HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!! I can’t believe I’m saying this but… I’m 70% of the way through this degree. This is the 8th module out of the 9 taught modules. I have one more left then the thesis prep module and then the final thesis which I’m super excited about. LIKE WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE? It’s taken 2 years and near-to-non-stop constant studying, I still have 1 more year to go but I am so damn proud of myself for persevering 😭.
If you are thinking about studying for a Computer Science Master’s degree on top of full-time work I strongly recommend you read ALL of my york reviews to make that rational decision 💖. It been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done 😅
It’s been about 2 weeks since I finished the Computer Architecture and Operating System (aka CAOS) exam and usually I write a blog straight away from the excitement and high of finishing but something about this particular module left a bad taste in my mouth. I know you can’t like everything you study especially when you decide to follow structured learning but my god did I HATE this module.
Computer Architecture and Operating Systems
Computer architecture is basically the high-level overall of how all the components and structure of the computer are pieced together. We learn how they operate and interact with each other. This module covers a lot about Von Neuman’s architecture because most modern computers still use this same idea. It involves the idea of storing program instructions and data in the main memory and moving them between memory and the processor via a bus system. We learn how data is processed, how to calculate the processing speeds of memory/processor, how memory is actually stored and the purpose of operating systems and all the areas it manages on a computer and then how all these interlinks and are layered on top of each other as well as basic security measures in order to protect your data.
What’s wrong with this course?
Just like all the other modules this one was riddled with mistakes. The reading material contained mistakes, the tasks contained mistakes AND the model answers to questions contained mistakes. There were mistakes left right centre which is a common theme in this degree. You’re probably wondering WHY the hell I stuck it out and some days I ask myself the same question and feel dumb for being too stubborn to just let go and give up.
I actually very much struggled with this module because I found the topic confusing and the book hard to digest. I was overwhelmed by too many new concepts and new information. After 8 weeks of studying, I feel like I’ve not retained anything. To me reading a book is not learning. Since there were no practical tasks or guidance on how to convert learning content into practicals I was stuck just trying my best with what we had which was watching Youtube videos and answering the questions in the book. Even when I understood a concept I found it hard to remember it. At least the other modules had proper “tasks” or “assignments” this one had nothing substantial.
The exam was mostly written work and since I’m very slow at trying to put what I think down as I think I have a learning disability I feel super deflated and demotivated.
The exam was also a completely different style from the past exam papers so after revising nonstop every day none of the things I revised came up and also topics that we barely covered in the modules came up in the exam!!! It seems they change up the exams. It was the first exam I was not able to complete. I have distinctions for all of my exams but for this one? I ran out of time and I also didn’t understand what some questions were asking.
So, all in all, it was a complete disaster and was the worst module in my opinion BY FAR and it really upset me that I’ve spent 8 weeks working my arse off to learn very little.
- At the end of the book we read for this course, there are a bunch of questions and case studies. Go through them and answer the questions after each chapter. It’s the most interactive you are going to get from the course so make the most of it.
- Try to understand each concept before moving on because each is layered on top of one another in order to fully understand Computer Architecture you need to know how it’s built from the ground up.
- The exam (for us) was mostly written so write out paragraphs comparing concepts, pros/cons of whatever you learn and mini tutorials for each topic so you can copy and paste these in the exam.
Foundations for data engineering
One of the main things I found interesting was a lot of data engineering key concepts are based on computer architecture concepts like data processing or pipelining, block size, partitioning etc. I’ve noticed a lot of this come up at work and understanding more about throughput optimisation.
Since this is my pen-ultimate taught module I feel I’m in a position to pick out my favourite modules so far which are: Applied AI, AI & ML, Big Data Analytics. I realised these all involved exploring a problem, analysing datasets and writing algorithms. All the modules that require an assignment are the most gruelling BUT are the most enjoyable since you really need to engage with the content, which personally helps learn better but not only that the assignments are usually fun to do! The way they are delivered and the amount of time required is taxing so.
