Birkbeck, University of London - MSc Computer Science Online Reviews

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0dz3r
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#1
Report Thread starter 5 months ago
#1
https://london.ac.uk/courses/msc-computer-science

I could not find any thread, or even any review, on this particular programme so far, so I thought it would be useful to make a new thread, in case someone is doing it and can provide some information.

It looks like it could be better than many other alternatives such as York, Keele, etc., but then again it could be more or less the same.
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useless_oarsman
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#2
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#2
Hi there, thanks for making this thread. I haven't been able to find any reviews of this course anywhere. Have you found out more?

I share your assessment that this course could be very similar to the York one, but could potentially be a better option depending on how invested Birkbeck is in the delivery (which is reportedly a problem, though not a deal-breaker, where the York course is concerned).

Birkbeck is, in theory, a very good institution, but so is York. There is an advantage to having run a course for several years already, and where Birkbeck might still be fixing the most glaring shortcomings in the incipient year of the course, we can expect York to have gone through such a quality control-by-experience process already.

On the other hand, this being a new course, there could be an advantage in that the student-lecturer ratio might possibly be much lower than at York, which could (again, depending on how invested Birkbeck are in this course) lead to more one-on-one time with the lecturers. This could, again, be either a good or a bad thing, in that more attention from the lecturers could make it harder to pass the course during stressful phases at work.
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0dz3r
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#3
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(Original post by useless_oarsman)
I haven't been able to find any reviews of this course anywhere. Have you found out more?
I haven't found anything new so far. Perhaps someone who is doing this MSc will post something in this thread eventually.
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throwaway210
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#4
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#4
I'm currently finishing the second module of this program. I've really enjoyed it so far!
Let me know if you have more specific questions.
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tezozheng2
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(Original post by throwaway210)
I'm currently finishing the second module of this program. I've really enjoyed it so far!
Let me know if you have more specific questions.
Hi, How many students enrolled so far? is the recorded video included? If yes, what 's the total time length for each module? I expect it has lots video content, otherwise, it is no difference with york or bath's program..

Thanks
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0dz3r
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#6
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I think that video material can be nice but it is not really a very important point. For me the most important things are to have support from the faculty/staff, being able to communicate, ask questions, etc., and a well structured curriculum with good assessment, with many hands on projects.

(Original post by throwaway210)
I'm currently finishing the second module of this program. I've really enjoyed it so far!
Let me know if you have more specific questions.
Could you give a brief description of how teaching/studying is carried out? What kind of things did you study so far and how have you been assessed for these modules?
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throwaway210
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> How many students enrolled so far?
I don't have an exact number, but looking at the forum I would say that around 20 students are in my cohort. I don't know if there are multiple cohorts being run in parallel. Since this program is very new, I doubt so.

> is the recorded video included? If yes, what 's the total time length for each module?
> Could you give a brief description of how teaching/studying is carried out?
Both modules I've taken so far have followed the same format: the module is split into 10 weeks, where each week a new topic is covered.
For each topic the following is covered every week:
- Around 3 videos of about 10 minutes each made by the professor introducing the topic at a somewhat high level.
- 1 "hands on" video of about 30 minutes where the professor dives deeper on the topic by coding on their IDE.
- A few pages of documents to read.
- 1 or more optional coding exercises that we can complete to make sure we understood the topic well. Those are very hands on and completed on the Codio platform.
- 1 optional quiz.
- 1 question about the topic to discuss with other students on the forum. Those are usually pretty open ended questions.

> For me the most important things are to have support from the faculty/staff, being able to communicate, ask questions, etc.
Each module is accompanied by a dedicated forum where everyone can ask questions. The TAs have been extremely responsive on those. I don't think that I've seen a question unanswered for more than 24 hours. They do a good job communicating even if it's just something like "we're looking into this" for technical problems for example.
On top of that TAs are available via direct message on the platform as well. I only contacted them through this mean twice and received answers very promptly both times.
Something less positive is the platform for the forums itself which is a bit hard to navigate in my opinion.

3 times per module the staff also hosts what they call "webinars". Those are simply Q&A sessions where the professors and TAs are available on a zoom call to answer questions. Since those sessions are synchronous, they are recorded for those who can't make it.

> What kind of things did you study so far and how have you been assessed for these modules?
Like I said earlier, I'm finishing up my second module. So far I've done Principles of programming and Object-oriented programming. Next quarter, I'll be taking the Applied Machine Learning module.

The assessment has been slightly different for both modules:
- Principles of programming:
We had 5 small auto-graded exercises to complete every other week each counting for 5% of the final grade (25% in total).
We also had 1 final project counting for 75% of the grade which we could get started on week 6.
- Object-oriented programming:
This quarter, we've had one smaller auto-graded exercise that became available week 6. We had two weeks to complete it and it also counts for 25% of the final grade.
Similarly to the previous quarter (Principles of programming), we also have 1 final project that I'm currently working on and will count for 75% of the grade.

For both modules, every assessment has been fully hands on, nothing theoretical. What I mean by that is that we were fully assessed by producing code. The projects are challenging but fun and have very clear specifications.

________

Let me know if that helps and if you have any other questions!
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0dz3r
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#8
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#8
(Original post by throwaway210)
Let me know if that helps and if you have any other questions!
Thank you, it sounds pretty good.
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serdarilarslan
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#9
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#9
Is anyone doing this program currently?

What's the general experience with it so far? How would one compare this program with the ones at the University of York and the University of Bath?
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MusicMelody
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#10
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(Original post by throwaway210)
I'm currently finishing the second module of this program. I've really enjoyed it so far!
Let me know if you have more specific questions.
Hi,

What kind of languages to they teach?
I've been looking at the curriculum and it seems they only mentioned python and SQL, do you know if they go into HTML or Java etc?

Thanks
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throwaway210
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#11
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(Original post by MusicMelody)
Hi,

What kind of languages to they teach?
I've been looking at the curriculum and it seems they only mentioned python and SQL, do you know if they go into HTML or Java etc?

Thanks
So far we've used Java for one module, and Python for the other two.
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foreverlearner
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#12
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(Original post by throwaway210)
> How many students enrolled so far?
I don't have an exact number, but looking at the forum I would say that around 20 students are in my cohort. I don't know if there are multiple cohorts being run in parallel. Since this program is very new, I doubt so.

> is the recorded video included? If yes, what 's the total time length for each module?
> Could you give a brief description of how teaching/studying is carried out?
Both modules I've taken so far have followed the same format: the module is split into 10 weeks, where each week a new topic is covered.
For each topic the following is covered every week:
- Around 3 videos of about 10 minutes each made by the professor introducing the topic at a somewhat high level.
- 1 "hands on" video of about 30 minutes where the professor dives deeper on the topic by coding on their IDE.
- A few pages of documents to read.
- 1 or more optional coding exercises that we can complete to make sure we understood the topic well. Those are very hands on and completed on the Codio platform.
- 1 optional quiz.
- 1 question about the topic to discuss with other students on the forum. Those are usually pretty open ended questions.

> For me the most important things are to have support from the faculty/staff, being able to communicate, ask questions, etc.
Each module is accompanied by a dedicated forum where everyone can ask questions. The TAs have been extremely responsive on those. I don't think that I've seen a question unanswered for more than 24 hours. They do a good job communicating even if it's just something like "we're looking into this" for technical problems for example.
On top of that TAs are available via direct message on the platform as well. I only contacted them through this mean twice and received answers very promptly both times.
Something less positive is the platform for the forums itself which is a bit hard to navigate in my opinion.

3 times per module the staff also hosts what they call "webinars". Those are simply Q&A sessions where the professors and TAs are available on a zoom call to answer questions. Since those sessions are synchronous, they are recorded for those who can't make it.

> What kind of things did you study so far and how have you been assessed for these modules?
Like I said earlier, I'm finishing up my second module. So far I've done Principles of programming and Object-oriented programming. Next quarter, I'll be taking the Applied Machine Learning module.

The assessment has been slightly different for both modules:
- Principles of programming:
We had 5 small auto-graded exercises to complete every other week each counting for 5% of the final grade (25% in total).
We also had 1 final project counting for 75% of the grade which we could get started on week 6.
- Object-oriented programming:
This quarter, we've had one smaller auto-graded exercise that became available week 6. We had two weeks to complete it and it also counts for 25% of the final grade.
Similarly to the previous quarter (Principles of programming), we also have 1 final project that I'm currently working on and will count for 75% of the grade.

For both modules, every assessment has been fully hands on, nothing theoretical. What I mean by that is that we were fully assessed by producing code. The projects are challenging but fun and have very clear specifications.

________

Let me know if that helps and if you have any other questions!
Great modules you have had so far. Just curious is it possible/doable to have Object-oriented programming and Fundamentals of Computing concurrently ?

As I do have a plan to take PGCert next year Apr 2023, and here is how it goes tentatively:
Apr 2023: Principles of programming
Jul 2023: Data Management
Oct 2023: Break
Jan 2024: Object-oriented programming and Fundamentals of Computing

By selecting the above modules in hope to fulfill the 4 modules as required to be awarded with PGCert.

Hope you would shed some light, TIA.
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