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Computer Science at university, especially Oxbridge Computer Science, is very different to any subject you may have studied at school – even if you took Computer Science at GCSE or A-Level!

How is Computer Science at university different from Computer Science at school?

Whilst Computer Science at school is often learning and studying the different computer archetypes, programmes, and systems, Computer Science at university is focused on how those systems all work. It’s very grounded in maths, so a desire to explore this subject further, and how it applies to real world computing scenarios is essential. 

If you enjoy maths, but want to have a practical element to your degree, Computer Science could be the course for you.

On the Cambridge course, for example, in the second year there is a compulsory group project. In your group you are assigned an industrial sponsor with a specification, and the aim of the project is to create a finished product that fits their brief. For more information, see our breakdown of the Oxford vs. Cambridge Computer Science courses.

Which A-Level subjects should I take for a Computer Science degree?

It is important to remember that a desire to study Computer Science at university should not stem from an enjoyment of ICT at school. Mathematics is the compulsory requisite cited for Computer Science, and Cambridge admissions tutors value physics far more than the Higher Level 3 ICT course, and say that Physics A-Level is just as useful as Computer Science A-Level for this course. 

How much maths is there in a Computer Science degree?

Computer Science courses, especially Oxbridge Computer Science courses, are focused upon developing your understanding of how the programming systems work, not just learning to use them. Therefore, lots of your time is spent proving mathematical propositions and theorems.

It is important that this is something that interests you. The course is not just programming all day, but a mixture of practical applications, programming different systems, and crucially, developing a detailed understanding of how these systems function and were developed. 

For more information, we have an entire post breaking down the maths you’ll learn and put to use in a Computer Science degree.


Computer Science is an engaging degree, that combines practical application with intensively theoretical understanding of how computer systems and algorithms work. It would be ideal for someone fascinated by maths, but keen to see how that knowledge can actually be put to use.