2020 applicants
School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering

Undergraduate study

female student working on laptop with coffee

Creative solutions for the world's problems

You may not realise it, but men and women have been working in computer science and engineering for millennia.

To many these fields have only really been around since the industrial revolution, when Ada Lovelace worked on the Analytical Engine and Brunel was developing broad gauge railways. But the oldest computing tool is the Sumerian abacus, which was created four thousand years ago, and Sumerian engineers developed crane and pulley systems for irrigation and building projects.

These people found creative solutions to the unique problems of their time. In the 21st century we have our own unique problems, and in our School we’re working on the creative solutions to them.

By joining our School for your degree you’ll be taking the first steps in to an expanding and exciting field. Our research seeks to solve a host of modern-day issues; from developing an app to help people deal with stress, or developing the next generation of prosthetic hands, through to understanding how to make a robot ‘read’ a map.

Whatever your passion, we’ll help you channel your creative energy in to technical skill, giving you the expertise for a rewarding career.

Explore our undergraduate courses
Why choose us?
  • 92% of our School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering students are in employment or further study (Graduate Outcomes 2020)
  • Ranked among the top 350 in the QS World University Rankings by Subject (2020)
  • Choice of optional modules means you can tailor your degree to towards your interests and future career plans.

COVID-19 and Teaching in CSEE

Will COVID-19 change the way my course is taught?

If for any reason you are unable to travel to campus to start the academic year, all teaching will be available virtually. This means that you can start, or continue, your programme off-campus, wherever you are, with full flexibility to transfer to on-campus learning as soon as you are able to.

Our facilities include our labs, both PC labs for programming and our specialist teaching spaces such as the robotics laboratory. You will still be taught the relevant modules in these spaces, with any changes (such as number of students in the room) made in line with government and public health guidance.

You will be assigned a personal tutor who will mentor your Year 1 Challenge project and remain with you throughout the entire course of your degree. The tutor will provide consistent technical as well as pastoral support.

Small personal groups will form the basis of face to face teaching content according to physical distancing and we hope for a gradual return to larger groups as the year progresses to maintain your safety. As we progress through the year even a return to 100% face-to-face will see blended learning retained for the benefit of all.

What will this mean for my learning experience?

For the 2020 academic year, we are focusing on ensuring that we are able to deliver a quality education and that your teaching and learning can continue if there is further disruption. That’s why we’ve been working hard to ensure that our students are able to start with us in October – in whatever way possible. The changes we have made to support you and protect your health and wellbeing mean that, for most of our courses, this will include blended learning – with lectures, classes and other teaching taking place both online and face to face. Much of this teaching will be offered “live” (even if online/ virtual) but will also be available to access at times that suit you.   

We know that your learning experience is about more than just attending classes, and our campuses can provide you with all you need to make the most of your studies. This includes private space to study, in your on-campus study bedrooms as well as in PC labs and other spaces on our three campuses for self-study. We can also offer you access to laptops on loan and access to our library services; as well as enhanced wifi provision across our campuses.

We will still be delivering the same exciting and challenging courses as before. You will still be able to see and speak to academic staff, personal advisors, and to form the academic and personal relationships with staff and other students – all the things you expect from the University experience. By having lectures and recordings online, you can go back and listen again as often as you need.

To help support your learning we have set up virtual PC labs, which will allow you to use online resources (such as accessing remote computers) alongside video-conferencing tools, which will support ‘laboratory’ collaboration with other students and academics.

What happens if the situation changes before I start or during my time at Essex?

We recognise that some students may have difficulty travelling to campus in time to start the academic year.

If for any reason you are unable to travel to campus to start the academic year, all teaching will be available virtually. This means that you can start, or continue, your programme off-campus, wherever you are, with full flexibility to transfer to on-campus learning as soon as you are able to. However if you are an overseas student and you aren't able to join us on Campus in the autumn, then you will need to be aware of some immigration changes taking place in January 2021.

All of our modules are designed to support you to continue learning and still be able to access one-to-one consultation and guidance that you would normally get from the lecturers on your course, if further outbreaks of infection occur during the year. This means you can join us in full confidence that you can continue and complete your programme of study.

There is lots of helpful information about starting at Essex in our guide for applicants should you have any questions, feel uncertain about something in particular, or, would like up to date information on specific topics if your situation changes. 

What will my broader student experience in the Department and on campus be like?

We will enable you to succeed in your studies as well as have a great time socially. Our School arranges many Student Voice events (focus groups, workshops, etc.), challenging collaboration events (monthly competitions, hack-a-thons), and other social and networking forums (Women in CSEE events, CSEE Science Club, Athena Swan). These are all coordinated through our student engagement officer so you can get to know the other students and get involved on your course and in your School.

We have been working in partnership with our Students’ Union to ensure that you can enjoy our clubs, societies, activities and services. We have built in flexibility to enable you to access support and activities, and to shape your experience around your life.

To learn more about the range of events Essex will be hosting, please visit our events calendar. To stay up to date with the very latest guidance on how to visit your campus, view our coming onto campus guide.

How will the University support me during this time?

The health and wellbeing of our students is our priority, and this has been one of the focuses to ensure students can start on campus – safely – in October.

This means we are constantly monitoring advice from the UK Government, Public Health England, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the World Health Organisation.

To protect our community on campus once the academic year starts again in October, we will be introducing safety measures. These will include:

  • Enhanced cleaning and sterilising regimes
  • Social distancing in line with international guidance
  • Signage and floor markings in key locations to help you move around our campuses safely

We’re asking you to wear face coverings in all public campus areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain or in specifically designated locations. We’ll be supporting you by giving two washable face coverings to all students.

There is a number of support systems available to you whilst you are at Essex, for whenever you need them and for however long you wish to use them.

These include: 

The University also runs a variety of online events throughout the year including at-home yoga and mindfulness sessions.

To find out more about the network of support you will benefit from during your time at Essex, please visit the Student Directory.

Within our department you will be assigned an Academic Tutor, who will be your key contact point throughout your time with us. If you are concerned about your academic progress, or are worried about managing your deadlines, then you can always talk to them. We also have a dedicated team of professional services colleagues in our department office, who will be on-hand to support you and answer any questions you may have.

Photo of Gifty Antwi, BEng Electronic Engineering student
"I think studying at Essex has already helped with my employability due to the opportunities that I have been involved in. Last summer I completed an internship abroad in Accra, Ghana where I worked at a steel works gating company working on motors and installations. I am also a Senior Student Ambassador at the University of Essex and I really enjoy working within the recruitment field and encouraging people to come to university."
Gifty Antwi BEng Electronic Engineering (with Foundation Year)

What can our School offer you?

Use your creativity

Computer science and engineering are a different kind of art. You may not be picking up a paintbrush or welding an abstract sculpture, but you will still be using creativity to come up with unique solutions to the problem in front of you.

Whatever field you are working in, you can make wonderful things and have a positive impact on the world. Computer scientists in our School are creating an Artificial Intelligence system that will generate personal journey predictions for electric vehicles, so consumers know they won’t run out of juice while driving. This reassurance will encourage more people to use electric vehicles, which will reduce emissions, improve air quality, and help the fight against climate change.

Our engineers are using the Internet of Everything to develop sensor networks that will protect forests from devastating wildfires. This type of early warning system will allow countries to use their resources efficiently, and will improve the response rate of emergency services. Early warning will mean that fires can be brought under control quickly, reducing the ecological and economic impact.

Through our Challenge Weeks and our final year Capstone Project you’ll have hands-on experience of designing and developing projects that give you a chance to stretch your imagination. 

Integrated Masters

If you’re already thinking about postgraduate study, then our integrated Masters courses are a great option for you.

Our undergraduate degrees in Computer Science, Electronic Engineering, and Communications Engineering, can all be taken as an integrated Masters. This degree type covers four years and means that you graduate from Essex with a Master of Science (MSc) or Master of Engineering (MEng) in your chosen field.

By going straight in to a fourth year you will be able to continue working with academics you already know, without having to move and settle in to a new environment. You won’t need to complete a separate application and wait to be accepted, you simply move seamlessly from third year to fourth year. And by finishing with a Masters degree you’ll have a competitive edge in the job market.

Flexible courses

In our School we know that picking your degree is one of the biggest decisions of your life. Some people know exactly what they want to do with their future, but many don’t. It can be hard to choose a subject that you have to study for the next three years, especially when you may not have had much experience of it at school.

That’s why we’ve designed our courses to share common first-year modules, with differences mostly between computer science and engineering. This means that it may be possible to change your degree course at the end of your first year. So if you start off with the BEng Communications Engineering, and then realise you really want to study BEng Mechatronic Systems, you can apply to change your degree before progressing to your second year.

Specialise in your interests

One of the great things about computer science and engineering is how many different areas of interest fall under them. Our broad choice of modules gives you the freedom to build the degree that you want to study.

If you already have a career in mind then this means that you can develop some of the experience you need before you start applying for jobs. But even if you’re not sure what you want to do in the future, your choices can lead to a better understanding of what you enjoy. You can even try your hand at areas that look interesting, but that you couldn’t learn at school.

Placement year and year abroad opportunities

Many of our undergraduate courses can be taken with an additional year between your second and final years, which you can use for either a placement in a relevant company, designed to maximise your chances of success in the graduate job market, or a year studying abroad.

With a host of technology companies based in headquarters and offices around the UK, you won’t be short of opportunities to apply for. Our School and the University’s Student Development team will help you identify and apply for relevant opportunities. You’ll get advice on your CV, and guidance on interviews and assessment centres. Our students have successfully applied for placements with companies including Microsoft, Intel, and British Aerospace.

Alternatively a year abroad offers an excellent opportunity for personal development. You can experience a new culture, a new language, and learn from other experts in your chosen field. There are opportunities around the world, including Europe and China, but don’t worry if the thought of a second language is a bit daunting! We also have partnerships with institutions in English-speaking countries too, including Canada and New Zealand.

