How to Get Into Imperial for Computing

Computing is one of the most competitive courses at Imperial College London with a challenging application process. Just one in every 19 applicants successfully win a place at Imperial to study Computing. 

Imperial College London is ranked 6th in the world and 5th in the UK. Imperial’s Computing course is ranked 3rd in the UK after Oxbridge. So, you can expect that your dream of studying Computing here is shared by many. Those studying Computing at Imperial can expect a practical-led approach to their learning where they have the opportunity to engage in academic and industry-led projects.

Luckily for you, we at The Profs are masters of university admissions and have the know-how to help you achieve your goals.

If you’re thinking of applying for Computing or you’re curious about what it takes to get into one of the best universities for Computer Science in the UK, this guide contains everything you need to know – from entry requirements to tips on how to prepare from our expert Computer Science tutors.

Don’t forget to check out our previous article on how to get into Imperial and our table on Imperial’s courses and entry requirements.

The Profs’ Computer Science tutors have first-hand experience of the admissions process and what is required to succeed at each stage. Thanks to our expert support, students who work with The Profs are more than three times more likely to receive an offer from Imperial. Reach out to our team today to maximise your chances of success.

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What is Computing ?

Computing falls within Computer Science, which lies at the heart of our digitally-driven world. Computing, as a discipline, extends beyond technology; it is a rigorous academic discipline stimulating fascinating inquiries across Mathematics, Engineering and beyond. Students are immersed in the art and Science of problem-solving through computation. From the foundations of programming and data to AI, the discipline encourages conceptual understanding and technical mastery. 

A degree in Computing can help you understand the process in which computers perform tasks given to them by end users, and equip you with the skills to optimise and develop these processes. 

Don’t worry if you haven’t studied Computer Science in school as Imperial is aware that many schools don’t offer this as a subject. However, you will need to demonstrate an understanding of the discipline when you apply, so make sure that you have gone that extra mile to learn about it. 

What is Computing at Imperial like?

Imperial College London is ranked as the 3rd best university in the UK for Computer Science (only falling behind Oxford and Cambridge). Applicants can choose from eleven related Computing courses, including (but not limited to):

  • Computing (BEng)
  • Computing (MEng)
  • Computing with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (MEng) 
  • Computing with Security and Reliability (MEng)

All undergraduate Computing courses are professionally accredited and involve the study of the engineering of computer hardware and software alongside the mathematical principles of Computing.

All courses cover a range of core modules across all three years, in addition to a range of optional modules in the second and third years. Please be aware that the structure of optional modules will be different for the application-based courses, such as Computing with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. For more information about the different courses Imperial offers within Computing see their website. All available modules are listed in the table below:

Core modulesOptional modules
Year 1
  • Introduction to Computer Systems
  • Introduction to Databases
  • Introduction to Computer Architecture
  • Computing Practical 1
  • Discrete Mathematics, Logic and Reasoning
  • Graphs and Algorithms
  • Calculus
  • Linear Algebra
Year 2
  • Algorithm Design and Analysis
  • Software Engineering Design
  • Models of Computation
  • Operating Systems
  • Networks and Communication
  • Compilers
  • Probability and Statistics
  • Computing Practical 2
  • Computing Group Project
One from:

  • Symbolic Reasoning 
  • Computational Techniques
Year 3
  • Software Engineering Group Project
  • I-Explore
  • Industrial project -part 1(MEng courses only)
Six from:

  • Logic-Based Learning
  • Computer Vision
  • Custom Computing
  • Advanced Databases
  • Communicating Computer Science in Schools
  • Network and Web Security
  • Advanced Computer Architecture
  • Robotics
  • Simulation and Modelling
  • Operations Research
  • Distributed Algorithms
  • Type Systems for Programming Languages
  • Introduction to Machine Learning
  • The Theory and Practice of Concurrent Programming Graphics
  • System Performance Engineering
Year 4 (MEng only)
  • Industrial project-part 2
  • Individual project
Seven in total. 

