Want a personal byte into the Computer Science degree from Monash University?
We’ve got you covered! Introducing Timothy Silvester, a final year Bachelor of Computer Science student with a specialisation in Advanced Computer Science. He’s here to decode the reality of studying Computer Science at Monash by sharing his own take on the positives and negatives.
So, let’s dive in right away!
Why should you study a Computer Science degree at Monash?
Monash’s Bachelor of Computer Science gears students towards more advanced roles in the world of IT! This is because of its focus on theory which provides a deeper understanding of Computer Science concepts as opposed to the more practical IT degree.
As such, Computer Science students don’t just implement any solution like IT students do — they take it a step further by carrying out the most efficient ways to solve problems.
Besides its focus on theory, the Computer Science degree at Monash also provides a breadth of study through its opportunity to do double degrees in Science, Commerce, Engineering and Law. If you want to stay within the Bachelor of Computer Science, Monash still offers the flexibility to do electives within or outside of your discipline so the world really is your oyster here!
Monash’s Industry Based Learning (IBL) program also gives you a head start in your career as you work full-time with some of the most influential industry partners such as PWC, Google, Deloitte and more. Moreover, you’ll also have the opportunity to perform your own research at the end of the degree to really brush up your investigation skills. Wow, sounds exciting!
Top 3 Pros of a Computer Science degree
#1: The breadth of study
If you’re someone who loves to try out many different things at once, the Monash Computer Science degree offers a wide array of electives that allow you to expand your scope of knowledge and expertise.
“You aren’t limited to the coursework,” Timothy explains. “In my degree, I have two, three electives every semester and you’re able to take anything you want for those electives.”
This flexibility really allows you to do what you like, even if it’s completely different to Computer Science. As Timothy tells us, “I have a few friends who have decided that they wanted to pick up a minor in Arts and they’ve started doing Arts units because that’s what they prefer.”
On the other hand, you can also explore other areas of technology with these electives. “I, myself, have opted to choose the more broader areas of tech.” Timothy says.
“Because I’m doing Computer Science, a lot of my core units end up being the more theoretical side but my electives are really where I can express my passions! There are electives like machine learning and software testing, and this is where I learn the core skills in what I actually use in day to day life,” he adds.
#2: Engaging lecturers
University lectures can get a bit boring but the Computer Science lecturers from Monash are always making the extra effort to grab your attention and ensure you stay engaged!
“All the core lectures are always very engaging,” Timothy praises. “They’re all very passionate about the subject they are doing. I find that they make it very easy to get excited about learning when the lecturers themselves are excited too!”
Timothy notes some standout lecturers such as Tim Dwyer, who he enjoyed learning from because of his down to earth behaviour, “He had such a relatable attitude.”
He adds, “The genuineness he displayed in lectures, like how his son would say hi during lectures, makes it more relatable so you don’t tune out quite as easily.”
Timothy also highlights Graham Farr as another noteworthy lecturer, “He was teaching the Theory of Computation unit, which doesn’t sound like the most interesting unit but he just had this absolute passion for it. For example, every single week in our Zoom call lectures, he would have a different background every week that was related to an important location in Computer Science history. Essentially, he’s a big history nerd but that makes him a great lecturer!”
#3: Massive campus
This degree is delivered at the Clayton campus, which is the biggest out of all of Monash’s campuses. It includes a wide range of social, sporting and educational services and buildings that it’s like the students’ very own city.
“If you haven’t been to Clayton campus, it’s absolutely massive!” Timothy says. He explains that because you can visit many different areas while still being on campus, it encourages students to be more productive with university work in whatever environment they’d like to be in while still being within the campus.
Timothy also adds that “because it’s so big, you’ll never get bored of being stuck at one desk at a library because you can go to two other libraries that we have on campus!”
Top 3 Cons of a Computer Science degree
#1: Falling short on in-depth learning
While Monash allows you to pick from a wide variety of electives, you may run the risk of falling short on in-depth learning if you do not choose your units wisely.
“The flip side of one of the pros is that because you get a lot of breadth, you have to work at it if you want depth in working in a particular area,” Timothy warns. “Because by itself, it is very easy to go through with the degree and do electives that you do not have an interest in or don’t work towards one cohesive knowledge, and so you end up having surface level knowledge for everything.”
To put it simply, Timothy describes that your knowledge is at risk of being “a mile wide and an inch deep. Without choosing and actively finding your passion, then it can be pretty hard to know what you want to do afterwards.”
#2: Inexperienced tutors
While Monash’s lecturers are fun and engaging, sometimes Monash’s Tutors tend to be PhD graduates with limited experience in teaching, and this can affect your learning experience.
Timothy says, “You can get quite some interesting attitudes from a few of the tutors while you wouldn’t expect that from someone you’re trying to learn from.”
Monash still values their student’s feedback on their teaching, so Timothy says that there is “a ranking system for units at the end of the semester and this feedback system does help alleviate the quality of teaching somewhat, but you do occasionally get the bad tutor and that’ll always happen, I suppose”.
#3: Lack of society promotion
While Monash has 7 societies dedicated to students in technology, these societies don’t get a lot of clout so the students are sometimes left unaware of the resources waiting for them outside of class!
“They honestly should have encouraged us to join clubs more,” Timothy says. “Joining clubs is where I learnt the bulk of my practical knowledge, whether they have just reminders to apply for internships and companies, or workshops that they run themselves. I, myself, was involved in the Monash Cyber Security club and organised some of the workshops for them. ”
These workshops can be highly useful, especially if you’re new to Computer Science but students often miss out because these societies don’t get much promotion. “Without the prompting of students to join these clubs, students may not even know these clubs exist so they may miss out on all the knowledge they could’ve learnt during that time,” Timothy says.
