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Computational Thinking vs Computer Science

  • 22-04-2016 6:30pm
    Registered Users Posts: 129 ✭✭ Samurai12

    Should I go for Computational Thinking in Maynooth or Computer Science. I like computer science and I am hoping to get an A2/B1 in higher level maths in the leaving cert this year. And I know that computational thinking is a new course so I would like to know what the course is like. Sadly I am not able to go to the open day. Any help would be appreciated thanks.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,138 ✭✭✭ koHd

    Samurai12 wrote: »
    Should I go for Computational Thinking in Maynooth or Computer Science. I like computer science and I am hoping to get an A2/B1 in higher level maths in the leaving cert this year. And I know that computational thinking is a new course so I would like to know what the course is like. Sadly I am not able to go to the open day. Any help would be appreciated thanks.

    I'm just completing the Computer Science degree, but we share some modules with Computational Thinking and I've briefly looked into what they're at outside of what we do.

    Computational Thinking is a really intensive course for gifted maths students. It's only 3 years long, compared to Computer Science being 4 years. They basically skip 1st year as that's mostly foundations of maths and science that such students would probably be wasting their time with.

    Most of the modules are based on maths and logic. Computer Science students will do some of the core logic classes too, but not as many. Computer Science also has more practical modules to prepare students to become software engineers.

    I think if you're very advanced at maths and want to get a career in research or high level analytical thinking in business, you should go with Computational Thinking.

    If you want to become a software engineer, it might be best to do the Computer Science track. That's not saying Comp Thinkers won't go on to be software engineers...but we just get more hands on experience with practical building of software and a work placement in industry, whereas I think Comp Thinking is more focused on algorithms, logic, foundations and research.

    That's just my take on it anyway. I'm probably not the best to answer, but sure nobody else has so I thought I'd give ye something to go off

  • Registered Users Posts: 5 PhilsHenchman

    Hey. I'm currently in final year of the course at the minute. Basically it's a 3 year course where you study maths, computer science and philosophy. In first year you do 6 maths modules, 4 computer science modules and 2 philosophy modules. In second year you do 4 maths modules, 2 philosophy modules and 7 computer science modules (Although one of them is really a philosophy module run by the CS department, they just can't call it philosophy. Long story). In 3rd year you do a mixture of compulsory modules and modules you choose yourself over the 3 subjects. Them numbers may differ now but that's what it has been for me.

    In first year you're thrown into the deep end in terms of the computer science modules at the start of the year. As it's an accelerated course, you get put into cs modules with 2nd year students who have at least a year of prior programming experience. Don't be too worried though if you've never programmed before. 90% of the people who have done the course so far haven't. There's a 3 day intense workshop before the first week of lectures where the course coordinator, Phil Maguire (who is your lecturer for 3 modules in 1st year), will basically run through most of what is taught to other cs students in there first year. You may be a bit confused at first , but by November you will be on the same level as the 2nd years at programming by just attending the lectures and doing the labs.

    Also, as it's an accelerated course, what normal science/arts students cover in 2 years in their maths modules, you cover in one. I won't lie to you, the maths is tough. You can expect to spend many hours doing maths assignment each week if you get on the course. No matter how well you do in your LC maths exam, believe me, university maths, specifically the pure modules you do in CT, is a completely different ballgame. It will be a shock to your system. Most years, one or two people drop out of the course during the first two weeks because they think they won't be able to handle the maths. You might even have a mental breakdown and start to go cuckoo during the weeks you have 2 maths assignments due! Saying that, it is very much doable! It just requires a lot of work and effort. Don't be too afraid though, I survived it! It gets easier the more used to it you get.

    There's also the philosophy modules. Who can forget about them?! You'll either find philosophy a complete waste of time or find it somewhat enjoyable. The workload is very little also. Philosophy is a nice break from the stress of maths. The only real work is writing one essay of 1500 - 2000 words per semester.

    Another thing, as it's a 3 year course, you can take an optional extra year between 2nd year and your final year to either go abroad or do a work placement, making it a 4 year course. So far, people have gone to Boston, Toronto and Alicante.

    The only real problem with the course is that if halfway through, if you find out you don't like computer science or maths, you're sort of screwed unless you drop out of the course. But hey, if you're asking about it, you must be somewhat interested in them.

    If you're main interest is Computer Science, I'd look into the Computer Science and Software Engineering course. A lot of the CT cs modules deal with the theoretical side of computers and as a result, you miss out on modules that cover more practical things such as web development etc. If you want to do that kind of stuff CSSE is the way to go. You will be missing out on 90% of the maths covered in CT if you decide to do CSSE though. Maths is great so why would you want to miss out? That being said, you get to do about 50% of the CSSE modules either way. It's not like we don't do computers at all! The majority of the modules you take in 2nd year are computer modules.

    If you want to do CS & Maths, you could always go for the general science degree. The maths goes at a much slower pace and you will have no issue with it if you have gotten a B1. The same can be said for CS as you start from scratch when learning how to program. You'll have to choose 2 other subjects in first year and one other subjectin 2nd year such as Chemistry. One good thing about the General Science route is that you can always decide to pursue a degree in biology after the end of first year if it turns out that you don't actually like maths or cs. Another good thing about the general science route is that if at the end of first year you decide you really like computers, you can always switch the the CSSE degree in 2nd year. If you decide to do Pure Maths & CS in 3rd and 4th year you will get to do most of the modules covered in CT. Its the closest way to do the course, without actually being on it haha. The only thing you miss out on is the philosophy and a few cs /maths modules.

    Saying that, CT is a great course! As there's only 10 - 13 people in the course, you'll make really close friends with the other CTs, TPs and double mathsies. That being said, I think there were only 5 new first years this year. Any heavy workload you may have is easily balanced by the amount of craic you will have with the other CTs. Also, you won't be stuck in lecture halls with 300 other people so you will have a much better chance of getting to know the lecturers which is always a good thing.

    The course is tough, but if you're up for the challenge go for it! It gets a lot easier the more you progress in it. I swear, final year has been my easiest year haha! If you've any other questions just ask. There are a few CTs in both on this site. The course is only 4 years old. I know of 4 students that have graduated so far, two are doing masters and the other two have jobs. I think one's in the financial sector and the other is in software etc.

    I can't recommend the course enough! It's been the 3 best years of my life without a doubt! Do it!

    Also, you can always contact the course coordinator Phil Maguire yourself. His contact details are here: