When people think of Computer Science they often just think of programming, but there are many more aspects to the field including interaction design, communications and networks, software design, computer security, information systems, graphics operating systems, educational systems, artificial intelligence and embedded systems (processors that are embedded in everything from mobile phones to cars). All of these areas are experiencing rapid growth both in New Zealand and internationally and there is a strong demand for Computer Science graduates.
Computer Science is about helping people do their work efficiently and effectively by analysing needs and constructing appropriate solutions. It provides a step beyond programming, and is about knowing how to design systems that are fast, usable, reliable, secure, scalable and make a positive impact on society and our environment.
Computer Science students learn techniques to tackle these challenges for applications as diverse as monitoring the condition of patients in hospitals to designing educational games for smart phones.
Why study Computer Science at UC?
UC is located in Canterbury — the 'Silicon Plains' of New Zealand, where there are dozens of large, hi-tech companies employing UC graduates. Further afield, our graduates are in demand overseas and many come up with an idea for a product whilst studying, going on to become business owners and employers themselves.
UC is acknowledged as a leader in Computer Science education in New Zealand. It is the home of the award-winning Computer Science Unplugged project, and the internationally recognised Intelligent Computer Tutoring group. Several members of staff have awards for their work as computer science educators. UC ranks in the top 200 universities in the world for Computer Science and Information Systems (QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2017).
We have a vibrant student community that encourages meeting up with like-minded students through clubs, including CompSoc and the Computer Chicks clubs. There is a good interface with industry, including an annual careers fair where students meet a host of employers.
It is possible to enrol in our courses with only a general computing background, but it is a significant advantage to have completed the NCEA achievement standards in programming and computer science (or IB/Cambridge equivalent).
A strong background in Year 13 calculus or statistics is recommended. A mathematical background is important for students who intend to advance beyond first year.
If you have very good results in NCEA programming and computer science (or IB/Cambridge equivalent), you can apply to join an advanced ('overdrive') class. Students with outstanding achievement in NCEA (or IB/Cambridge) and who have completed the Computer Science STAR programme can be considered for direct entry into second-year Computer Science courses with a view to completing an honours degree in three years.
Students majoring in Computer Science in a BSc are required to take:
- COSC121 Introduction to Computer Programming
- COSC122 Introduction to Computer Science
- at least 30 points of Mathematics and Statistics (preferably MATH120 Discrete Mathematics and STAT101 Statistics 1 - not MATH101).
COSC101 Working in a Digital World is also strongly recommended for those who haven't studied computer science previously.
It is possible to design a first year of study that enables you to either continue in your second year in Computer Science or to go into Software Engineering, Information Systems, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, or Computer Engineering. To keep your options open for this talk with a College of Engineering Student Advisor.
200-level and beyond
A variety of courses in Computer Science are available after the first year. These cover topics essential for building innovative systems, such as algorithms, software engineering, data communications and networking, database systems, computer forensics, artificial intelligence, data and network security, microprocessor systems, computer graphics, wireless security, computer vision and augmented reality.
As part of the Bachelor of Science students can also choose courses from other Science subjects and non-Science subjects.
There is a strong demand for graduates who are qualified in Computer Science, particularly those who combine technical skills with good communication skills and teamwork ability. Canterbury's leading-edge IT sector is facing a shortage of qualified graduates, meaning that UC-qualified Computer Science graduates are in high demand.
Many employment opportunities exist with organisations that run large computer-based systems, such as finance companies, airline industries, government departments, state-owned enterprises, consulting companies, and computer organisations themselves. Work with these organisations often involves international travel opportunities. Many of our students start up their own software companies, and end up being employers rather than employees.
Apart from a professional career in computing, a degree in Computer Science can be used as a good basis for a career in the many areas in which computer systems are applied. Graduates are employed in fields including education, computer forensics, embedded systems and computer graphics, and in a variety of positions including software engineer, programmer, analyst, computer consultant, webmaster, internet developer, GIS analyst, games developer and computing tutor.
Find out more about what you can do with a degree in Computer Science.
More informationDepartment of Computer Science and Software Engineering
2nd and 3rd Floors
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College of Engineering
University of Canterbury
Private Bag 4800