Undergraduate study - 2021 entry

Degree Programme Specification 2020/2021

BEng (Hons) Computer Science

To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. This information is created when new programmes are established and is only updated periodically as programmes are formally reviewed. It is therefore only accurate on the date of last revision.
Awarding institution: The University of Edinburgh
Teaching institution: The University of Edinburgh
Programme accredited by: see accreditation pages
Final award: BEng Honours
Programme title: BEng (Honours) Computer Science
UCAS code: G401
Relevant QAA subject benchmarking group(s): Computing
Postholder with overall responsibility for QA: John Longley
Date of production/revision: April 2012

External summary

Computer Science is concerned with the understanding, design, implementation and use of computing systems ranging in complexity from the components of a single processor to computer networks as vast as the World Wide Web. It encompasses both hardware and software and embodies a wide variety of practical techniques supported by a strong foundation of theoretical understanding.

At Edinburgh, Computer Science is treated as a subset of the wider discipline of Informatics which also covers Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science. The Computer Science programme aims to develop well-rounded graduates with a high level of knowledge and skills across Computer Science, both practical and theoretical.

Educational aims of programme

Students taking single honours Computer Science/Software Engineering degrees all follow the same Informatics (and specially designed Mathematics) courses in their first two years, take a selection of the modules available in their third year (constrained to ensure that they obtain a broadly based education) and take an individual project and eight courses (chosen from a large pool) in final year, with the options of taking a course from outside the degree area, but within Informatics, and another from outside Informatics altogether. This means that all students have the opportunity to select courses from across almost all areas of the QAA Computing Benchmark and that 80% of the material they do study forms part of the Benchmark.

Programme outcomes: Knowledge and understanding

  • have a knowledge and understanding of the principles of operation of computers from application programs down through system software to hardware
  • have a knowledge and understanding of the principles of operation of computer networks
  • understand the concept of abstraction and its importance in the design of computer based systems
  • understand the nature of algorithms and their complexity
  • understand the software development process
  • understand the underlying mathematical concepts which allow computer scientists to reason about computers and computer based systems
  • have an awareness of the social, professional, ethical and legal issues involved in the use of computing system

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in research and enquiry

The ability to:

  • deploy analytical and problem solving skills and to synthesise solutions

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal and intellectual autonomy

The ability to:

  • specify and design computer based systems
  • apply formal design procedures to the design of computer based systems
  • derive an abstract representation of a problem from from its detailed description

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in communication

The ability to:

  • work effectively as part of a development team
  • communicate effectively through a variety of media including oral, visual, written, diagrammatic and on-line

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal effectiveness

The ability to:

  • make effective use of learning materials and to acquire and apply knowledge from a variety of sources
  • deploy logical, analytical, and problem solving skills and to synthesise solutions
  • show self-direction and time management skills when working independently

Programme outcomes: Technical/practical skills

The ability to:

  • develop and implement computer based systems
  • select an appropriate algorithm for the solution of a given problem
  • use appropriate support tools during the development process
  • operate computing equipment and software systems effectively

Programme structure and features

For formal definitions, including details of compulsory and optional course choices, consult the Degree Programme Table. Look at the list of Informatics courses to discover what courses belong to which subject area.

Teaching and learning methods and strategies

Teaching contact through lectures, scheduled tutorials and laboratory sessions is supplemented with additional supervised drop-in laboratory time for several courses.  Formative exercises are often included in the delivery of a course to direct learning to meet learning outcomes. INFBase provides learning support for Informatics students where they can access course tutors out with scheduled tutorial times.

Teaching and learning workload

You will learn through a mixture of scheduled teaching and independent study. Some programmes also offer work placements.

At Edinburgh we use a range of teaching and learning methods including lectures, tutorials, practical laboratory sessions, technical workshops and studio critiques.

The typical workload for a student on this programme is outlined in the table below, however the actual time you spend on each type of activity will depend on what courses you choose to study.

The typical workload for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearTime in scheduled teaching (%)Time in independant study (%)Time on placement (%)
Year 136640
Year 225750
Year 337630
Year 417830

Assessment methods and strategies

Methods of assessment of intended learning outcomes include written examinations, online programming examinations and summative course work assignments.  Students complete individual and group projects as part of their degree programme, culminating in the honours project in the final year.

The final honours degree classification of the programme is based equally on performance in third and fourth years. Degrees are classified according to the University's standard marking scale with boundaries at 70%, 60%, 50% and40%. Students can be awarded an ordinary degree on the basis of their third year marks.

Assessment method balance

You will be assessed through a variety of methods. These might include written or practical exams or coursework such as essays, projects, group work or presentations.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme are outlined below, however the balance between written exams, practical exams and coursework will vary depending on what courses you choose to study.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearAssessment by written exams (%)Assessment by practical exams (%)Assessment by coursework (%)
Year 156044
Year 275025
Year 349051
Year 435065

Career opportunities

Computers are now ubiquitous in modern life. The most interesting opportunities in the future are open to those who really know about computing, software and information systems.  Our graduates can choose from a wide range of opportunities in industry, commerce, government and academia; the majority of Informatics graduates enter employment relating to their degree, while others decide to continue within academia to pursue their research interests.

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