The best UK universities for computer science and IT degrees

Struggling to decide which university to apply to? Here’s a list of the top 10 British universities offering computer science and IT related degrees.

In the UK, making decisions surrounding higher education can be extremely stressful. With fees for British students having risen to £9,250 a year, those considering going to university often feel under pressure to make sure they get their money’s worth; no one wants to spend in excess of £28,000 to not enjoy where they’re living or the course they’re studying.

With the technical skills gap continuing to grow and technology specialists constantly finding themselves much in demand in the world of work, computer science and related degree courses are growing in popularity. In 2017/18, more than 107,000 students studied a computer science degree in the UK, a small but significant increase on the number in the previous two academic years.

While this list is by no means definitive, it aims to provide an overview of some of the top-ranked universities in the UK for computer science and IT related degree courses. It was collated by averaging scores from The Guardian and The Times’ university rankings for 2020, after the complete rankings had been filtered by the course title ‘computer science’.

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Oxford and Cambridge

It’s rare to find a university league table that doesn’t have Oxford or Cambridge university ranked first and when it comes to computer science and IT courses, there’s no change at the top.

Cambridge university offers just one undergraduate computer science course whilst Oxford allows applicants to take a three-year undergraduate course or a four-year Masters course, both of which can be taken in combination with mathematics or philosophy. Acceptance onto the Masters course is subject to achieving a 2:1 at the end of the third year.

According to the Guardian league table, 96 percent of students who studied computer science at Cambridge had a job in the six months after graduation. The same statistic wasn’t available for Oxford, but the university’s website claims that “six months after graduation, our students had achieved a median salary of £45,000, higher than graduates of all other UK undergraduate degree courses.”

Entry requirements:

  • Oxford: A*AA including at least an A in mathematics, with the A* in mathematics, further mathematics or computing/computer science.
  • Cambridge: A*A*A. Mathematics is a requirement for all colleges but other A Level subject requirements differ depending on which college you apply for, details of which can be found online.

Course cost: £9,250 per year for students who are designated as having ‘home fee status’ by the UK government. At Oxford, international students can expect to pay fees of £36,065 per year whilst at Cambridge, overseas students wanting to study computer science will need to pay £32,214 for each year they study.

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Imperial College London

Imperial College in London offers prospective students 10 different computer science courses to choose from, each one specialising in a different area and available to study up to Masters level. These include computing alongside management and finance, software engineering, security and reliability, artificial intelligence and machine learning and visual computing and robotics.

At the end of the course, students are awarded with either a BEng or a MEng (Bachelor of Engineering or Masters of Engineering), depending on whether they opt to study the three- or four-year course. This means students who chose to undertake a computer science degree at Imperial College will study the engineering of computer hardware and software alongside the mathematical principles of computing.

Entry requirements: A*A*A including at least an A* in mathematics. Further maths is preferred but not essential.

Course cost: £9,250 per year for students who are designated as having ‘home fee status’ by the UK government. International students are charged £31,750 per year.

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Edinburgh

Like Imperial College London, Edinburgh university also offers students a wealth of computer science courses to pick from. All courses come with an optional study abroad year and classifications range from BScs or BEngs to MAs, MEngs and MInfs (Master of Informatics).

In addition to the wide range of degree classifications to pick from, Edinburgh also allows students to specialise and combine the institution’s base-level computer science degree with artificial intelligence, cognitive science, informatics, physics, software engineering, mathematics, electronics and even linguistics.

Those who do decide to study at a Scottish university should be aware that all these degree courses will be studied full-time over a four-year period for undergraduates and five-years for those who opt to do an undergraduate and Masters degree. This differs from degree courses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland where undergraduate degrees typically last three years with an extra year added for the full-time study of a Masters.

Entry requirements: For those taking Scottish Highers, AAAA or AAAB by end of S5, with mathematics at grade A. For students in England and Wales, AAA or ABB, again with an A in mathematics. Higher maths is recommended but not required.

Course cost: £1,820 per year for Scottish students, £9,250 for students from the rest of the UK and £26,000 for international students.

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Warwick

The Guardian university guide gives Warwick university a score of 94/100 when it comes to course satisfaction across its nine computer science degree offerings. Like most of the institutions on this list, Warwick provides both undergraduate and Masters degree courses, all of which come with an optional year abroad and can be combined with specialisms such as computing systems engineering, discrete mathematics and business studies.

