School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering

Career prospects

Two women laughing as they look at a computer screen

Your future starts here

Studying a degree within our School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering provides you with the technical and transferable skills you need to succeed in your career after graduation.

Computing and electronics are major industries both in the UK and around the globe, and demand for graduates in these disciplines is outstripping supply.

The sector also offers one of the highest starting salaries for graduates with degrees in computer science and electronic engineering.

Careers

Public sector

Many government departments are undergoing significant digital transformation, particularly in areas around security, sustainability, and providing digital platforms for the public.

The public sector doesn’t just cover major London-based departments such as the Cabinet Office or the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It also includes smaller and non-ministerial bodies, such as HMRC and the National Crime Agency; local government such as County Councils and London Boroughs; and major public bodies like the NHS and Highways England.

There are a broad selection of jobs for computer science and engineering graduates in the public sector, and you may find the same or similar roles are advertised in multiple departments.

Roles in the public sector can include:

  • Cyber security or forensic computer analysis.
  • Electronics, networks or systems engineering, including for specific projects within the Ministry of Defence.
  • Quality assurance, ensuring that suppliers are delivering products within contractual obligations and working on process audits and compliance resolution.
  • Software development, either to support the activities of Civil Service teams or for use by the public.

Civil Service Fast Stream

The Civil Service Fast Stream is a highly competitive leadership development programme run by the UK Civil Service. Successful applicants will work in relevant government departments as part of one of fifteen potential schemes.

Different schemes have different durations, ranging from 2 to 4 years, and different degree level and subject requirements. For example, the Digital, Data & Technology scheme  develops Civil Servants who will work in teams that build and maintain government digital services. It requires a 2:2 but no specific degree subject, although you may find a computer science or engineering degree very helpful.

Conversely, the Science and Engineering Fast Stream requires a postgraduate degree (either Masters or PhD) that must be in a science or engineering subject as you will act as a specialist in science and engineering fields. 

Teaching

Computer science and engineering are essential subjects for the 21st century, with technology dominating many aspects of our daily life. However, in the UK we currently struggle with teaching computing at GCSE and A-Level. This problem is made worse by a shortage of teachers who have an Undergraduate degree in computer science. Students who have a poor IT experience in school are less likely to study the subject at degree level, making the situation worse.

To help improve the number of teachers in subjects that have a shortage (including computer science and mathematics), financial support may be available for graduates who are looking at teacher training. This can include government-funded bursaries of up to £24,000, or scholarships funded by bodies such as BCS The Chartered Institute of IT, of up to £26,000.

Remember to check all the requirements carefully as you may need a minimum Undergraduate award (such as a 2:1), or a Masters degree. Bursaries often change from year to year so you may find there is less support in the future, or more!

Private sector

Many computer science and engineering students dream of working for major technology companies such as Facebook and Google.

But computing and engineering are now so prevalent in our society that almost any business will need IT support and management. Smaller companies may outsource this support to specialist consultants or agencies, but larger organisations will have in-house teams.

Private sector roles that many engineering and computer science graduates go into include:

  • Games design and development, including small, independent games companies working on mobile-based games.
  • Media, such as broadcast engineering and acoustic consultancy.
  • Finance organisations, from network engineering and security to computational finance and FinTech.
  • Website management, this may be focusing on content specialisms such as SEO or developing and maintaining websites based on CMS platforms such as Wordpress, Drupal or Sitecore.
  • UX design, supporting businesses by ensuring that their platforms (whether apps, websites or ecommerce) are helping their clients find what they need quickly and easily.

Our alumni have taken roles with a range of organisations including Conde Nast, Formula One, and American Express.

Third sector

The “Third Sector” is a term commonly used for organisations that don’t fall within the public or private sectors such as; charities and NGOs, community groups, think tanks and private research institutes, and social enterprises and co-operatives.

Working for the Third Sector can be very rewarding. You may be helping influence policy making through research and campaigning, supporting a charity’s fundraising efforts through better data management, or helping improve support or quality of life for people with serious health conditions.

Roles within the Third Sector can include:

  • Building or enhancing databases and CRM platforms to support fundraising and campaigning activities.
  • Data management and governance roles, overseeing an organisation’s use of personal data and ensuring that it is appropriate and in line with legal requirements.
  • Campaigning on data and technology privacy issues or building platforms to help human rights organisations collect evidence for legal challenges.
  • Creating and developing apps or software to support an organisation’s users or aims (for example, St John Ambulance has a range of free first aid apps). 

Self-employment and entrepreneurship

If you prefer the idea of being flexible and picking your own work then you may prefer self-employment or starting your own business.

Many graduates from computer science and engineering decide to go down the route of self-employment through consultancy roles.

We also have graduates who decide to start their own business. Our University recognises how important this route can be for students and has invested in support such as:

  • The Start-Up Hub, which provides hot-desk space and business support for student and graduate start-ups.
  • The Innovation Centre, which offers support for businesses looking to scale up, and holds talks and networking events throughout the year.
  • Angels@Essex investment platform, helping start-ups find an “angel investor” who offers advice along with funding in return for a stakehold in your company.

Our School has excellent links with local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) which can also help you with networking and understanding how to take your first steps towards entrepreneurship.

Start-up stories

Skills development

Technical skills

Computer science and engineering degrees help you develop a range of technical skills that are essential in careers in these fields. Many of them can also be useful if you want to pursue a postgraduate degree in the future, for example programming skills can be helpful for studying data science or artificial intelligence.

Depending on your degree and the optional modules you pick during your study you can learn different technical skills.

Data analysis

Every day huge amounts of data are generated. Journey times on our roads, the pattern of online purchases, the climate, all this information is collected, stored securely, and retrieved to deliver insight for governments and organisations.

Through our modules you will learn about different types of data structures such as lists, stacks and queues, and how to develop programs for data sorting. You may also learn about database development, types of database modelling, and information retrieval.

Software engineering

Depending on your degree, you will have an opportunity to learn more about software engineering, from identifying the specific requirements of a piece of software, to designing and testing, addressing reliability issues, and further development as the software moves through its lifecycle.

An experience of software engineering is essential for many developer roles, including computer games, mobile apps, and web development.

Mathematics

An understanding of mathematics is essential for computer science and engineering. We understand that for many students maths at GCSE or A-Level may have been a struggle, so we offer support to improve this skill through your first year. In addition, the University offers maths support through various training sessions held throughout the academic year.

Programming

You will learn a number of programming languages, depending on your degree. For example, Computer science students will learn C++ while those in Engineering will learn C. Depending on your chosen degree you may also learn Java, Python, or other additional programming languages.

You may also choose to learn additional techniques such as extreme programming or computer game programming, through modules related to specific degrees.

Transferable skills

The 21st century workplace requires more than excellent coding and the ability to use a soldering iron. Our courses are designed to help you develop the transferable skills that are needed for any career:

Communication

From writing reports and project updates to delivering presentations in seminars, you will develop written and oral communication skills and understand how to tailor your communications to different audiences.

Team working and collaboration

Whatever your future career you will be expected to be able to successfully work as part of a team. Throughout your degree you will work on group projects with your fellow students, which will help you understand how to collaborate with your peers to get the best out of everyone.

Organisation and working independently

Your future employer will expect you to be able to manage your work with minimal supervision and complete tasks and projects in a timely manner. You will learn to organise your work and be responsible for managing your own deadlines during your modules, from dates to hand in work to revising for your exams.

Attention to detail

When creating code, a typo can be the difference between a working result or a jumble of nonsense. But attention to detail is also an essential skill for many roles that don’t involve coding. Your degree will help you spot small but important errors, a useful skill for many roles such as quality assurance or client management.

Careers adviser looking at paper work
Your future matters, your career matters

You don't need to have your future all planned out. We offer a range of opportunities to build your CV, and gain valuable experience and expertise, including guidance on creating a start-up or becoming an entrepreneur, to ensure your career is on the right track for when you graduate.

Find out more

Opportunities and support

Capstone project

In the final year of your undergraduate degree you will carry out a Capstone project. You will work with an academic supervisor on a project that will often combine your field of study with a real-world issue.

Your project will demonstrate what you have learned throughout your degree, from identifying an appropriate methodology, to project management, design, construction and testing a system or solution, and reviewing and discussing your work with academics and other students.

At the end of the academic year our projects are showcased at our Project Open Day, to which we invite representatives from local and national organisations. Some of our final year students have received job offers after this event, while others have made excellent networking connections.


Read about Bradley Rex's project

Research experience

Our Research Experience Scheme allows undergraduate and Masters degree students to gain additional experience in academic research through assisting in projects run by our expert staff.

The scheme gives students a hands-on insight into the process of research, from theory development and experiment design through to testing and data analysis. Different opportunities are advertised throughout the year so students have a chance to hone their skills in an area of interest, or try something completely new.

Mentoring

The Career Mentoring Programme gives students a minimum of six hours mentoring with a mentor who is familiar with the field they are studying or looking to start their career in.

The Careers team aims to find the best match for you to help you get the best out of your mentor experience. Through your mentor you can find out more about the career path you’re interested in, develop your professional skills, and discuss your plans with a knowledgeable person who can give insight and advice.

In the future you may also want to become a mentor yourself. Being a mentor is a rewarding experience as you can help someone take their first steps in their career, and it can be a great volunteering opportunity to show on your CV or LinkedIn profile.

Entrepreneurship support

If you’ve got a business idea but aren’t sure where to start then you can tap in to the entrepreneurship support offered by our university.

Essex Startups is a team based at the university who help students and graduates take the first steps towards starting a business. Throughout the year they run events such as bootcamps, workshops, and webinars that support and challenge participants to delve deeper into the business creation process.

They can also help you with identify funding opportunities, developing a funding application, and practice presenting your idea or business to potential investors.

The university is also an authorised start-up endorsing body for international students who wish to apply for a visa to remain in the UK for up to two years after graduation in order to start a business.

Rising Stars

The Essex Rising Stars initiative is aimed at students from diverse backgrounds to provide career development opportunities they may otherwise struggle to find.

The initiative works with graduate recruiters to identify the issues faced by students and help them navigate and succeed. This may involve helping students articulate their skillset, build their confidence, or explore opportunities they feel would not normally be open to them.

Placements and study abroad

Many of our undergraduate degrees can include a placement year or a study abroad year.

A placement year is an opportunity for you to spend a year applying what you’ve learned in the classroom to real workplaces. With support from our School and the Student Development team you will identify and apply for opportunities advertised by organisations across the country.

If a whole year isn’t quite what you’re looking for then you will also have support looking for internships or shorter work experience sessions.

Similarly, a year abroad is a great way for you to expand your horizons and carry out a period of study in another institution. If you have already studied a second language then you could try testing your skills in another country, but we also have partnerships in English-speaking countries including Australia and the USA.


Read about Ben Tilbury's internship

Student development events

Throughout the academic year the university’s Student Development Department runs free events covering anything from skills development to employability.

Career support sessions can include; as identifying graduate schemes, explaining the basics of building your CV, filling out job applications, attending interviews, and how to prepare for assessment centres. These sessions can help you successfully navigate the world of job hunting after you've graduated.

Our graduates

The journeys they’ve taken, the opportunities they’ve experienced, the contacts they’ve made, and the variety of careers paths that have been embarked upon. Our graduates have shared their stories with us, and now we get to share them with you.

Benjamin Tilbury
Intern Story: Media Assistant at Signals Media Ltd

Read more about CSEE graduate Benjamin Tilbury's experience as an intern with creative digital learning company Signals Media Ltd.

Read the blog