Up to seven from group A:

  • Scalable Software Verification
  • Scalable Systems and Data Privacy 
  • Engineering Cryptography 
  • Engineering Advanced Computer Graphics
  • Computational Finance
  • Complexity
  • Software Reliability
  • Advanced Computer Security
  • Deep Learning
  • Machine Learning for Imaging
  • Principles of Distributed Ledgers
  • Program Analysis
  • Quantum Computing
  • Software Engineering for Industry
  • Computational Optimisation
  • Natural Language Processing
  • Probabilistic Inference
  • Mathematics for Machine Learning
  • Reinforcement Learning
  • Knowledge Representation
  • Modal Logic for Strategic Reasoning in AI
  • Advanced Computer Architecture
  • Custom Computing
  • Decentralised Finance
  • Robot Learning
  • Scheduling and Resource Allocation

And up to 2 from group B:

  • Communicating Computer Science in Schools
  • Elective module

The difference between the BEng and MEng is that the MEng includes a final year of study where you can select seven optional modules (listed in the table above), an industrial project distributed across years 3 and 4, and a compulsory individual project in year 4. 

The industrial placement runs across years 3 and 4 and involves working on one or two large projects in industry; industrial partners have included the likes of CERN and Vodaphone. The individual project, which forms a core part of the 4th (final) year will involve working with one of the department’s many academic groups. The student will be able to choose a project and will be expected to plan and organise their project with the help of their academic supervisor(s). Being part of an academic group at Imperial means you’ll be working on cutting-edge Computing research and have the potential to be a named author on an academic paper! Visit the university website for more information.

Insider tips for Computing at Imperial

There are a total of 11 Computing-related courses and each one is identical in structure for years 1 and 2, meaning it is possible to switch courses before the start of year 3. For those wanting to upgrade to the MEng from BEng, they will need to score over 60% overall in both years 1 and 2. For those thinking about selecting a more application-focused course, such as Computing with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, switching is also possible before the start of year 3. Keep note that switching to application-focused courses could restrict your freedom when it comes to selecting optional modules in years 3 and 4. Definitely check the course structures before selecting between the different Computing courses at Imperial!

Still thinking about that individual project? It’s an opportunity to introduce yourself to the world of academia, become all-knowing in your field of research, and network with the brightest minds in Computing. You could find your calling in the ‘efficient parallel solution’ across multiple computers with very large systems of linear equations, following in the footsteps of previous alumnus Nick Dingle. Imperial hosts one of the largest Computing departments in the UK, home to many academic groups. If you’re interested in any of the Computing courses (even the BEng) it’s certainly worth checking them out and being aware of the research going on in the department! 

Computing is a very quantitative course and Imperial particularly looks for students with evidence of strong mathematical ability. Applicants are required to achieve an A* (or equivalent) in A Level Mathematics. Moreover, typical offers include the Test of Mathematics for University Admissions (TMUA). More information is available on this here. Here at The Profs, we offer expert 1-to-1 tuition services for Mathematics and the TMUA and so get in touch!

How hard is it to get into Computing at Imperial?

Computing is an extremely competitive course at Imperial and requires applicants to achieve excellent grades and show great potential. They assess this in a number of stages, the first is looking at your grades and the subjects you take, then if you have excellent grades in the right subjects, you’ll need to complete a post-application test and likely a departmental interview!

The table below shows the entry requirements for Computing:

QualificationGradesSubject requirements
A LevelsA*A*A or A*AAAAt least an A in Mathematics, with the A* in Mathematics, Further Mathematics or Computing/Computer Science. Those taking Further Mathematics A Level or AS-level are required to achieve at least Grade A.
International Baccalaureate (IB)41 points overall7s in Mathematics and another relevant subject at Higher Level.

