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Why study computer science? 

Find out how an online computer science degree could propel you into a highly paid career and teach you transferable skills that will help you succeed in any industry.

Computer scientist at work.

Computers are one of the fastest growing technologies ever to exist, with massive scale changes taking place not just over our lifetimes, but even in the last few years. You only need to think for a second or two before coming up with multiple examples of how computer science has recently developed – we’ve had the metaverse, advanced self-driving cars, and of course, the rise of generative AI technologies such as ChatGPT.

So, there’s no doubt about it that technology is absolutely integral in our current society. This means that there is a greater need than ever for computer scientists with specialist skills and the desire to evolve alongside a constantly changing industry.

If you think this could be you, keep reading to find out exactly what computer science is, the benefits of studying it, why it’s a great degree to study online, and the career opportunities you’ll unlock.

What is computer science? 

Computer science is quite literally the study of computers and computational systems, focusing on hardware, software and algorithms. Really, it’s a diverse discipline and serves as an umbrella term for all kinds of computational technology, from mobile phones and games consoles to robots.

It has a solid basis in mathematics and programming, and this means it requires a very methodical, logical and critical approach. While it’s similar to Information Technology (IT), it’s categorised differently – computer science covers the designing and building of computers and programs, whereas IT covers the maintenance and management of computers and information systems.

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Is computer science a good degree?

If you’re looking for a well respected degree that will open opportunities in the tech world and beyond, computer science is definitely a good choice. It offers a foundation in many vital skills for the modern world, including mathematics, programming, statistics, data analysis, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP).

Due to the advanced maths and programming involved in this kind of degree, you do need to have an aptitude and interest in these subjects already. Although you learn a wide variety of hard and soft skills on a computer science degree, it can be challenging due to all of the technicalities. 

So, before you take the leap, figure out whether you’ve got the analytical mind required for a computer science degree.

Why study computer science? 

Let’s get into a bit more detail. What are the biggest benefits of a computer science degree? Below, we’ll explore everything from salaries to satisfaction, so you know what you’re getting into before you apply for a degree.

Competitive salaries

As you’ll soon see, good pay is definitely one factor that appeals students to a computer science degree. The careers you can move into with this degree are pretty lucrative because they’re in high demand industries and require specialist skills. 

In fact, even as a new graduate, you can earn a pretty sturdy salary – Glassdoor states that it’s £35,964 on average. Not bad for starting out, and there’s a lot of potential to increase your salary as your experience grows, especially in thriving industries like AI and big data.

High demand and job security

On a similar note, having in-demand tech skills means you’ll be a very desirable hire for plenty of employers, and it shouldn’t be too difficult for you to find jobs. In fact, the demand for computer science experts is still increasing. 

For example, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that computer science employment may grow by 15% between 2021 to 2031, and most UK experts predict a similar kind of growth. 

Another benefit of being in such an in-demand industry is that you have greater job security. That hopefully means less redundancies and shorter periods of unemployment.

Transferable skills

Even if you don’t know which career you’re aiming for when you go into your degree, you don’t need to worry. The skills and expertise you gain on a computer science degree can lead to an incredibly wide range of careers, so you’re able to wait and find the thing you’re most passionate about –  and the more passionate you are, the better your chances at being satisfied with your job.

As you study different modules on your degree, it may become clear that you’re interested in creative pathways like visual effects or game development, or more technically complex pathways like cloud computing or cyber security. Or, something different. 

And the skills you’ll learn are highly transferable, so if you decide your chosen path isn’t actually right for you, you’ll easily be able to adapt to a different role that requires similar skills or ways of thinking.

How to get a computer science degree

In the UK, you apply for undergraduate degrees via UCAS, choosing five degree options and ranking them in order of which one you’d most like to join. You also normally have to meet the entry requirements stated by your chosen university and write a personal statement detailing your suitability for the degree (mentioning experience, skills and passion for the subject).

According to UCAS, the average grades required for a computer science degree are BBC at A-level (or equivalent), but you may need better grades for more technical degree programs at prestigious universities. You may also need to have completed A-level maths, so be sure to check specific degree requirements before applying.

For master’s programs, you usually need to apply directly on the institution’s website, and you’ll most likely need to already have a related bachelor’s degree to prove your aptitude.

Online computer science degrees

There’s another way you can get a computer science degree – a less traditional, but still respected route. Studying for your degree online means you don’t have to put all other commitments on hold, you can study wherever and whenever it suits you, and you may even save money.

Computer science is actually the perfect subject to study online too, since pretty much everything you study requires you to use the computer and learn digital skills. So why not explore your options on FutureLearn? Take a look at some of our offerings below.

Discover our full range of online IT and computer science degrees on our website.

What careers could I get with a computer science degree?

So, what exactly are all of these lucrative career opportunities we keep talking about? The truth is, there are so many options for computer science graduates, but below we’ve given you a snapshot of five potential careers.

1. Software Developer

If you’re fascinated by software and want to try your hand at designing, building and maintaining it, this could be the role for you. Whatever interests you most, whether it’s mobile apps, business software or video games, this career path will let you bring your ideas to life through code – it’s also pretty lucrative and high in demand.

Average salary in the UK: £43,264 p/a

2. Machine Learning Engineer

Want to teach machines how to learn, like a kind of technological teacher? Machine learning engineers use data to create models and algorithms that machines can learn from, resulting in advanced artificial intelligence that performs tasks independently. So, if you’re intrigued by the world of AI and are very good with numbers and algorithms, this is a great potential career option. Not to mention, the average salary is pretty appealing.

Average salary in the UK: £64,853 p/a

3. Game Designer

For some, gaming doesn’t have to be just a hobby. If it’s your dream to create digital worlds, including stories, characters, rules and game mechanisms, a career in game development is perfect. You’ll need to be technically skilled as well as creative, as it is quite a competitive industry (lots of video game lovers out there), but if you show true flair in the subject, you’ll have a successful career.

Average salary in the UK: £33,621 p/a

4. Data Scientist

If problem-solving, pattern-finding and programming are some of your favourite things, then data science might be the right route to go down. Data scientists work with large data sets to search for trends, patterns and insights that inform important business decisions. And this job isn’t going anywhere – as the amount of data in our world grows, the need for data scientists will continue to skyrocket.

Average salary in the UK: £53,015 p/a

5. Cybersecurity Manager

Another job that continues to get more and more crucial in our increasingly digitised world – cybersecurity managers are essential in the fight against cyber crime, protecting organisations from hacking, phishing, ransomware and more. If you want to use your excellent attention to detail and programming skills to reduce crime, your talents will be put to good use here.

Average salary in the UK: £67,462 p/a

Online Degree

MSc Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence

  • 2 years
  • postgraduate
  • Flexible Learning
Apply now

Final thoughts

If you’re feeling inspired by the thought of mastering technical skills in a fast-growing industry, computer science could be the right degree choice for you. There’s a lot to learn, but a lot to gain, and who knows what could happen in the world of tech over the next decade.

Perhaps you’ll be at the forefront of the next big technological innovation, or working for a company looking to tackle complex digital problems in the hope of creating a better and safer modern world.

Explore our online IT and computer science degrees and see where an online degree could take you.

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