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.