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BSc (Hons) Robotics and Artificial Intelligence course preparation

To help you feel prepared for your BSc (Hons) Robotics and Artificial Intelligence studies, we’ve gathered together a range of course related activities including suggested reading, useful websites and some great things to do right now. Read on to find out more.

Suggested reading

You’ll be given lots of information about which textbooks to read and introduced to the University Library, as well as the many ebooks we have for you to access, when you begin your studies in September.

In the meantime, there are a couple of suggested books you might like to read, if you can, before starting your degree. We don’t recommend rushing out to buy texts before you arrive. But, if you can pick some up second hand, borrow from a library, or access online, we’d recommend:

  • Parsons, J., 2017, New Perspectives on Computer Concepts 2018, Comprehensive, ISBN-10: ‎ 9781305951495. Accessible via Edge Hill library.
  • Forouzan, B., 2017, Foundations of Computer Science, Cengage Learning EMEA. ISBN-978-1473751040. Accessible via Edge Hill library.
  • Downey, A. B., 2015, Think Python: How to Think Like a Computer Scientist, Green Tea Press, Open-Source Edition. Available free online. Hardcopy also published by O’Reilly, ISBN-13: 978-1491939369.

Additional books you may find interesting:

  • Fry, H., 2018, Hello World: How to be Human in the Age of the Machine, ‎ Transworld Digital.
  • Christian, B. & Griffiths, T., 2016, Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions, William Collins.
  • Altraide, D., 2019, New Thinking: From Einstein to Artificial Intelligence, the Science and Technology That Transformed Our World, Mango Media.
  • Mueller, J. P. & Massaron, L., 2021, Machine Learning for Dummies, For Dummies. ISBN-13: 978-1119724018.

Hardware advice

Throughout your studies you will have access to absolutely all of the facilities and equipment you will need. But, if you would like to purchase equipment before you start your studies, we’d recommend looking into pre-owned options. Items could include:

  • Portable Hard Disk Drive. You can store files online (in places such as Dropbox) or purchase a portable disk drive. A 500GB shock proof USB 3.0 self-powered hard disk drive (approx. £50 in 2022) will be sufficient and is invaluable for backing up your work.
  • Computer. We have excellent computer labs that you will have full access to. But, if you would prefer to use your own machine we recommend one with the following specification:
    • 8GB RAM
    • 750GB HDD
    • Intel i5 (or equivalent AMD processor)
    • (15” Screen Desirable)

Useful websites and resources

Programming skills are essential for computer scientists. To ensure everyone has the opportunity to develop these skills, we’ll tackle the Python programming language in semester one.

If you’re new to coding, we understand that learning to program can sometimes feel overwhelming. You might have lots of questions such as “What tools do I need?” or “How do I setup a programming environment?” Thankfully help is available. There is an online tool that provides a ready-made Python coding environment that you can use for free. This is called Google Colaboratory. Using the “Colab” you can write and execute Python code in your web-browser (Google Chrome). There are even tutorials available online that will help you understand how the Colab works.

There are other useful resources relevant to your studies. For example, why not:

  • Start to learn how to programme in Python through this free course.
  • Follow updates in the tech industry via sites such as Tech Crunch, The Register, MIT News, Science Daily or WIRED.
  • Explore the current tech job market on IT Jobs Watch and join a developer community on DZone.
  • You can explore Google Colaboratory or ‘Colab’ for short, allows you to write and execute Python in your browser, with:
    • Zero configuration required
    • Free access to GPUs
    • Easy sharing
  • Get familiar with StackOverflow, the ‘go to’ site for programmers to seek help and ask technical questions.

Other useful websites include:

Suggested tasks for summer

Here are a couple of ideas for you to try some Robotics and Artificial Intelligence related fun:

  • If you’ve never programmed, start to learn a programming language. We recommend starting with Python, which you can begin to learn via Code Academy or Solo Learn.
  • If you’re already comfortable with the Python basics, this is a great time to develop your skills and stretch yourself. Websites like Code Wars and Edabit provide coding challenges that will help you become better a programmer. The more coding you do now, the better.
  • Develop your own app ideas and explore the tech used to create them

If coding challenges don’t really interest you, then why not start a small project? Develop your own application ideas and explore the tech used to create them. Succeed or fail, you’ll learn a lot. The hard part is finding an idea that interests you. Maybe something like a password generator, your own interactive website, a game like connect four or minesweeper etc. There are lots of project suggestions online, so search for a beginner’s project that suits you.

Robotics and artificial intelligence isn’t all programming. There’s a great deal of reading and writing too. It’s therefore useful to hone your reading and writing skills before, during and after your studies. It will be particularly useful if you can spend a little time learning how to use the Harvard referencing approach correctly.

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