I am thinking the best thing to do is get better at my current job and stay there for perhaps 1-3 more years and then when I get to that point decide whether I’d like to move to something along these lines 🙂
To my lovely readers, I just want to thank you all for sticking with me, reaching out, and for the encouragement and gratitude I’ve received – it honestly gives me the energy to write more of these blogs. I hope one day I can help you all in your journey beyond just sharing my own.
Long-time lurker here 😆 Thank you sm for your posts. I wanted to join the University of York; I almost enrolled in the cohort, which started a few days ago. Reading this made me very confident in my decision not to register.
I remember you mentioning in one of your posts that there were better online CompSci degrees out there. Can you share some of them? I’ve done much research but have only encountered degrees with horrible reviews. The one with relatively fewer negative reviews so far is the online degree provided by the University of London. I also read that some students enrolled at the University of York ended up enrolling at the University of London.
Don’t worry; I’ll do my research, but I’d like to know if you’ve heard of any better alternatives.
Thank you and best of luck with your next module x
Thanks for reading all the blog posts and coming out from lurking to comment!!
No.1 super sorry I’ve put you off haha!
No.2 I have read that the Georgia Tech Online Master’s Degree (OMSCS) has good reviews.
So I would check that one out as they’ve reduced the price to $7K which is very affordable.
Here they also have a few in CS and DS: https://www.edx.org/masters
But obviously I do not have first hand experience of those courses.
I hope you find a course you like!
Thank you for keeping updating the reviews. It helps me very much!
Thank you for your thorough sharing. It’s really insightful to me. I actually enrolled this course, just starting the first module. I have no science background and found some difficulties in learning Java and part of algorithm, and I will be sitting in my first exam in coming few weeks. I have a bit lost right now as I am not sure if I can get a pass in my exam and I saw there’s another module called Advanced Programming, I just wonder if I can manage to nail it if I have struggle with Java. Could you please give me some advice? Thank you
Hope you are well.
Firstly, Advanced Programming is in Python which is a lot more straight forward to learn than Java but you have to learn it quick. The rest of the course does not have too much programming and is full theory. A lot of the times they give you option to use tools instead of programming i.e WEKA instead of Python.
Second, the pace of this course is very fast, light and spread out so I’m not surprised in the slightest by what you are going through.
Have you called up to the student success services and explained to them your situation and see what they suggest yet? Because there is now an exceptional circumstance rule regarding if you are “fit to sit” where you can pull out up to a day before the exam for any personal reasons and either postpone and take the exam in the next cohort or w/e other suggestions they may have.
In terms of improving in Java the only way to do that is to sit and program. Also have you heard of ChatGPT? You can use it for peer programming (i.e programming something sending it to ChatGPT and seeing what they say about your code and how to improve and even teach you how). You can also use it to clarify concepts you are learning as you go along.
Personally, I would study and learn as much as you can up until the very last moment (before you pull out) because I remember not understanding anything for the exams or looking at past papers and not being able to do them up until the very last few days when it all clicked and I was able to pull through. Either way I think you’ll be able to nail it if you keep going if not University will help you don’t worry! They’ve always given me options and help when I needed it just call them up 🙂
Hi Bexa 🙂,
I used GPT 4 to find me reviews for this program and thank God it scoured and scoured and brought me here. I graduated with a bachelor’s in business Administration IT management from Western Governors University . I’m researching more about the computer Science With cybersecurity program from York. I work full time (have no option) i saw pretty negative reviews on reddit for this program. If you were to prepare, way before you started the program, how would you have done it knowing what you know now.
P.S I’m below average when it comes to math but i’m really curious and can learn fast if it involves lots of theories.
Thanks for taking time read this Bexa 🙂
Thanks for leaving a comment 🙂 Yes reviews are pretty bad for this course. I would believe what those people say.
To prepare for this course I would not recommend trying to learn everything before you start because you will be overwhelmed.
If you are a fast learner then I recommend you have these under your belt then you can focus more on learning/implementing: basic Object-Oriented Programming (java, python), Data Science/Analytics Techniques (cleaning, parsing data, basic statistics, analysing the data) and how to write academic reports.