School of Engineering & Mathematical Sciences and School of Informatics

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FAQs

Introduction

This page answers some of the most frequently asked questions from applicants. We hope you find the information useful and we're always pleased to receive feedback or suggestions for future versions.

About our Degrees

What degree courses do you offer?

The six degree programmes that we offer are broadly grouped into three streams. With UCAS course codes, they are:

Computing Science:

BSc (Hons) Computer Science [G400]

BSc (Hons) Software Engineering [G600]

BSc (Hons) Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence [G4G7]

BSc (Hons) Computer Science with Games Technology [G490]

Applied Computing:

BSc (Hons) Business Computing Systems [G422]

BSc (Hons) Information Systems [G501]

A Placement or Professional Pathway is compulsory for students on the Business Computing Systems and Software Engineering degrees; exemption from a compulsory placement may be granted exceptionally if the applicant has at least two years IT work experience at the level expected of a placement student. Otherwise the offer will be for a four-year sandwich degree.

For the remaining degrees, taking a Placement or Professional Pathway is optional.

Our degrees have full exemption from the British Computer Society's professional examinations (Certificate, Diploma and Graduate Diploma) as well as the Graduate Diploma Project, and are partially accredited for Chartered Engineer (with an additional matching section). This is the highest level of accreditation available for honours degrees.

The courses are delivered by research-active academics with acknowledged expertise in their fields. City University London has a world-wide reputation for its software engineering research, and is internationally-rated for its information management research. The dynamism of our research is further reflected by rapidly-growing, high-profile research groups in the areas of artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction. The research conducted at City feeds into the advanced topics in the final year of the programmes.

What's the difference between theses titles? When must I commit to a particular course?

The undergraduate course brochure describes each of the degrees in more detail. A copy of this is available on request. Additional information is available by visiting www.city.ac.uk/informatics/undergraduate

All our degree programmes share a common first year, which involves study of the same modules. After this you can change to any of our degree programmes, using your experience to pick the programme that is best for you (also see 'changing course at the end of your first year').

A piece of general advice is that if you want to assess whether a degree is suitable for your needs, you should investigate the aims and content of the course, in addition to the title of the degree.

Concerns over the stage at which you must commit are quite understandable. You should be reassured that we operate a policy of common entrance requirements.

If you are concerned about switching programmes later on during your degree, please note that the Course Director has the discretion to allow this.

Are there any restrictions on changing course at the end of the first year?

The specialist modules for some programme routes, eg Computer Science with Games Technology, may have some restrictions on class size, owing to the specialist equipment required. It is therefore possible, though unlikely, that transfer to this programme might be restricted.

What is a 'placement'? Why do one?

A placement is time spent in paid employment in the IT industry as part of the degree. We would strongly urge applicants to give serious consideration to gaining relevant work experience as part of their degree.

Numerous studies have shown that placements improve graduate employment prospects, as well as leading to a better class of degree. We find that placement students returning to the final year are more mature, very motivated, and have a much better understanding of key concepts, having applied them on placement.

There are financial benefits as well. Placement students usually get paid between 15-22,000 pounds per annum while on placement. Our graduates are frequently offered graduate employment by their placement employer, and often receive training while on placement.

At City we offer two types of placement. The first is a conventional one-year placement, which is taken between the second and final year. The second is our Professional Pathway scheme that is described later.

The high standard of City placements is recognised through a professional development scheme approved by the British Computer Society. This gives you a framework for career development planning, which we help you with. Your validated record, demonstrating competence in a range of tasks, will provide you with evidence of experience you can use when applying for jobs.

Our placements website has more details, see here.

What is the "Professional Pathway"?

The Professional Pathway is an innovative type of placement unique to Computing degrees at City University London. After the first (or second) year, students who have performed well may transfer onto the Pathway.

Students on the Pathway then complete their degree over the next three (or two) years by a combination of one-day-per-week study for 45 weeks of the year and four days per week placement in the IT industry. This is the same time as a full time degree plus one-year placement.

