Average student intake: 7 (including Joint Schools)
Course length: 3 years (BA) or 4 years (MCompSci integrated Master's)
Studying Computer Science encompasses everything from the mathematical principles behind programming to the very frontier of supercomputing. As a student at Hertford, you’ll go far beyond the IT that you can study in school, learning alongside expert researchers at both college and University level.
As the course begins with the foundational principles of computers and programming, you don’t need to have studied these subjects before coming to Hertford. We’re much more interested in your intellectual curiosity and creative problem-solving. Computer Science allows you to harness your mathematical knowledge by applying it to real-world problems.
Single-honours Computer Science is a new degree course at Hertford. We spearheaded the creation of the Computer Science and Philosophy degree, and have been teaching it since its inception. We’re now excited to build on this expertise in our single-honours teaching.
Teaching and learning
You’ll be taught in a combination of lectures, classes, practicals and tutorials. Lectures and practicals are organised by the Department of Computer Science and bring together students from across the University. You’ll learn directly from our leading international experts. Practical project work is also a key part of the course – we run this with the support of our industry partners, giving you the opportunity to design innovative solutions to practical problems.
At Hertford, we’ll teach you in small group tutorials. These are an excellent opportunity to discuss your work and ideas with a tutor. Usually, you’ll have worked on a problem sheet before hand – in the tutorial, we’ll help you to consolidate your independent learning and encourage you to expand your ideas further. You will normally have two to three classes or tutorials in college per week. If you choose to study an optional course in which we don’t have the specific expertise, we’ll arrange for you to be taught by specialists at other colleges.
A degree in Computer Science can equip with skills relevant in many fields of work. Some graduates follow careers in industries which require an understanding of computer systems, from software and hardware manufacturers to finance and consultancy. Many graduates go on to become programmers, software designers, computer engineers, data analysts and researchers.
Making an application
We will use your UCAS application and the results of the MAT (Mathematics Aptitude Test) to decide which candidates to shortlist for interview. You can find past papers for the MAT online, and we recommend having a go at one in timed conditions.
The most important qualities we look for in Computer Science candidates are ability, potential and commitment. You don’t need any specific prior knowledge of Computer Science but we do recommend that you study as much Mathematics at school as possible, as the Computer Science course is highly reliant on mathematical principles.
If you’re invited for interview, you’ll have at least one interview at Hertford and may have one at a second college too. We’ll be assessing your mathematical and critical thinking, your problem-solving skills, and your ability to apply what you know to unfamiliar situations. We want to get the best out of you, so will do all we can to make you feel comfortable.
Joint Schools: Computer Science and Philosophy
3-year BA or 4-year integrated Master’s degree (MCompPhil)
Hertford played a fundamental role in establishing this exciting joint honours course in 2012 – our commitment to innovation continues today in our teaching and research. We have the largest number of Computer Science and Philosophy students in Oxford, and our teaching is led by Professor Peter Millican, who has over 20 years’ experience teaching both Philosophy and Computer Science at multiple universities.
Both subjects share a broad focus on the representation of information and rational inference, embracing common interests in algorithms, cognition, intelligence, language, models, proof and verification. Computer Scientists need to be able to reflect critically and philosophically about these areas as they develop innovative technologies. Philosophers need to understand them within a world increasingly shaped by computer technology, from the philosophy of artificial intelligence to the ethics of privacy.
Your first and second years will be roughly equally split between Computer Science and Philosophy, with considerable topic choice on both sides. In your third year, you can choose how to weight your degree and in the final Master’s year you can continue to study both subjects or specialise in just one.
The combination of technical and analytical skills which you’ll be able to build throughout your degree are highly regarded by a wide range of employers – from those traditionally associated with Philosophy (such as administration, management and the Civil Service) to those requiring more technical expertise (including finance, software and computer consultancy).
If you’re interested in pursuing research at a higher level, your skills will be highly valued by a huge range of disciplines across the academic spectrum. Computer Science and Philosophy graduates are characterized by an open-mindedness and intellectual adaptability which is key in an increasingly interdisciplinary research and employment environment.