Computer Science | University of Oxford
computer science student
A Computer Science student.
(Credit: Paul Tait)

Computer Science

UCAS codeG400Duration

3 years (BA)
4 years (MCompSci)

Entrance requirements

A*AA with the A* in Maths, Further Maths or Computing/Computer Science

Subject requirements  Maths
  Further Maths
Admissions test(s)ox.ac.uk/matWritten workNone
Admissions statistics*

Interviewed: 23%
Successful: 7%
Intake: 33
*3-year average 2016-18

Contact

+44 (0) 1865 273821 / 283507
Email Computer Science

Subject requirements:       Essential       Recommended       Helpful – may be useful on course

Unistats information for this course can be found at the bottom of the page

Please note that there may be no data available if the number of course participants is very small.

Computer Science is about understanding computer systems and networks at a deep level. Computers and the programs they run are among the most complex products ever created; designing and using them effectively presents immense challenges. Facing these challenges is the aim of Computer Science as a practical discipline, and this leads to some fundamental questions:

  • How can we capture in a precise way what we want a computer system to do?
  • Can we mathematically prove that a computer system does what we want it to?
  • How can computers help us to model and investigate complex systems like the Earth’s climate, financial systems or our own bodies?
  • What are the limits to computing? Will quantum computers extend those limits?

The theories that are now emerging to answer these kinds of questions can be immediately applied to design new computers, programs, networks and systems that are transforming science, business, culture and all other aspects of life.

Computer Science can be studied for three years (BA) or four years (Master of Computer Science). The fourth year allows the study of advanced topics and an in-depth research project. Students do not need to choose between the three-year and four-year options when applying to the course; all students apply for the four-year course, and then decide at the start of the third year whether they wish to continue to the fourth year (which is subject to achieving a 2:1 at the end of the third year).

The course concentrates on creating links between theory and practice. It covers a wide variety of software and hardware technologies and their applications. We are looking for students with a real flair for mathematics, which you will develop into skills that can be used both for reasoning rigorously about the behaviour of programs and computer systems, and for applications such as scientific computing. You will also gain practical problem-solving and program design skills; the majority of subjects within the course are linked with practical work in our well-equipped laboratory.

 students at a lecture

'I love many things about my course. I love the fact that it’s hard, that it’s very theoretical and that we get a lot of practical work. Even when the work is a little challenging you’re never lost because there are so many people around to help you. The tutors really support you at every step and this motivates you to do well.

There are so many wonderful things that I’ve learnt that I never knew existed before. There are definitely moments when, sitting in front of a problem sheet, you realise that you’re at the right place. Computer Science is everything I had hoped for.'
KAMIL

Computer Science

A typical week

During the first part of the course, your work will be divided between about ten lectures and two tutorials each week, in addition to about two practical sessions. In tutorials you will discuss ideas in depth with an experienced computer scientist, usually with just one or two other students. You will be expected to spend a considerable amount of time developing your own understanding of the topics covered in lectures, answering questions designed to check your understanding, and preparing for tutorials.

As the course progresses, you will also begin to work in small classes of up to ten people on more specialised topics. In the second year you will take part in a group design practical, many of which are sponsored by industry. In Years 3 and 4 about a third of your time is spent working on your chosen individual project. Most tutorials, classes, and lectures are delivered by staff who are tutors in their subject. Many are world-leading experts with years of experience in teaching and research. Some teaching may also be delivered by postdoctoral researchers or postgraduate students who are studying at doctorate level. 

To find out more about how our teaching year is structured, visit our Academic Year page.