This mode of delivery is attractive to those who seek early entry to the IT industry, and graduates from this scheme are very employable. It is also a good way of avoiding student debt building up.

The Pathway is somewhat more demanding than a full time degree plus placement as work and study time have to be balanced, but students on the scheme have responded well to the challenges.

Please see the undergraduate brochure for more details; or view the Professional Liaison Unit web-site.

Why is a placement/Professional Pathway compulsory for some degrees?

Quite simply, for two of our degrees industrial experience is required to meet their educational aims.

For example, Business Computing Systems meets its aim of producing graduates who can bridge business and technology if its graduates have spent time in the IT industry and seen at first-hand how a business operates.

Similarly, Software Engineering graduates are suitably educated in how to develop large-scale software systems if they have had practical experience of how software is developed and used in industry.

The remaining degrees do not require a placement to meet their aims as they are more focused on the technology itself. That said, we strongly encourage students to take the option of a placement as we believe that they are highly beneficial in themselves.

What support is there for finding a placement? Am I just allocated one?

You apply direct to a number of companies you would like to be placed in. The companies, who are also the body that pay you, then select the students they wish take on.

At City University London we provide support at all parts of the placement process, and have placed students in the IT industry for well over 20 years. We have a large dedicated and experienced placements unit that informs students of the available placements, and support is available for skills such as writing a good CV and practising for psychometric tests. Moreover, we have numerous contacts within industry with whom we regularly place students.

The process of applying for placements is also highly useful practice for when you have to apply for graduate employment.

Can I find my own placement? Can it be overseas?

You are welcome to secure your own placement, which must then be approved by our Professional Liaison Director to ensure that it meets our standards and is relevant and useful to your degree.

Similarly, you are welcome to secure a placement overseas (assuming that it is appropriate). Note that you should be prepared to undertake the necessary additional preparation, eg gaining a work visa).

Also note that students on the Professional Pathway must be located close enough to London to commute to City University one day per week.

What support is provided while I am on placement?

You are visited three times in the year by a placement visitor/workplace learning advisor who will work with you to ensure you get the most out of your placement. During the year, you will provide a number of deliverables and receive feedback on these. In addition, your personal tutor is available for pastoral support.

Do you run open days and tours?

Yes. If you are made an offer you will be invited to an open day in the spring. We also hold a few open afternoons in the summer for late and international applicants. Pre-application events and "taster days" are also hosted by the department. All open days are listed here.

Additional tours and university-wide open days are available, details can be found here.

Contacting Us and Location

What are your contact details?

We are happy to answer your queries. Please state your UCAS number in all email, phone and written queries.

Undergraduate Admissions Team School of Informatics Programmes Office City University Northampton Square London EC1V 0HB UNITED KINGDOM

Tel: +44 (0)20 7040 8406 Fax: +44 (0)20 7040 8587 Email: ugenquire@soi.city.ac.uk 

What are your main web pages?

Our main web pages are:

City University Main Page

School of Informatics

Department of Computing

Computing Undergraduate Admissions

Where are you located? How do I get there?

The university's main site is in Northampton Square. The Department of Computing is located in the College Building at the main site. For directions to the main site, please refer to: www.city.ac.uk/maps

What should I do if my contact details change?

First of all contact UCAS to let them know. In addition, we would strongly advise you to write to all of the institutions you have applied to, remembering to quote your UCAS number. They can then ensure that their records are up to date.

What should I do when the exam results come out?

If you accept an offer from us as either firm or insurance, you will be sent details on what to do in July. So do not worry for now. If you get results before then, please get in touch with us and we will advise you on what to do.

Student Life, Fees, and Finance

How many hours per week will I have to study?

About 35-40 hours per week in term time of which about 12-16 are contact hours. As our courses are demanding and are unashamedly aimed at able students, applicants are advised to consider the workload of our degrees as that for a full-time job.

What are your views on part-time work during degree study?

Applicants should note that our degrees are demanding and full-time. Therefore we strongly advise students to work no more than one day per week during term time, otherwise it may impact on your ability to study and pass your degree.

If you think that you need to work more than this to make ends meet, we would advise that you either consider deferred entry (to build up savings), or a course that is delivered by part-time study (eg Birkbeck College or the Open University).

International students should familiarise themselves with the regulations for part-time working whilst on a student visa, before embarking on any employment.

Who do I talk to about paying fees?

The University's Finance Office handles the collection of fees at registration. Details of how to pay are sent out with registration packs in early September. Therefore you do not need to worry about this until then. We advise applicants against making any payment to any university until you are "unconditional firm" with that university in the UCAS system.

More information can in found in the meantime at Paying Fees.

What about getting a place in halls of residence?

We guarantee accommodation for applicants who meet the following criteria:

  • You live outside Greater London;
  • You accept our offer as 'firm' by 15th May of the year of entry;
  • You provide the accommodation service with a completed application form by 15th May of the year of entry.

We usually send you an application form with your offer letter.

The Accommodation Office also seeks to accommodate as many students as possible who do not meet the guarantee. They can also provide assistance with finding accommodation in the private sector.

The Accommodation Office City University Northampton Square London EC1V 0HB England

Tel: +44 (0)20 7040 8033

Website: www.city.ac.uk/study/accommodation/

What help is there for disabled students?

City University has a dedicated disability service who can advise and assist applicants with disabilities, including dyslexia www.city.ac.uk/disability

Disability Services City University Northampton Square London EC1V 0HB England

Tel: +44 (0)20 7040 8806 (voice and minicom) Text-phone number: +44 (0)20 7040 5080

Email: disability@city.ac.uk

Where can I find out more about student finance?

The rules regarding student finance can be complicated. The National Union of Students provide a number of useful fact-sheets.

The Student Centre at City University can discuss finance issues and assist you whilst you are studying here.

International Students

I need a letter to support my application for a visa, who do I ask?

The central Undergraduate Admissions Office will provide supporting letters for visa applications. Please provide your UCAS number in your request.

Central Undergraduate Admissions Office City University Northampton Square London EC1V OHB England.

Tel: +44 (0)20 7040 8028/8716/0223

Email: ugadmissions@city.ac.uk

Do you have an international Office?

Yes. Find out about inductions and services City provides for international students: http://www.city.ac.uk/international/

International Office City University Northampton Square London EC1V OHB England.

Email: international@city.ac.uk

Who do I talk to about my fee status and related immigration enquiries?

You should contact the Central Undergraduate Admissions Office direct by email ugadmissions@city.ac.uk or by phone +44 (0)20 7040 8028/8716/0223 to discuss your fee status.

For independent advice on immigration issues for international students you can contact UKCISA, whose website has an excellent guide for international students www.ukcisa.org.uk

The Advice and Training Team UKCISA 9-17 St Albans Place London N1 0NX England

Tel: +44 (0)20 7354 5210 Advice line open from 1300 to 1600 hours (British time), Monday to Friday.

What do you consider to be sufficient evidence of English language proficiency?

We require a minimum of IELTS band 6.0, TOEFL 87 (internet-based test).

We will consider other English proficiency qualifications on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us by phone +44 (0)20 7040 8406 or by email ugenquire@soi.city.ac.uk if you have any queries.

Will my student visa cover placement employment?

Yes, because the placement employment is considered part of the degree (confirmed by the British Government's Home Office). This also applies to the Professional Pathway.

How Your Application is Processed

What are your "standard offers"?

Usually, for GCE applicants our "typical" conditional offer is 360 UCAS Tariff points excluding Key Skills (eg BBC plus extra AS at grade C). We may also accept students who miss this offer - for more information, please go to the section 'falling short of a conditional offer'. We do exclude some subjects (our admissions policy document and our section on exclusion explains why).

We usually expect applicants to have taken the equivalent of three A-levels (18 units) which must include either two subjects at full A-level, or one subject at double award. This is to ensure that entrants to our courses can handle the demands and workload of the degrees. Applicants should also note the subject requirements and preferences.

We ask for a comparable level of achievement in other qualifications and the admissions policy explains this in detail.

