Find a course by code

2014 2015
  • Find a course by subject

    • 2014 2015

Student Profile

‘I chose areas to specialise in that I believe have huge potential for growth...’

Tom Botterill PhD in Computer Science
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering
(read profile)

Computer Science


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


When people think of Computer Science they often just think of programming, but there are many more aspects to the field including communications and networks, software engineering, interaction design, computer security, information systems, graphics, operating systems, educational systems, artificial intelligence and embedded systems (processors that are embedded in everything from mobile phones to cars). Many of these areas are experiencing rapid growth both in New Zealand and internationally and there is a strong demand for Computer Science graduates.

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.

Recommended background

Our first-year courses do not assume any significant computing experience beyond basic desktop skills, but if you have the new NCEA achievement standards in programming and computer science (or IB/Cambridge equivalent), this provides an advantage. A strong background in Year 13 calculus or statistics and modelling is recommended. A mathematical background is important for students who intend to advance beyond first year.

If you have very good results in NCEA programming and computer science (or IB/Cambridge equivalent), you can apply to join an advanced ("overdrive") class. Students with outstanding achievement in NCEA (or IB/Cambridge) and who have completed the Computer Science STAR programme can 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. To keep your options open for this talk with a College of Engineering Student Advisor.

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 can also choose courses from other Science subjects and non-Science subjects.

Further study

Postgraduate study can be considered by students seeking a professional career in the computing industry. This could be 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 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.

For further career information, please go to


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