School of Computer Science

Teaching and Research Quality in Computer Science

Computing at the University of Birmingham dates back to the 1950's, with the school boasting a strong tradition of academic excellence.

We are an internationally top ranking computer science department.

We are one of the UK governments seven designated e-Science Centres of Excellence and are home to the Centre of Excellence for Research in Computational Intelligence and Applications (Cercia). We collaborate with major industry players and hold over £6 million in externally funded contracts and grants.

Research Excellence

The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) assesses the quality of research in universities and colleges in the UK. The outcome of the RAE is used to determine the research grant given by the higher education funding bodies and also serves as an informal guide to research standing of Schools and Departments.

The 2008 RAE results were published in the form of a 'quality profile'. This shows a weighted distribution of those research activities which were submitted to the RAE for assessment. A percentage is given for each of five categories, from 4* to U (see below for a detailed explanation of the categories). The published percentage has been rounded to the nearest 5%.

The School submitted the work of 34 academic staff, and was awarded the profile:

4* 30%
3* 45%
2* 20%
1* 5%

There were 81 submissions nationally for computer science. Comparisons can be made in a number of different ways.

  • The School is equal 7th in the proportion of 4* awards.
  • The School is 12th in the proportion of 4* and 3* awards.
  • The School's average of 3.00* can be compared with the national average of 2.73*, the highest for Computer Science being 3.35* (for Cambridge). This places us in equal 13th position.

Within the University of Birmingham, the School has done particularly well. The proportion of 4* awards is the highest in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences and equal 3rd in the University as a whole.

Explanation of the Categories

4* Quality that is world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour.

3* Quality that is internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour but which nonetheless falls short of the highest standards of excellence.

2* Quality that is recognised internationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour.

1* Quality that is recognised nationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour.

U: Quality that falls below the standard of nationally recognised work. Or work which does not meet the published definition of research for the purposes of the assessment

The School of Computer Science academic community consists of people who are working at the forefront of knowledge in their subject. This benefits you directly since you learn from their research as it is happening and while innovative developments are being made.

In the previous RAE in 2001, the School of Computer Science at Birmingham received a Grade 5, one of the highest possible ratings.

Teaching Quality

You will study at a school whose programmes have been consistently rated as excellent. Our teaching is regularly reviewed and achieves high scores and commendations. In our last review, we received the highest possible ratings for our Computer Science teaching from the QAA.

View QAA report on Computer Science at Birmingham

We are also ranked by the The Guardian University Guide 2011 as 9th in Computer Science departments nationally.

Whilst we perform well in league tables and assessments, please use them with care! League tables can be useful as a snapshot to help you to compare universities, but it is important to bear in mind the limitations.

There are many aspects of university life that the tables cannot measure. This includes support for your learning, the tradition and reputation of a university, student life and the opportunities to develop your personal and social skills. Probably the most important measure which is not taken into consideration is the long term successes of graduates in the work place.

Everyone is different ... It is important to choose a university where you will be happy to spend the next three or four years of your life!