What does first-year computer science look like at RMIT?

You’ll start learning programming skills from day one, and use your new skills developing applications, competing in hackathons and working on software projects with classmates.

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If you’re interested in learning how to develop software applications for social media, artificial intelligence, and more, studying computer science at RMIT will give you the outstanding programming skills to design, implement, and maintain complex systems.

The Bachelor of Computer Science and Bachelor of Software Engineering offer a unique first-year structure where students start learning in-depth programming skills from the first day.

Programming student

Discover programming at RMIT

Find the right degree for you at RMIT to gain the outstanding programming skills to design, implement, and maintain complex systems.

What will I study in computer science and software engineering?

You’ll learn programming skills and put them into practice, designing software applications like a mobile app, an artificial intelligence program or an interactive game. 

You’ll learn by doing, taking the concepts you learn in class and using real-world data to work on a software project alongside your classmates, or with a partner organisation in a hackathon. Writing software is a skill you’ll take with you during your entire career, and you can do anything from building and testing software to managing what software companies build to connect with users.

There’s also a focus in the course on becoming a lifelong learner and learning to adapt to evolving technologies. Alongside your technical skills, you’ll learn the professional practice and standards and build your ‘soft skills’ like problem solving, teamwork and communication that will boost your confidence and help you succeed at work. 

As a computer scientist or software engineer, you can have a career in specialisations including artificial intelligence, cloud computing, big data, mobile computing, application development and web systems. 

What happens in the first year?

At RMIT, you'll focus solely on programming for the first six weeks of the semester in a bootcamp-style subject, establishing a solid technical foundation before you go on to a studio-style subject for the rest of the semester. 

In the studio you’ll learn important computing concepts like databases, computer systems and networking. Combining user-centric designer methodologies, you’ll learn to create highly usable and accessible products for users.

The Bootcamp2Studio model has been developed by a large team of academics led by Professor John Thangarajah, who says delivering the subject this way is a first for Australian universities. All courses in the model were designed with input from organisations and employers in relevant industries, to ensure that students get the skills to meet the needs of the industry. 

“Fundamental programming skills greatly enhance studies in other foundational areas such as hardware, human-computer interaction and discrete mathematics,” says Dr. Minyi Li, Program Manager of the Bachelor of Computer Science

“Many students face difficulties when starting to learn programming, developing ‘coding anxiety’, which can greatly impact their subsequent progress.

“In the traditional university model, students study four subjects simultaneously in each semester, with only one of those subjects teaching fundamental programming skills. Students typically find it very hard to bring the concepts and building blocks of programming together over a full-length semester, and the distractions from other subjects in parallel often make it worse. 

“We’ve revamped the way we introduce students to programming technologies, so that they not only apply their knowledge sooner, but also have a solid technical basis for the remainder of their studies.”

The first-year learning and teaching method offers you an exciting and engaging way to start studying computer science, where the skills taught can be adapted to your unique level of programming experience and you can then put your skills into practice in a project that interests you.  

Minyi Li “We’ve revamped the way we introduce students to programming technologies, so that they not only apply their knowledge sooner, but also have a solid technical basis for the remainder of their studies." Dr. Minyi Li, Program Manager of the Bachelor of Computer Science

Progressing into your studies

In Semester 2, students go into more advanced techniques, working in teams on projects where they learn from their peers and get work-integrated learning experiences in bootcamps and hackathons. 

“Programming studios cover software engineering skills and concepts in areas including computer systems, user interface design, databases, and security ,” says Dr. Sebastian Rodriguez , program manager of the Bachelor of Software Engineering.

“Students take these skills into studios and go further into new techniques and more complex ways of programming. Beyond the coursework, students get more experience through hackathons, entrepreneurship competitions, showcases and industry events.

“We’re organising a hackathon later this year for our first-year students with RMIT Activator. They’re designing the concept, setting the challenge and they’ll be the judges, so students will get mentorship from them in entrepreneurship and innovation.” 

What’s next?

Students go on to their second year equipped with the programming fundamentals and ready to go deeper into particular concepts, whether that’s analysing algorithms, learning the software engineering fundamentals, or delving deeper into processes and methodologies for design solutions to computer science problems. 

RMIT offers a three-year Bachelor of Computer Science as well as a four-year Bachelor of Software Engineering. The Software Engineering program includes an extra year after second year, where students undertake a 12-month internship and then return to campus in their fourth year to focus on project work in teams. RMIT staff help students get internships based on students’ skills and interests with companies, from NAB, Accenture or Deloitte to start-ups. 

The courses share the first and second years and offer a flexible model where students can choose how to fulfill their goals. Students are able to transfer from one course to the other if they want to finish their study in three years or add a paid 40-week internship into a four-year course. 

 

Story: Hilary Jones

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