Computer systems can be found everywhere: inside a mobile phone, at a hospital bedside, and inside your TV, washing machine and games consoles. Computer systems engineers explore how this works – what is needed to convert machines and machinery into useful computing. We’re for people who want to figure out what goes on inside the box.
Our course gives you a thorough introduction to computer science before focussing on systems engineering. You study areas including:
- Writing programs, programming embedded microprocessors and designing embedded microprocessor systems in C
- The design and function of modern operating systems
- The functionality hardware needs to provide for an operating system
We emphasise the importance of practical learning, and you also have the opportunity to undertake a major project or product development specified either by a member of academic staff or a partner company.
In addition to these topics, you also have the flexibility to explore other areas our department specialises in, such as computer security, Big Data, and robotics.
More than two-thirds of our research rated “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” (REF 2014).
Programming at Essex
Teaching someone to programme is about opening a door. In your first year at Essex you will study a module that introduces you to programming using C. We assess your ability to think in a programmatic way in the very first week of term and if you require additional support, we offer classes which will boost your skills and confidence with programming.
Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.
Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.
If you spend a full year abroad you’ll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won’t pay any tuition fees to your host university
Alternatively, you can spend your third year on a placement with an external organisation, as part of one of our placement year degrees. The learning outcomes associated with this programme focus on using the specialist technical skills acquired in the first two years of the course and developing communications skills with customers.
Students are provided with support to secure a placement. Recent placements undertaken by our students have been with ARM, Microsoft, Intel, Nestlé, British Aerospace, and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, as well a range of SME software and hardware companies.
If you complete a placement year you’ll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.
Our expert staff
Our original Department of Computer Science was founded by Professor Tony Brooker, who came to Essex from Manchester where he had worked with Alan Turing. Professor Brooker invented the compiler-compiler, one of the earliest applications of a formal understanding of the nature of programming languages.
In recent years we have attracted many highly active research staff and we are conducting world-leading research in areas such as evolutionary computation, brain-computer interfacing, intelligent inhabited environments and financial forecasting.
- We have six laboratories that are exclusively for computer science and electronic engineering students. Three are open 24/7, and you have free access to the labs except when there is a scheduled practical class in progress
- All computers are dual boot Windows 10 and Linux. Apple Mac Computers are dual boot MacOS and Windows 10
- Software includes Java, Prolog, C++, Perl, Mysql, Matlab, DB2, Microsoft Office, Visual Studio, and Project
- Students have access to CAD tools and simulators for chip design (Xilinx) and computer networks (OMNet++)
- We also have specialist facilities for research into areas including non-invasive brain-computer interfaces, intelligent environments, robotics, optoelectronics, video, RF and MW, printed circuit milling, and semiconductors.
Demand for computer scientists and engineers is high; the IT and engineering sectors are growing at a rate that outstrips the supply of fresh talent. An incredible 92% of our School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering students are in employment or further study (Graduate Outcomes 2020).
We have many graduates in senior positions in the computer communications industry, as well recent graduates working in IT and computer companies. Many occupy positions in the retail and services sectors, where computer expertise is in high demand, particularly in developing and managing computer servers and communications networks.
Our department has a large pool of external contacts, ranging from companies providing robots for the media industry, through vehicle diagnostics, to virtualisation of networks, and network security, who work with us and our students to help provide advice, placements and eventually graduate opportunities. Read more about computer science and electronic engineering career destinations here.
Our recent graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of high-profile companies including:
- Royal Bank of Scotland
- Force India F1
We also work with our University’s Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
Why we’re great
- You join a community of scholars leading the way in technological research and development.
- We are home to many of the world’s top scientists and engineers in their field.
- 92% of our School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering students are in employment or further study (Graduate Outcomes 2020).
We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of core/compulsory modules, and optional modules chosen from lists.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.
Teaching and learning disclaimer
Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.
The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently approved for 2022 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.
On a placement year you gain relevant work experience within an external business or organisation, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.
On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.
- Courses are taught by a combination of lectures, laboratory work, assignments, and individual and group project activities
- Group work
- A significant amount of practical lab work will need to be undertaken for written assignments and as part of your learning
- In your first year, you will have exams before the start of term in January
- You are assessed through a combination of written examinations and coursework
- All our modules include a significant coursework element
- You receive regular feedback on your progress through in-term tests