For example, in the case of the BTEC National Certificate/Diploma, our standard offer is a distinction/merit profile (DDD) in a technological subject and the International Baccalaureate should be 29 IB points.

Advanced 14-19 Diplomas are treated as per the UCAS Tariff, in line with the policy for our A-level applicants. we would consider the IT diploma to satisfy the required technical coverage in the subject mix; hence we are flexible as regards Additional and Specialist Learning in line with our A-level requirements. The core progression diploma is considered to be equivalent to 2 1/2 A-levels.

Students with international qualifications will be treated on a case-by-case basis.

We have a detailed admissions policy  that can be viewed here:

Why do you use the UCAS Tariff for GCE offers?

In one word, flexibility. We support the idea of students taking additional AS levels and also believe that grades ABC are as good as BBB. The tariff enables us to consider combinations of A levels and AS levels flexibly and it treats all types of UK A level  the same.

Do you exclude Key Skills from Tariff offers?

Yes, though the possession of Key Skills at level three will be viewed positively if you fall short of our stated offer (though if your school does not offer them then you will not be disadvantaged). In most cases, Application of Number is the most relevant.

Do you exclude some A-levels from the offer?

We do not accept GCEs in general studies.

We do not accept language A-Levels where the subject area is mother tongue. Language A-levels are designed for non-native speakers, so first language speakers will be at a strong (and we feel unfair) advantage. If the language is not your mother tongue we would need to see a letter from your school/college, before we can re-consider our decision.

If more than four A-level equivalent are presented then we usually exclude the subject we feel is least relevant.

In the case where an applicant falls short of a stated offer, we will take into account accomplishment in excluded subjects when deciding whether to accept an applicant.

It is worth clarifying that excluding an A-level also excludes the accompanying AS.

What is your policy as regards interviewing applicants?

We do not usually interview applicants who apply in the normal cycle unless we feel there is a good reason to do so. The most common cause for interview is if the applicant is a mature student or is offering non-standard qualifications that merit further investigation.

What happens if I fall short of a conditional offer?

If you accept our offer and fall short of it, under UCAS rules we may decide to accept you, at our discretion. The standard offer is set so we have the flexibility to select people on merit and not just on grades; the best students are not always those with the highest grades.

In short, the standard offer indicates the level we would consider accepting an applicant with a minimal science/technical bias in their A-level subjects on grades alone, before other factors are taken into account. All aspects of your profile will be considered such as the mix of subjects and qualifications (and grades), your personal statement, work experience, and reference.

You may be concerned whether you should apply if you have expected/obtained grades below the standard offer.

We only make offers to applicants whom we feel have a realistic chance of being accepted; to do otherwise would not be in their best interests.

So by making an offer, we are indicating that the applicant is likely to be someone who would be successful studying and passing our degree courses.

Factors other than grades are taken into account such as subject mix, work experience and the information provided in personal statements and references where students fall slightly short of the stated conditional offer. This applies to most offers we make and not just those based on A-levels.

The usual exceptions are offers based on pass/fail qualifications such as Industry Certificates like MCSE/CISCO/A+, or other offers where we have asked for a simple pass, in which case there will be no flexibility.

Note that where we have asked for a pass in an English test or GCSE, this condition must be met.

So in short, if we have made you an offer it is because we feel that you have a good chance of being accepted if you work hard enough for your exams and achieve your potential (in past years we have admitted around 70-75 per cent of applicants who accepted our offer at this stage).

Note that a recognised qualification will not necessarily mean that we will make a conditional offer, but if we do so you stand a realistic chance of being accepted onto the course.

Are there any requirements/preferences as regards subjects taken at A-level (or equivalent)?

Guidance as regards how we view various subjects is given below. We require at least one, preferably more, science, technology, maths GCE A-levels (or 2 AS); ie subjects from categories 1-3 below.

  1. Most Relevant: All Mathematics subjects (e.g. Pure Mathematics, Statistics)
  2. Highly Relevant: Computing, Electronics, Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, General Science, other "hard" science subjects
  3. Relevant: IT/ICT, Biology, Psychology, Economics, other "soft" science subjects
  4. Less Relevant: Music, Sociology, Business, Geography, other humanities subjects
  5. Least Relevant: Art, History, English, Languages, other arts subjects
  6. Not Accepted: General Studies, Languages where applicant is a native speaker.