Course structure

YEAR 1

COURSES

  • Core courses (100%):
    • Continuous mathematics
    • Design and analysis of algorithms
    • Digital systems
    • Discrete mathematics
    • Functional programming
    • Imperative programming
    • Introduction to formal proof
    • Linear algebra
    • Probability

ASSESSMENT

Four exam papers

YEAR 2

COURSES

  • Core courses (50%):
    • Algorithms
    • Compilers
    • Concurrent programming
    • Models of computation
    • Group design practical
  • Current options (50%) include:
    • Computer architecture
    • Computer graphics
    • Computer networks
    • Databases
    • Artificial intelligence
    • Logic and proof

ASSESSMENT

Four exam papers

YEAR 3

COURSES

  • Current options (67%) include:
    • Computational complexity
    • Machine learning
    • Computer security
    • Computer-aided formal verification
    • Geometric modelling
    • Knowledge representation and reasoning
    • Lambda calculus and types
    • Principles of programming languages
  • Project work (33%)

ASSESSMENT

Ten exam papers plus project report

YEAR 4

COURSES

  • Current options (62%) include:
    • Advanced machine learning
    • Automata, logic and games
    • Advanced security
    • Categories, proofs and processes
    • Computational game theory
    • Computational learning theory
    • Concurrent algorithms and data structures
    • Database systems implementation
    • Probabilistic model checking
    • Probability and computing
    • Quantum computer science
    • Requirements
  • Project work (38%)

The courses listed above are illustrative and may change. A full list of current options is available on the Computer Science website.

ASSESSMENT

Five take-home exams or written papers plus project report

The content and format of this course may change in some circumstances. Read further information about potential course changes.

Academic requirements 

A-levels:A*AA including at least an A in Mathematics, with the A* in Mathematics, Further Mathematics or Computing/Computer Science. Those taking Further Mathematics A-level or AS-level are expected to achieve at least Grade A.
Advanced Highers:AA/AAB with an A in Mathematics
IB:39 (including core points) with 766 at HL (the 7 must be in HL Mathematics)
Or any other equivalent (see other UK qualifications, and international qualifications

Wherever possible, your grades are considered in the context in which they have been achieved.  (See further information on how we use contextual data.) 

Subject requirements

  Essential: Candidates are expected to have Mathematics to A-level (A* or A grade), Advanced Higher (A grade), Higher Level in the IB (score 7) or another equivalent. 
  Recommended:Further Mathematics is highly recommended. If FM is taken to A-level or to AS-level then we require an A in that too. 

If, and only if, you have chosen to take any science A-levels, we expect you to take and pass the practical component in addition to meeting any overall grade requirement.

If English is not your first language you may also need to meet our English language requirements.

Applying

All candidates must follow the application procedure as shown in applying to Oxford. The information below gives specific details for students applying for this course. For more information on how to apply, including advice on interviews, specimen MAT papers, and sample questions, please see the Computer Science department website.

Admissions test

Test: MAT
Test date:30 October 2019            
Registration deadline:                   6pm 15 October 2019                                                                                                      

All candidates must take the Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT) as part of their application. Separate registration for each test is required and it is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered for these tests. We strongly recommend making the arrangements in plenty of time before the deadline. Everything you need to know, including guidance on how to prepare, can be found on the MAT page

Written work

You do not need to submit any written work when you apply for this course.

What are tutors looking for?

We look for proven mathematical talent, the ability to think and work independently, the capacity to absorb and use new ideas, and enthusiasm. We use these criteria alongside the Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT) results to decide whom to interview. At interview, we explore how you tackle unfamiliar problems and respond to new ideas; we are more interested in how you approach problem-solving than the solution. We don’t require any previous formal qualification in computing, but we do expect a real interest in the subject.

For more detail on the selection criteria for this course, please see the Computer Science website.

Careers

Common roles for graduates include computer programmer, software designer and engineer, financial analyst and scientific researcher. Graduates in Computer Science from Oxford were the top earners in the 2017 Sunday Times league table of graduate salaries. Six months after graduation our students had achieved a median salary of £45,000, higher than graduates of all other UK undergraduate degree courses.

Oxford University is committed to recruiting the best and brightest students from all backgrounds. We offer a generous package of financial support to Home/EU students from lower-income households. (UK nationals living in the UK are usually Home students.)

Latest information for UK and EU undergraduates who will begin their course in 2020 can be found here. Further information for EU students starting in 2020 is available here.

The fees and funding information below relates to those who will start at Oxford in 2020.

Fees

These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2020.

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU£9,250
Islands
(Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
£9,250
Overseas£36,065

For more information please refer to our course fees page. Fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

Living costs

Living costs at Oxford might be less than you’d expect, as our world-class resources and college provision can help keep costs down.

Living costs for the academic year starting in 2020 are estimated to be between £1,135 and £1,650 for each month you are in Oxford. Our academic year is made up of three eight-week terms, so you would not usually need to be in Oxford for much more than six months of the year but may wish to budget over a nine-month period to ensure you also have sufficient funds during the holidays to meet essential costs. For further details please visit our living costs webpage.

Financial support

Home/EU

A tuition fee loan is available from the UK government to cover course fees in full for Home (UK)/EU students undertaking their first undergraduate degree*, so you don’t need to pay your course fees up front.

In 2020 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to UK and EU students with a family income of around £42,875 or less, with additional opportunities available to UK students from households with incomes of £27,500 or less. This support is available in addition to the government living costs support.  See further details.

Islands
(Channel Islands and Isle of Man)

Islands students are entitled to different support to that of students from the rest of the UK.

Please refer the links below for information on the support to you available from your funding agency:

States of Jersey
States of Guernsey
Isle of Man

Overseas

Please refer to the "Other Scholarships" section of our Oxford Bursaries and Scholarships page.

*If you have studied at undergraduate level before and completed your course, you will be classed as an Equivalent or Lower Qualification student (ELQ) and won’t be eligible to receive government or Oxford funding

Fees, Funding and Scholarship search

Additional Fees and Charges Information for Computer Science

There are no compulsory costs for this course beyond the fees shown above and your living costs.

Contextual information

Course data from Discover Uni provides applicants with statistics about undergraduate life at Oxford. But there is so much more to an Oxford degree that the numbers can’t convey.

The Oxford tutorial

College tutorials are central to teaching at Oxford. Typically, they take place in your college and are led by your academic tutor(s) who teach as well as do their own research. Students will also receive teaching in a variety of other ways, depending on the course. This will include lectures and classes, and may include laboratory work and fieldwork. However, tutorials offer a level of personalised attention from academic experts unavailable at most universities.

During tutorials (normally lasting an hour), college subject tutors will give you and one or two tutorial partners feedback on prepared work and cover a topic in depth. The other student(s) in your college tutorials will be from your year group, doing the same course as you and will normally be at your college. Such regular and rigorous academic discussion develops and facilitates learning in a way that isn’t possible through lectures alone. Tutorials also allow for close progress monitoring so tutors can quickly provide additional support if necessary.

Read more about tutorials and an Oxford education

College life

Our colleges are at the heart of Oxford’s reputation as one of the best universities in the world.

  • At Oxford, everyone is a member of a college as well as their subject department(s) and the University. Students therefore have both the benefits of belonging to a large, renowned institution and to a small and friendly academic community. Each college or hall is made up of academic and support staff, and students. Colleges provide a safe, supportive environment leaving you free to focus on your studies, enjoy time with friends and make the most of the huge variety of opportunities.
  • Each college has a unique character, but generally their facilities are similar. Each one, large or small, will have the following essential facilities:
    • Porters’ lodge (a staffed entrance and reception)
    • Dining hall
    • Lending library (often open 24/7 in term time)
    • Student accommodation
    • Tutors’ teaching rooms
    • Chapel and/or music rooms
    • Laundry
    • Green spaces
    • Common room (known as the JCR).
  • All first year students are offered college accommodation either on the main site of their college or in a nearby college annexe. This means that your neighbours will also be ‘freshers’ and new to life at Oxford. This accommodation is guaranteed, so you don’t need to worry about finding somewhere to live after accepting a place here, all of this is organised for you before you arrive.
  • All colleges offer at least one further year of accommodation and some offer it for the entire duration of your degree. You may choose to take up the option to live in your college for the whole of your time at Oxford, or you might decide to arrange your own accommodation after your first year – perhaps because you want to live with friends from other colleges.
  • While college academic tutors primarily support your academic development, you can also ask their advice on other things. Lots of other college staff including welfare officers help students settle in and are available to offer guidance on practical or health matters. Current students also actively support students in earlier years, sometimes as part of a college ‘family’ or as peer supporters trained by the University’s Counselling Service.

More about Oxford colleges and how you choose