Our Integrated Foundation Year will take you through a carefully-designed course to help you to progress confidently onto your undergraduate degree.
Engineering, Physical, Computational and Mathematical sciences underpin modern technological society and can help us provide answers to fundamental questions. Graduates with these degrees are highly sought after by employers. The Computer Science Foundation Year provides progressive structures in which you are able to gain knowledge and understanding of approaches to scientific study and your chosen degree subject.
All Foundation Year students take ‘Global Perspectives’, then four subject-based courses provide familiarity with Mathematics and computation – the language of modern science and technology, and key for success in science, technology and engineering.
Once you have completed your Foundation year, you will normally progress onto the full degree course, BSc Computer Science. There may also be flexibility to move onto a degree in another department (see end of section, below).
Want to work at the cutting-edge of computing technology and help in shaping the future of our global society? Computers, intelligent devices and the internet are central to so many aspects of 21st century life, from business and industry to governance and our personal lives. Their potential for transforming economies, driving efficiencies and enhancing the well-being of societies is almost limitless. Our progressive curriculum will give you the knowledge and technical skills that employers need, and introduce you to pioneering ideas and technologies to help you to realise your ambitions.
We cover all the essentials of application development, from programming to software engineering, databases to web development, computer graphics to robotics, and information security. You will also explore the fundamentals of computing – what computers do, and how efficiently they do it – and learn about a host of advanced technologies, from computer games, digital sound and music, to concurrent and parallel programming, machine learning, bioinformatics, the internet of things, computational finance and more. From the outset you will be experimenting with programming games, robots, Gadgeteer kits, Subversion, JUnit testing, Scrum-based Agile software and more, in our well-equipped laboratories.
We are a highly respected, research-focused department with a friendly approach and award-winning teaching. We offer a short-term summer work placement course and a dedicated personal adviser to guide you through your studies. You will also be welcome to join our thriving Computing Society. We are one of only seven departments in the UK to hold the Athena SWAN bronze award for increasing female participation in computer science.
The course’s modular structure gives you the flexibility to tailor your degree to your interests. We also offer you the opportunity to follow a specialist pathway that matches your career ambitions. At the end of year 1 you will have the option of transferring onto one of these pathways (Artificial Intelligence, Information Security or Distributed & Networked Computing), as well as onto a year-in-industry course, or onto our longer and more advanced integrated masters course. Transferring onto our Software Engineering pathway requires previous programming experience and early permission to take the Software Development course in year 1, rather than Object-oriented Programming.
On successful completion of your Foundation Year, you may be able to choose an alternative pathway which could include a degree from one of the other departments offering a Foundation Year within the School of Engineering, Physical and Mathematical Sciences. If you'd like to do this, you may take your Foundation Year Individual Project in one of these other departments. The degree course you choose to take after progression is likely to depend on the individual project you select during the foundation year. Please note however that you must take 'Foundation Skills (Mathematics)' and your individual project in the Department of Mathematics if you wish to join a full degree course in Mathematics.
Core ModulesFoundation Year
Provides a broad, interdisciplinary yet academically authentic introduction to global history and globalisation.
Introduces you to the core mathematical concepts in Engineering, Mathematical and Physical science, and how you might apply these techniques to solve applied problems.
An overview of the world of computational techniques and employs a hands-on approach to programming.
Builds on study in term 1.
Builds on the mathematical techniques developed in term 1 and provides you with the foundational skills in calculus, differentiation, integration and statistics required for entry onto a degree within the School of Engineering, Physics and Mathematical Sciences.
The aim of this course unit is to provide some key concepts in physical sciences that underpin all Physics and Engineering disciplines. The course is divided into four areas: matter, interactions, energy and dynamics.
A course within the School of Engineering, Physical and Mathematical Sciences focusing on developing basic experimental, programming, mathematical or practical techniques required for your degree.
An opportunity to engage with a theoretical or practical project on an agreed subject area relevant to Computer Science.
The year will culminate with a joint Poster Presentation with all students on the Foundation Year.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the building of computer systems whilst also gaining a knowledge of the basic concepts of 2D game design, applying them to the development of simple games. This module brings together the lab components of robotics, games design and object-oriented programming, and will allow you to progress to a group project to apply the concepts you learn together.
