So, I previously wrote up a whole blog post about why I chose to study an online Masters at The University of York in Computer Science and Data Analytics. Ya-dee-daa-daa basically.
I was totally raving and enjoying the course. So I decided to write another post 4 months later…
First of all, the first module that everyone studies is always Algorithms & Data Structures. It’s pretty decent but it’s all self learning….
The next module was Advanced Programming. What I found odd was the students in my cohort seemed to rotate. So some people were doing AP as their last module and some were doing it as their 3rd…6th…etc and we’d just get thrown back into the mix with strangers. The order you learn in is just sporadic and there is no order but many complained about wishing they had done a module or two AFTER the Advanced Programming module as it would have helped them immensely.
Anyways, the slack channel is lively and everyone is very helpful, supportive and mostly nice.
In the first week, you learn Python. I didn’t know Python and had to put myself through a Bootcamp using Youtube, the content and reading stuff online as it was completely new. I’m pretty sure most people on my course were in the same boat. It was a struggle but well worth it. I recommend Corey Schafer and FreeCodeCamp to learn Python.
The tasks the uni provide are really fun to do and you do learn from them but they take AGES. I’m trying to figure out a new way of studying. Previously, I was reviewing the content day by day and then doing the tasks at the end. I think I will try reading the whole weeks content in the first few days then directly going through each task and re-review the content + youtube + google to solve whatever they are.
The tasks are quite important especially if you’re a beginner and don’t know much about Object-Oriented Programming. What they get you to do usually becomes a snippet of what they want from you in the end of module assignment.
After learning Python we learn about collecting, parsing, cleaning and wrangling data to create visualisations. They spend 1 week teaching you about each area.
The module is titled ‘Advanced Programming’ but it’s essentially an intro to Data Science/Analysis module. You learn how to use different APIs like Pandas, NumPy, Matplotlib and then MongoDB if you want to use databases. All this was also completely new to me and I loved it. I really liked Pandas and how easy it made cleaning and re-organising large sets of data and also creating a GUI in Tkinter.
Despite being taught 1 general topic per week. They only touch lightly on each area. That’s what made the course so hard and overwhelming. I wanted to explore more and dive into everything but there’s just not enough time to experiment and dabble.
Level of Difficulty
The content is digestible – you will get it if you put in the leg work. The main issue here is you don’t really know how much or little or what they expect of you and this means you don’t know how deep to dive or how shallow to skim. And because you have a limited time to do things you have to be calculated with your time and effort.
The course is more intense than ADS. The tasks and the content again are super interesting but there’s no time to do the tasks AND the assignment. So you end up feeling overwhelmed and like you can’t get everything done or learn everything in time.
Everyone in the slack channel individually emails about everything then posts their findings so it’s a bit of a shit storm as you scroll through the chat piecing together the requirements. Slack is honestly the holy grail and the thing holding the course and its students together.
Hopefully, after my first hand in I will get feedback on what I’ve done wrong to help improve because what I handed in in terms of the report was awful. The program was decent but the report was shit and that’s what they mark you on so bear that in mind.
Will I pass?
I’ve literally just handed in my second module assignment today. It was….horrendous. Or should I say my assignment was horrendous? The amount of work they get you to do is hefty. The assignment was basically a mini-thesis of 5000 words about 30 pages of screenshots and over 1000 lines of code which took me, no joke, 4 weeks nonstop coding for 8+ hours every day. Once finished I had no time for the essay so I botched it and now I’m worried I’ll fail.
Maybe I overdid it and went overboard with the programming but when something has a bug…you have to fix it right? Then when that bug creates 10 bugs it turns into A Bugs Life and you forget how to wash and live off Quorn sausage rolls for week.
I couldn’t hand in a half-arsed program that barely worked and that really stressed me out. Like I said earlier, they mark you on your report, not your program but you still have to hand that in otherwise you get a 0. I wish I told myself this at the beginning.
I’m not even certain I’m going to pass but we will see. Many people handed in despite it being hefty. A few in the slack channel stated they were either exhausted, getting grey hairs, dropping out, taking a study break or looking for alternative options. I took the study break and gave kudos (as a lurker) to those who persevered onto the next module.
If you struggle with your mental health then I highly recommend you get the rest of your life in order a week or 2 before hand-in as it gets stressful. I had 2 weeks of sleepless nights, all-nighters and 18 hour days.
I got mega anxiety and literally stopped functioning and living properly. I stopped seeing my bf and even stopped cleaning the flat or eating properly because I was scared I was wasting valuable time I could be wrangling data that hated me. Then my laptop broke. Then my sink broke. SO I had to load Debian OS on my Raspberry Pi 4, connect it to my TV and use that as my very buggy computer for 3 weeks. The stupid chip was so outdated no software was compatible the IDEs were shit and I could only load Python 3.7 in a virtual environment which took me 1 entire week to figure that out.
My bf ended up bringing over food and lots of paper plates as an emergency kit which was sweet of him lol.
Then, I ended up panicking and getting burnout and so I was advised to get a doctors note to get an extension which I did but I still handed in 1 minute before deadline with only 70% of the report completed lol.
The amount of workload for this module is intense so be wary if you want to study this Masters on top of a busy job because it can be overwhelming. If you do a desk job then you will be glued to your computer 12+ hours a day lol.
I like how the course is set out and I like self-learning but what I don’t like is the mammoth assignments at the end that make me want to smash my head against my laptop.
The majority of complaints about the course about the lack of support and overwhelming workload are true.
At the moment, I’m praying I pass this module so I can move onto the next one. I will defo continue this course considering how much I’ve learned so far.
I’ve been trying to learn OOP for years and this course has directed me towards all the materials that have helped me finally grasp it and honestly, I really need that mysterious person who marks my work to kicks my butt into action.
Yes, it’s overwhelming and I can guarantee over 70% of those enrolled will not enjoy it/drop out because it won’t meet their standards but despite my complaints I am enjoying it and learning a lot.
I would have quit on week 2 if this were a free online course and be stuck just knowing how to write For Loops for 3 years thinking I was a genius. Oh, wait that was me 😅.
If you have any questions please do comment on this post. I will always reply on here but may not reply on social media 🙂
This blog that you wrote was very helpful as you honestly talked about the pros and cons. Are you still doing the course? I am planning on starting at the end of June. How many hours a day should the average student be prepared to study for?
Thank you kindly,
Thanks for reading my blog post 🙂 I am still doing this course. I study sporadically through the day around 30-40 hours a week as I work part-time and have the capacity to do so.
I guess it’s up to you how much you dedicate to this course but I know a lot of people study 2-4 hours a day after/before work or the entire week’s content purely at the weekend.
I’m thinking of enrolling in MSc Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence. However, I’m not yet convinced if the University of York is helpful for online program degrees. I spent one week if not two weeks trying to find out how do they deliver their classes. At first, they want me to apply without knowing in detail what I’m putting myself into. My concerns are these: module delivery method, assessment, if they do webinars &, etc. I just completed an MSc in Quantity Surveying from the University College of Estate Management. From the start, they were very concerned about the students’ expectations, very responsive. I’m lil bit worried about this journey because I don’t want to spend much on my whistle.
First of all thank you for visiting my blog, reading and leaving a comment 🙂
I totally wish I had the same concerns as you when starting this course.
I guess first it’s important to understand why you are studying this course? Are you working alongside, part-time/full-time? Is it to change careers or to fill in gaps etc?
The module delivery method is all online separated into the written content on a MOOCS page with reading chapters of books then doing tasks or answering multiple-choice quizzes. We do not have specific webinars although the computer science department often have them – I haven’t attended any though. Assessments are either open book exams or written reports which would range from 2000-8000 words regarding a case study or evaluating the content you have learnt over the weeks.
Great blog! I found it very informative.
I’m in the process of considering applying for the MSc. Computer Science right now. I’ve been a Frontend Engineer, working full-time for the last 3 years however, I’d like to brush up more on my foundational knowledge of CS as I didn’t do a BSc. in Computer Science previously.
I wanted to ask how you’re getting on with the course now, 9 months after initially writing this blog? Are you still enjoying it? Do you find the tools/resources helpful? Is the content well-structured? Any new advice you’d share?
I understand this is a pretty new course and I can’t actually find many positive reviews on the MSc. Computer Science if I’m honest, and any reviews I do find are always MSc. Computer Science + [something_else].
Anyway, best of luck with it all, and I hope to hear from you soon.
Thanks for taking the time to check out the blog =D
I’m still 1/3 of the way through and I study the Computer Science + Data Analytics course but they are all essentially the same except one from 1 of the modules gets changed out into chosen pathway. Everyone is on the same path in the same class. What is good about the course is its flexibility on top of work. I take study breaks every now and then and at the moment I am on a 4 month leave as I got a new job so I want to settle before I continue on. It isn’t the best course out there the resources/tools are helpful but sometimes outdated but gives a good base line, it’s good value, flexible, and does provide foundations of CS.
