Clare College Cambridge

Studying Computer Science

Studying Computer Science at Clare


Teaching is provided through lectures, practical classes and supervisions. In Year 1, you can typically expect 20 hours of teaching every week, including up to 12 lectures and practical classes.

Assessment is by three-hour examinations taken in the final term each year. In Year 3 you submit a dissertation and take two units which may be assessed in a variety of ways. Practical work is undertaken and assessed in all years of the degree programme.

Please note that successful applicants are required to do some preparatory reading and complete a pre-arrival online course before the start of the first term. Students will be sent details after their place is confirmed.


Year 1 (Part IA)

You take four papers, including three compulsory Computer Science papers - covering topics such as foundations of computer science (taught in OCaml), Java and object-oriented programming, operating systems, and digital electronics, graphics, interaction design - and one Mathematics paper.

Year 2 (Part IB)

Core technologies and theories


You take four papers, spanning the core discipline through topics including:

  • theory – including logic and proof, computation theory
  • systems – including computer design, computer networking
  • programming – including compiler construction, advanced algorithms
  • applications and professionalism – including artificial intelligence, graphics, security

You also undertake a group project which reflects current industrial practice. 

Year 3 (Part II)



You choose from a large selection of topics which allows you to concentrate on an area of interest to you, such as computer architecture, applications (including bioinformatics and natural language processing) or theory. New topics inspired by current research interests include computer music, data science and robotics.

All students also work on a substantial project demonstrating their computer science skills, writing a 12,000 word dissertation on it. Projects are often connected with current Cambridge research and many utilise cutting-edge technology.  


Year 4 (Part III, optional integrated Masters)

Research preparation


The fourth year is designed for students considering a career in academic or industrial research. You explore issues at the very forefront of computer science and undertake a substantial research project.

Progression to Part III is dependent on Part II examination achievement. Successful completion of Part III leads to the MEng qualification, as well as the BA degree attained at the end of Part II.

For further information about studying Computer Science at the University of Cambridge see the Faculty of Computer Science and Technology website.

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. 


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.