In this module you will develop an understanding of how the internet works and its key protocols. You will look at the technologies used for web development, including scripting languages and their potential for adding dynamic content to web sites and applications. You will consider the role of web services and related technologies, and will examine the fundamental principles of network security.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the handling of large and infinite objects within a programming environment. You will learn how to use formal logic to design, reason about and minimise switching circuits, and write basic programs in assembly language. You will consider the binary representations of signed and unsigned integers and how to write regular expressions to describe sets and build deterministic automata to recognise these. You will also examine the use of automata machines in the design and reasoning of sequential flow systems.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the formal reasoning for sets, relations, functions and cardinality. You will look at the structures for program data and representation and learn to write and reason recursive definitions and prove results by induction and contradiction. You will consider the representation and reasoning of problems using graphs and the use of vectors and transformations for defining and manipulating graphical objects. You will also examine the usage of probability and statistics in analysing data.
In this module you will develop an understanding of programming and object-orientation concepts. You will learn about program basics, control flow, data structures, objects, exceptions, and file input and output. You will consider how to solve basic programming tasks and the need for program documentation, testing, readability and modifiability.
In this module you will develop an understanding of software design and engineering processes, including the Waterfall and Agile methodologies. You will learn how to identify common software requirements and see how these have been considered in existing systems. You will look the techniques of software design and how software engineers communicate their design ideas. You will consider the importance of documentation and the usage of current industry-standard notations such as user stories and the unified modeling language (UML). You will also analyse and critique the design of existing software looking at the user experience as a measure of its fitness for purpose.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the design of algorithms, with a focus on time and space complexity. You will examine basic algorithms, looking at the implementation and analysis of linear search, binary search, and basic sorting, including insertion sort, selection sort, merger sort, quick sort, and heap sort. You will consider alternative data structure representations, such as binary search trees, hash tables, and binary heaps, and will gain an insight into the basics of graph algorithms.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the basic concepts of database technology, including the need for database integrity and robustness, and the use of a modern database system in a web-based environment. You will look at database design and the theory of the relational view of data, learn to describe the crucial issues concerning database integrity and recovery from failure, and write search query language (SQL) queries. You will also consider the process of designing and implementing a database, from the user specifications to the final design, and implement an interface to an SQL database using an application programming interface (API).
In this module you will develop an understanding of how information security may be influenced by real-world design and implementation decisions. You will look at the different cryptographic algorithms, considering their use, advantages and disadvantages. You will use these cryptographic primitives to review and evaluate cryptographic protocols, and examine the rational decisions in the design of tokens and secure elements.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the function and architecture of network operating systems. You will look at the role of an operating system, considering processes, memory and file systems. You will learn to write basic shell scripts, see how services are used at the operating system-level, and evaluate the theory and practice of existing operating systems. You will also examine the UNIX shell, including starting programs, input and output steams, pipes, filters, and utilities.
In this module you will develop an understanding of software engineering techniques and the managerial discipline required to work as part of a team. You will look at basic object-oriented concepts and consider the need for effective program documentation, testing, readability, and modifiability. You will consider the tools used to support software development, such as version controllers, debuggers, and code style checkers, and see how these are integrated into an industry-standard development environment (IDE). You will deliver a small-scale project using test-driven development.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the role of the computer professional, gaining practical experience in developing medium scale software as part of a team using Scrum-based Agile development. You will apply managerial discipline and learn about the software lifecycle, team development, standard industrial software engineering, project management, use of version control, and integrated development environments (IDEs). You will see why project cost and effort is hard to estimate, and consider why project quality is hard to prescribe.
In this module you will have the opportunity to plan and organise a large project, analysing complex ideas, identifying problems, and coming up with solutions. You will apply scientific principles and use a range of software and hardware techniques. You will analyse the effectiveness of your solutions and evaluate the results. You will also consider legal, social, ethical and professional issues. You can design your own project or choose a topic from a suggested list.
There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.Year 1
- All modules are core
- Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
- Mathematical Methods for Computer Science
In this module you will develop an understanding of computer and network security. You will look at software vulnerabilities, hands-on hacking-oriented attacks, memory errors, and web and network security. You will learn how to identify such vulnerabilities and consider the countermeasures that can mitigate their exploitation. You will also examine malicious software (malware) as a typical consequence of a successful software exploitation.
- Human-computer Interaction
- Computational Finance
- Intelligent Agents and Multi-agent Systems
- Machine Learning
- Semantic Web
- Data Visualisation and Exploratory Analysis
- Advanced Data Communications
- Concurrent and Parallel Programming
- Interconnected Devices
In this module you will develop an understanding of the fundamentals behind cryptography and how it is deployed in real systems. You will look at a range of security services that can be provided by cryptography and the mechanisms behind them, such as symmetric and public-key encryption, hash functions, MACs, digital signatures and authentication protocols. You will consider the architecture of security systems using cryptography, including key management, implementation issues, cryptographic standards and crypto politics, and examine real-world applications such as 3G, EMV, and SSL/TLS.
