Computer Science at Warwick Q&A (Part 2)
Follow-up to Part 1
What are lectures like?
This year I’ve had lectures held all over campus! Such as the Maths Department, Ramphal Building and the Oculus to name a few. At the start of year, actually sitting down in a huge lecture theatre did feel surreal at first, but this is a normal and does take some getting used to. Similarly it can be easy to feel overwhelmed sometimes during a lecture, especially being a room full of some very clever people. But remember most people will probably be feeling the same as you, so it’s totally ok to feel that way.
Which part of the course have you found the most challenging?
The mathematics! While I enjoyed maths throughout school and could say I felt fairly comfortable with it, the level at university was definitely outside of my comfort zone to begin with. Since the approach used was completely different to what I’ve become accustomed to at school (What’s all this talk of predicates and flying pigs?!).
Whereas school-level maths involved learning a lot of concepts and reapplying them to familiar questions, university-level maths involves having a fundamental understanding of concepts and then applying everything you know to solve a problem (Show why is 2n even for all n? Prove why a tree is acyclic?).
However after seeking support and getting plenty of practice, I did get used to this style over time. From this I would highly recommend seeking support when you need it most, remember you’re encouraged to ask questions and aren’t expected to struggle in silence!
What have you enjoyed the most about the course this year?
Just the amount I’ve managed to learn and do within such a short period of time!
This was something I didn’t notice until I began reflecting on my first term whilst speaking about it with friends and family. After considering it I’d realised I had actually accomplished an awful lot! Plus this wasn’t just limited to knowledge I’d gained either, but included practical experience too – from playing with and building circuits in hardware labs, to designing and testing code needed for my coursework.
My favourite module this year though has to be CS132, or Computer Organisation and Architecture. Apart from the content itself, the sense of achievement experienced in labs and the delivery of the lectures has really made this module the most engaging for me (although expect many Apple and Taylor Swift jokes 😉 )
How can I prepare myself over the summer?
Apart from looking at any recommended material sent to you from the department, above all else make sure that you’re spending time with friends and family and are having fun! (you’ve earnt it after living the exam life for so long).
Unless the department send you some material to read beforehand, I wouldn’t start going through any reading list material just yet. The recommended books tend to be very theoretical (including content you won’t have covered yet!), contain a LOT of technical jargon (that will be explained later) and are quite large in size (I’ve just referred to chapters during term when I’ve needed them).
If you’re eager or want to start following your interests though, I would recommend instead finding something that’s simple and fun. If you like programming, why not start a small project or play around with a Raspberry Pi? If you want to learn concepts, why not watch some YouTube videos or take a short online course on the subject? Just make sure not to go crazy, since you won’t want to retrace your steps once the year starts!
Help! Which degree do I choose?!
The CS department here do offer a range of different degrees within Computer Science similar to how other universities structure their joint degrees (see link below). So if you would like to explore another interest of yours alongside CS, whether that’s Maths, Engineering or Business for example, then considering one of these degree pathways may be the best choice for you.
If you’re still unsure or don’t have a particular field or career in mind (this was me last year) then going with the core CS degree is still a sensible option, since exploring the subject in a broader manner will help point out which areas you’re the most interested in! However this isn’t something too worry to much over, since you will still be given the option to transfer between degrees in your first year if you find your current one isn’t right for you.
Hope this helps answer some questions you may have had! As always, if there is anything specific you would like answering that I haven’t covered here regarding Computer Science, the department, Warwick or university in general, please feel free to get in touch.
Until next time!
Main page showing all the department’s degrees: https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/dcs/admissions/undergraduate/