Computer Science

Cambridge was a pioneer of computer science and continues to lead its development. There are more than 1,000 specialist computing and advanced technology companies and commercial laboratories in the area (known as ‘Silicon Fen'). A number of local firms and start-ups support our teaching and employ our graduates.

Our course is broad and deep – giving skills to create future technology. All aspects of modern computer science are covered, along with the underlying theory and foundations in economics, law and business. You also develop practical skills, such as programming (in various languages, eg ML, Java, C/C++, Prolog) and hardware systems (eg chip design using Verilog).

Our students benefit from the Department’s cutting-edge research and extensive facilities. The purpose-built Department of Computer Science and Technology is packed with the latest technology, advanced lecture theatres, dedicated practical rooms, a well-stocked library, and even a café.

Group projects during the course, where small teams of students deliver a product to an external client, ensure relevant industrial experience. Projects often lead to commercialisation, licensing or employment.

Please note that, from 2020 entry, this course will be available solely as a 'Computer-Science-only' option - previous options to mix modules with those from the Natural Sciences Tripos or the Psychological and Behavioural Sciences (PBS) Tripos will no longer be available.

See also the Faculty website:

The College can give a strong support in terms of supervisions and future postgraduate career to Computer Science students thinking about applying their Computer Science skills in areas such as physics, chemistry, biology and economics, and in studying topics like evolution of complex networks including the World Wide Web, the Internet and biological networks.

Applicants usually have two subject interviews and usually, the College admits two students each year - although this may fluctuate slightly.

Conditional offers are normally A*A*A at A Level, or equivalent.

  • An A (AS/A2) Level in Mathematics (or its equivalents in other educational systems) is required for all options.
  • An A Level in Computing is not essential.
  • The interviews typically involve some mathematical manipulations and logic puzzles.

Find out about the general advice for anyone applying for undergraduate courses at St Catharine's.

Computer Science at Catz is enormously fun - partly for the course, and definitely for Catz! There’s no need to give you too much specific information about the course, that’s found elsewhere, and we’ll try not to go on too much about why Catz in general is the best college (although it really is) - we’d rather use this space to tell you what’s different about CompSci at Catz and why you should join us!

Catz is a small to medium sized college compared to others overall, but a small college for Computer Scientists - the last two years of intakes have been 2 offers and 4 offers. Don’t worry about that hurting your chances - the ratio of offers to applications is better than average here! - but it does mean you’ll have fewer people in your own college doing your subject. That’s not nearly as bad as it sounds. A lot of the first year Natural Scientists or Mathematicians will have a lot of overlap with your course in the first year, depending what option of CompSci you’re applying for, and it encourages you to make friends with a lot of CompScis from other colleges. That’s really helpful when it comes to the 2nd Year Group Projects, for example, as you’re going to have a better chance of working with people you know!

Your supervisions in Computer Science (weekly 1-hour meetings in all your topics) are going to be out in Churchill College under John Fawcett, or one of his post-graduate team, who are all lovely and extremely helpful. This may seem like a small trek, but lots of colleges have supervisions with him, some of which are much further away than Catz. In your first year, lectures are in the centre of town, between two and ten minutes walk from your accommodation. In second and third years, they’re out in the William Gates Building, a twenty-minute walk from your second year accommodation and a half-hour walk from your third year accommodation. Sounds like a lot, but closer to us than to most colleges, and a breeze on a bike!

There’s an awful lot to do in Cambridge and Catz outside of your course, and there’s tons of Societies and Clubs here to occupy anyone’s interests. Catz is always held to be the friendliest college and we definitely found that when we came here - we cannot overstate how much of a good time you’ll have, so go for it and apply!

Michael French and Rob Kovacsics