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Frequently Asked Questions

What's the difference between a Computer Science and an IT degree?

An IT degree focusses on training you on specific skills and technologies that are currently in use. 

In a CS degree, such as the ones we teach here at RHUL, we educate you to “think computationally”, i.e., to develop in you a deep understanding of the foundations of computing and the ability to use the power of computing to solve problems and build systems in a variety of application domains.

These are skills that  you will acquire for life: you will be flexible to adapt to changes in technology, to innovate, and to explore the ramifications and benefits of exploiting new technologies.

I don't have standard qualifications; should I still apply to Royal Holloway?

We always consider each application individually even if you don't have standard qualifications. Some of our best students have come to us with marginal qualifications, and we are always on the lookout for good students.

I want to come straight into the second year. Is this possible?

We sometimes admit students directly into the second year, but only when they are qualified, which means among other things that you must have a good grasp of programming, normally in Java.

I don't know how to program; should I still apply?

We don't assume that you have any experience in programming and teach object-oriented programming from basics.  To help you learn more quickly and consolidate what you learn in lectures (and have lots of fun) we run two laboratory-based courses  – one in games and the other in robotics – during the first year.  In those courses, you experiment with what you have learned, at your own pace, under the supervision of an academic.  Your personal advisor also runs weekly tutorial classes to help you make progress.

I already know how to program; will I be bored?

Of course not!  Even if you already have experience in programming, there is always a lot to learn.  During your first year, we offer two laboratory-based courses – one in games and the other in robotics – in which you will be able to develop real applications as ambitious as you want, using your creativity and imagination.  Some of our students go on to program quite sophisticated and 'intelligent' robots or games.  

See our Cool Computing competition pages for some of the challenges that you may choose to take on during your studies.

I'm not sure that I want to take a year in industry.  Can I decide later?

The short answer is 'yes'.  However, please note that, to take a year out in industry, we require that you have passed your first year with good marks.  This is so that you can really profit from working at the company of your choice and learn skills that you can use to complete your degree when you come back to Royal Holloway.

How is the job market for CS graduates?

According to the Technology Insights 2012 published by E-Skills UK:

  • ‘There were approximately 116,000 vacancies for IT/Telecoms staff during each quarter of 2011’.
  • ‘In 2011 14% of recruiters of IT & Telecoms staff reported having difficulties filling positions advertised – for the IT & Telecoms industry this figure was much higher at nearly 50%’.
  • ‘129,000 new entrants a year are required to fill IT & Telecoms job roles in the UK’.
  • ‘Employment of IT professionals through to 2020 is forecast to grow at 1.62% per annum – nearly twice as fast as the UK average’.

We offer excellent careers support to all our students: see 'your future career' for details.

According to the Times Good University Guide, we rank third amongst UK Computer Science departments for graduate employability: 93% of our graduates are employed or following postgraduate studies within six months after completing their degrees.

If your question still hasn't been answered, please email the Admissions Team at admissions@cs.rhul.ac.uk.


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