Computer Science at Oxford
From Computer Science at Oxford
Oxford University seeks to attract the best and brightest students. It’s accessible to all students of talent and ability, irrespective of background. Below are some profiles of current undergraduate students taking Computer Science.
You can find out more about members of the Department, including tutors and lecturers, here.
First Year Mathematics and Computer Science
I attended Pontefract New College, a state Sixth Form College in West Yorkshire, and achieved A* in Maths and Further Maths A Levels, and an A in Physics. My Economics AS was a B.
I love the way Oxford chooses to teach Computer Science. Whereas other universities focus on just learning several languages, Oxford really focuses on WHY you use them, and teaches how to create computer programs, not in a specific language, as that's the easy part, but in the general ideas.
Oxford's just a busy, hectic, beautiful, brilliant place to live. There are a crazy amount of clubs and societies, for so many things, there's always something going on.
First Year Mathematics and Computer Science
Before coming to Oxford I studied at Sofia High School of Mathematics in Bulgaria. I got in with my SAT results - 2170 on the reasoning test, 780 in Mathematics 1, 800 in Mathematics 2.
I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to study when I applied. I knew I wanted to do a lot of mathematics and I felt I needed a course in which I could directly apply what I was studying, and make it work.
At Oxford it’s not only about learning the things we need to know; but also how to think. It’s an amazing degree - it's versatile, practical and extremely engaging.
I love the enthusiasm of the lecturers and the way they pass it on to students. My favourite part of the Computer Science course is the practicals. It's nice to know that what you've been studying as theory can be put to practice.
First Year Computer Science
St Anne's College
I attended the Ermitage School of France, near Paris, where I took the OIB, a French Baccalaureate.
I did not think I would get into Oxford. My school had never had a student go off to such a high-ranking university.
I’ve been self-teaching computing since the age of 7. I love the mix of a scientific subject in which creativity is strongly needed to solve problems.
I wanted to study in England, and both Oxford's reputation and tutorial system attracted me.
The best thing about Oxford is the tutorial system, and how easy it is to contact tutors. I would recommend the course to others, as long as they are ready to study CS from a theoretical point of view.
Third Year Mathematics and Computer Science
I am from Slovakia where I studied for an International Baccalaureate, before moving to England to start my degree at Oxford.
The Department of Computer Science offers a unique place for people with broad range of interests and goals, whether in academia or in the private sector. Oxford is academically challenging. Staff and professors are always supportive and the environment is very professional.
All the courses are very well organised and the lecturers readily share all the course materials, which was a great advantage. The atmosphere of the place makes it just a wonderful place to study.
Maths and Computer Science is a degree that can lead into many disciplines. I quickly realised that thanks to optional courses, I will be able to tailor the course in 2nd and 3rd year completely to my needs. I would highly recommend the Maths and Computer Science course – especially to people who want to work in software houses, academia and finance, including investment banks.
Fourth Year Computer Science
St. Catherine's College
I went to Taunton's, a Sixth Form College in Southampton. I studied Mathematics, Further Maths, Physics and Computing A-level, and Chemistry AS, and I received As in all those subjects.
I chose to study Computer Science because it is a combination of mathematics and computers and has applications for many other fields as well. The Oxford course strikes a balance between theory and practice that appeals to me, although at the time I was deciding, I thought I'd be more interested in the practical side of things, I actually find that I prefer the theory now. The best thing about studying Computer Science at Oxford is the small class size allows for more two-way communication between student and tutor. I’ve especially enjoyed the Functional Programming and Principles of Programming Languages courses because they broadened the way I think about programs – chiefly, what they are and how they work.
If I could give a prospective student one piece of advice about coming to study Computer Science at Oxford, I’d say don't decide not to apply because you don't think you're good enough – you could be very surprised. Originally I thought I would not be likely to be accepted into Oxford, but I decided to apply anyway, mainly just to see if I could. A friend of mine said that it would be worth it if only so that he could frame the rejection letter! Even if I hadn't managed to get into Oxford, I definitely think I would have benefited just from getting the applications to all the other universities done early, so I had less to worry about down the line.
Third Year Mathematics and Computer Science
Before coming to Oxford I studied in my home country, Bulgaria. I attended a specialised mathematical high school.
Where I come from, the name 'Oxford' means a lot. I chose Mathematics and Computer Science as a subject because at high school level I did a lot of Maths, however I felt that there was more to the subject. Computer Science has always fascinated me.
I have found that the best thing about studying at Oxford is the truly unique mixture of people. The facilities available to students and the support we get is amazing. The classes at Oxford are small - and that offers a lot of advantages. The part of the course I most enjoy are the practical sessions, as they help me realise how the material we have covered in lectures could be implemented in practice.
As well as studying, I am the president of the Bulgarian Society, and I am a keen rower. The highlight of my time at Oxford so far was during the Summer Eights (Oxford’s biggest inter-college rowing race) when our boat won 'blades'. (Crews who perform particularly well are rewarded with the presentation of their oars – 'blades' – decorated with a record of their achievement.)
Fourth year Mathematics and Computer Science
I’m from a state school in Maidstone, Kent where I studied German, French, Maths and Further Maths for A level.
