Computer Science degree (Imperial,UCL,KCL)

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jameszhao
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#1
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#1
I am currently in Year 12. I have just received my predicted grades which should be:
1. A* (Maths)
2. A* (Further Maths)
3. A (Economics)
4. A (History)

I am worried as I do not have computer science A-level and do not have much extra-curricular activities to support the computer science side of the application, however I believe that my maths skills are very good.

I am aiming to apply to:
1. Imperial College
2. UCL
3. King's College London
4. Queen Mary University
5. Birkbeck University

Is it even worth applying to my 1st/2nd choice universities seeing as I do not have computer science A-level?



EDIT: My history got bumped up to A* and my econ is like 1% away so pray to god that it will follow!
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Baleroc
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#2
(Original post by jameszhao)
I am currently in Year 12. I have just received my predicted grades which should be:
1. A* (Maths)
2. A* (Further Maths)
3. A (Economics)
4. A (History)

I am worried as I do not have computer science A-level and do not have much extra-curricular activities to support the computer science side of the application, however I believe that my maths skills are very good.

I am aiming to apply to:
1. Imperial College
2. UCL
3. King's College London
4. Queen Mary University
5. Birkbeck University

Is it even worth applying to my 1st/2nd choice universities seeing as I do not have computer science A-level?
On Imperial's website (https://www.imperial.ac.uk/study/ug/...y-requirements)

The entry requirements are A* in Mathematics, A*A in two further subjects.

Thus, you will still be considered as you've met the minimum entry requirements.

On UCL's website (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-st...er-science-bsc)

Their entry requirements are similar: A* in Mathematics, A*A in two further subjects.

They are the only requirements you need, so yes, you should still apply for those universities.
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jameszhao
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(Original post by Baleroc)
They are the only requirements you need, so yes, you should still apply for those universities.
Thanks alot for helping ,

However what I was kinda getting at is.... there's so many students applying with exemplar knowledge, grades, etc etc. Why would imperial or UCL even consider someone without Computer science A-level or even outstanding programming projects etc.
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Baleroc
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(Original post by jameszhao)
Thanks alot for helping ,

However what I was kinda getting at is.... there's so many students applying with exemplar knowledge, grades, etc etc. Why would imperial or UCL even consider someone without Computer science A-level or even outstanding programming projects etc.
Well, the presumption you make is: "Well, I won't be considered because there are candidates better than me, applying.", when that's not always true.

Regardless if there are better candidates, you will always be considered if you meet the minimum requirements. It doesn't matter if every other candidate had a PhD, you would still be considered as you would meet their requirements.

So, you should modify your question from: "will I get considered" to "how do I maximise my chance of obtaining entry"

To maximise your chance is an entirely different question:

You could learn programming on the side, you could participate in Project Euler, you could try reading some programming books, you could try programming in HackerRank, you could try doing some super curricular activities recommended by Cambridge, which should boost your application for any university.

You can find Cambridge super-curricular activities here: https://www.undergraduate.study.cam....uggestions.pdf

Ultimately, it's up to you to improve your chances at getting into a popular university, but refusing to apply shouldn't be considered.
Last edited by Baleroc; 1 month ago
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M_m_m03
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(Original post by jameszhao)
I am currently in Year 12. I have just received my predicted grades which should be:
1. A* (Maths)
2. A* (Further Maths)
3. A (Economics)
4. A (History)

I am worried as I do not have computer science A-level and do not have much extra-curricular activities to support the computer science side of the application, however I believe that my maths skills are very good.

I am aiming to apply to:
1. Imperial College
2. UCL
3. King's College London
4. Queen Mary University
5. Birkbeck University

Is it even worth applying to my 1st/2nd choice universities seeing as I do not have computer science A-level?
Lol yes, I didn’t do Computer Science at A-level but now do Joint Maths and Computer Science(JMC) at Imperial (note joint maths and computer science is ran by the computing department so has the same application process as pure computer science), I also got an offer for UCL when I applied… a lot of others I know at Imperial that do JMC or pure Computer Science didn’t do A-Level computer science either.
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jameszhao
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(Original post by M_m_m03)
a lot of others that do both Maths and Computer Science and also pure Computer Science didn’t do A-Level computer science either.
Wow... Impressive!
I was looking into JMC too but I found that not too many unis did it and I didn't want to risk my PS looking super diluted because of applying for JMC and computer science in different Unis.

