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Bringing computers to life

The new BSc in Computer Science will offer students the opportunity not only to learn core computing skills but also to apply those skills to any area or subject they feel passionate about – from music and art to sociology and education.

Written by Allie Fitzgibbon |

Students working together in lecture room
"One of my career highlights was making software for machine learning in creative work, called Wekinator, that a lot of people have used."

With exciting project-based learning, the course will encourage students to express themselves creatively and develop new links between technology and life.

Our ethos is that we want students to demonstrate that they understand the theories and concepts we teach by applying them in whatever creative way they like.

The new degree has been developed by the University of London and member institution Goldsmiths, whose academics have extensive experience in applying computer science to a wide range of other fields.

Dr Rebecca Fiebrink is a Senior Lecturer in Computing at Goldsmiths – and she is also a musician. She explained how she has never had to choose between her two interests.

“One of the biggest reasons I came to Goldsmiths to teach is that all the people teaching here really look at computing as something that has strong links to society and to the arts, and many of us explore those links in our research. For me that’s one of the great things about Computer Science – you can apply it to really anything that you care about and that interests you.

“We don’t make students and staff choose whether they’re technical people or creative people. We teach students who are studying creative computing and music computing and games programming right alongside students who are studying computer science.”

All the people teaching here really look at computing as something that has strong links to society and to the arts.

Dr Sarah Wiseman, Lecturer and Programme Leader at Goldsmiths, co-authored the Web Development module in the new BSc programme. She described how students will be encouraged to be creative within their computing practice.

“Our ethos is that we want students to demonstrate that they understand the theories and concepts we teach by applying them in whatever creative way they like. For example, students on the Games Development course won’t be asked to produce the exact same game – we will give them a brief and ask them to interpret it in an exciting and creative way. In some modules there are marks specifically for their creativity and it is their chance to add their own personality.

“Having this creative element in the degree gives students a chance to really care about their projects and their work. They want whatever they’re creating to be as brilliant as it can be because it’s something they own and if they hadn’t created it then it wouldn’t exist. Their projects are individual and unique to them and that gives them the enthusiasm to do it right.”

With seven different specialisms on offer – from Games Development to Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality – students are able to build on their interests and develop the programming skills they need to innovate in any field they choose.

Example projects produced by students studying the Goldsmiths on-campus degree include a DJ training system that uses machine learning to automatically rate scratching ability; an educational resource to teach physical computing and electronics to primary school students; a robot designed and controlled by a student as part of a play he produced; and an interactive games controller developed as part of a sensory game.

Dr Wiseman added, “One of the best parts of my job is interacting with students – honest, enthusiastic and unpredictable people. I never know what I’m going to be talking about and that’s very exciting. They challenge me and inspire me and it’s great to be able to play a part in lots of different creative projects that are meaningful to each student.”

Having this creative element in the degree gives students a chance to really care about their projects and their work.

Goldsmiths academics are also committed to their own research, exploring how technology can integrate with, and be influenced by, other fields.

Dr Fiebrink said, “One of the highlights of my career has been making software for machine learning in creative work – called Wekinator – that a lot people have used. It hit around 25,000 downloads this year and I recently had someone knock on my door who had put on an opera in Bristol about Frida Kahlo and had used my software. That’s really exciting to feel that I’ve made something that lots of people are using to do things that I never would have imagined.”

Find out more about the BSc Computer Science degrees.