Worried that you won’t achieve the necessary grades to study Computing at Imperial? The Profs’ A Level and IB tutors can help. We have extensive experience helping students excel in their coursework and final exams and achieve the entry grades for this competitive course. Reach out to our team for support.

All Computing applicants who pass the initial admissions team review for their UCAS application will be invited to complete an online assessment which tests skills in logical reasoning and problem-solving. Further along, applicants may be invited to an interview with one of the lecturers. You can find general support and guidance regarding the Imperial College interviews on their website. Get in touch with us to find an expert admissions tutor to support your application process.

What are my prospects with a Computing degree?

It’s always important to have a longer-term goal in mind when applying for a degree. Computing is gaining increasing relevance to a wide range of job opportunities. Imperial’s Computing graduates have taken roles in a wide range of areas including (but not limited to):

  • Application/web development
  • AI
  • Media
  • Finance 
  • Robotics 
  • Computer gaming
  • Chip design
  • Cyber security 
  • Data management
  • Bio-medical systems 
  • Transport 

According to the Graduate Outcomes Survey for the 2021 graduation year cohort, 76% of graduates secured employment while 13% moved onto additional education or training. According to Imperial, their Computing graduates are the most sought-after by employers and attract the highest starting salaries in the UK. You can find more information about graduation prospects and the Imperial College careers service online. 

What are the fees for Computer Science at Imperial?

The table below shows the fees for Imperial’s Computer Science course for both home (UK) and overseas students:

Student statusCourse fees (per year)
Home£9,250
Overseas£ 40,940

You can find out more information on undergraduate fees at Imperial including funding methods, bursaries, and scholarships that may be available to you on the university website

4 tips on how to get into Computer Science at Imperial

Read our 4 tips for applying to Computing at Imperial for insight on how to give yourself a fighting chance in the Imperial admissions process.

The Profs’ Computing admissions tutors can help you improve your chances of getting into Imperial to study Computing. Thanks to our network of experienced tutors, many of whom are Russell Group graduates and ex-admissions officers themselves, we have the very latest and best knowledge on what Imperial is looking for in top Computing applicants. Get in touch with us today to chat with a member of our team about how we can help you.

1. Know what to expect from the admissions process

When applying to study Computer Science at Imperial, there are many stages of the admissions process to consider, and you should prepare for each one thoroughly.

  • Grades – Preparation for your Computer Science application really starts from the moment you start your A Levels (or equivalent). Excellent grades are the first tick-box in order to be considered for a place at Imperial, so you should be aiming for A*AA in your A Levels (or equivalent) as a minimum. In addition, be aware that this course has firm subject expectations. 
  • Subjects Imperial is quite strict regarding subjects your A Level subject combinations. A* Mathematics is a requirement, and Computer Science, Further Mathematics, and /or Physics are recommended subjects. You should note that (perhaps counterintuitively) ICT is not accepted. You are seen as a more desirable applicant if you have chosen to study a second natural Science, a foreign language or an essay-based subject, such as History or English literature. To see if your subjects would be suitable for this course you should visit Imperial’s website for further information. If you feel like you may need some help to secure an A* in Mathematics, reach out to us to speak with one of our esteemed Maths tutors
  • UCAS application – The first official stage of your Computer Science application is completing your UCAS application online, which includes submitting a personal statement. This is the first chance you’ll get to showcase your suitability for Computer Science and prove to Imperial that you are interested and committed to the subject areas. For more information, read our article and watch our founder, Richard, talk about how to write a winning personal statement.You may also want to consider getting some assistance from one of our personal statement tutors with years of experience in writing successful university applications!
  • Admissions tests – Typical offers include the Test of Mathematics for University Admissions (TMUA), so you’ll need to smash this step. Here at The Profs, we have expert TMUA tutors ready to help you earn top scores!
  • Departmental Interviews – if your UCAS application and admissions test score are impressive enough, you may be invited for an interview at Imperial. This is your last chance to impress the university and prove that you are an excellent candidate for the course. Admissions interviews are like oral admissions tests and there is often even a mark scheme your interviewers will be scoring you against, so it’s important to seek assistance from our expert interview coaches to prepare effectively. Be sure to check out our article and video on how to prepare for your university interview!