Did you have plenty of Work experience/internships?
ps+ which programming language do you reckon I should grind soullessly to help with Uni and so that I can participate in project euler and stuff??
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jameszhao
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(Original post by Baleroc)

You could learn programming on the side, you could participate in Project Euler, you could try reading some programming books, you could try programming in HackerRank.
Thanks so much for taking the time to help me. One last thing, Which programming language would you recommended that I would probably use in Uni anyways?
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artful_lounger
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There are honestly many more and better CS courses outside of London e.g. Oxbridge, Warwick, Edinburgh, Bristol, Southampton, etc. Southampton and Cambridge aren't even that far from London via train so going back to visit isn't that difficult. I'd recommend considering any of those over BBK/QMUL/KCL, all of which are much more marginal CS departments. Even UCL doesn't compare to a lot of those I listed!

In any case to answer your question CS A-level is not required and Imperial even specifically states they do not require or expect any prior experience of even programming as they teach everything from scratch. This is typical of most CS degrees.
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jameszhao
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
There are honestly many more and better CS courses outside of London e.g. Oxbridge, Warwick, Edinburgh, Bristol, Southampton, etc. Southampton and Cambridge aren't even that far from London via train so going back to visit isn't that difficult. I'd recommend considering any of those over BBK/QMUL/KCL, all of which are much more marginal CS departments. Even UCL doesn't compare to a lot of those I listed!

In any case to answer your question CS A-level is not required and Imperial even specifically states they do not require or expect any prior experience of even programming as they teach everything from scratch. This is typical of most CS degrees.
Personally: Oxbridge is out of the question for me. I reckon it would just be the biggest flop of my life. However, I'm aware that the others you listed are brilliant universities but for 1. Debt and 2. Relationship... I am only considering London Unis hehe
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Baleroc
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(Original post by jameszhao)
Thanks so much for taking the time to help me. One last thing, Which programming language would you recommended that I would probably use in Uni anyways?
I had to do some digging for this to confirm it, but the best overall is Java.

UCL's programming course: Object Oriented Programming, uses Java. The only way to identify that was looking at the reading list https://rl.talis.com/3/ucl/lists/132...tml?lang=en-US

As an update to this, Imperial seems to have a mish-mash of everything.

Their Computing Practical 1 module (40009) teaches Java, Kotlin, C, HTML, CSS, Javascript.

Then, their Introduction to Computer Systems module introduces C++.

Then their Software Engineering Design module talks about Java in more detail, so Imperial seems to be an outlier compared to other universities.

Overall, I would recommend Java, as even if you don't choose Imperial, most universities teach Java. Imperial do teach Java, but they also teach other languages as well. Java is also the easiest to learn, so overall that's what I recommend to start with.
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M_m_m03
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(Original post by jameszhao)
Personally: Oxbridge is out of the question for me. I reckon it would just be the biggest flop of my life. However, I'm aware that the others you listed are brilliant universities but for 1. Debt and 2. Relationship... I am only considering London Unis hehe
If your circumstances let you, you really should apply for oxbridge especially if you’re applying for Imperial and UCL computer science. Both the Imperial and UCL computer science courses are insanely competitive (and hence quite a lot of luck, especially for UCL since they only use personal statement), for Imperial it’s like almost 4000 applicants with 500 or so getting offers that are based on STEP which then results in around 230 or so actually getting in, UCL is also very competitive for computer science… it’s quite unlikely someone gets an offer for computer science at both oxbridge and imperial (and UCL), there are people who got oxbridge computer science offers but didn’t get imperial or ucl offers and of course vice-versa… not applying to Oxford or Cambridge for Comp Sci would mean you are just reducing the chances of studying at one of the top computer sciences unis.
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M_m_m03
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(Original post by jameszhao)
Wow... Impressive!
I was looking into JMC too but I found that not too many unis did it and I didn't want to risk my PS looking super diluted because of applying for JMC and computer science in different Unis.