I’d always been keen on maths and my interest in problem solving and languages led me to Computer Science. After attending an Open Day, I decided Oxford was the place for me: the tutors were so approachable and the course incredibly flexible in the ways you can combine the two subjects. It also did not assume any prior knowledge of Computer Science.
Any initial apprehension I had quickly became unimportant, as it was easy to settle in. I knew deep down this is what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be, in Oxford’s beautiful surroundings with a chance to pursue my interests to a high level. Working in small groups with others who are passionate about the subject is a real benefit.
The course has been challenging and exciting, as I have discovered new mathematical ‘tools’ and ideas and been given a chance to be creative, for example in producing rigorous proofs and algorithms. A lot of ideas now make more sense to me as I am studying topics in more depth.
With the numerous organisations it’s been easy to carry on the extra-curricular activities I enjoyed before. I have the privilege of singing as a choral scholar in the 18th Century college chapel, conducting a college choir and playing in the orchestra. Just from being around college I’ve also been able to meet a wide range of people with different interests and backgrounds.
Another perk to life in Oxford is the great facilities: the halls serving fantastic formal meals and en suite rooms are among these. The college also has a very safe environment making daily life away from home pleasant and easy to cope with.
Mathematics and Computer Science 2006–2010
I went to the Latymer School in East London and took A-levels in Maths, Further Maths, French and ICT and AS-Levels in Further Additional Maths and Physics. I also did the STEP 2 and 3 exams.
I chose Oxford because the course was an even split of both Computer Science and Maths from the beginning, without a bias towards either one. I chose Mathematics and Computer Science because I have always had a keen interest in both and appreciate that they have a very strong link, large areas of overlap, and ultimately mathematics underpins most of Computer Science.
The course has been amazingly flexible and I have enjoyed the benefits of having the best of both worlds: the ability to choose any mathematical module or any computing module to suit my interests. I think Oxford is just the right kind of city to study in; it ensures that you can study without too many distractions, but have fun if you need to relax or unwind.
The highlights of the course have been studying Databases last term and finding out more about robots in the Intelligent Systems module. The variety of topics means you can always find a module that personally interests you. The highlights of being at Oxford, have been the various opportunities to work with really smart people on committees or socially, and also the great resources we have access to including our Careers Service and the Radcliffe Science Library. Lastly the tutorial system means you can get all the help you need and it keeps you on your toes!
In college, I had a role on our JCR committee and I am a member of the Christian Union. I was also the Keble College rep serving on the Mathematics Undergraduate Representative Committee (MURC) and I played on the college netball team.
Computer Science 2007–2010
I live in a town called Witney, about 20 minutes from Oxford. I attended The Henry Box School, one of the two local comprehensives, and achieved AAAB in maths, f.maths, chemistry, and physics respectively.
I chose the course because I wanted to be taught the principles that underpinned programming languages, allowing me to easily learn new languages when required, as opposed to being taught specific details of individual languages, which I could learn myself.
The course is well structured and well taught, which is fortunate as I find it very demanding.
A particular highlight of the course so far is the Concurrent Programming lecture series which explains how to write programs, using different techniques, that correctly solve problems In the field of concurrency.
As well as studying I also play football for the college first XI, badminton, basketball and pool.
Mathematics and Computer Science 2006–2010
I chose to apply for a joint honours degree because I always enjoyed maths at school and have more recently developed an interest in computer science. British-born, I grew up abroad so when, at the age of 10, my family spent a holiday in Oxford, I fell in love with the city and all the colleges and always hoped to return.
For my A-levels I chose Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Economics. When I came to Oxford, I was worried that my lack of programming experience would put me behind from the start, but I quickly discovered that there were many others in the same position. The course is very interesting and full of variety; I find it hard to settle on just a few options! There is a fantastic learning environment at Oxford and everyone - tutors and students alike - is friendly, down to earth and ready to lend a helping hand when you get stuck.
There is so much extracurricular going on in Oxford at any given time that it’s hard to decide on what to do. In my non-working hours I play college and university football, help with JCR admissions, I’ve acted as sound and light technician for theatre, and played the piano in informal college concerts. I’ve also ventured other activities, including rock gospel choir and ballroom dancing, but this is only a (small) slice of the cake in terms of what’s available.
Oxford is full of opportunities, both academic and otherwise, the challenge is to take full advantage of both simultaneously!
Computer Science 2006–2010
St John's College
I grew up on the Wirral, near Liverpool, and studied at my local comprehensive where I took Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Biology at A level. By the time I started looking at further education my attention had shifted towards Computer Science.
I chose Oxford because of its tutorial system and its outstanding reputation as a leading institute in Computer Science. Due to my relative lack of knowledge about computers and programming the fact that the course started from basics was an advantage.
The course has proved to be better than I had imagined as it is well structured, giving a good basis in Maths and programming, before broadening to allow you to pursue your fields of choice.
Oxford provides all the benefits of a city university plus, because of the College system, there is a strong community spirit which can be very rewarding to be involved in. I have been involved in many activities included my college and university ballroom dancing team, Welfare Officer for my college, a member of various other societies and an eager supporter of all social activities.
Overall I think Oxford provides the perfect student life and will leave me with many happy memories.