Helios33sa
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I am a Y13 student studying BTEC Engineering, and over my time on the course i realised that I was more interested in Computer Science than Engineering. However, I don't have much programming knowledge and i didn't do A Level Math. Will the Mathematics and Further Mathematics for Engineering modules be sufficient mathematical knowledge for Computer Science if I completed both to Distinction. Or will I struggle with the math and programming in CS?
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winterscoming
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In general, if you're accepted onto a course at any half-decent university, then it means that you have a strong enough background to be able to cope with the material - otherwise the university wouldn't admit you onto the course. Computer Science courses are aimed at people with no prior knowledge of the subject, so the first year generally covers a lot of material which you'd have otherwise been familiar with from A-Level had you studied A-Level CS.

The best thing to do is to find out about the specific content of the course. Also keep in mind that Computer Science is only one type of Computing degree which tends to be heavy on theory and Maths. There are other Computing degrees which are less mathematical and less theoretical by focusing on more vocational skills instead.
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Helios33sa
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(Original post by winterscoming)
In general, if you're accepted onto a course at any half-decent university, then it means that you have a strong enough background to be able to cope with the material - otherwise the university wouldn't admit you onto the course. Computer Science courses are aimed at people with no prior knowledge of the subject, so the first year generally covers a lot of material which you'd have otherwise been familiar with from A-Level had you studied A-Level CS.

The best thing to do is to find out about the specific content of the course. Also keep in mind that Computer Science is only one type of Computing degree which tends to be heavy on theory and Maths. There are other Computing degrees which are less mathematical and less theoretical by focusing on more vocational skills instead.
Is Aston a half decent uni? And at Aston they don't have many other kinds of Computing courses; they have Business Computing and IT but that is mostly business related which I'm not interested in. Thanks for the reply.
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winterscoming
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(Original post by Awarsame5)
Is Aston a half decent uni? And at Aston they don't have many other kinds of Computing courses; they have Business Computing and IT but that is mostly business related which I'm not interested in. Thanks for the reply.
I had a quick check of Aston's course content and entry requirements for Computer Science - to be honest it looks far more like a vocational Computing course focused on programming and software engineering rather than a mathematical Computer Science course. It seems like there's relatively little Maths, and it's nearly all in the first year where the course content is likely to be gentler, so I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up repeating a lot of the Maths you've already done in your Engineering BTEC.

As far as programming goes - even having zero experience is nothing to worry about because you definitely won't be the only one. You could spend the summer teaching yourself to program if you wanted to get a head-start and that will definitely make your life easier. You frequently find that half the students on any Computer Science course have never touched a line of code before. If you want to get ahead then there's tonnes of brilliant online resources for learning to program though, so it won't hurt (Try Harvard CS50 on edX).
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MongoDB
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Probably. Depends from person to person, but my brother did computer science at KCL after doing a BTEC and seemed to coast through to first class honours (I wouldn't advise emulating that though, lol).
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Helios33sa
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(Original post by winterscoming)
I had a quick check of Aston's course content and entry requirements for Computer Science - to be honest it looks far more like a vocational Computing course focused on programming and software engineering rather than a mathematical Computer Science course. It seems like there's relatively little Maths, and it's nearly all in the first year where the course content is likely to be gentler, so I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up repeating a lot of the Maths you've already done in your Engineering BTEC.

As far as programming goes - even having zero experience is nothing to worry about because you definitely won't be the only one. You could spend the summer teaching yourself to program if you wanted to get a head-start and that will definitely make your life easier. You frequently find that half the students on any Computer Science course have never touched a line of code before. If you want to get ahead then there's tonnes of brilliant online resources for learning to program though, so it won't hurt (Try Harvard CS50 on edX).
Thank you so much, you have no idea how much your help is appreciated. I feel much less confused now. I'm not terrible at maths, and I've already dabbled into coding some HTML/CSS and C#. I'm definitely going to practice more during the summer and try to become very competentat coding. I feel alot more confident now, thanks alot.
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Helios33sa
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(Original post by mongodb)
Probably. Depends from person to person, but my brother did computer science at KCL after doing a BTEC and seemed to coast through to first class honours (I wouldn't advise emulating that though, lol).
Yh, I'm pretty sure I won't be coasting through to a first class in CS, that too at a school like KCL.
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yt7777
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I finished my BTEC Extended with D*D*D* in 2014 and graduated last year with a Computer Science degree from a top 30 uni, and currently doing my MSc at a top 10 uni for Computer science , you'll be fine if you put the required amount of work in to it.
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HighFructose
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They just want a 5 in Maths which you can even get on foundation. With your engineering background, you should be more than fine.
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Helios33sa
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(Original post by HighFructose)
They just want a 5 in Maths which you can even get on foundation. With your engineering background, you should be more than fine.
Is a 5 the equivalent of a C? I got a B at GCSE. This new numbers system is seriously confusing.
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yt7777
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(Original post by Awarsame5)
Is a 5 the equivalent of a C? I got a B at GCSE. This new numbers system is seriously confusing.
4 = low C
5 = high C
6 = B

And so on
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Flashsav
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(Original post by mongodb)
Probably. Depends from person to person, but my brother did computer science at KCL after doing a BTEC and seemed to coast through to first class honours (I wouldn't advise emulating that though, lol).
Hey!

