Looking back on a degree in Computer Science

Joseph Moore

Studying Computer Science at Durham University provides a lot more than just the course content. It has enabled me to architect my future career and goals, while developing my personal qualities further. The strong foundation of the course content allows you to explore deeper pathways with likeminded people within Computer Science and related fields.

Throughout the undeniable turmoil of the past few years, my degree has harboured a safe space for me to learn and grow as a person. Many from my cohort could be branded as an unfortunate year group – our A-Levels were impacted by Covid, most of our first year was spent in lockdown, and national university strikes have had an unequivocal impact on my experience of the degree, yet Durham still felt like a prosperous place for me to be throughout all of this.

My experience

I entered Durham apprehensively, having been admitted via my contextual offer after facing significant health difficulties throughout sixth form, yet I found that my lower grades didn’t matter – if you’ve been accepted into Durham, you’re bright enough to be there regardless of your journey there, and your past won’t define you nor impede your progress in any way.

As you progress through the degree, you find that what makes Durham such a strong option isn’t just the course content taught, but the additional opportunities beyond this that allow you to define and hone in on your interests.

Finding my niche

Halfway through my second year, I became involved in the Student Cluster Competition group. This wasn’t a formal society, nor an established group when I joined – I had the opportunity to shape it and became the student lead – even without any prior experience. This group works on optimising and running benchmarks and scientific applications as fast as possible on supercomputers. We enter competitions and have been successful to date, having won the national competition and performing well in two international competitions.

Me and the Student Cluster Team presenting our work for one of the competitions

I’ve found that this group has been the most formative activity I have done across my degree. It’s allowed me to develop a strong network among students, staff, and industry, to learn beyond the degree in a niche which I had never previously been exposed to, and to build strong skills which have helped me land strong internships.

The course taught at Durham offers a strong foundation to pick any niche in Computer Science and run with it. With a strong focus in Artificial Intelligence (AI), I feel the course provides insight into key fields that are becoming of increasing importance with more options to learn than most other courses within the UK.

What’s next for me?

I’m starting my PhD in Computer Architecture/High Performance Computing at the University of Bristol in the autumn. The MSc course at Durham University has opened me up to the idea of studying for a PhD and has provided me with the necessary skills to take the next step in my life.

Final thoughts

Would I recommend Durham? Definitely, but I would leave you with this piece of advice: your degree here is significant but certainly not everything; find your niche, get involved beyond the course through competitions, internships, or societies (if you have the capacity for it), and enjoy your time in Durham through colleges or course mates. These things will provide a much richer experience and set you on a successful pathway far greater than spending your short time at uni grinding for top marks.

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Joseph Moore

My name is Joseph and I’ve recently graduated from a BSc in Computer Science at Durham University. I was part of University College and when I’m not working on supercomputers, you’ll find me rock climbing, watching movies, or playing Wii games.

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