Undergraduate Programmes - Dept of Computer Science


Q1: Why should I study computing?

Answers copied and modified from the Association of Computing Machinery webpage http://computingcareers.acm.org/?page_id=4:

  • Expertise in computing enables you to solve complex, challenging problems.
  • Computing enables you to make a positive difference in the world.
  • Computing offers many types of rewarding careers, both in Singapore (see Q10) and worldwide (recruiters from companies such as Facebook, Google, and Microsoft have been coming to NUS to recruit).
  • Computing jobs are here to stay, regardless of where you are located.
  • Computing offers great opportunities for true creativity and innovativeness.
  • Computing offers many opportunities for funding support from industry in Singapore:
    • IDA offers the National Infocomm Scholarship http://www.infocommtalent.sg/nis.aspx to a number of students.
    • IDA offers many more students the opportunity to participate in the (bond-free) ELITe+ programme http://www.infocommtalent.sg/elite.aspx, where  students get industry mentorship, a one-time laptop allowance, support for overseas internships, and support for certification.

Q2: What are the strengths of NUS Department of Computer Science (CS)?

  • We are highly ranked in the world. For example, we are ranked 12th in the world by QS World University Rankings, and top in Asia http://www.topuniversities.com/.
  • We have excellent teachers. For example, we have three faculty members on the NUS Teaching Honour Roll (three-time winners of NUS Annual Teaching Excellence Award).
  • Our faculty members are world-leading researchers. For example, in the last few years, our faculty members won best paper awards at STOC (one of the best theory and algorithms conference), SIGCOMM (one of the best networking conference), ACM Multimedia (one of the best multimedia conferences) and EMNLP (one of the best natural language processing conference). See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ List_of_computer_science_conferences for a general  ranking of conferences.
  • Our students do well in the job market. For example, we have students getting jobs at Google and Microsoft in the US this year. They also do well in getting good internships. For example, we have many students on summer internships at Facebook and Google in the US, Europe and Australia this year.
  • Our students do well in getting into good graduate schools. For example, other than doing graduate studies at NUS, we have students going to Stanford, Berkeley and UIUC for their PhD studies the last two years.
  • We have excellent students who will be your peers while you are in the department and who will form your network of friends and contacts for the rest of your life. For example, we currently have many International Olympiad medal winners studying in the CS department.
  • We offer about 100 modules in more than 10 areas of concentration (viz., algorithms & theory, AI, computer networks, database systems, info retrieval, parallel computing, programming languages, software engineering, systems security, visual computing). So everyone can find an area that he or she really likes/enjoys and can do well in.
  • We offer four bachelor’s degree programmes:
    • Bachelor of Computing in Computer Science/ BComp (CS)
    • Bachelor of Computing in Communications and Media / BComp (CM)
    • Bachelor of Computing in Computational Biology/ BComp (CB)
    • Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Engineering/ BEng (CEG)

(offered in conjunction with Faculty of Engineering)


Q3: What is the difference between the BComp (Computer Science) in NUS and similar programmes from other universities in Singapore?

See Q1 for the strengths of NUS CS Dept.
In addition to that, students in BComp (CS) can leverage on the strength of NUS as a reputable and comprehensive university. As a well-established comprehensive university, NUS is able to offer programmes such as University Scholar Programme (USP) that sharpens your communication and writing skills, and we have UTown, which provides you with Oxbridge-like student life. With NUS, you have the options of taking diverse modules that range from philosophy, humanities and business to pure science, to broaden your learning horizon. In addition, you have the opportunity to develop entrepreneurship skills at NUS Overseas Colleges, with locations in Beijing, Shanghai, India, Israel, Stockholm, Bio Valley and Silicon Valley.
In short, students receive a more-rounded education; this provides greater versatility in job selection, and also provides greater opportunities to combine a wide variety of modules to get the education that is necessary to become a T-shaped professional.


Q4 : How many modules can a poly student get exemption from and is it possible for a poly student to complete our programmes in three years?

Polytechnic diploma holders may refer here for the list of exemptions they could be granted. Completing the degree in 3.5 years is common. Beyond that, you will have to look at the exemptions that you get and whether you are willing to overload your schedule.


Q5: What are the tuition fees?