In general the more scientific/numerate a subject is, the stronger indicator it is of your potential to succeed on one of our degrees.

Strong arts/humanities-only applicants may be made an offer at our discretion. We will look for clear motivation for a computing degree and good relevant GCSE grades (at least B in mathematics and a science), and we may request an interview.

What if I would like to do a gap year?

We are supportive of applicants undertaking a gap year. You can either:

  • Apply for deferred entry beforehand (in most cases before you have your A-level results); or apply to us for an unconditional offer after you have your A-level results, during the UCAS round for the intended year of entry.
  • Your application will be treated the same as all the others, so if you want to take a gap year and you're of the standard we want, you can expect a warm welcome!

Our policy is to defer/bring back year of entry on written request.

I have extenuating circumstances (e.g. ill for exam). What should I do?

Your examination board should take this into account. Your school/college should write to your examination board(s) as soon as possible.

Your school/college could also write to us (citing your UCAS number). We may take this into account when making a decision (at our discretion). Please note that if your school/college does not write, we will only accept original medical notes as valid evidence.

We cannot consider extenuating circumstances at the time you have been rejected.

You asked for verification of qualifications, what do I need to do?

We would like to see your official certificates/transcripts. Photocopies are not acceptable. Remember to make sure that you state your UCAS number.

The best way is to visit the Undergraduate Admissions Office (A302) and ask to speak to an Admissions Officer. We will then photocopy the transcripts and hand them back to you. Otherwise, please get in touch (email: ugenquire@soi.city.ac.uk or tel: +44 (0)20 7040 8406) and we will tell you what to do.

If we ask you to send the certificates/transcripts by post, please provide a self-addressed envelope for us to return it to you. If you would like more than standard return postage, please ensure that the envelope is prepaid.

If you feel uncomfortable sending original copies, note that examination boards and educational institutions will often produce additional official transcripts for verification purposes.

What do you mean by "X overall" on a conditional offer?

For a number of qualifications (such as foundation courses) an overall grade is given, and it is this we refer to. If the marks are numerical, "X overall" should be read as "An average of X across all units".

For qualifications with qualitative grading of units but no overall grade, "X overall" should be read as "majority of units at X, remainder at the grade below". So an offer of "B overall" on a foundation course means attainment of B in the majority of units with As and Cs balancing each other out.

We will focus closely on the quantitative and programming unit grades when making our decision. Applicants who've gained lower marks in these units will be considered on a case by case basis.

What is your view as regards re-taking examinations and foundation courses?

We may accept resits/retakes of whole qualifications at our discretion. Note that modular resits within a qualification before the final grade is calculated and awarded are acceptable we consider them to be part of the first attempt of a qualification.

Applicants must state what factors/circumstances have led to a resit; failure to mention this in the personal statement will normally led to summary rejection. A supporting statement in the educational reference regarding the retake is also to the applicant's benefit.

This is especially important for UK applicants who have failed to obtain their GCSEs in Mathematics or English prior to applying.

We will consider applications from foundation courses run by other UK universities in a mathematical, technological or scientific discipline. Some applicants may wish to consider this as an alternative route of entry if they didn't do as well as expected the first time around. Courses vary and are treated on a case by case basis.

How important is the personal statement and academic reference?

Very! To quote directly from our Admissions Policy document.

"Applicants and schools should note that factors such as relevant work experience, a well-written personal statement that shows motivation and detailed academic references that honestly describe the applicant's academic potential (i.e. not "template" references) are read and considered and can positively influence the likelihood of being accepted onto our courses."

These components are especially important for mature applicants and as we need to evaluate the wider aspects of the applicant's work experience and related issues.

What happens if something goes wrong?

Applicants naturally get worried about this, and we quite often get questions of this nature. Please be reassured that there has never been a situation that we have not been able to resolve. No one will lose a place because results were received by us late or another administrative hiccup.

