Clare College Cambridge

Computer Science

Link to University Subject Page


The Cambridge course combines practice and theory. Programming and hardware design are taught alongside automata theory, semantics, etc. This course is ideal for students who love mathematics but want to make an impact on the world.

In the first year of the Computer Science Tripos (Part IA), students take courses in modern programming languages (ML and Java), Operating Systems and Discrete Mathematics. They also study Digital Electronics and work in the Hardware Laboratory. A number of first-year options exist: 

The 50% option, which we have offered for many years, allows students to take mathematics and certain experimental subjects from Part IA of the Natural Sciences Tripos. Computer Scientists also have the option of taking courses from the first year of the Mathematics Tripos. A Psychology option is also available. 

The 75% option was introduced in 2016. It includes all the computer science content of the 50% option plus some more advanced material, alongside the Natural Sciences mathematics course.

The second year of the Computer Science Tripos (Part IB) covers core technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Graphics and Computer Networking. It also covers hardware and theory. There is some assessed laboratory work, including a group project.

The third year (Part II) covers advanced technologies, such as Bioinformatics and Computer Security. It also covers advanced theory, such as System Modelling, Denotational Semantics, and Computer Vision. Each student does a substantial project and writes a dissertation of up to 12000 words.

Lectures and project work take place within the Computer Laboratory. Founded in 1937, it is probably the oldest Computer Science Department in the world. At present there are about 320 undergraduate students, and about 180 research students.

Consult the Computer Laboratory's web site for more details of the first-year options. You may request information by sending an e-mail to

Studying Computer Science at Clare

Clare has a strong commitment to Computer Science, and provides an excellent environment for students.

Clare's computing facilities are excellent. Our student computer rooms provide about forty computers (both PCs and Macs). Bring your own computer, if you prefer: all student rooms in Clare have an Internet connection, including wireless access. Clare is also an extremely convenient college for Computer Science students, since the College's first year accommodation is situated midway between the town centre and the West Cambridge site.


Candidates for Admission will usually have two interviews and will also be required to take an assessment in college on the day of the interview. The assessment is the same as for the other colleges (details on the university website), and is intended to allow candidates to show their strengths. The assessment will have questions ranging from pure mathematics to algorithms and programming and candidates will be able to choose which questions to solve. Specific details and example questions are available.

While practical experience (such as programming) will improve your admissions prospects, mathematical competence is essential. A typical conditional offer requires A*A*A at A2-level. The Computer Laboratory publishes detailed information on the A-level requirements for each option. Briefly: single-subject Mathematics at A2-level is essential; Physics and Further Mathematics are valuable. The Computing A-level is not required, but it is a useful way to gain practical experience. Offers for applicants for Computer Science with Mathematics will include mathematics STEP grades.

Fellows in Computer Science at Clare

Clare has its own internal Director of Studies, Professor Lawrence Paulson, who is a Fellow of the College and a member of the Department. He has an international reputation for his work on computational logic, but among students he is best known for his down-to-earth lecturing style. He gives lecture courses in the first two years of the Computer Science Tripos and has written a popular textbook on the programming language ML.

Preparing to Study Computer Science

See Student Profile Elliott Katz