2. Demonstrate your commitment to Computing 

Many schools don’t offer Computing or Computer Science at GCSE or A Level, so it’s important that you show your passion for the subject in other ways. 

Beyond your choice of subjects, there are many further ways to show you are a top applicant AND help with a smooth transition into the course. 

  • Learn coding or programming languages – Any proactive learning you have done outside of school can help to show universities that you are self-motivated and well-suited to independent, university-level study. One thing for sure with this course is that students need to have a good grasp of coding.  Coding refers to the written instructions we give computers and programming language refers to how we write the code. So, how can you get started? There are a number of online courses out there:
    • Codeacademy: A very established platform where you can learn the general basics of coding along with courses for the most popular programming languages (C, R, Python, HTML etc). Students can get a one-size-fits-all ‘pro-student membership’, offering access to all the courses for a fee. 
    • UK Government’s free online coding course: The UK government offers a free online coding course that includes a general introduction to coding and is non-language specific. The potential disadvantage of this is that students will not have targeted practice, which is key. However, the advantages are that it is free of charge and can be done during your summer break (if you can allot more than 5 hours per week to it), plus you get a nice certificate at the end! 
    • Khan academy: This course is easily accessible as there is no sign up necessary and it’s free!
  • Making your own website or coding a computer game – Making a website, coding a computer game, or taking on another project will show that you are not only able to learn new skills, but apply them as well. It doesn’t have to take long; programmes such as Game Maker Studio can allow you to drag and drop your first game within a few hours.
  • Getting work experience at a Computing-related company – This shows that you are motivated and dedicated to the subject area outside of a school setting. It also gives you real-life insights and experience of what a career in Computer Science might involve and which skills are important to succeed. The best place to start looking for work experience in Computer Science is online, be sure to check credible websites such as  RateMyPlacement. Do keep in mind that you are still students and may need to ask for permission from your school before you engage in work experience! Softwire is a software development company that runs week-long work experience programmes in Computer Science in the February and October half-terms specifically aimed at GCSE and A Level (or equivalent) students.
  • Volunteering to help people with computer skills – Similarly to work experience, volunteering shows that you are passionate and committed to your subject area. Volunteering and work experience are clear indicators of confidence, real-world experience, and an ability to time manage. You could volunteer at your local charity shop, sports club, or school-organised initiatives to help the vulnerable in your local community. 
  • Participating in relevant competitions, clubs or challenges – We recommend showcasing your mathematical ability by participating in Maths competitions such as UK Maths Challenge, as this is a great way to help your application stand out and prove that your academic ability goes beyond the school setting.
  • Read up – With Computing being a new and exciting field it also carries some degree of mystery and ‘magic’ which has resulted in many books being written with the aim of explaining how they work. 
    • Invitation to Computer Science, 8th Edition M.G. Schneider and J.L Gersting
    • Computer Science Illuminated, 7th Edition N. Dale and J. Lewis
    • Practical Programming: An Introduction to Computer Science Using Python 3.6, 3rd Edition P. Gries, J. Campbell and J. Montogo

The first two books on this list are language-neutral, meaning they don’t explain concepts in computer science with reference to a particular programming language. The third applies Python to demonstrate key Computing concepts.

3. You’ve mentioned a solid 5-year plan, right? 

Another factor that can set you aside from other applicants is having a 5-year plan. This doesn’t have to be a plan that you necessarily stick to – in fact, it is expected that your interests and ambitions change as your knowledge and experience grow. Having a plan is simply a great way of demonstrating to Imperial that you are committed to the subject of Computing and that you are motivated to succeed at your degree.

