FAQs and selected reading

Selected reading


Is there an interview?

We do not normally hold formal interviews. However, if we decide that you may have the potential to succeed at Bristol, then we will invite you to one of our admissions  days. These give you full information about the University and our courses, and give you the opportunity to discuss your application with our staff. We expect all applicants to attend one of these days if invited to do so.

What A-Level subjects are required for entry?

Mathematics A-level, or equivalent, is required for all our computer science courses. AEA and further mathematics are not required but, if offered by your school/college, will inevitably be helpful for your studies. There is no requirement to have taken A-level computing/ICT and overall, when deciding on admissions, we are looking for ability and potential rather than specific knowledge about computers. If your choice of A-level (or equivalent) subjects has been constrained by factors beyond your control (e.g. subject not offered by your school/college), you are advised to contact our admissions co-ordinator for advice:

What would you expect to see in the Personal Statement on the application form?

Our main concern is that you demonstrate genuine interest in the chosen course. We would also expect to see evidence of strong study skills, responsibility, commitment and achievement, both in academic and extra-curricular activities.

Can I defer entry?

Yes. Deferring entry for a year is very welcome and would not usually change the conditions of an offer. A year working in a computing-related industry can be very beneficial when you start your studies. Whatever you do in the gap year, try to keep up habits of work and study.

What happens if I don't get the grades you ask for?

If you miss your offer requirement by one or two grades then we will look very carefully at your case to see whether we can still accept you. However, we have a limited number of places and so the decision also depends on how many spaces are available once all the results have been collected. If there are spaces available, then you may still get a place. It is therefore very important that you inform us as soon as possible of any circumstances, such as illness, which may have affected your performance in coursework or exams. We can take this into account when we make our decision.

Should I apply for a three or four-year course?

The difference between our three and four-year courses is not simply about spending an extra year at university. The emphasis of the third and fourth year of a four-year course is different and so you should read the course descriptions carefully. However, if you are undecided, then the first two years of the courses are the same and so it is easy to transfer between courses after you have joined us. This may be at the end of the first or second year, for example. If you are in doubt, then we recommend, for funding reasons, that you enter on the four-year course initially.

I've never programmed a computer; is that a problem?

No. We do not require that you have previous experience in programming. You take our introductory programming units in your first semester and this will give you a basic grounding in programming. If you do have previous experience, then we also run a Software Project unit in the first semester which enables you to consolidate and advance your skills in programming and program design.

What qualifications should mature students have?

Mature applicants often have qualifications that do not fit in with our standard entry requirements. We treat each such case individually, and our main concern is to ensure that your qualifications and experience prepare you for the rigours of full-time study, perhaps after a gap of several years. Recent qualifications, especially in mathematical subjects, are a definite advantage when applying.

Can I take a sandwich course with a year in industry?

We do not formally offer a sandwich course. However, some students arrange to take a year out (after their second year in a three-year course, or third year in a four-year course) in order to work, perhaps for their industrial sponsor. We fully support this and can provide help to find a suitable industrial partner. We also welcome applications linked to the Year in Industry  scheme run by the Royal Academy of Engineering.

What about direct entry to later stages of the course?

Direct entry to second year or later is rare and is considered on a case by case basis. We will need to be sure that you have equivalent knowledge and achievement, and that you are able to graduate at a level comparable to students who study the complete course.

How do I find out more about your courses?

Please see our entry in the undergraduate prospectus. If you require any additional information, please contact our admissions co-ordinator who will put you in touch with the person best able to assist:

Selected reading

...or you can find a lot of interesting computing related pages on the internet, try searching for 'computing pioneers', 'Turing test', 'von Neumann machine' and 'object-oriented programming'.