BlogUniversityWhat It’s Like Studying Computer Science at USYD

What It’s Like Studying Computer Science at USYD

Are you keen on studying Computer Science at USYD? 

Well we’ve got you covered with all the things you ought to know about this popular major – from core units, assessments, uni culture and more!

What are you waiting for? Scroll down to find out more! 

What is Computer Science at USYD?
Core Units for this Major
How to Get into Computer Science at USYD
What’s the Teaching Format?
What’s the Faculty and Culture Like?

What is Computer Science at USYD?

Computer Science at USYD is studied as a major within various Bachelor degrees offered at USYD. It involves the study of key concepts of computation – you’ll basically learn the required techniques to solve problems and provide solutions within computation and software.

Don’t worry that Computer Science isn’t offered as a whole Bachelor degree at USYD – this major will equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills needed for an entire career in information technology! If you really want to pursue studies in this field, there are many degrees which offer it as a major, such as the Bachelor of Science.

Studying a Bachelor of Science (Computer Science)

For now, let’s say you want to enrol in a Bachelor of Science – the perks are that it’s an extremely flexible degree that will allow you to gain the highly sought-after skills in research, analysis and critical thinking. Within this degree and major at USYD, you’ll not only be taught by scientific experts from the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Research Council Fellowships, but you’ll also study in multimillion-dollar facilities like the world-class Sydney Nanoscience Hub. 

Additionally, most of USYD’s undergraduate degrees with Computer Science majors are also accredited by the Australian Computer Society (ACS), which first-hand establishes the foundations for a student’s future career in IT. 

Advanced Coursework and Honours

Computer Science is also offered as a major within a Bachelor of Advanced Studies degree. This is an additional year of advanced coursework to your usual Bachelor degree (say, a Bachelor of Science), where you’ll complete a second major from USYD’s shared pool and involve yourself in community, research and professional project work. 

Honours is available for high-achieving (distinction average) Computer Science students in their fourth year of a Bachelor of Advanced Studies degree (which is in conjunction with a Bachelor of Science, for instance). The Computer Science honours program is difficult, but it will enhance experiential opportunities for students and enrich their understanding of research within the realm of information technology.  

Career Paths

Depending on your IT-related choice of study, your career path may be within:

    • Computer Programmers
    • System Analysts
    • Software Engineers
    • Computer Systems Administrators 
    • Information Technology Consultants

Computer Science at Other Universities

USYD isn’t the only university that offers Computer Science as an undergraduate major and deciding where you’d like to study is a big choice to make. If you’re thinking about which uni will be best for you, you can check out what it’s like studying Computer Science at UNSW or UTS!

Core Units for this Major

A major in Computer Science at USYD requires you to complete 48 credit points (8 subjects/units), which are comprised of multiple core units and one elective unit. 

The core units in your first year of a Computer Science major are:

Introduction to Programming
Where you will develop your knowledge of principle computer operation and procedural programming, which is an imperative beginning point for software developers, IT consultants, and computer scientists.
Introduction to Programming (Advanced)Evidently a more progressive version of procedural programming, where you’ll use two programming languages in order to further your knowledge of computer science. This is only available for students who enter the Dalyell Scholars program (distinction average/high ATAR students). 
Object-oriented (OO) ProgrammingThe last first-year core unit where you’ll learn how to arrange code into classes and the operations of one-place related data. 

In second year, the Computer Science core units are:

Data Structures and AlgorithmsIn this unit, you’ll learn how to solve algorithmic problems and how data can support efficient access.
Data Structures and Algorithms (Advanced)This unit is a more advanced level of solving algorithmic and data problems. This is also only available for students who enter the Dalyell Scholars program (distinction average/high ATAR students). 
Systems ProgrammingThis unit is more practical, where you’ll understand methods for creating robust and reusable software through specific coding topics. 
Models of ComputationAn introductory unit to computational models and how they connect to programming tools. 
Models of Computation (Advanced)A more advanced level of understanding abstract computational models, which is also only available for students who enter the Dalyell Scholars program (distinction average/high ATAR students). 

In third year, you only have two core units, which are:

Algorithm DesignIn this unit, you’ll be introduced to the design techniques that can be utilised to discover algorithmic solutions for programming problems.
Algorithm Design (Advanced)A more advanced level of algorithmic design techniques, including concepts of computational complexity.


How to Get into Computer Science at USYD

Like I mentioned, Computer Science at USYD is a major, not a Bachelor degree. However, the good thing about this is there are numerous ways to study Computer Science by enrolling in one of the 43 degrees at USYD that offer this unit as a major.

