Advice on unit of study choice for first year students in Science degrees

Overview
This document provides information for students in the BSc degree, who are interested in studying IT, especially those who are considering a:

  • major in Computer Science or Information Systems in their BSc, or
  • minor in IT.

At the start of the academic year, you enrol in several units of study for the February semester and you also choose units of study for the July semester. Most units of study are worth 6 credit points, except for Mathematics and Computational Sciences units which are worth 3 credit points each. Some units are offered in both semesters, but an individual can only do each subject once; if you do, say, INFO1003 in February, you must not try to enrol it again in July.

A normal full-time enrolment is 24 credit points each semester; normally students take 6 credit points in four separate fields each semester. You are allowed to study more or less than this normal load. If you take fewer than 18 credits points in a semester, you are regarded a part-time not full-time. Note that if you take less than 24 credit points in a semester, you will either need to do more than a normal load at some other semesters in your degree, or else you will take longer than normal time to complete the degree. You may not take more than 32 credit points in any one semester, without special permission from the Faculty office.

Often students continue in the July semester with follow-on units of study in the same fields as what they studied in February semester, but this is not essential. You can change your choices for February semester until 31 March; you can change your choices for July semester until 31 August (in particular, after you have seen your results in the first semester, you can adjust your choices for the following ones).

If you have an ATAR of 99.0 or more, or Olympiad team participation, you may be eligible for the Talented Student Program. Contact the Faculty of Science office if this might apply to you.

In the BSc, there are three different majors related to Information Technology. These are Computer Science, Information Systems and Computational Science. You don’t have to decide definitely on your major now, but you need to make sure that the subjects you do this year will leave open routes to several majors in senior years. Below, we describe each IT-related major and the subjects needed in the first year.

Computer Science (CS)

This major is the study of computers and the programs that run on computers. Much of the field takes an engineering approach where the main question is how to design a system to fulfil some purpose. A scientific approach is also used, with an emphasis on finding the right abstractions to explain how systems work. A third thread in the field comes from mathematics leading to proofs of the correctness or efficiency of a system. In higher years, the subjects available include Artificial Intelligence, Database, Human Computer Interaction, Operating Systems.

Information Systems (IS)

This major involves creating and managing computer systems which satisfy individual and organisational needs and encompasses issues such as strategic planning, system development, system implementation, operational management, end-user needs and education. Information Systems is about making computer systems work for people. Most IS professionals work as system analysts. System Analysts work with people to introduce or expand appropriate technology within their business or organisations according to their needs. Graduates may work in areas such as consulting, strategic planning, end-user education and training, liaising with software engineers, information systems management, data modelling, and the development and management of databases.

Mathematics

Because maths is so useful in all of science, all BSc students must enrol 6 credit points of Mathematics each semester during their first year. There are a wide variety of alternative units of study offered, suited to different levels of previous experience:

  • “Fundamental” units (MATH101x) assume a background equivalent to HSC Mathematics;
  • “Normal” units assume HSC Mathematics Extension 1; and
  • “Advanced” units assume HSC Mathematics Extension 2.

 

Fundamental

Normal

Advanced

 

MATH101x

MATH100x

MATH190x

Assumption

Equivalent to HSC Mathematics

HSC Mathematics Extension 1

HSC Mathematics Extension 2

Semester 1

MATH1011: Applications of Calculus

MATH1015: Biostatistics

MATH1001: Differential Calculus

MATH1002: Linear Algebra

MATH1901: Differential Calculus (Adv)

MATH1902: Linear Algebra (Adv)

Semester 2

 

MATH1013: Mathematical Modelling

MATH1014: Introduction to Linear Algebra

MATH1003: Integral Calculus and Modelling

MATH1005: Statistics

MATH1903: Integral Calculus and Modelling (Adv)

MATH1005: Statistics (Adv)

Many (but not all) of the first year-level units are worth 3 credit points each, so the usual pattern is to enrol in TWO Maths units per semester, each worth 3 credit points. More information can be found on the School of Mathematics and Statistics website.

Common patterns of choice

There are so many options available that many students find themselves confused by the choice. Here we summarise the common patterns students who want to major in Computer Science and/or Information Systems.

Year/Sem

Unit of Study 1

Unit of Study 2

Unit of Study 3

Unit of Study 4

 

Year 1

Sem 1

See table below

MATH1001: Differential Calculus &

MATH1002: Linear Algebra

 

Junior science elective

Junior science elective or Free Electives or Core subject from the other degree


 

 

 

 

 

 

6cp

6cp

6cp

6cp

24cp

Year 1

Sem 2

See table below

MATH1003: Integral Calculus &

MATH1005: Statistics

 

Junior science elective

Junior science elective or Free Electives or Core subject from the other degree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6cp

6cp

6cp

6cp

24cp

 

 

 

 

TOTAL

48cp

Year/Sem

Advanced student

 

Major in CS

 

Major in IS

 

Unsure of what Major

Year 1

Sem 1

 

 

INFO1903: Informatics (Adv)

 

INFO1103: Introduction to Programming

 

INFO1003: Foundations of Information Technology

 

INFO1103: Introduction to Programming

 

6cp

 

6cp

 

6cp

 

6cp

Year 1

Sem 2

 

 

INFO1905: Data Structures (Adv)

 

INFO1105: Data Structures

 

INFO1103: Introduction to Programming

 

INFO1105: Data Structures

 

6cp

 

6cp

 

6cp

 

6cp

Minor in IT

If you do not want to major in IT, but just want some knowledge and skills to help in your career in another Science field, then you can get a good introduction to the concepts through doing one of the following choices. If you want to use IT in your work, a good introduction comes from enrolling in INFO1003 (for BSc degree) or INFO1903 (for BSc(Adv) or Talented Students Program) in February, and choosing COSC1003 in July.

Alternatively you can gain an introductory understanding of programming so you can adapt existing programs and produce simple ones for use in your own scientific investigation by taking INFO1103 (or INFO1903 for Advanced students) in February and COSC1003 in July.

Students who have completed the requirements for any degree (excluding BCST, BCST (Adv), BIT or BIT-combined degrees) at the University of Sydney can obtain a Minor in IT. To be eligible for a Minor in IT, you will need to complete at least 18 credit points from the list of second and third year of IT units of study. The School of IT will issue a certificate of completion to all students who have satisfied the Minor requirements within a completed degree, upon application.