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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


1. What is Computer Science?   [answer]
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Computer Science is the study of computers, especially the interaction of their hardware and software. Computer Scientists develop software that makes the best use of hardware while providing ease of use and speed to the user. They develop operating systems, database management systems, artificial intelligence programs, animation and multimedia programs, as well as business and medical applications.


2. Why Take Computer Science at Brock?   [answer]
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Faculty are readily available for student consultation. Both our Mentor and our Student Support Coordinator are also available in assisting students.

We follow a rigorous curriculum (ACM) regularly brought up-to-date. For instance we have been teaching and using Java as our main language of instruction since 1996, and have had a course on Computing Ethics since 1997.

Java is our language of instruction for programming. It is a modern object-oriented programming language, with more and more career opportunities becoming available for Java programmers.

Many of our top students have elected to continue their studies towards a master's or doctorate degree at a variety of universities including Waterloo, Dalhousie, Simon Fraser, Guelph, University of Alberta, Cambridge (England), the University of Buffalo and of course Brock.

We encourage excellence in teaching and research. Many projects and research papers are integrated into our undergraduate courses. In particular, our Project courses produce many publications by students, which is a great selling point for employers and graduate schools. Courses on advanced topics (such as Genetic Algorithms, Machine Learning, Neural Networks) are directly linked to our faculty's research areas.

Students are not only required to design and write programs, but several courses require them to give presentations and to participate in seminars.

We have a full-time staff member whose main objective is to mentor our first year students by holding reviews for assignments, tests and examinations, as well as being available for further consultation.

Our full-time Student Support Coordinator works closely with our senior students, preparing them for graduation and employment. The Coordinator also maintains contact with alumni and with business, industry, schools and colleges, amongst many other responsibilities.

A professional experience component is available (Co-op and Internship) allowing a student to work full time in a job related to Computer Science for up to sixteen months, or on 4-month work terms between academic terms.

We have wireless Internet access within the Department for those students who wish to bring in their own laptops.

Our Computer Science Club organizes pizza lunches to mingle with faculty and other students, film evenings, games nights and peer tutoring.

All students are required to design and code many programming assignments in their various courses. Students can normally complete a lot of this programming work on their own computers, but our labs are available for use 24/7; Teaching Assistant help is during scheduled lab times, including online.

We complete against other universities and colleges at the annual East Central North America Regional ACM Intercollegiate Programming Contest. Our teams routinely rank among the top teams at this contest.

Students get an opportunity to work as TAs, helping junior students in the labs as well as marking assignments. This is beneficial experience; after all, 'to teach is to learn twice'.

All students are required to complete a group project in their 3rd year (COSC 3F00) which is something sought after by employees mainly because of group dynamics. Students who complete one of our project courses (COSC 3P99 or 4F90) can show employers that they are also capable of individual work.

Honours concentrations: Software Engineering gives exposure to networks, operating systems. Intelligent Systems: exposure to robotics (robot vision, mobile robots), expert systems, machine learning and Prolog.

We have a BCB (Bachelor of Computing and Business) degree for the computer professional with an entrepreneurial spirit.

The Computing and Network Communications Co-op program caters to the increasing demand in the Information Technology industry for professionals who have a solid foundation in software development as well as practical technical skills in system security, telecommunications, network analysis and administration. Normally, this involves attending college after gaining a university degree, but the Brock and Sheridan program combines the two in a single integrated package.

For those who want to mix both hardware and software there is our Computing and Solid State Devices degree in conjunction with Physics.

There is an Information Technology stream in the 4-year Communication Studies BA Honours degree that integrates the study of communications with the study of theoretical and applied aspects of computers and the new information technology.

Many multimedia tools are available in our labs.

An advanced Internet course gives our students the opportunity to combine their knowledge of databases, web, graphics and Java.

3. What is required for a Second Degree in Computer Science?   [answer]
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The University regulations (Section G) define the broad requirements for a second degree. The Departmental requirements supply more details.

Here are answers to a few common questions regarding a second degree:

  1. What courses should I take?
    This is a typical course selection pattern:
    • Year 1: COSC 1P02, 1P03, 1P50, MATH 1P12, MATH 1P66, 1P67 and 1P98.
    • Spring: COSC 2P03
    • Year 2: COSC 2P05, 2P12, 2P13, 3P03, 3P32, 3P71, MATH 1P05 and 1P06
    • Year 3: COSC 4F00, 4P61, and two COSC credits numbered 3(alpha)90 or above

    Note that a prerequisite to a course means that you must have prior credit in that prerequisite. Also, you normally need 60% in the prerequisite in order to proceed.

  2. Must I take COSC 1P02?
    Yes! See Note 1
  3. Can I complete the second degree in one year?
    No! You still need to follow the main pre-requisite chain of COSC 1P02/3, 2P03 and 3F00.
  4. How many credits must I take?
    For the pass second degree, you need to take 8 Brock credits. (This number changes if you are considering the Major second degree)
  5. I have been given a transfer credit for MATH 1P97 (for instance). How does that affect my course selection?
    You must replace the credit with an elective from Year 2 or higher. It is logical to choose this elective credit from COSC and/or MATH. But note that you must still complete 8 Brock credits!
  6. Can I do an Honours second degree?
    See Departmental requirements.


4. What if I don't have any computing experience?   [answer]
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That's not a big problem because the first year course, COSC 1P02, is an introduction to Computer Science intended for students without programming experience. If you've never used a computer before, you can still succeed in the course, if you're willing to spend some additional time in the computer labs getting to know your way around. Another alternative is to first take an Applied Computing course, like APCO 1P00 or APCO 1P01, to get acquainted with computers and some commonly used software.


5. Do certain personality types do better at Computer Science?   [answer]
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If you're thinking of the pocket-protector type, think again! What you need to succeed in Computer Science is imagination, intelligence (not genius), creativity, persistence and, above all, the desire. People from all walks of life study Computer Science for varied reasons, but many are propelled by the simple quest for knowledge; to know how these mysterious machines work their magic and to find ways of making them more fun, easier to use and faster. Sweatshirts and jeans are the rule; pocket-protectors the exception.


6. If I've programmed before, can I skip COSC 1P02?   [answer]
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COSC 1P02 is a required course. However, if you have had considerable prior programming experience in a high-level language, and have some knowledge of object-oriented concepts, you may be granted exemption from COSC 1P02 at the discretion of the Chair of the Department.


7. Why Java?   [answer]
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Java is a modern, object-oriented programming language that is easy to learn. It also has the advantage of being able to interface with just about any computer system platform, which is why so many World Wide Web (WWW) and Internet applications are being written in it. See the Department's Java page for more Java info and resources.


8. How many students are in each class?   [answer]
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Typically, a first year COSC course has over 100 students registered for lecture, and those students have lab sessions in smaller groups of about 25 with a teaching assistant (TA) present to answer questions and assist with problems.

Second and third year courses are often in the range of 60 to 80 students, and fourth year courses usually have only 10 to 20 students enrolled.


9. Is help available if I'm having difficulties?   [answer]
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Additional types of assistance are available for students with special needs, from specialized computers and technical aids to note-taking services. You can obtain more information about these services from the Student Development Centre.


10. Are there many women studying Computer Science?   [answer]
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Every student, male or female, is encouraged to share his or her ideas and concerns about obstacles to success in Computer Science at Brock, particularly those issues which may discourage or prevent women from fully participating in a Computer Science degree program. The Department has Women in Computing meetings throughout the year. This encourages women in the department to meet together to socialize and share their experiences.