If you want to check out societies that welcome Computer Science students, click here!
“This is a very difficult question to answer because I am very happy with where I ended up with this degree,” Timothy says. “Granted, when I was first looking at degrees, I wanted to do a double degree in Science and Computer Science. I loved Science too and I thought, why not get both skills.”
However, Timothy said that during his gap year, he decided to stop studying Science and do a Bachelor of Commerce but a mistake in his application brought him to the Computer Science advanced stream.
“While I don’t regret being part of this stream, I occasionally wonder if my skill sets will be different if I’ve gone with the double Bachelor’s, like how it would’ve impacted the sort of skills that I’ve learnt,” Timothy reflects.
What do you wish you had known before starting Computer Science at Monash?
#1: Get started early
Computer Science is highly technical with new softwares, coding languages and concepts to learn! If you’ve never done anything related to Computer Science, you may struggle to keep track in your classes. So, it helps to start experimenting before the classes begin.
“There is one infamous practical unit where you get taught a lot of content in a relatively short period of time,” Timothy explains. “There are occasionally people who come in with no experience whatsoever in the Computer Science degree and will find that unit very hard.”
As these classes can be difficult for beginners, Timothy advises future students to learn “the general background of these units — like is there a programming language that you can get a head start at learning? Even if it’s reading or installing it a bit earlier, getting that additional familiarity before you start out will make a difference in how well you do in your first year.”
#2: Computer Science vs IT
Many get confused between Monash’s Computer Science degree and IT degree. So, it’s good to research which degree you should choose that will help you get the job that you want!
“Make sure to have a feel of what you want to do at the end,” Timothy advises. “Just understanding the differences between the Bachelor of Computer Science and Bachelor of IT and where the path leads at the end because occasionally, a Bachelor of IT can be suitable if you want to do a specific game development or cybersecurity or more of the data science specialisations.”
To clarify the difference between Computer Science and IT, Timothy says, “Computer Science tends to have more focus on the algorithms so it ends up with a more theoretical approach. So, you end up learning what’s the most efficient way to do this versus, from what I’ve heard from my friends doing the Bachelor of IT, they’re more focused on ‘this is how you build this, don’t worry too much about efficiency.’”
What makes this degree different from the ones offered at other universities?
#1: Industry Based Learning Program
The Industry Based Learning Program (IBL) from Monash is sure to set you ahead of your peers in terms of developing your professional skills and work experience. This semester program requires you to work full-time with influential leaders of IT, where you’ll develop a project under supervision.
“I know some universities do not offer the IBL program, so that’s one difference to start off with,” Timothy says.
He was one of the few students who managed to do the IBL program and he says his highlight was “that I had the opportunity to develop a PDF parser which automatically extracts and classify text as PDF as well as using machine learning to classify them and rank their similarities against other PDFs being analysed.”
“The reason why I’m particularly proud of that is that not only do I get to present that to directors and partners within the PWC consulting firm, which is as high up as you can get, it was also something that I didn’t have an experience going into — I never touched machine learning or document parsing before starting the project but with the support of IBL experience, I was able to take on new challenges!” Timothy adds.
However, Timothy notes that it is quite difficult to get into the program. “It is worth knowing that not everyone is going to go into the IBL program. It is quite a process to apply for and I know some friends who didn’t get through the process but it is something that if you do get through the process, you’ll have a great time with this opportunity.”
#2: Elective flexibility
While other universities determine what kinds of electives you must pick, Monash University grants the flexibility of choosing electives within or outside of your field.
“Some particular universities will force you to pick other electives in other faculties for increased breadth. I, personally, am very comfortable with building my Computer Science knowledge in particular,” Timothy says.
Timothy explains that Monash’s flexible elective structure does not restrict him from pursuing what he wants. “So, the Monash University structure where it is completely open, not forcing you to take either in-faculty electives or out-of-faculty electives, allows you to have the choice to look at everything and be like, ‘Okay, maybe I want a bit of this and maybe I want a bit of that’ and it doesn’t matter where it’s placed in the degree.”
What inspired you to choose Computer Science at Monash?
“My VCE was quite literally half Computer Science related subjects. I did three different subjects that were all software development, informatics and interactive media, so all are computer based. At that point, I realised, ‘Oh hey, I really want to do something with computers.‘” Timothy recalls.
“I suppose what really drew me to this degree in particular was the extra chances that we get when it comes to research because not every student has the opportunity to do the research units that I did in addition to the IBL program,” Timothy says.
In terms of why he picked Monash, Timothy says, “It was in the same vicinity of where I wanted the university to be because I was living in Caulfield and having a campus on Clayton was great.”
Besides that, Timothy also says that he chose Monash ultimately because “I heard good things about the reputation of
Computer Science at Monash. When looking at which universities would be the best for Computer Science, Monash in Victoria seems to be the one that keeps popping up.”
What are the possible career paths?
With a bigger focus on computer science theory, a Computer Science degree from Monash can propel you for work in more advanced roles in IT. Here are just some examples of the work you’ll be equipped to do:
- Computer engineer
- Computer scientist
- Cybersecurity specialist
- Data scientist
- Hardware engineer
- Software engineer
- Software tester
- Systems manager
- Web developer
Kate Lynn Law graduated in 2017 with an all rounders HSC award and an ATAR of 97.65. Passionate about mentoring, she enjoys working with high school students to improve their academic, work and life skills in preparation for the HSC and what comes next. An avid blogger, Kate had administered a creative writing page for over 2000 people since 2013, writing to an international audience since her early teenage years.