Ultimately though best made plans don’t always work out. If you change your mind about doing a placement or going abroad for a year, then you can change to the standard three-year degree and go straight in to your final year.

Skills for the future

We understand that your degree is a big investment for you and can impact your success at finding a job in the future. Studying your undergraduate degree with us means you’ll develop a set of specialist and transferable skills that are in demand in public and private sectors across the globe.

Our modules are designed to help you develop the key skills for any computer scientist or engineer; problem solving, programming, attention to detail, design, and implementation. Our facilities include a range of labs and equipment that will give you hands-on experience of using industry-standard tools and programmes for your work.

Your programming skills will start in your first year, when we teach you either Python or C (depending on your course). You may then have opportunities to learn additional programming languages such as Java or C++ as your studies progress. You may also be able to learn how to use specialist software such as Matlab or Project.

Our modules also incorporate different types of “soft skills”. These are in demand with organisations in all sectors. You may develop your written and oral communication skills through coursework and presentations, while our annual Challenge Week event helps you develop teamwork and leadership skills.

We also run specialist modules that can help bring your numeracy skills up to speed. So if you left school worrying that your mathematics may not be up to scratch then we can help you bridge that gap, with particular focus on the applications of mathematics to computer science or engineering.

In your final year you’ll be able to showcase all these skills in your Capstone Project. You’ll be given the starting point of a project and will develop it throughout the year, with regular support from your academic tutor or a company mentor. These projects may be inspired by a real world issue, our own research, or from a problem we’ve worked on with a business through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership

At our Project Open Day you’ll show your work to businesses and leaders in specialist fields. Some of our students have even managed to secure job offers from the people they’ve met at this event.

You’ll leave us with a virtual toolbox of skills that will set you up for life, whether you take up a career in computer science and engineering, or swap to something entirely different.


A degree in computer science or engineering can open doors to roles in a wide range of public and private sector organisations. Networks, programming, data analysis, cybersecurity, modern companies need people with skills in these and related areas.

Some of the organisations our graduates have found employment with include:

  • Public sector, including central government departments such as the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the NHS. 
  • Private sector, including Google, Sky, Conde Nast, and Formula One.
  • Alternative paths, such as starting their own business or undertaking a research degree.

Some of our graduates have also returned to us after a few years in work to do a Masters degree. Our part-time options mean that many can undertake postgraduate study around work and other commitments.

Support for entrepreneurs

With so many creative students, it’s not surprising that many of our undergraduates plan on starting their own business.

Our School and University are keen to help students interested in this alternative form of employment. The Student Development team run a series of events throughout the year designed to help support your ambitions, such as the £100 challenge and talks from local business leaders.

In our School we’ve contributed our expertise to the Digital Accelerator, based in the £12m Innovation Centre at Colchester Campus. Students have access to a range of facilities, such as the dedicated digital creative space, mentoring from business leaders, and workshop and networking events led by innovators and entrepreneurs from across the country.

Professional accreditation

Many of our degrees are accredited by the British Computer Society (Chartered Institute for IT) or the Institution of Engineering and Technology.

Accreditation is a sign that our courses have been assessed against a rigorous set of external criteria. After graduation you’ll be able apply to be recognised Chartered professional, which can be included in your CV, or start the first steps toward Chartered recognition.

Expert staff

Experts from across the world have travelled to Essex to take up academic positions with us, carrying out research in our labs and teaching our students. We also have partnerships with other universities across the globe, which gives us additional expertise for both research and teaching.

We have a strong portfolio of cutting-edge research, with three research Centres and six research groups in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics and mechatronics, brain-computer interfaces, and communication and networks. Our work is highly interdisciplinary, and we carry out projects with colleagues in other departments around the University, such as Psychology, Life Sciences, and Mathematical Sciences.  

Our research feeds in to our teaching, so you will learn the latest theories that are being developed and tested in our labs with other experts across the fields of science and health. It has also led to degree collaborations with other departments, such as our BEng Neural Engineering with Psychology.

We also host regular research seminars with guest experts from around the world. We encourage our undergraduates to attend these seminars, so you can benefit from additional expertise and find out more about research in the wider scientific community.

Part of our community

We’re an active, engaged community of staff and students from a wide range of countries and backgrounds.

While we might argue over the best programming language, or debate the moral implications of social media companies using personal data for advertising, we’re all united by our interests in the technical world. We’re passionate about making sure you have a transformative educational experience, and we’re here to support you in making the most of your time at our university.

But your degree is more than just sitting in a computer lab. The University’s Students’ Union is home to a wide collection of societies who host events and activities throughout the year. Some of the societies our community are part of include the Film society, the Video Game society, and the Origami society. Through them you can make friends with students outside our School who share similar interests.

Dr John Woods from the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering
"Converting ‘green’ first-year students into accomplished engineers fit for the workplace is what I really enjoy about working with students at Essex. Studying a degree with us is a life-changing event. It provides confidence and imagination to take on the world and win. An Essex degree means you’ll always find a solution."
Dr John Woods Senior Lecturer
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If you have any questions about CSEE or our courses, do get in touch. We're happy to help.