Computing and Information Systems (BSc, Diploma and Work entry route)


Gain a respected BSc Computing and Information Systems degree by distance learning

This degree is for you if you want to:

  • develop your career by gaining in-depth practical skills on top of a solid theoretical basis
  • gain the edge through a qualification that emphasises understanding as well as using software which will place you as a leader and innovator
  • benefit from the intellectual leadership and creativity of Goldsmiths, the College of University of London which provides academic direction for this programme
  • develop skills in various aspects of programming such as computer systems development, database management systems, e-commerce, computer security and artificial intelligence.
Key dates  
Application deadline  1 October in the year before you intend to sit your first examinations 
Registration deadline  30 November 
Start studying  Study materials are usually available from mid-August
Examinations take place  May/June 

Programme summaries

BSc: The traditional degree in which 12 courses are taken in three stages. You may apply to transfer to Goldsmiths, University of London, to complete your degree study, entering at Level 2 or Level 3. You have between 3-8 years to complete the BSc. You may be eligible for Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) if you have previously studied suitable material.

Diploma: An award in its own right consisting of five courses. Upon successful completion you may transfer directly to Level 2 of the BSc. The Diploma can only be studied at a recognised centre, which is listed offering this programme on the Directory of Institutions. You have between 2-5 years to complete the Diploma.

Work Experience Entry Route: Consists of 2 courses and provides an entry onto the BSc if you do not have traditional A levels or their equivalent. You have between 1-3 years to complete the Work Experience Entry Route.

Individual Courses: Some core and optional modules are offered as credit-bearing individual modules. This is an ideal option if you're keen to update your professional knowledge, enhance your career or sample the programme.

The following individual courses are available:

  • Mathematics for computing
  • Information systems: foundations of e-business
  • Introduction to Java and object-oriented programming
  • Introduction to computing and the internet
  • Creative computing I: image, sound and motion

Prestige and career progression

The programme has been developed by academics within the Department of Computing at Goldsmiths (external link). The Department is a leading centre in the UK for the study of Arts and Music Computing, Cognitive Computing and Artificial Intelligence, and Computer Science. Academic staff are leaders and partners on a variety of research projects. This degree will prepare you for a variety of careers, including Systems Analyst, Systems Designer, Application Programmer and IT Consultant.

Time commitment and cost

Independent study demands that you are motivated, well-organised and focused. We advise that to complete in the minimum study period you will need devote at least 250 hours of study to each full course. Fees are payable as you progress rather than as a single lump sum. The following are examples of University fees for the whole programme of study: £5,295 for the BSc and £2,755 for the Diploma (you should also budget for the Diploma-teaching institution's fees). Please note that these examples are calculated using current fees for 2015-16, and do not reflect any annual change to fees and assume completion in the minimum time permitted.


Bachelor of Science degree in Computing and Information Systems
The BSc comprises 12 courses. Take the 4 courses from Level 1, 4 courses from Level 2 and choose 6 half courses and the project from Level 3.

Diploma in Computing and Information Systems
The Diploma in Computing comprises 5 courses.  Take the 4 courses from Level 1 and a Mathematics for business course. You must study at a teaching institution and also take a Study Skills in English course.

Work Experience Entry Route:
This route comprises 2 courses: Information systems: foundations of e-business, and Introduction to Java and object-oriented programming.

Level 1

Four compulsory full courses
Mathematics for computing

Number systems; sets and subsets; set algebra; symbolic logic and logic gates; sequences; summations; elementary counting principles; probability; relations and functions; matrix algebra; systems of linear equations; introduction to the theory of graphs and digraphs.


Information systems: foundations of e-business

The challenge of applying IT successfully; basic concepts for understanding systems commerce; business processes; information and databases; communication, decision making, and different types of information systems; product, customer and competitive advantage; human and ethical issues; computer hardware; software, programming and artificial intelligence; networks and telecommunications; information systems planning; building and maintaining information systems; information system security and control; the future of information systems; customer relationship management.