Did you have plenty of Work experience/internships?
ps+ which programming language do you reckon I should grind soullessly to help with Uni and so that I can participate in project euler and stuff??
Honestly, applying for JMC and pure Computer Science in different unis should not be a problem at all, after all Computer Science is a very mathematical subject at its core. A JMC personal statement would be perfectly suitable for pure computer science courses too. I actually applied to the pure Computer Science course at kings as well and received an offer from them despite applying to JMC for all other unis.

Haha no I had absolutely no work experience or internships lol, you don't really need them.
Hmm in terms of programming languages it's really upto you. For your first language maybe something like python, which is probably the easiest to learn, would be good, or if you want a slightly bigger challenge maybe Java like somebody else mentioned. I can confirm in first year at Imperial we get taught Haskell, Kotlin, Java and then C. By the end of first year we should be able to pick any language and be able to learn and use it with ease.

Personally I only knew a bit of python from GCSE Computer Science when I was applying lol.
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jameszhao
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(Original post by M_m_m03)
Honestly, applying for JMC and pure Computer Science in different unis should not be a problem at all, after all Computer Science is a very mathematical subject at its core. A JMC personal statement would be perfectly suitable for pure computer science courses too. I actually applied to the pure Computer Science course at kings as well and received an offer from them despite applying to JMC for all other unis.

Haha no I had absolutely no work experience or internships lol, you don't really need them.
Hmm in terms of programming languages it's really upto you. For your first language maybe something like python, which is probably the easiest to learn, would be good, or if you want a slightly bigger challenge maybe Java like somebody else mentioned. I can confirm in first year at Imperial we get taught Haskell, Kotlin, Java and then C. By the end of first year we should be able to pick any language and be able to learn and use it with ease.

Personally I only knew a bit of python from GCSE Computer Science when I was applying lol.
wow you must have had an absolutely bomb personal statement then lol
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M_m_m03
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(Original post by jameszhao)
wow you must have had an absolutely bomb personal statement then lol
Personally I thought it was average lol, I could send it to you if it helps you.

Good luck with your application!
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Baleroc
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(Original post by M_m_m03)
If your circumstances let you, you really should apply for oxbridge especially if you’re applying for Imperial and UCL computer science. Both the Imperial and UCL computer science courses are insanely competitive (and hence quite a lot of luck, especially for UCL since they only use personal statement), for Imperial it’s like almost 4000 applicants with 500 or so getting offers that are based on STEP which then results in around 230 or so actually getting in, UCL is also very competitive for computer science… it’s quite unlikely someone gets an offer for computer science at both oxbridge and imperial (and UCL), there are people who got oxbridge computer science offers but didn’t get imperial or ucl offers and of course vice-versa… not applying to Oxford or Cambridge for Comp Sci would mean you are just reducing the chances of studying at one of the top computer sciences unis.
I want to offer an objective perspective here in terms of the competition between universities, so here are some statistics regarding it:

UCL (2018):
Applications: 1600, Offers: 282 (17.6%)
Source: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/reque..._passthrough=1
Available from a FoI request at: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/reque...ion_statisti_7

Imperial (2021)
Applications: 3,662, Offers: 232(6.3%)
Source:
https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imp...tats-Guide.pdf

Cambridge (2020)
Applications: 1465, Offers: 140 (9.56%)
Source: https://www.undergraduate.study.cam....2020_cycle.pdf

Oxford (2021)
Bit trickier to organise their statistics because they group them by State and Independent, but for State school statistics:

Applications: 828, Offers: 44 (5.3%)
Source: https://www.ox.ac.uk/sites/files/oxf...Report2022.pdf

I hope that helps to provide awareness regarding how competitive universities are to apply to.
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M_m_m03
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(Original post by Baleroc)
I want to offer an objective perspective here in terms of the competition between universities, so here are some statistics regarding it:

UCL (2018):
Applications: 1600, Offers: 282 (17.6%)
Source: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/reque..._passthrough=1
Available from a FoI request at: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/reque...ion_statisti_7

