Computer science

This area covers the theory and application of information and computation, and some universities also include information technology in this field.

Why study computer science?

Graduate destinations

76,490 students were studying this subject in 2014/15.

76.4% of graduates went directly into employment.

Top five graduate destinations:

  1. IT
  2. Wholesale and retail trade
  3. Manufacturing
  4. Professional, scientific, and technical
  5. Education

What courses are available?

Universities and colleges in the UK are offering courses in the following subject areas:

Careful consideration of the content of any course prior to selection is key, as course titles may not accurately reflect the content. IT is continually evolving and developing, and degrees are subject to annual review and adaptation, students are advised to look out for new elements and options which may develop during the course.’
Chartered Institute for IT

Subject combinations and available course options include:

  • single, joint, and multiple subject combinations
  • full-time, part-time, and flexible study options, as well as courses with a placement (sandwich courses)
  • qualifications ranging from BA, BSc, BEng (hons), and MSci degrees, through to HND, HNC, and Foundation Certificates

A number of universities offer four-year undergraduate or integrated masters degrees (MSci) in computer science. Many also offer an opportunity to work in industry for a year or study abroad as part of the degree. 

Are you considering an accelerated degree? Click here to read more about the possibility of completing your undergraduate course in two years rather than three. 

Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs)

Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs) are an alternative to apprenticeships or degrees. They may suit you if you want a more practical, employer-led study programme.

See all Computer Science HTQs

Entry requirements

A levels – To get on to a computer science related degree you will usually require at least two A levels or equivalent.  Entry requirements range from CDD to AAA, with the universities and colleges most commonly asking for BBC. In addition to the different A level requirements above, you will also need at least five GCSEs (A-C) including science, English, and maths. Some universities require a maths GCSE for computer science degrees.

Scottish Highers – Entry requirements for Highers (the most common qualification) range from BBBB to AAAAB, with universities or colleges most frequently requiring AAABB. Occasionally, universities ask for Advanced Highers to supplement Highers. If Advanced Highers are requested, universities or colleges typically ask for BBB.

Vocational courses – Other Level 3/Level 6 qualifications (e.g. Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Computing, SVQ IT Professionals (SCQF Level 6)) may be accepted as an alternative to A levels/Highers by some providers. It’s essential that you check alternative entry requirements with universities or colleges.

Specific entry requirements vary considerably, depending on the focus of the course. For example, a very theoretical course may require A level mathematics, whereas Business IT programmes would probably not ask for any science background beyond GCSE. Few courses specify A level Computing or equivalent.’
Institute of Analysts and Programmers

Personal statement

Universities are looking for:

  • evidence that you are well informed about the subject and have strong interest/motivation
  • a range of interests outside of academic study
  • a well written statement that demonstrates your ability to write persuasive statements
  • an ability to work individually and in teams
  • the personal qualities required for successful study

How to write your personal statement

Let's talk about... IT and digital apprenticeships

Study for a degree in IT and digital while earning at the same time. Listen to our brand new podcast on degree apprenticeships from our expert panel, hosted by Radio 1’s Katie Thistleton.


If you want to combine work and study while earning a salary, you could consider an apprenticeship. Which apprenticeships are available, and how you apply, depends on where you live.

Find out more about apprenticeships across the UK.

There are nearly 20 apprenticeships in the digital sector available in England, with more in development.

Each apprenticeship sets out occupational standards for specific job roles, designed by employers. The standards outline the skills, knowledge, and behaviours required to demonstrate that an apprentice is fully competent in the job role.

Higher apprenticeships (Level 4)

Degree apprenticeships (Levels 5 – 7)

Discover more about apprenticeships in computer science

Our guide has all the info you need to know about doing an apprenticeship in this industry. Find out what it's really like from current apprentices and decide if it's the right route for you.

Information and communication technology industry guide

Key areas of employment

There is a wide number of computer/IT related careers you can enter in this field, with the potential for employment spread across all career sectors.

Related careers

Examples of related careers include the following job titles:

Where can I find out more?

Visit the websites of the following professional bodies to find out more about courses and careers in computer science.

Listen: THIS IS HOW podcast

From Depop to Facebook, THIS IS HOW is the podcast that breaks down the digital creative jobs which matter now, to show how they could be part of your future. Listen, take the careers quiz and access free resources and learning content recommended by expert guests here.

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