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Your Guide to Computer Science

Are you considering studying computer science in university? If so, this article is perfect for you...


Anyone who wants to study computer science must be creative, so as to become a skilled problem solver, must be diligent, as in you give a lot of attention to detail, and must be strong in maths, as this forms part of your logical thinking. All these qualities are looked for in the skills admissions boards, on top of the top marks in subjects like IT, computing, maths and physics. A background in psychology or biology might also boost your application as these will help you further understand how humans process information.

Applicants are not usually expected to have studied computer science beforehand, however, it is recommended that you pick a programming language from the recommended following, Python, C++, Pascal, Haskell and Java, to get a taster of the subject.

Often, universities offer another course alongside computer science, like mathematics, engineering and computing, therefore make sure you research into the courses given by the university so as to know what they entail.

Since many people will have more or less the same experience as you, it may look good on your application to include programs you have created at home or at school. In doing so, you will stand a much greater chance at being accepted in the top university of your choice.

Computer Science Schools:

The following universities were ordered according to The World University Rankings, however orders may change every year and every university vary the subjects taught within a course, therefore is it best recommend that you do further research into the universities cited below and more. The information provided will give you with a better understanding of each universities requirements for this specific subject.

5. Cambridge University

There are four option courses from which the applicant will be required to pick one for their first year. They must choose out of:

  • 75% option: Computer Science (with further Computer Science!)

  • 50% option: Computer Science with Natural Sciences

  • 50% option: Computer Science with Psychology

  • 50% option: Computer Science with Mathematics

In the second year, they will be taught the core principles of computer science and the syllabus formed by industry bodies who set standards. In their third year, they are free to choose from a range of subjects to study in further depth. For two thirds of the year, they will be working on a personal project which is an opportunity for them to demonstrate all the skills they have learnt to their future employers.

Requirements for the International Baccalaureate Student:

  • Higher Level Maths is required

  • STEP Mathematics papers are required

  • Higher Level Physics is recommended but not required

  • 40-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level

What are STEP Mathematics papers? This is a maths exam which only concerns those who applied for the Mathematics course or for Computer Science with the 50% mathematics option. Cambridge has a free online STEP preparation course for students taking the exam. More information can be found by clicking:

If this course interested you, check it out by clicking the link below:

4. ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich:

This is a three year course. In their first academic year, students are taught the basics in computing, mathematics and algorithmics whilst learning about the core principles of computer systems. During their second year, students deepen their understanding of the core principles of computer science with important theoretical and methodological principles. Lastly, in their third year, students will choose between three options for specialization. These options are:

  • Systems and Software engineering

  • Information and Data processing

  • Theoretical and Computer Science

Requirements for the International Baccalaureate Student:

  1. At Higher Level (HL): a) mathematics or further mathematics, b) physics or chemistry or biology, c) 1 language A;

  2. At Standard Level (SL): three additional subjects of the following: physics, chemistry, biology, geography, history, economics or business management, 1 further language only, computer science.

  3. 38 out of 42 points (without bonus points)

The following subjects are recognised:

  • All languages

  • Economics

  • Business and management

  • Geography

  • History

  • Biology

  • Chemistry

  • Physics

  • Mathematics HL or SL

The following subjects are NOT recognised:

  • Design Technology

  • Theatre

  • Psychology

  • Film

  • IT in a Global Society

  • Philosophy

  • Math studies SL

  • Music

If this course interested you, check it out by clicking the link below:

3.University of Oxford

Computer science at Oxford can be studied by itself, with mathematics or with philosophy. They all take three to four years to complete.

In the first year of the program, students establish a basis of computer programming and creating links between theory and practice. In the second and third year, the students will take ten optional courses. It is recommended that they take a fourth year, during which they can pick an advanced subject to study and produce a product as well.

Students interested in taking the computer science course may also take mathematics or philosophy or computer science by itself.

Requirements for the International Baccalaureate Student:

  • Mathematics Higher Level (score 7)

  • Further Mathematics is also highly recommended

  • One of the sciences in higher level

  • Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT)

  • 39 points with 776 at higher level

If this course interested you, check it out by clicking the link below:

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

‘According to The Guardian "a survey of living MIT alumni found that they have formed 25,800 companies, employing more than three million people including about a quarter of the workforce of Silicon Valley."’

MIT offers computer science as a joint course but not by itself. There are various different options to choose from:

  • Mathematics with Computer Science

  • Computer Science and Molecular Biology

  • Computer Science, Economics, and Data Structures

  • Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Requirements for the International Baccalaureate Student:

  • Mathematics HL (score 6-7)

  • Physics HL (score 6-7)

  • There are no specific requirements posted by MIT for the IB scores as they use a common pool for undergraduate applicants.

  • SAT or ACT, as well as two SAT subject tests: one in maths (level 1 or 2) and one in science (biology, chemistry, or physics)

  • There is no minimum recommended scores for the SAT, the ACT or the SAT subjects, however you may wish to view the statistics from previous years to know where to aim for, by clicking here:

If this course interested you, check it out by clicking the link below:

1.Stanford University

‘The Californian institution has a reputation for producing graduates that go on to found some of the world's biggest technology companies, including Google, HP, Instagram, and Snapchat.’

Computer science in Stanford can be studied with various different subject and at different levels. The stanford department happens to be located right in the middle of the silicon valley and has numerous connections with local businesses, providing excellent opportunities for its student to getting summer internships as well as permanent positions after graduation.

The options for studying computer science at Stanford are:

  • Computer Science Major

  • Computer Science Minor

  • Electrical Engineering

  • Mathematical and Computational Sciences

  • Symbolic Systems

Requirements for the International Baccalaureate Student:

  • Higher Level Maths

  • Higher Level Science (Physics, Biology, or Chemistry)

  • There are no specific requirements posted by MIT for the IB scores as they use a common pool for undergraduate applicants.

  • For more detailed information on the IB chart at Stanford, please visit :

  • ACT with writing or SAT with Essay. Test scores without writing/Essay will not be admitted. Furthermore, there is no minimum score requirement which will guarantee your admission. Stanford reviews each students holistically.

  • SAT subject tests are optional to allow for you to highlight your areas of growth, Stanford welcomes the self-reporting of this in your results.


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