Come study Computer Science at Stellenbosch!
- Why Computer Science?
- Why Stellenbosch?
- What is the course all about?
- What are the requirements for doing the course?
- What can I do with Computer Science after university?
- How do I choose a degree / programme that suits me?
- How do I apply?
- Is Computer Science the same as Computer Literacy?
- Should I study Computer Science or Electronic Engineering?
- Where can I find more information?
Why Computer Science?
The Association of Computing Machinery is an international organization for computer scientists. The ACM has developed the following list of top ten reasons to study computer science which we quote from their web site.
- Computing is part of everything we do!
- Expertise in computing enables you to solve complex, challenging problems.
- Computing enables you to make a positive difference in the world.
- Computing offers many types of lucrative careers.
- Computing jobs are here to stay, regardless of where you are located.
- Expertise in computing helps even if your primary career is something else.
- Computing offers great opportunities for true creativity and innovativeness.
- Computing has space for both collaborative work and individual effort.
- Computing is an essential part of well-rounded academic preparation.
- Future opportunities in computing are without boundaries.
We admit that we are biased, but we can only add one more “fact”: Computer Science is FUN!
For more information please also read our informative pamphlet for prospective students.
Academic excellence: Stellenbosch University is amongst South Africa’s leading tertiary institutions based on research output, student pass rates and rated scientists, and is recognised internationally as an academic institution of excellence.
Community: Studying in Stellenbosch is more than just an education; it’s a lifestyle. The campus is fully integrated in the beautiful and historic town. Great food and wine, weekend markets, stunning nature, a vibrant music and culture scene, and a host of adventure activities all contribute to a well-balanced student experience as a Matie.
What is the course all about?
Computer Science deals with computer systems, both the hardware and the software. But this doesn’t mean we sit around writing programs and building PC’s all day! We take a scientific approach to the subject, emphasizing the principles of computer systems, instead of the nitty-gritty.
In the first year, the focus is on learning to program. At the moment we are using the Java language to teach programming, but this is not critical: we expect our students to know many languages by the time they leave university. Having said this, Java is a very important language. It is simple enough to master adequately in one year and it provides an excellent introduction to other languages like C++ and C (which we use in later courses).
The second year looks at data structures and algorithms. A good knowledge of this important topic is what sets the expert apart from the beginner. In the second half of the year the focus is on computer architecture and low-level programming.
The third year contains four core modules: concurrent programming, databases and web-centric computing, computer networks, and software engineering. There are also optional modules in Machine Learning (how do we get computer systems to learn from real-world data?) and Computer Vision (which also covers graphics – a key topic for computer game programming). At the end of the year, students are able to answer questions like:
- How does Windows/Linux/Mac OSX work inside?
- How do we use multiple computers/processors to perform large computations efficiently?
- How do we design large databases for use over the internet?
- How do computers communicate over WiFi or the Internet?
- How do we design and build BIG pieces of software reliably?
Along with all the theory, our students work hard on their practical skills. For instance, in previous versions of some of these modules the students constructed an Internet chatroom system, a traffic simulator, and a shopping app for smartphones.
Some universities offer courses certified by foreign organizations to adhere to certain standards. At Stellenbosch we have long prided ourselves on our teaching. We follow the international ACM curriculum recommendations as closely as possible, but we do not believe at this point that accreditation by these organizations is a sensible way to spend our students’ tuition fees. Our third year and postgraduate courses are moderated annually by experts from other universities and some of these courses undergo additional moderation by ECSA.
We use both English and Afrikaans in our lectures. However, we have a pragmatic attitude in this matter. We love Afrikaans, but we also try to accommodate all of our students, including our English-speaking and foreign undergraduates. In our experience, language has never been an issue in our teaching, and we do not believe that it should ever stand in the way of education. Many of our students speak only English and cope very well in our courses.
What are the requirements for doing the course?
Most importantly, you do not need any background in programming or any computer-related school subjects to study Computer Science.
The general admission requirements to study any B.Sc. subject include
- a grade of at least 6 for Mathematics,
- a grade of at least 4 for your first language, and
- a grade of at least 4 for Physics/Chemistry if you intend to take those
or at least 4 for at least one other approved subject.
Full details about this can be found on the Maties site. (Follow the quick link to the admissions requirements at the bottom of the page.)
What can I do with Computer Science after university?
We are flooded with requests for qualified students every week. (You can see some of them on our jobs page.) Around 2000 there was a dip in the job market, but since then it has recovered to unprecedented levels and now international experts predict a serious shortage of computer scientists in the future. This is good news for anybody with the right qualification, looking for a job: there is a lot of choice.
Some of our students start out as programmers, but most end up as software designers and engineers. Apart from the many local companies that employ our students, there are also many opportunities overseas. South African computer scientists are generally in demand, because they are known as highly qualified and as hard workers.
Usually there is a high turnover in the software industry. People move frequently from one company to another. In other words, they are exposed to many different kinds of environments.
How do I choose a degree / programme that suits me?
The buzzword for the next decade is “Computational Thinking”. Basically, this means problem solving, often with computers, and it is at the heart of Computer Science.
Computer Science can be combined with an array of other subjects! Most of our students go on to work in the software and information technology industry, but CS is also an ideal companion subject for just about any other discipline. In fact, these days it is becoming essential for everyone to know how to write some computer code.
- When you come to university, you must choose a degree. Examples: BSc, BCom
- Degrees have different variants known as programmes. Examples: BSc Mathematical Sciences, BCom Business Management
- Some programmes have variants known as streams (or focus areas). Example: BSc Mathematical Sciences: Computer Science
This page describes just some of the ways you can construct a curriculum for yourself based on Computer Science. There are many options and we can only list the most popular choices. It is very important to consult the University yearbooks for definitive information.
BSc: Computer Science
This is the primary option for students who want to pursue a career in computing. This degree is an international qualification that enables you find work with at national and international companies. This programme has five streams - below we outline the General stream; the other streams are Data Science, Computer Systems, Computer Science with Genetics, and Computer Science with Geographical Information Technology. These streams can lead to an honours programme in Computer Science and, with the appropriate electives, to an honours programme in Economics, Applied Mathematics, Mathematics, Genetics and Operations Research.
Computer Science 1 114
and Statistics Elective 178
in Context 144
Computer Science 2 144
Mathematics Compulsory Choice Elective
The Compulsory Choice is between Applied Mathematics 144, Data Science 141, and Mathematics 154. First-year electives include Biology, Chemistry, Economics, General Linguistics, Geo-environmental Science, Music Technology, and Physics.
and Algorithms Elective Elective Elective 244
Architecture Elective Elective Elective
Electives include Biomathematics, Chemistry, Economics, General Linguistics, Mathematical Statistics, Music Technology, Operations Research, and Physics. The elective choice is more complicated than in the first year, and it is important to consult the Science yearbook.
Web Programming Elective Elective 344
Networks Elective Elective
Third-year electives include Applied Mathematics, Biomathematics, Chemistry, Economics, General Linguistics, Mathematical Statistics, Mathematics, Music Technology, Operations Research, and Physics. There are also additional Computer Science modules to choose from.
BCom Mathematical Sciences: Computer Science
Another popular choice for students is a degree in the Economic and Management Sciences faculty.
Computer Science 1 114
Actuarial Science 114
Financial Accounting 144
Computer Science 2 144
and Statistics 144
and Algorithms 214
Statistics Elective 244
Management 245 & 246
Recommended second-year electives include Actuarial Science, Economics, Financial Accounting, Financial Risk Management, Investment Management, Logistics Management, Marketing Management, and Operations Research.
Web Programming 315
Learning Elective 344
Recommended third-year electives include Economics, Financial Risk Management, Mathematical Statistics, Mathematics, and Operations Research.
There are several programmes in the Faculty of Engineering (for example, BEng Electrical and Electronic, BEng Industrial and BEng Mechatronic Engineering) that includes aspects of Computer Science. Engineering students follow a limited number of Computer Science modules, and are in high demand in the software and information technology sector, especially at companies that specialize in computer systems, control systems, and signal processing.
There are many other programmes that allows you to enrol for some CS modules. In some cases, this is limited to only the first year but the following programmes allow “full” CS through to the third year:
- BSc Chemistry: Chemistry and Polymer Science
- BSc Physics: Laser Physics (Physical), Nuclear Physics, Radiation and Health Physics
- BSc Physics: Theoretical Physics
- BSc GeoInformatics
- All streams in BSc Mathematical Sciences except for the Biomathematics stream
- BCom Economic Sciences
- BCom Mathematical Sciences: General
- BCom Mathematical Sciences: Mathematical Statistics
Just because a programme allows you to enrol for first-year CS, does not mean that you can necessary also enrol for our second- and third-year modules. It is very important to read the university documentation very carefully.
How do I apply?
You can apply online and find tons of relevant information on
Is Computer Science the same as Computer Literacy?
No, not at all. It is important to the university that all science students are competent at using computers. Computer Literacy is a compulsory module that teach students how to use basic tools (such as word processors, spreadsheets, presentation tools) as well as more advanced scientific tools (such as mathematical modellers and statistical analysis packages).
Should I study Computer Science or Electronic Engineering?
This is a frequently asked question — Computer Science and Electronic Engineering are both excellent choices which will prepare you for a career in the computing industry. Graduates of these two degrees often end up in similar jobs, and both degrees are in high demand. The key difference is that the focus of Electronic Engineering is on both hardware (i.e. design of computers and other electronic devices) and software (often for specific engineering applications), while Computer Science has a more specialised and deeper focus on software (algorithms and software development). Students in Electronic Engineering take some but not all of the modules in Computer Science. Both degrees have a strong mathematical component. If you are struggling to choose, we encourage you to make appointments with staff at both the departments of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering to discuss this important decision.
Where can I find more information?
A good place to start is to look around this website. For answers to specific questions, please feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.