Did your brother do Btec or a level maths?
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MongoDB
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(Original post by Flashsav)
Hey!

Did your brother do Btec or a level maths?
Nope, his btec was in ICT.
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Flashsav
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(Original post by mongodb)
Nope, his btec was in ICT.
Could you mind asking him how much and how he found the maths side of the courses please at Kcl
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kurro
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(Original post by winterscoming)
In general, if you're accepted onto a course at any half-decent university, then it means that you have a strong enough background to be able to cope with the material - otherwise the university wouldn't admit you onto the course. Computer Science courses are aimed at people with no prior knowledge of the subject, so the first year generally covers a lot of material which you'd have otherwise been familiar with from A-Level had you studied A-Level CS.

The best thing to do is to find out about the specific content of the course. Also keep in mind that Computer Science is only one type of Computing degree which tends to be heavy on theory and Maths. There are other Computing degrees which are less mathematical and less theoretical by focusing on more vocational skills instead.
What degrees and jobs do you think are more vocationally based?
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winterscoming
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(Original post by kurro)
What degrees and jobs do you think are more vocationally based?

I'm not exactly sure what you mean by"vocationally based" jobs, since all jobs are vocations. Sometimes employers might seek people with a strong academic and mathematical background if the work itself happens to be heavily research-based, but that's only a small percentage of those around. Most technical IT jobs aren't academic or mathematical at all..

Most of the time, jobs such as Networking, Infrastructure, Security, Software Engineering, IT operations, Web design/development, Hardware engineering, etc. really depend upon having strong problem-solving, analytical and technical skills. Most IT jobs are about using technology or code to solve 'real' problems - e.g. building new apps for customers, or upgrading systems for employees, or writing scripts to automate things and save time, or to understand why some technology isn't working properly and fix it. The kinds of courses which focus on those skills are usually the 'vocational' courses - because they focus more on teaching the in-demand skills for those specific kinds of jobs.


In terms of vocational courses themselves, you need to look at the content and modules, but a lot of Computing courses focus on those areas. Sometimes the degrees are named after the vocation itself - e.g. you can get a Degree in Software Engineering, Networking, Cybersecurity, etc -- those are almost certainly going to focus on vocational skills for the IT jobs market. Many universities also have generic "Computing" degrees which give you a wide choice of modules, so that gives you a lot more control over the skills you'd be learning instead of choosing something specific like Software Engineering.


Sometimes computer science courses are more like software engineering degrees - especially at the lower and mid-ranked universities, they usually focus a lot on programming and on projects which are all about writing software.

It's mostly the universities in the 'top 20' whose Computer Science degrees focus more on maths, logical reasoning and academic study of computing. (They do include plenty of topics around programming and technology too, but less than vocational courses).

Here's a few things which usually indicate whether a degree focuses on vocational skills:
- Option to study for professional certification (e.g. Cisco, Oracle, Amazon, Microsoft) included as part of the degree
- Industrial Placement year between 2nd/3rd year
- Heavier focus on vocational/technical topics - e.g. Programming, Networking, Security, Web technologies, Databases, Cloud technologies, System design, UI/UX design, Testing, 'Embedded' systems.
- More emphasis on coursework-based assessment (maybe including group-based coursework), and fewer exams
- Usually only 1 or 2 Maths modules for the whole degree
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kurro
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(Original post by winterscoming)
I'm not exactly sure what you mean by"vocationally based" jobs, since all jobs are vocations. Sometimes employers might seek people with a strong academic and mathematical background if the work itself happens to be heavily research-based, but that's only a small percentage of those around. Most technical IT jobs aren't academic or mathematical at all..

Most of the time, jobs such as Networking, Infrastructure, Security, Software Engineering, IT operations, Web design/development, Hardware engineering, etc. really depend upon having strong problem-solving, analytical and technical skills. Most IT jobs are about using technology or code to solve 'real' problems - e.g. building new apps for customers, or upgrading systems for employees, or writing scripts to automate things and save time, or to understand why some technology isn't working properly and fix it. The kinds of courses which focus on those skills are usually the 'vocational' courses - because they focus more on teaching the in-demand skills for those specific kinds of jobs.


In terms of vocational courses themselves, you need to look at the content and modules, but a lot of Computing courses focus on those areas. Sometimes the degrees are named after the vocation itself - e.g. you can get a Degree in Software Engineering, Networking, Cybersecurity, etc -- those are almost certainly going to focus on vocational skills for the IT jobs market. Many universities also have generic "Computing" degrees which give you a wide choice of modules, so that gives you a lot more control over the skills you'd be learning instead of choosing something specific like Software Engineering.


Sometimes computer science courses are more like software engineering degrees - especially at the lower and mid-ranked universities, they usually focus a lot on programming and on projects which are all about writing software.

It's mostly the universities in the 'top 20' whose Computer Science degrees focus more on maths, logical reasoning and academic study of computing. (They do include plenty of topics around programming and technology too, but less than vocational courses).