The cohort-based fee system is introduced for the new undergraduate intake of all faculties from AY2008/09. The current annual tuition fees payable are set out at:

National Servicemen who have accepted admission to NUS earlier but plan to register and enroll as a student with the current cohort and beyond will be charged the tuition fees prevailing at the time they accepted their offer of admission. If a National Serviceman does not accept the place first offered and accepts offers to NUS in the subsequent years, he will not be able to enjoy the tuition fee effective in the year of his first offer but will have to pay the tuition fee effective in the year of the latest offer which he is accepting.


Q6: What is the difference between Computer Science (CS) and Computer Engineering (CEG)?

Short answer: CEG is suitable for those who wish to work at the interface between hardware and software. CS is suitable for those who wish to use IT as a problem-solving tool in almost any industry.
Long answer:
The Bachelor of Computing (Honours) in Computer Science or BComp (CS) programme aims to nurture students for a rewarding computing career in various industry sectors. Suitable for those who love hands-on work and keen to apply computing technologies to solve real-world problems, the programme will equip students with the critical knowledge and capacity to take on the world with confidence in almost any industry.
The CEG programme aims to produce graduates with a good foundation to work in the critical layer of technology that interfaces hardware with software. In particular, graduates will be able to attain significant knowledge and abilities in key technologies for real-time embedded systems, computer networking & wireless communication systems, medical imaging & information systems, intelligent control systems, and many others. In the workplace, computer engineers engage in a wide range of development work: e.g., developing MP3 players and headphones, creating novel security/cryptographic systems for protecting images, music, etc.


Q7. What are the differences between BComp (Communications and Media/ CM) and BA (Communication and New Media/CNM)?

BComp (CM) is a technically-inclined programme with a dose of the social and economical aspects of new media whereas BA (CNM) emphasises the social and economical aspects of new media, with a small dosage of technical knowledge about media. Both programmes complement each other, and it is no surprise that in some media design modules, students from both programmes work together to build a multimedia system. Such multi-disciplinary modules enhance the learning experience of students from both BComp (CM) and BA (CNM).


Q8. What are the differences between BComp (CB) and NUS Life Science programmes?

The BComp (CB) programme focuses on the innovative design of algorithms for and statistical analysis of biological and medical data. The life-science programme concentrates on proficiency in the underlying biology and biochemistry.
There is also a BSc (CB) programme offered by the Faculty of Science. Both these CB programmes share the same set of modules in the first two years. In the latter part of the programmes, BComp (CB) focuses on specific algorithmic design for and the analysis of large datasets whereas BSc (CB) focuses on general scientific computation, such as numerical analysis.


Q9: What kind of jobs can CS graduates expect to get?

CS graduates have a wide range of jobs to choose from, ranging from programmer to business analyst. However, it is important that during their undergraduate time that students:
- Sharpen their various skills to make themselves versatile to many jobs, and
- Broaden their learning experience by building up strong portfolios to demonstrate their ability beyond regular curriculum.
Finally, while programming ability is certainly desired, what is really sought after is broad fundamentals and problem-solving skills.
Companies that have employed Computer Science graduates recently include Accenture, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Citibank, Credit Suisse, CSIT, Delliote and Touche, DSO, DSTA, Garena, Google, HP, I2R, IBM, Lucasfilm, Microsoft, MINDEF, MOE, NCS, OCBC, Singtel, ST Electronics, Tecmo Koei, Ufinity and URA.


Q10 : What are the chances of getting a job?

From the Graduate Employment Survey 2011 published at the Ministry of Education website (http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/post-secondary/files/ges-nus.pdf), 96% of NUS CS graduates are employed within six months following graduation.
According to IDA statistics, in the last few years, the Singapore ICT sector  persistently has 3,000 to 5,000 vacancies to fill each year, even during the financial crisis not too long ago. In contrast, the three local universities, together, graduate less than 1,000 students in computer science annually. In short, about three to five ICT jobs are waiting for every good computer science fresh graduate to fill each year.
On 2 March 2012, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, affirmed the positive outlook for the ICT sector at the SCS Gala Dinner & IT Leaders Awards: 
“Despite global projections of slower economic growth in 2012, the outlook for infocomm remains stable. Worldwide IT spending this year is expected to grow to a total of $3.8 trillion, a 3.7 percent increase from 2011. At home, results from the Business Expectations Survey for the first quarter this year have also shown that manpower for infocomms and communications industry is expected to remain stable.”
“Singapore's infocomm sector has also developed rapidly over the past few years. Since 2008, more than 80 foreign start-ups have established critical infocomm functions and ventures in Singapore. For instance, Germany-based Netbiscuits, an innovation start-up and a leading B2B web software platform for development, publishing and advertising in the mobile Internet, started its Singapore operations in December last year and is looking to hire more developers this year.”
“MNCs have also continued to invest in Singapore. IBM, for example, opened its regional Services Integration Hub in Singapore in December last year. Likewise, Google held the groundbreaking ceremony of its Singapore data centre, the company's first centre in South East Asia last December. Once completed, there will be many new job opportunities for infocomms professionals.”