Introduction to Java and object-oriented programming

Basic Types and Expressions; Assignment Statements; Loops and Conditionals (Simple and Nested); Handling Simple I/O; Objects and Classes; Methods with and without parameters; Inheritance; Constructor Methods (and the use of 'new'); Method Overloading; Method Overriding; Arrays and simple sorting; Basic File Handling; Try and Catch (Simple Exception Handling); Implementing Simple Graphical User Interfaces; Incorporating Applets in a Web page; Simple builtin Dynamic Structures - Vectors; Types vs. Classes; Scope of Variables; Code Layout and Documentation.


Introduction to computing and the internet

Basic computing and communication skills. Fundamentals of computing - hardware, software, architecture, operating systems. Data storage, representation and transmission. Fundamentals of networking and the Internet/WWW: technology, protocols, standards and applications. Professional, legal and social issues relating to the Internet and WWW.


Level 2

Four compulsory full courses
Database systems

Introduction to Database Systems (motivation for database systems, storage systems, architecture, facilities, applications). Database modelling (basic concepts, E-R modelling, Schema deviation). The relational model and algebra, SQL (definitions, manipulations, access centre, embedding). Physical design (estimation of workload and access time, logical I/Os, distribution). Modern database systems (extended relational, object-oriented). Advanced database systems (active, deductive, parallel, distributed, federated). DB functionality and services (files, structures and access methods, transactions and concurrency control, reliability, query processing).


Graphical object-oriented and Internet programming in Java

The course aims to give students an insight into the object-oriented approach to the design and implementation of software systems. The course also considers specific features of the programming language Java, in particular, graphical interfaces and event driven applications. The second part of the course is intended to give students the necessary background to understand the technical software aspects of how computers communicate across the internet. Students will be introduced to the underlying principles of client-server computing systems and will gain the required conceptual understanding, knowledge and skills to enable them to produce simple web-based computing systems in Java.


Data communications and enterprise networking

An introduction to data communications and computer networks with different types of networks, their associated technology, protocols and standards An introduction to the use of enterprise networks in meeting business requirements and in the design and management of these networks.


Software engineering, algorithm design and analysis

This course provides an introduction to software engineering, algorithm design and analysis. The main topics include: Software design in UML: use cases, class modelling, objects and links, aggregations and dependencies, activity diagrams, state-charts; Principles of good software design, software development lifecycle, the role of design and modelling in software development; Software verification and validation; Project management and planning; Case studies and software horror stories. Abstract data types, design patterns, algorithmic issues, complexity theory, the application and implementation of common data structures in Java.


Level 3

Six half courses chosen from the following
Artificial intelligence

Knowledge representation, propositional and predicate calculus; problem solving: state-space search; breadth-first and depth-first search; planning; natural language; expert systems; philosophy of AI; Prolog. Additional software requirements: Prolog is needed. Can be SWI-prolog from


Neural networks

The artificial neuron; network architecture; perceptrons. Single layer networks; supervised training in batch and individual mode. Multilayer feedforward networks; backpropogation; momentum. Counterpropogation networks; unsupervised training; initialisation of weights. Statistical methods; Boltzmann training. Feedback networks; Hopfields nets; energy; training. Applications. Additional software requirements: recommended that some neural nets software is obtained (eg MATLAB).


Information systems management

An introduction to the various facets of Information System Management to help students understand the importance of non-technical issues. The importance of close integration between business and IS planning will be stressed. The following topics are included: information security and safety critical systems; data protection legislation; Computer Misuse Act and other relevant legislation. Ethical and professional issues. Strategic planning of IS; evaluation of IS investments.


Electronic commerce

This course is designed to familiarise students with current and emerging electronic commerce, technologies using the internet. Subject areas will include ‘Internet Technology for Business Advantage’, ‘Web-based Tools for Electronic Commerce’, ‘Electronic Payment Systems’, ‘Strategies for Marketing’, ‘Sales and Promotion’, ‘Internet Security’, ‘International, Legal, Ethical and Tax Issues’.


Data compression

Minimum redundancy coding; data compression and information theory; adaptive Huffman coding; arithmetic coding; statistical modelling; dictionary-based compression; sliding window compression; LZ278 compression; speech compression; graphics compression; fractual image compression.