Here's a few things which usually indicate whether a degree focuses on vocational skills:
- Option to study for professional certification (e.g. Cisco, Oracle, Amazon, Microsoft) included as part of the degree
- Industrial Placement year between 2nd/3rd year
- Heavier focus on vocational/technical topics - e.g. Programming, Networking, Security, Web technologies, Databases, Cloud technologies, System design, UI/UX design, Testing, 'Embedded' systems.
- More emphasis on coursework-based assessment (maybe including group-based coursework), and fewer exams
- Usually only 1 or 2 Maths modules for the whole degree
Thank you for all the info
I applied to Cardiff and south wales uni for computer science and MComp respectively. - both have the industrial year.
Which one of those do you think is more maths based? Cardiff right?
Whilst SWU is more programming based?
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winterscoming
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(Original post by kurro)
Thank you for all the info
I applied to Cardiff and south wales uni for computer science and MComp respectively. - both have the industrial year.
Which one of those do you think is more maths based? Cardiff right?
Whilst SWU is more programming based?
The amount of Maths and Programming at both looks much the same. There seems to be one mandatory Maths module in year 1 for both. Otherwise, nearly all the modules seem to focus either on 'hands-on' stuff like programming, hardware, O/S's and networking, or the kinds of skills which are likely to transfer to a lot of IT careers (e.g. the non-technical stuff around project management, ethical/legal issues and systems analysis)

I notice that Cardiff has a 'software engineering' degree, which is about 80% the same as the CompSci degree, but has no Maths at all, and also doesn't cover topics like Networking or Operating systems either so it's specialised to software engineering careers: https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/study/unde...ngineering-bsc


You'd usually find that the Maths-heavy courses are those which require A-Level maths, which is typically just the universities around the 'top 20' such as Imperial, Oxbridge, Southampton, Warwick, Manchester, Bath, etc. Those tend to be a lot more theoretical and mathematical.
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MongoDB
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(Original post by Flashsav)
Could you mind asking him how much and how he found the maths side of the courses please at Kcl

Apologies for the delay, I do not use this website very much.

In regards to my brother, I haven't personally asked him, but considering he got a first, I'd say he probably found it alright.

In regards to myself? Well I did A level Maths about 5 years ago (I got a D, lmao), did an access course in engineering and am currently studying computer science (not at KCL, I'm at bath). The discrete mathematics we have been studying the first term I find relatively simple. Hoping to get about 70-80% in my upcoming exam (if there aren't too many curveballs I could get see myself getting 90%). Finding programming harder (not the theory of it, the exam was a cakewalk but the programs I make are pretty spaghetti to say the least).

However a classmate of mine who also came from Access to HE in engineering has found the maths quite difficult (but he seems to be much better than me at writing non-spaghetti code).
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winterscoming
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(Original post by mongodb)
Apologies for the delay, I do not use this website very much.

In regards to my brother, I haven't personally asked him, but considering he got a first, I'd say he probably found it alright.

In regards to myself? Well I did A level Maths about 5 years ago (I got a D, lmao), did an access course in engineering and am currently studying computer science (not at KCL, I'm at bath). The discrete mathematics we have been studying the first term I find relatively simple. Hoping to get about 70-80% in my upcoming exam (if there aren't too many curveballs I could get see myself getting 90%). Finding programming harder (not the theory of it, the exam was a cakewalk but the programs I make are pretty spaghetti to say the least).

However a classmate of mine who also came from Access to HE in engineering has found the maths quite difficult (but he seems to be much better than me at writing non-spaghetti code).
Out of interest, what's the problem you're often facing which leads you to end up with spaghetti? Do you break the program up into separate classes and functions/methods? or do you find it hard to see the ways of splitting up your code like that?

One thing I would say is not to worry if your first attempt starts out looking like spaghetti - it's pretty normal to write some ugly/messy code as your first attempt when trying to solve the problem, then go back to it afterwards with the benefit of having done the hard thinking to solve the problem to "refactor" into something a bit cleaner; your first attempt is almost never going to be your best version It may be that your classmate starts out writing messy code too, but then takes all the extra time to turn it into smaller simpler pieces afterwards, or more likely that he spots the warning signs of potential problems along the way and then refactors his code before it gets too bad.

It's good to keep your eye out for potential problems while you're writing code - for example, trying to keep your functions short, succinct and making sure that they only do a single "thing". One way to look at it would be if someone asks you 'what does this function do' and your answer is a long monologue (.e.g "First it does X until Y happens, then it does A if B is true or C if D is true, and then.."), then it's doing too many things. The best functions are short-and-snappy which usually describe a single small part of a feature of the program e.g. "Asks the user to type a number" or "Reads a list of numbers from a CSV file" or "Prints the list of results to the screen", etc.

Sometimes there are other indicators of problems - e.g. having very similar code in multiple places which looks like it's almost a 'copy-paste' with a few minor differences, or functions which need more than 2 or 3 parameters, functions which are more than 20-30 lines of code, classes which have lots of data fields, class constructors which have more than 2 or 3 parameters. Also, deeply-nested if/for/while blocks are another sign that everything can be broken down and simplified.
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