Check out this full list of courses at USYD which allow you to study Computer Science!

Hypothetically, if you enrol in a Bachelor of Science in order to major in Computer Science, the ATAR cut off is 80. You can find other admission pathways to get into another Bachelor degree that offers a major in Computer Science here.


The prerequisite for a Bachelor of Science degree is Mathematics. It’s recommended you have a pretty thorough and accurate understanding of mathematics for Computer Science (such as having done Mathematics Advanced in the HSC), as most subjects involve coding and data and algorithmic analysis which can be particularly difficult for those without that already assumed knowledge. 

If you don’t have this prerequisite, you can complete the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for mathematics and the post-MOOC exam.

For more info visit Mathematics course prerequisites!


Scholarships for Computer Science majors depend on which degree you study.

If you’re studying a Bachelor of Science, the Science faculty offers over 20 scholarships for Science or Engineering students, some of which are:

For the full list of scholarships available for science and engineering students, visit here

What’s the Teaching Format?

A major in Computer Science at USYD is taught through lectures, tutorials and labs across two semesters per year. 

If you’re completing a Bachelor of Science (with a major in Computer Science of course) each unit within that degree usually has 1-2 hours of lectures, with 2-3 hour labs and one hour tutorials. 

Class Structure

Computer Science is a very maths-based major, so the workload in tutorials will consist of solving mathematical computer problems and analysing data, with around 20 students in each tute. You may also go through mathematical questions as a class and prepare for your labs, which have around 15 to 20 students.

Lectures for Computer Science subjects will often feel more populated with 100 to 200 students attending. These aren’t as interactive as tutorials or labs, but are still crucial to engage with to inform the content of those classes.

This major is also very practical. In labs, you’ll learn how to code rather than learning the theory behind it (which is what lectures are for). For example, in first year you’ll learn skills on how to code games like space invaders, which is one of your assignments (how fun!). 

How much time will you spend at university?

The number of contact hours is usually around 20-25 hours a week for a Computer Science major within a Bachelor of Science (for four units a semester). However, you will most likely spend extra time studying, as it’s important to stay on top of things otherwise you will fall behind. 


One of the best parts about Computer Science at USYD is that you’ll only have two assessments per unit! 

Yet, this means that they’ll both weigh 50% of your final grade, and will include a mid-semester assessment (which could be an exam, or a practical assessment in a lab), and a final exam during the end of semester exam period. 

Skills That You Refine and Learn

A major in Computer Science will firstly allow you to refine critical problem-solving and mathematical skills needed for computation and software development. You’ll also gain important practical and programming skills and knowledge on how computation is modelled, along with expertise in innovative information technology and science and data analysis, all of which are imperative to a career in IT solutions. 

The research and teaching activities that you’ll engage in will further refine skills and extend your knowledge in human-centred technology, information systems, service computing, machine learning, algorithms and even artificial intelligence. 

What’s the Faculty and Culture Like?


Computer Science at USYD is generally quite small, particularly when compared to the wider scope of Science and Engineering faculties. This means that you’ll have a greater chance in connecting and forming friendships with other students, as you’ll most likely see familiar faces in tutorials throughout your 3 to 4 years of study. 

USYD’s School of Computer Science is not only the first school of computer science in Australia, but it’s also driven by leading research academics who have extensive experience in applied technology, making USYD a nation-wide leader in computer science. The relatively small, research-led team of staff and academics makes Computer Science an even more enticing major, as you will be guaranteed help of any sort if you’re struggling. 


Likewise, the culture of the School of Computer Science at USYD has the ability to form bonds between students due to the close nature of the major. 

Computer Science students can also join SYNCSthe one and only computer society at USYD. SYNCS holds inclusive weekly social events, cyber security workshops, provides networking opportunities to connect with employers in the IT world and closes the gap between staff and students within the School of Computer Science. 

SYNCS also acts as a support program for Computer Science students, as they hold weekly beginner and advanced programming ‘Help desks’ to assist with your computer programming skills. Help desks are student-run, so you’ll have first-hand (and incredibly smart) experienced individuals helping you out.

Want to learn more? Check out our article here for the pros and cons!

Isabelle Plasto is a Content Writer at Art of Smart Education and in her third year of a Media and Communications degree at the University of Sydney, majoring in Digital Cultures. You can find her work published in Dementia Australia’s August 2020 eNewsletter, an organisation very close to her heart. Apart from writing, Issy loves to travel, cook and boogie to 70s disco music.


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