The university also offers a cyber security degree which is provisionally certified by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) at GCHQ. As cyber security professionals currently represented some of the most in-demand talent in today’s job market, the degree course claims to help students turn theory and technical knowledge into practical, real-life problem solving.

Entry requirements: A*AA, including an A in mathematics for a computer science course. The cyber security degree course requires AAB, with a preference for STEM subjects having been studied.

Course cost: £9,250 per year for students who are designated as having ‘home fee status’ by the UK government and £25,770 for international students who enrol in 2020.

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Manchester

Manchester university offers 24 different computer science courses for those who wish to study an undergraduate or Masters degree. All courses come with the option of taking a foundation year before embarking on the degree, helping to fill in any potential knowledge gaps of students who don’t have the appropriate subject background for direct entry to first year.

Unlike other universities that offer computer science in combination with a specialism, Manchester university provides single-discipline degrees in artificial intelligence, software engineering, computer systems engineering, and information technology management for business. You can also combine your computer science course with mathematics or human computer interaction and most courses give the option for students to undertake a ‘sandwich’ year in industry.

Entry requirements: A*AA including A* in mathematics. For some of the specialist courses, other subjects are required but these can be checked in the course catalogue.

Course cost: £9,250 per year for students who are designated as having ‘home fee status’ by the UK government. However, on the university’s website, it estimates that approximately a third of its undergraduate students will receive bursaries of up to £2,000 per year. International students should expect to pay a minimum of £23,000 per year.

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Bristol

The Times university guide ranked Bristol university in ninth place for the overall quality of its computer science degrees. Not to be outshone by its fellow institutions, Bristol university offers 13 different courses at undergraduate and Masters levels, most of which can be taken with either a study abroad year or a year in industry.

While Bristol doesn’t offer students the chance to specialise in specific areas of computing from the outset, it does offer its computer science course in combination with physics, chemistry, electronics or innovation.

Entry requirements: A*AA including A* in mathematics. For those looking to study a course in combination with physics or chemistry must achieve an A in the subject. Bristol also makes contextual offers to students from backgrounds who are generally less likely to attend university. A contextual offer comes with a grade reduction of up to two grades below the standard entry requirements.

Course cost: £9,250 per year for students who are designated as having ‘home fee status’ by the UK government. International students are charged 24,000 per year.

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Glasgow

When it comes the number of computer science course combinations, Glasgow is the clear winner. The Guardian lists 58 variations of the Scottish university’s computer science course, with students able to study it alongside everything from statistics and mathematics, to English language or literature, Greek, theology, philosophy, theatre studies and politics.

The university also offers joint degree options for its digital media and information studies course, which falls under the computer science umbrella and provides teaching on database development, artificial intelligence and information systems throughout the four-year course. There are also software engineering and electronic software engineering courses available for those who want to specialise from the outset.

As with Edinburgh university, undergraduate courses at Glasgow university run for four years, whilst those who elect to study a Masters will be at the university for five years.

Entry requirements: For those taking Scottish Highers, AAAA/AAABB, with mathematics at grade A. For students in England and Wales, AAB again with an A in mathematics.

Due to the large number of course options available, students will need to check the individual courses for other, subject-specific requirements.

Course cost: £1,820 for Scottish students, £9,250 for students from the rest of the UK and £21,920 for international students.

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Birmingham

Like most cities in the UK, Birmingham has two universities. For this list of the best places to study computer science, it’s the University of Birmingham that’s made the cut, with The Guardian giving the university a score of 90/100 when it comes to course satisfaction.

The university offers single-discipline, undergraduate and Masters degree courses in computer science and joint computer science and artificial intelligence, software engineering and mathematics degrees. Most of these subjects come with the option for students to undertake a year of studying abroad or a year in industry and foundation years are also available for those lacking the necessary entry requirements.

Entry requirements: AAA including at least an A in mathematics. The university says that it is desirable, but not essential, for students to have some experience of writing computer programs

Course cost: £9,250 per year for students who are designated as having ‘home fee status’ by the UK government. International students are charged £21,180 per year.

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Nottingham

The University of Nottingham keeps it simple when it comes to its computer science degree programmes. Prospective students have the option to study computer science, computer science with artificial intelligence or data science. All except the BSc data science course can be taken either at undergraduate or Masters level, with the option to take either a study abroad year or a year in industry.

Entry requirements: AAA or AAB if you have an A in computer science/computing

Course cost: £9,250 per year for students who are designated as having ‘home fee status’ by the UK government. International students are charged £23,760 per year

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