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    • 2014
Graham Dockrill

Student Profile

‘I constantly use my degree, working alongside my staff and clients...’

Graham Dockrill BSc in Computer Science
Director and Co-owner, Hairy Lemon Web Solutions Ltd
(read profile)

Computer Science


Science: BSc, CertSc, BSc(Hons), PGDipSc, MSc, PhD, GradDipSc


There is overwhelming demand for people with computer, communication and teamwork abilities to support the rapid growth in areas such as computer games, artificial intelligence, mobile applications, the internet, educational systems and embedded systems (processors that are embedded in everything from mobile phones to cars). The supply of suitable graduates is low despite increased demand from employers, and industry is now seriously concerned about where it will find suitable employees in the future.

When people think of Computer Science they often simply think of programming, but there are many more aspects to it including communications and networks, software engineering, computer security and forensics, information systems, graphics, operating systems, performance evaluation, computer languages and artificial intelligence.

Computer Science is about helping people do their work efficiently and effectively by analysing needs and constructing appropriate solutions. Computer Science students learn techniques to tackle these challenges for applications as diverse as monitoring the condition of patients in hospitals to designing educational games for smart phones.

Computer Science can be taken as a major in the Bachelor of Science degree. Computer skills are also invaluable to students in disciplines such as Engineering, Commerce, the social sciences, and Mathematics and Statistics. Computers are so widely used that even elementary computer skills will make you more effective in your work.

Recommended background

Students must achieve entry to the University. Our first-year courses do not assume any significant computing experience beyond basic desktop skills, but a strong background in Year 13 mathematics with calculus or statistics and modelling is recommended. A mathematical background is important for students who intend to advance beyond first year.

For students who started NCEA Level 1 during or after 2011, the new programming and computer science achievement standards in digital technologies are highly recommended, which when combined with good results in other subjects means students are likely to have access to better opportunities in Computer Science and related subjects.

Students with excellent achievement in NCEA and who have completed the Computer Science STAR programme will be considered for direct entry into second-year Computer Science courses with a view to completing an honours degree in three years.

100-level courses

Students majoring in Computer Science are required to take COSC 121 and COSC 122 and at least 30 points of Mathematics and Statistics (preferably MATH 120 and STAT 101 – not MATH 101). COSC 110 is also strongly recommended.

It is possible to design a first year of study that enables you to either continue in your second year in Computer Science or to go into Software Engineering, Information Systems, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, or Computer Engineering.

200-level and beyond

A wide variety of courses in Computer Science are available after the first year. These cover topics such as algorithms, software engineering, data communications and networking, database systems, computer forensics, artificial intelligence, data and network security, microprocessor systems, computer graphics, wireless security, computer vision and augmented reality.

As part of the Bachelor of Science students also choose courses from other Science subjects and may take some courses in non-Science subjects which allows for flexibility in subject choice.

Further study

Some postgraduate study is highly recommended and should be considered by students seeking a professional career in the computing industry. This may take place within the framework of an honours, master's or postgraduate diploma programme and will consist of at least one year of concentrated study of computing topics.

Career opportunities

There is a strong demand for graduates who are qualified in Computer Science, particularly those who combine technical skills with good communication skills and teamwork ability. Canterbury's leading-edge IT sector is facing a massive shortage of qualified graduates, meaning that UC-qualified Computer Science graduates are in high demand.

Many employment opportunities exist with organisations that run large computer-based systems, such as finance companies, airline industries, government departments, state-owned enterprises, consulting companies, and computer organisations themselves. Work with these organisations often involves international travel opportunities. Many of our students start up their own software companies, and end up being employers rather than employees.

Apart from a professional career in computing, a degree in Computer Science can be used as a good basis for a career in the many areas in which computer systems are applied. Graduates are employed in fields including education, computer forensics, embedded systems and computer graphics, and in a variety of positions including software engineer, programmer, analyst, computer consultant, webmaster, internet developer, GIS analyst, games developer and computing tutor.

A new BE(Hons) discipline in Software Engineering is available from 2013. This overlaps with the Computer Science degree, but has more emphasis on managing the software development process, and is a four-year Engineering degree, not a Science degree.

For further career information, please go to


Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering
Telephone: +64 3 364 2362