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BSc (Hons) Software Engineering course preparation

To help you feel prepared for your BSc (Hons) Software Engineering 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:

Books that will help boost your programming skills
Books that help build your overall software engineering knowledge
Books that will enlighten and inspire

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.
  • Portable USB stick. As an alternative to a portable hard disk drive, you could obtain a 32GB USB 3.0 stick (approx. £3.99 in 2024), or a 64GB drive (approx. £10 in 2022).

If you’d prefer to use your own computer to complete work outside of our departmental labs, we advise using a computer that meets or exceeds the following specification:

ComponentMinimum
CPUIntel i5 or processor (or AMD equivalent).
RAM8 GB.
DISK750 GB free.
OSMicrosoft Windows 9, MacOS 10.15, or a Linux distribution that supports Gnome, KDE, or Unity DE.
Screen15” screen.

If you don’t have a computer that meets these minimum specifications, you may be able to borrow a laptop from our department.

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 Collaboratory. 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:

Get familiar with StackOverflow, the ‘go to’ site for programmers to seek help and ask technical questions.

Suggested tasks for the summer

Here are a few ideas for you to try before you begin your studies:

  • 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. You can also brush up your web development skills using sites such as w3schools.com or css-tricks.com.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Computer science 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.

Meet your programme leader: