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Computer Science


Number of students per year: 4 - 5 

Typical offer: A*A*A at A-level or 7 7 6 (42+ overall) in the IB. For other qualifications, please click here.


Essential subjects: A-level/IB Higher Level or equivalent in Mathematics.


(Please note that IB applicants starting the new IB Mathematics syllabus are expected to take IB Higher Level 'Analysis and Approaches' if it's available at your school. If this isn't an option for you, please drop us an email at admissions@clare.cam.ac.uk and we'll be very happy to advise you.)


Useful subjects: Physics and Further Mathematics are valuable preparation for studying Computer Science. Computing A-level is not required, but may be a useful way to gain practical experience.

Computer Science at Clare 

Computer Science covers a broad range of topics, including the design of computer hardware and systems software, computational techniques for applications such as graphics and databases, and technologies such as digital communications and computer security. Today there is an increasing focus on artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, etc.

In the first year of the Computer Science Tripos (Part IA), students take courses in functional and object-oriented  programming language (using OCaml and Java), Operating Systems and Discrete Mathematics. Other courses include Graphics, Human-Machine Interaction and Machine Learning. Laboratory work is a key component of several courses, including Digital Electronics and Algorithms.


The second year of the Computer Science Tripos (Part IB) covers core technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Graphics and Computer Networking. It also covers hardware and theory. There is substantial assessed practical work, including a group project, which simulates an industrial work environment and software procurement process. The group project is demanding, but students seem to enjoy it and deliver remarkable products.


The third year (Part II) covers advanced technologies, such as Bioinformatics and Computer Security. It also covers advanced theory, such as System Modelling, Denotational Semantics, and Computer Vision. Substantial choice is available, including two Masters-level modules. Each student does a substantial project and writes a dissertation of up to 12000 words.


Key People

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Professor Larry Paulson

Director of Studies & Professor of Computational Logic

I came to computer science with a background in mathematics and logic. At Caltech I had the privilege of meeting N. G. de Bruijn, who had distinguished himself in several branches of mathematics and gone on to do pioneering work in the formalisation of mathematical proofs by computer.


I have devoted most of my research career to this area, though others have pursued de Bruijn’s particular way of doing it. The main application of automated proof is to verify the correctness of computer hardware and software; as we all know, computers are not reliable and the majority of their faults lie not in manufacturing flaws but in logical design errors. Such errors could, in principle, be identified using mathematical techniques.


My best-known work concerns the verification of security protocols, which all Internet users come into contact with when they visit secure websites. I have investigated the SSL protocol, which is running when your web browser displays the padlock symbol.

Clare student Aga talks about why she chose to study Computer Science at Clare, how the course works, and what her favourite things about it are!