You may already know you want to study Computer Science at university, but be wondering what distinctive features studying Computer Science at Oxford has?
You will receive one-to-one tuition from internationally recognized subject experts, through the world-famous Oxford tutorial system. Usually a tutorial sees you and one other student getting together with a tutor to discuss your work for an hour. Students typically have two or three tutorials or classes each week. It's this method of learning that sets Oxford apart: few universities can match this level of personal tuition, which is designed to allow all students with the right potential, whatever their school background, to reach the same level of study in their subject. Our tutorials are largely given by members of academic staff, not graduate students.
Knowledge that endures
Our course concentrates on teaching you the principles that lie behind current computing technology, not the technology as an end in itself. Our students rapidly become highly competent at using technology to solve problems, but more than that, they develop the ability to adapt their skills to new technology. That's because when you know the principles, it becomes easier to understand the technology and to learn new technology for yourself when you need it. And principles have the potential to stand the test of time, remaining stable even when the technology that's built on them goes through rapid evolution.
Computer Science from the start
Podcast: Why Oxford You don't have to study another subject alongside Computer Science. (Unless of course you want to undertake a joint degree with either Mathematics or Philosophy.) Naturally, some of the lectures during the first year are designed to lay the mathematical foundations for the work you will do later in the course, but we don't require you to spend 50% or more of your first year on other subjects outside Computer Science. Our course assumes no prior knowledge of computing, and teaches everything from first principles. That may seem like a disadvantage if you already know a lot about computing, but a university-level approach to the subject goes much deeper than an A-level course ever can, and most people find it fascinating to see how familiar ideas relate to each other in a fresh way.
Generous financial provision
Oxford is no more expensive than any other university in the country—in many ways it's actually cheaper.
- Oxford offers some of the country's most generous financial assistance (that's money you don't pay back) to UK students from lower income households to help with the cost of undergraduate study.
- A variety of scholarships and prizes are available during the course of the degree.
- Living in college is much cheaper than living in privately rented accommodation, as students only need to pay rent for term time rather than the whole year.
- Food and drink in college is subsidized, so students can eat well at low cost.
- Oxford is a compact city, and many of the colleges, departments, libraries and other facilities are a short walk or bike ride away. There is no need to spend money on public transport in Oxford.
- Every Oxford student has access to the Bodleian Library. It's a copyright library, which means that when a book or journal is published in the UK, the publisher has to give the library a copy. With over 153 miles of shelving, you're pretty much able to find any book you could want there, meaning our students rarely ever have to pay for a textbook.
- Terms at Oxford are only eight weeks long, so with some of the longest holidays in the UK, you'll have plenty of time to find work. Many large firms offer summer internships, where you can get valuable work experience and generally be paid very well. The Careers Service is on hand to help you find posts, and the Department has a busy jobs board where companies can post their computing-related vacancies for free.
The Bodleian Library Cutting-edge science in a historic (and central) setting
Join the top-ranked Computer Science institution in Europe, according to the latest Academic Ranking of World Universities, and become part of the oldest university in the English-speaking world that has been educating world-changing leaders for over 800 years. Oxford is a lively and beautiful city, with much to offer both students and visitors. A relatively compact city, most colleges (plus accommodation) and departments (including us) are in and around the city centre, so only a short walk or cycle ride away from other college and University buildings. Oxford is just 57 miles (90 km) northwest of London, so you can be in the capital in an hour by train.
We have excellent facilities both for academic work and for sporting, artistic, creative and social activities Our courses are intense, but our students (albeit a bit sleep-deprived at times) still have time to try out new hobbies and pursue other activities. There are also extensive academic support facilities at your fingertips—from the careers service and the Bodleian libraries to the world's most famous debating society the Oxford Union, and the Oxford University Student Union, plus dedicated support for international students. There's also a new undergraduate social area within the Department so you can make yourself a drink, play with our Microsoft Surface table, or catch up on your emails between lectures.