In short, if you want to be on one of our courses, and we decide that we want you here, then we will take every step possible to get you here. We always endeavour to act in the best interests of our applicants.

How do I apply? What is your policy as regards late applicants?

We only accept applications via the UCAS system. Go to the UCAS web-site www.ucas.ac.uk for further information.

We will process late applications at our discretion if there was a valid reason for missing the deadline. (eg an international applicant may be unaware of the deadlines imposed by UCAS, have different school calendars, or may not have had the means to apply before). Non-standard applicants are considered throughout the UCAS cycle.

UK students currently studying in schools/colleges will be considered to have known the mid-January UCAS deadline and a convincing reason would be necessary if they submitted a late application.

Are there any GCSE requirements?

Yes, though they relate to more general literacy and numeracy requirements. Applicants should note that we accept GCSE retakes and these may make up part of a conditional offer. We also may add attainment of a Key Skill at Level 3 to an offer if that will allow the applicant to satisfy one of the conditions below.

Numeracy Criterion. None of our degrees require A-level mathematics, but study of mathematical/numerate subjects at A-level will be viewed very positively. Computing is a highly numerate discipline and this means that we require a minimum of a grade C in GCSE Mathematics.

Literacy Criterion. Effective IT professionals must be good communicators, able to articulate their ideas to both clients and colleagues; these skills are also necessary to succeed on a degree course. We therefore require, at a minimum, a GCSE grade C in English.

The two GCSE requirements must be passed no matter what other qualifications have been obtained; with the exception of IELTS in place of the GCSE English requirement. Key Skills are NOT an acceptable substitute.

Miscellaneous Questions

What is your view as regards university league tables?

League tables should only be one part of your decision-making process.

If you want to choose a degree that will meet your needs, there is no substitute for good research. We advise you to attend open days, read the course literature and be prepared to ask questions. A good higher institution will help you to make an informed choice. Ask a careers advisor if you need help in doing this research.

I hear you have a SAP Laboratory? Will I get SAP training?

Yes, we have a SAP laboratory for undergraduate teaching and there is a module in the final year that teaches Enterprise Resource Planning using the ASAP development methodology.

The module provides a useful introduction to SAP/ERP and provides exposure to some key technologies, eg my.sap; this may help you secure a job that includes SAP training. (Note: the module is not the same as SAP industrial training and should not be considered as such.)

Can I park my car at City? Is City within the new congestion charge zone?

Parking in the area around City is limited and can be expensive. It is within the congestion charge zone which means that there is a daily charge of £8 for vehicles in the zone between 7am-6.30pm Monday to Friday, excluding Public Holidays. For further details please see www.cclondon.com

The area is well served by public transport with three tube/rail stations around a ten-minute walk (sometimes less) from the main Northampton Square site as well as numerous bus links.

For further information about public transport options, please see www.tfl.gov.uk

Will I have to study at a number of sites?

No. The Northampton Square site is compact and teaching invariably takes place there. It only takes 5-10 minutes to get from one part of the site to another. This transit time is included in your teaching timetable. In the extremely unlikely case that a teaching room had to be used off the main site, both of the two alternative buildings the session would reside in are only a further 5 minutes walk away.

We only make offers to applicants whom we feel have a realistic chance of being accepted; to do otherwise would not be in their best interests.

So by making an offer, we are indicating that the applicant is likely to be someone who would be successful studying and passing our degree courses.

Factors other than grades are taken into account such as subject mix, work experience and the information provided in personal statements and references where students fall slightly short of the stated conditional offer. This applies to most offers we make and not just those based on A-levels.

The usual exceptions are offers based on pass/fail qualifications such as Industry Certificates like MCSE/CISCO/A+, or other offers where we have asked for a simple pass, in which case there will be no flexibility.

Note that where we have asked for a pass in an English test or GCSE, this condition must be met.

So in short, if we have made you an offer it is because we feel that you have a good chance of being accepted if you work hard enough for your exams and achieve your potential (in past years we have admitted around 70-75 per cent of applicants who accepted our offer at this stage).