Some advice would be that time management is very important with this course as it requires lots of personal time investment, brush up on report writing/critical writing skills and self-studying outside the given content is a must.
If you want to brush up on foundational knowledge on CS I would first recommend a free online course like harvard X’s cs50 introduction to computer science. This course is completely free, super fun, and walks you thorugh the basics there are more cs courses on edx which you can follow on from after this one. This free course is SO MUCH better and so much more enjoyable.
This master’s degree I would say is a HUGE time commitment and I would say is more of a leg into the industry and there are better-built courses for what you require. If you still want to try it out then maybe try the first couple of modules but have low expectations xD
Just wondering about the exams.
I know that each module is 8 weeks with 7 weeks of teaching and 1 week of assesments. So does that mean that the exam and the essay are both on the 8th week?
If so, how early do you start revising for the exams?
Really thanks for sharing so much information and experience for this course. I like you blog and will keep watching it, please keep sharing the process, and I am so proud of what you did.
I may enroll the programme this May and I hope I can finish it in two years. It will be the most challenge thing in my life, despite many negative feedback in the internet, your blog really reflect a normal people who want to enrich and fight for herself.
Oh my god, Becky, I wish I had read your blog before starting the course. Though I am doing MSc in just Computer Science, the modules covered are similar. I was so happy and keen to start this advanced programming module, but I did not enjoy it! The assignment was awful as the instructions were not clear, and as I am entirely new to IT, I am not familiar with the terms. It took me a lot of time to understand what the instructions/brief of the assignment meant. When I asked the tutor what it meant, they never replied with a clear yes or no answer, which is really frustrating as it is not even a legal job (which I am doing), so why do you need to put so much caveat!! I submitted the assignment yesterday, and I am worried that I will fail this module as I am unsure what they want. This whole module made me feel stupid.
This week, I started the 3rd module, which is AI and Machine learning. I was hoping that this one could be better. Still, after reading your other articles, I know now that the way of their teaching (I am not sure if this is the correct word as it feels there is no teaching in it) is similar for all modules, i.e., directing you where to read, briefly covering what you have read, watch some clips (if you are lucky that there are any), and complete some activities. I am not sure how long I can hang in there, and if I had known it was like this, I would not have started at all…
What I appreciate about this course is that they provide you with a structure and point out what you should understand for a topic. As you will need to pass the exam, you can test your knowledge. Also, there is a timeframe for each module, so I need to learn everything within this module. I think these things would be difficult for me if I only used some websites to self-taught.
I thought the quality of this course is poor because the price is low, but it is actually not that much lower compared to other providers – maybe just 1k or 2k for local students. 1k or 2k price difference can justify their no-teaching style? Certainly not. I am shocked that they did not have any recorded lectures – this does not even add costs to them as they must have lectures for non-online courses. It is ridiculous to search Youtube videos to understand the online materials which I have paid to a University to demonstrate in lectures. Yes, I know it is an online course, but am I wrong to expect there are at least some recordings of lectures?
I would recommend anyone who is considering starting this course: please read Becky’s all articles before you start.
Sorry Becky, I only realised there is a Slack platform for students after reading your articles. Would you please let me know where I can access it? (I was going to ask you this question but couldn’t stop talking about my frustration about this course!!) Thank you so much.
Sorry for the super late reply. Have you decided to continue or did you leave the course?
Thanks for leaving a comment and yeh I totally regret starting it but I’m too stubborn to quit now as I’m 2/3 in.
I was hoping this blog would deter people or at least…lower their expectations but it seems lots of people read my blog and STILL decide to study at York which is a bit concerning as I feel like it’s my fault lol.
Anyways the slack URL is https://onlinecompsci.slack.com/
You need your uni email to log in 🙂
Hi Bexa – thank you for producing such an informative, entertaining and well-written blog! I have actually applied for this course, but have concerns (particularly having read many of your posts) that I will not have the time to dedicate to it. If I accept my place I am due to start in early Jan 2022, but I think I will defer to a March start to give me more time to think about it and work out if the course is really for me (if I enjoy it, I will find the time, if not, I will struggle and it will no doubt become purely a burden and stress). As part of that, I plan to do some self-learning, to see if I enjoy reading about the subject (more than I superficially have already). I don’t suppose you could let me know what texts they start you on, can you – so I can read those and get a feel for them? Thank you, and keep up the great work!