Support from your college
The University is divided up into more than 35 different colleges. This collegiate system is at the heart of the University's success, giving students and academics the benefits of belonging to both a large, internationally renowned institution and to a smaller, interdisciplinary, college community. This makes it easier to settle in and meet people. Each college provides accommodation and food, as well as clubs, societies, and facilities like a dining room, bar and common room. Colleges are, however, much more than just accommodation. The relatively small number of students at each college allows for close and supportive personal attention to be given to the induction, development and welfare of individual students. There's lots of advice available on choosing a college.
Strong industry links
Strong industry links and our reputation for excellence mean our graduates are extremely sought after.
- Researchers and faculty are working in collaboration with an impressive array of industry, academic and governmental partners, sharing knowledge and effort to solve tomorrow's problems, today. Partner institutions in our research include Intel, Microsoft, BT, governmental and public-funded institutions such as the Department of Trade and Industry and the National Health Service, and other leading universities including Cambridge and Carnegie Mellon in the US. Current projects include: climate modelling, quantum information processing, heart and cancer modelling, computational linguistics, and applications in engineering and finance.
- There's an annual Careers in Computing fair held within the Department. Between 30 and 40 companies pay for the privilege of meeting our students in the hope of recruiting them for jobs and internships. These exhibitors have included big name global companies such as Cisco, Google, IBM, Credit Suisse, Bloomberg, Fujitsu and Vodafone, plus charities and start-ups.
- Oxford's Entrepreneurship Centre provides students with free courses, conferences & networking opportunities.
The outstanding mix of people
You will meet an outstanding mix of people, and join a community where you live and study alongside people who are as passionate about your subject as you. Learning and debate doesn't stop when you leave the lecture theatre.
- We currently have around 160 undergraduates: there are roughly equal numbers of students on the Computer Science and the Mathematics & Computer Science degrees, and a smaller cohort taking the new degree in Computer Science & Philosophy. We offer a full-time taught postgraduate course: the MSc in Computer Science (approx 50 students). Additionally, around 15 students per year take an MSc in Mathematics and the Foundations of Computer Science (which is administered by the Mathematical Institute). Two part-time postgraduate programmes for professionals are also offered: the MSc in Software Engineering (approx 240 students) and the MSc in Software and Systems Security (approx 75 students). The Department's doctoral programme has over 150 research students (studying for a DPhil—the Oxford term for a PhD) working across a wide range of subjects in Computer Science and Software Engineering. The Department is also home to around 160 academic and research staff. So it's a fairly small department, but a very friendly and high-achieving one. You can find out more about our people and our history on the main Department website.
- During term-time the Department hosts regular seminars and lectures, often given by visiting international speakers, which you are welcome to attend.
- The Oxford University Computer Society (Compsoc) is a student-run society, which organises social events, talks, and practical courses. The Oxford Women in Computer Science Society (OxWoCS) exists for all women in computer science, be they students, faculty, or staff. OxWoCS runs a number of academic, social, and career events throughout the year, including weekly coffee meetings, talks by distinguished female speakers, and industry sponsored events.
Unique interview process
Some students (those from outside the EU) are interviewed by Skype. But the majority of shortlisted candidates come to Oxford for interviews. Our interview process takes place over three days, where we wine* and dine you. During this time you will be interviewed by at least two different colleges. Accommodation and food is free, and you get to stay in college accommodation. It gives you ample time to understand us as well as for us to understand you; and we guarantee you won't be asked to come back for another interview on a separate occasion. This three-day process helps you to get a feel for Oxford as a city and a University, as well as the time to make new friends and gives you a taster of the student life that you can expect. There's no prolonged pooling system: you come to interview in December and we'll let you know in January if you're going to offer you a place or not. Some students even tell us they really enjoyed the interview period. (*By "wine" we actually mean non-alcoholic beverage, but you get the idea.)
No lectures on Saturdays (or Sundays)
But don't just take our word for it...
Some of our current students talk about why they chose Oxford to study Computer Science, about their experiences of the application process and what they think about their time in Oxford so far, elsewhere on this site.