i for those, and good GRE scores, and certainly not A level Maths.
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    (Original post by ScienceGeek1878)
    I'm no computer science student so correct me if I am wrong? but if you aren't likely to get a B at GCSE maths (which most 6th forms require to do A level maths.) Then how can you expect to handle the maths in a computer science degree, which I'm sure is far more complex
    Maths in CS degrees is totally variable, even amongst RG uni's. It can be very math heavy in some degrees ( like Oxbridge, Imperial or Edinburgh) or there can be bare minimum math in other uni's.

    The thing to remember is that being good at math, while helpful, won't guarantee someone will be a good programmer. There is crossover, but understanding programming paradigms, how hardware works at the "bare metal" level and knowing how to implement data structure and algorithims in code is more important for industry.

    The example I always give is Cryptography. Cryptographers always have excellent math background, but some of the papers I've read show poor implementation of their ideas in code, which even the authors acknowledge.
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    I would advise based on some comments above, contrary to popular belief Computer Science is not a "programming" degree course. You will, of course, learn to code, but understanding the fundamental logic underlying the development of the abstracted programming languages that are used to implement processes on a computer, and how the computer runs those processes from both a mathematical and physical point of view, is more or less the core of it. The programming and various applications are a corollary of that, and not the end goal.

    If you want to learn to program but not the rest of that, you don't need a degree at all - anyone can learn to program. You can get a degree in a more applied/development heavy CS/IT course, or something such as Software Engineering which is offered by a few, which focuses more on the code writing and implementation processes than the theory, but Computer Science is not primarily focused on this. They'll teach you to program in first year - they teach you how to be a Computer Scientist in the rest of the degree.

    The long and short of the above is, Mathematics is necessary to understand the underlying theory and logic of computing, which as stated is in fact the goal of a CS course. Without Mathematics you heavily limit yourself, but you may find that in light of the above a degree in CS isn't actually specifically what you are looking for. However all that aside, many excellent universities offer CS with Foundation Year courses where you cover the relevant maths and other topics in a preliminary year. But you will cover that maths, at some point - if the course doesn't require A-level Maths, it will develop the necessary mathematical skills in the course, or in a foundation year. There is no escaping that, and if the don't do that...well I would debate whether you can really apply the qualifier of "good" to that course. (however you will probably miss out some topics which may be deemed "less relevant" however I would argue this is to your detriment, rather than benefit, as it makes you less able to engage with more specific programming projects such as scientific computing and informatics relying on calculus and statistics, respectively).
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    (Original post by artful_lounger)
    I would advise based on some comments above, contrary to popular belief Computer Science is not a "programming" degree course. You will, of course, learn to code, but understanding the fundamental logic underlying the development of the abstracted programming languages that are used to implement processes on a computer, and how the computer runs those processes from both a mathematical and physical point of view, is more or less the core of it. The programming and various applications are a corollary of that, and not the end goal.

    If you want to learn to program but not the rest of that, you don't need a degree at all - anyone can learn to program. You can get a degree in a more applied/development heavy CS/IT course, or something such as Software Engineering which is offered by a few, which focuses more on the code writing and implementation processes than the theory, but Computer Science is not primarily focused on this. They'll teach you to program in first year - they teach you how to be a Computer Scientist in the rest of the degree.

    The long and short of the above is, Mathematics is necessary to understand the underlying theory and logic of computing, which as stated is in fact the goal of a CS course. Without Mathematics you heavily limit yourself, but you may find that in light of the above a degree in CS isn't actually specifically what you are looking for. However all that aside, many excellent universities offer CS with Foundation Year courses where you cover the relevant maths and other topics in a preliminary year. But you will cover that maths, at some point - if the course doesn't require A-level Maths, it will develop the necessary mathematical skills in the course, or in a foundation year. There is no escaping that, and if the don't do that...well I would debate whether you can really apply the qualifier of "good" to that course. (however you will probably miss out some topics which may be deemed "less relevant" however I would argue this is to your detriment, rather than benefit, as it makes you less able to engage with more specific programming projects such as scientific computing and informatics relying on calculus and statistics, respectively).
    Agree with the most part and I merely offered programming as an example of something that someone could develop a strong aptitude in without having a strong math background (by strong I mean a Level maths to a reasonable standard). Case in point, I listed universities that do not require A level maths for their CS degrees. The amount of maths in a CS degree is not universal and will vary greatly on the university. What satisfies the definition of CS in one university may not satisfy it in another.
 
 
 
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