The first step to having a plan is to develop an understanding of the industries a degree in Computing can lead to and the specific areas of Computer Science you can specialise in. For example, identifying that you are interested in software engineering or the applications of logic-based learning can show that you are a forward-thinking candidate who is serious about getting a job after graduation. You can, of course, also state that you are interested in a PhD and becoming a researcher, backing up your career claims with some knowledge of your chosen field. Now is your time to research what a web developer is, what Computing jobs are available in the financial sector or how to get a job at Google, for example. 

4. Seek help from our expert Computer Science tutors

Computing is one of the most competitive courses at Imperial and requires you to perform well in multiple stages to be in with a chance of securing an offer. Unfortunately, schools and colleges are oftentimes not equipped to provide specialist Computer Science preparation due to a lack of experience, expertise or resources. As a result, we advise seeking a professional Computer Science admissions tutor to help you through the process.

The Profs’ Computer Science  and admissions tutors have many years of experience helping students develop their academic profiles, tailor their application to Imperial’s admissions criteria, prepare for the admissions exam, and excel in the interview. 

More than 95% of students who work with one of The Profs’ tutors get accepted into their first or second choice university. You’ll also gain invaluable independent study skills that will prepare you for study at a Russell Group university, as well as a deeper and broader understanding of the skills and knowledge needed to study Computing at degree-level. Reach out to our experienced team today to get started.

FAQs

Does Imperial require an interview for Computing?

As well as taking the admissions test, you may be invited to an online application day with Imperial’s Computing department. During this day, you will be asked to participate in a range of online activities, such as a tour of the department and wider university, welcome presentations, and demonstrations of undergraduate projects.

You may also be asked to attend a one-to-one interview with one of Imperial’s Computing lecturers. It’s important that you prepare for an interview ahead of your application day. Here are some ways you can prepare:

  • Familiarise yourself with your personal statement, as you are likely to be asked questions based on things you included in it.
  • Practice interview techniques with friends, family or a tutor, particularly focusing on your body language, eye contact and answering questions in a clear and concise way.
  • Arrange a mock interview at your school or with a professional interview training tutor who can provide feedback and techniques for improvement.
  • Think of questions you may want to ask your interviewer or particular topics you’d like to discuss more about. Researching academics at Imperial who teach topics you are particularly interested in is a great way to build a rapport with your interviewer.

To best prepare for your undergraduate interview, be sure to check out our article and video, and get in touch with us to receive expert 1-to-1 interview preparation with one of our undergraduate admissions tutors!

Can I take a year out before I start my degree?

Taking a gap year can be an exciting opportunity to create new experiences no matter what you choose to do. You can request a deferral for entry in the next academic year at the time you are submitting your application. You must contact Imperial before you do this to see if they are happy to accept a deferred entry application. You then have the option on UCAS to defer the application entry date when you submit. If you have already received an offer and later decide to defer you can only do so at the discretion of the department and with good reason for doing so. 

Can I apply as a mature student? 

Mature students are applicants who are returning to full-time education after taking extended time out, typically this involves any applicant aged 21 or older. While you may have more experience with life and work there are factors that may not work in your favour when applying for such an involved course at one of the best universities in the UK: 

  • You’ve lost touch with being a student. 
  • You have other responsibilities 
  • While you may have studied the right subjects you might not remember the content so well.

While the college does admit that its mature student intake is small and shrinking, data on mature student success in this course and mature student graduation prospects suggest that they are looked upon as well-performing students. 

Your application process will also differ from what is standard, see UCAS for more information. So long as you can prove commitment to the course and your academic ability you may stand a good chance!

What other Computing courses does Imperial offer?

There are many Computing courses at Imperial College London. Computing is seen as an engineering discipline. If you enjoy computers and programming these alternatives could be worth considering:

  • Mathematics with Mathematical Computation
  • Mathematics and Computer Science
  • Electronic and Information Engineering