Imperial (2019)
Applications: 929, Offers: 137 (14.7%)
Source: https://view.officeapps.live.com/op/...gin=BROWSELINK
Available from a FOI request at: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/reque...e_admissions_2

Cambridge (2020)
Applications: 1465, Offers: 140 (9.56%)
Source: https://www.undergraduate.study.cam....2020_cycle.pdf

Oxford (2021)
Bit trickier to organise their statistics because they group them by State and Independent, but for State school statistics:

Applications: 828, Offers: 44 (5.3%)
Source: https://www.ox.ac.uk/sites/files/oxf...Report2022.pdf

I hope that helps to provide awareness regarding how competitive universities are to apply to.
The Imperial numbers here are very misleading as you've only selected the pure Computing BEng course rather than all the computing courses including JMC. When applying, Imperial does not distinguish between it's computing courses, you apply to the department rather than the specific course. So ideally you would take the sum of the applicants to all it's computing courses. In addition, both UCL and Imperial (and arguably even Cambridge) numbers are quite outdated due to the rapid increase in applicants over the past couple of years for computer science courses. The numbers I gave (almost 4000 applicants for around 500 offers were for the 2021 application year, they were given to us in a pre-interview video Imperial sent).
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jameszhao
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(Original post by M_m_m03)
Personally I thought it was average lol, I could send it to you if it helps you.

Good luck with your application!
You're a life saver, that would be so helpful!


I really appreciate this )
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Baleroc
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(Original post by M_m_m03)
The Imperial numbers here are very misleading as you've only selected the pure Computing BEng course rather than all the computing courses including JMC. When applying, Imperial does not distinguish between it's computing courses, you apply to the department rather than the specific course. So ideally you would take the sum of the applicants to all it's computing courses. In addition, both UCL and Imperial (and arguably even Cambridge) numbers are quite outdated due to the rapid increase in applicants over the past couple of years for computer science courses. The numbers I gave (almost 4000 applicants for around 500 offers were for the 2021 application year, they were given to us in a pre-interview video Imperial sent).
Well, I don't know how Imperial's admission process works, so I'll take your word for it as you've had a degree there.

I've updated my source then from Imperial's website for their 2021 cohort, which is the entire computing department's applications
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jameszhao
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(Original post by Baleroc)
I had to do some digging for this to confirm it, but the best overall is Java.

UCL's programming course: Object Oriented Programming, uses Java. The only way to identify that was looking at the reading list https://rl.talis.com/3/ucl/lists/132...tml?lang=en-US

As an update to this, Imperial seems to have a mish-mash of everything.

Their Computing Practical 1 module (40009) teaches Java, Kotlin, C, HTML, CSS, Javascript.

Then, their Introduction to Computer Systems module introduces C++.

Then their Software Engineering Design module talks about Java in more detail, so Imperial seems to be an outlier compared to other universities.

Overall, I would recommend Java, as even if you don't choose Imperial, most universities teach Java. Imperial do teach Java, but they also teach other languages as well. Java is also the easiest to learn, so overall that's what I recommend to start with.
Thanks alot! I'm glad, I actually learnt a bit of java last summer so picking it up should be interesting.
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jameszhao
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(Original post by Baleroc)
I want to offer an objective perspective here in terms of the competition between universities, so here are some statistics regarding it:

UCL (2018):
Applications: 1600, Offers: 282 (17.6%)
Source: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/reque..._passthrough=1
Available from a FoI request at: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/reque...ion_statisti_7

Imperial (2021)
Applications: 3,662, Offers: 232(6.3%)
Source:
https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imp...tats-Guide.pdf

Cambridge (2020)
Applications: 1465, Offers: 140 (9.56%)
Source: https://www.undergraduate.study.cam....2020_cycle.pdf

Oxford (2021)
Bit trickier to organise their statistics because they group them by State and Independent, but for State school statistics:

Applications: 828, Offers: 44 (5.3%)
Source: https://www.ox.ac.uk/sites/files/oxf...Report2022.pdf

I hope that helps to provide awareness regarding how competitive universities are to apply to.
Wow! Thanks alot! Thats a loadd of info!
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