Q11: How easy is it to apply for double degree courses in NUS?

If you have done well in your studies, it is not difficult (minimum grade point average requirement of 4 out of 5). In fact, there is substantial flexibility to construct your own double degree programme with many other faculties, subject to the agreement of the other faculty. You need to satisfy the requirements of both faculties, and this can usually be done in five years. This is possible because the primary programmes in NUS are structured in such a way that there are free slots for students to pursue modules of interest to them; such free slots can be used to pursue a different degree/major/minor. In fact, many students pursuing double degree programmes complete it in 4.5 years.
See http://www.nus.edu.sg/registrar/faqs/ddp-cdp-dm-faq.html for details.


Q12: Is it hard to change degree majors from Computer Science (CS) to Information Systems (IS) / (or to another faculty)? Can I change faculty after a period of study?

Applicants will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Changing within the faculty is easier (e.g., CS to IS) as there are many common requirements. In addition to the Singapore-Cambridge GCE 'A' Level examination results (or high school equivalent) and their performance at the University, the Admissions Selection Committee will also take into consideration an applicant's reason for seeking the transfer. Applicants may be required to attend an interview to be assessed of their suitability for the course they have applied for. Such interviews will be scheduled at the discretion of NUS.


Q13: What is the typical workload like?

The average workload is about five modules (equivalent to 20 MCs). This translates into a typical workload of around 50 hours per week. Students who wish to complete their studies in a shorter time and have high grade point average may apply to the School for a heavier workload per semester.


Q14: What is the difference between IS and CS?

Short answer: IS is suitable for those who wish to integrate IT with business. CS is suitable for those who wish to use IT as a problem-solving tool in almost any industry.
Long answer:
The Bachelor of Computing (Honours) in Computer Science or BComp (CS) programme aims to nurture students for a rewarding computing career in various industry sectors. Suitable for those who love hands-on work and are keen to apply computing technologies to solve real-world problems, the programme will equip students with the critical knowledge and capacity to take on the world with confidence in almost any industry.
The IS programme provides a stimulating education that equips students with the ability to integrate infocomm technology fundamentals with domain expertise to develop innovative solutions for organisations. Through projects and case studies that are aligned with industry best practices, students will develop an in-depth understanding of the strategic exploitation of infocomm technology in emerging organisational forms. Students become proficient in the design and development of infocomm solutions and the management of infocomm projects. Such skills are vital in helping students develop careers that are being emphasised in the iN2015 plan, such as techno-strategist, solution architect and infocomm project manager.


Q15: Are there student exchange programs offered in SoC, and to which countries will the students go?

Yes, students can choose from 180 partner universities in 27 countries.
The list of NUS partners is available at http://www.nus.edu.sg/iro/partners/


Q16: Can I pursue further studies (PhD, MComp) after my degree? Will it be in  NUS or other countries?

Yes, you will be well qualified to pursue further degrees. We have many students who continue on to higher degrees at NUS and universities overseas.
We also have a special programme for those who wish to experience research within their undergraduate studies, to decide whether they enjoy research and to learn research skills that are valuable no matter what they end up doing. The programme we refer to here is Turing Programme; details here.


Q17: I didn't get accepted into the Double Degree Programme (DDP) or Concurrent Degree Programme (CDP) offered by NUS School of Computing; should I reject the current offer for a bachelor’s degree programme with the School and apply again next year while doing NS, or can I apply after accepting the offer?

You can accept the existing offer, and then apply for CDP/DDP after the end of the first year of your studies. The application will be submitted to School of Computing, not the Office of Admissions of NUS.