- Cyber Security
- Digital Forensics
- Malicious Software
- Smart Cards, RFIDs and Embedded Systems Security
- Human-computer Interaction
- IT Project Management
- Software Language Engineering
- Compilers and Code Generation
- Computational Optimisation
- Digital Audio and Applications
- Functional Programming and Applications
Teaching & assessment
In your Foundation Year, teaching methods include a mixture of lectures, practical classes and workshops, laboratory classes, individual tutorials, and supervisory sessions. Outside of the classroom you’ll undertake guided and independent practice. You will be assigned a Personal Tutor in the Department of Computer Science and will have regular scheduled sessions. In the Foundation Year, you’ll also be assigned a Personal Tutor in the Centre for the Development of Academic Skills (CeDAS). Assessments are varied; practical exercises, weekly problem sheets, set exercises, written examinations, laboratory reports, scientific poster preparation and presentation. In addition the Foundation Year offers a full range of skills-based training and also the opportunity to take a micro-placement to enhance your employability.
Once you progress onto your full degree course, we know the importance of giving you the time and space to experiment and put theory into practice. We encourage you to use your creativity, both in project teams and independently, and to have fun while you learn. We use a variety of teaching methods, including lectures, small-group tutorials, supervised computer lab classes and problem-solving sessions. You will also be expected to complete guided independent study and group work. Our programming and software engineering teaching is very hands on, allowing you to learn at your own pace, whatever your previous level of experience. All students attend laboratory classes on games and robotics, giving you the chance to develop real applications with imagination and creativity.
We are proud of our award-winning teaching. Professor Dave Cohen won a College Excellence Teaching Prize for the re-design of our second-year software engineering courses, and he was shortlisted for a Times Higher Education Award for Most Innovative Teacher of the Year. The British Computer Society (BCS) has distinguished our software engineering teaching as an exemplar of 'best practice' in computer science education.
Assessment is through a mixture of examinations and coursework. Most course units have a two or three-hour written examination taken at the end of the year in which they are taught, but around half of your final award will come from assessed coursework, which could include project reports (including the full unit project in year 3), essays, oral presentations and software submissions.
A Levels: CCC
- Computer Science or Mathematics or Physics.
- At least five GCSEs at grade A*-C or 9-4 including English and Mathematics.
Where an applicant is taking the EPQ alongside A - levels, the EPQ will be taken into consideration and result in lower A-level grades being required. Socio - economic factors which may have impacted an applicant's education will be taken into consideration and alternative offers may be made to these applicants.
Other UK and Ireland Qualifications
English language requirements
All teaching at Royal Holloway is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.
The scores we require
- IELTS: 6.5 overall. No subscore lower than 5.5.
- Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. Writing 54. No subscore lower than 51.
- Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
For international students, we offer an International Foundation Year, run by Study Group at the Royal Holloway International Study Centre. Upon successful completion, you may progress on to selected undergraduate degree programmes at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Your future career
Computer scientists are required in a vast array of fields, including the arts, the media, finance, aerospace health and, of course, the IT sector, using the power of computing to solve real-world problems and build systems that can improve people’s lives. Our graduates are highly employable, with a wide range of practical and transferable skills. By the time you leave us you will know how to develop large and complex systems, solve technical problems and analyse information. Coursework will have honed your teamwork, communications, time management and self-motivation skills. You will also have the flexibility to adapt to changes in technology, to innovate, and to critically evaluate the implications of exploiting new technologies.
We work closely with partners in industry who advise us on our curriculum, to make sure it keeps abreast of the latest market needs and trends. This means our graduates are up-to-speed with the latest developments and ready to contribute to the next generation of computing systems. In recent years, they have successfully pursued careers in everything from network systems design and web development, to business management and finance. They now work in organisations such as Amazon, American Express, Apple, Bupa, Capita, CGI-Logica, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, Symantec, among many others. Find out more about what some of our graduates are doing here.
We run jobs fairs and a short-term work placement scheme, and your personal adviser and the campus Careers team will be on hand to offer advice on career opportunities. We maintain strong links with our alumni, who can often provide advice, contacts and networking opportunities.
Fees & funding
Home and EU students tuition fee per year*: £9250
Foundation year essential costs**: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course.
Year 1 discount for Foundation Year students: Students taking the Integrated Foundation Year benefit from a 10% discount off the standard Home/EU tuition fee for Year 1 of their full degree.