Computer security

Passwords; access controls; symmetric and asymmetric encryption; confidentiality; authentication; integrity; nonrepudiation; availability; hash functions. Security for electronic mail, IP, Web, databases, distributed systems. Standards.


Interaction design

This course examines the notion of 'interaction with technology' with a focus on the design concepts of modern user experience design and production. It begins with a grounding in the specification, design, prototyping and evaluation of advanced interactive systems, with an introduction to HCI and a short history of the field. An overview of design approaches follows. Human/user attributes and requirements, and interaction paradigms, looks at the human in HCI and available types of interaction. Usability requirements/usability engineering are discussed in the context of a number of specific design approaches and techniques, requirements and issues. Design guidelines and standards, accessibility requirements, and issues involved in designing for specific populations (globalization and internationalism) follows. Finally, information on current interaction design questions and approaches for new and emerging technologies and paradigms provides an exposition of real-world applications and sectors where Interaction Design is relevant.


Operations research and combinatorial optimisation

The course offers a modern and computationally-oriented introduction to discrete optimisation. The theory of matroids is covered in detail as providing a deep and coherent approach to the principles of optimisation. The more advanced topic of matroid intersection is given a novel treatment using symbolic computation which focuses on the underlying concepts while maintaining a strong link to computing science. This leads on to a consideration of algorithmic and computational complexity and to the theory of linear and integer linear programming.


Software engineering project management

The course examines software process and engineering concepts such as the software lifecycle, object oriented programming, design for re-use and user-centred design, together with contemporary approaches such as Agile methods of software and project management (for which a grounding in traditional development methodologies is necessary). It focuses on selection of tools and methodologies for specific purposes, and explores a variety of contexts, ranging from embedded systems, to the inherently parallel distributed environments of cloud computing to the multidisciplinary design of advanced interactive and web-based technologies.

Introduction to natural language processing

This course combines a critical introduction to key topics in theoretical linguistics with hands-on practical experience of developing applications to process texts and access linguistic resources. The main topics covered are accessing text corpora and lexical resources; processing raw text; categorizing and tagging; extracting information from text; analyzing sentence structure.

Advanced graphics and animation

This course will cover major contemporary graphics and animation techniques. Students will be given the mathematical foundations of the subject as well as other theoretical foundations such as perceptual theories. These theoretical aspects will be taught in the context of their practical use. Students will be introduced to some industry standard graphics software tools so that they are familiar with how they work, but the main focus will be on programming the graphical software. The material covered in the course will be chosen so as to reflect the research carried out at Goldsmiths, University of London. The course will cover advanced 2D and particularly 3D techniques, covering a range of topics such as 3D modelling and texturing; rendering; lighting; animation; hardware acceleration in graphics; applications areas such as recreating historical environments. Students will be expected to implement basic graphics software.

Plus a compulsory project


Each student is required to undertake an individual project. Project work can be expected to take up at least 300 hours of a student’s time. Additional software requirements: Internet access is required to widen the scope of information sources. This will also aid in obtaining some free- and share-ware.

Study materials

How you study

The computing programme offers you an alternative way of obtaining a prestigious qualification at a reasonable cost. You have a choice of study options:

  • Use the specially produced study materials and the resources in the virtual learning environment (VLE) to guide yourself through the courses by studying independently or as part of a support group formed in the VLE.
  • Additionally, in some countries, you can also choose to pay for educational support at a local teaching institution to benefit from face-to-face tuition.
  • To take the Diploma you must study at a teaching institution that is listed as recognised for this purpose. 
  • Note that tuition support from the University is not provided.

Study materials

The specially produced study materials are developed by academics appointed by Goldsmiths. They guide you through the textbooks, which will be the real focus of your studies. The cost of your study pack is included in your initial and continuing registration fees. Study materials include:

  • A Programme handbook containing practical information and advice.
  • Subject guides offering advice on how to use textbooks in a productive manner. Additional interactive exercises, audio and animated graphics, and a hyperlinked glossary of key terms.
  • Assignments and instructions on how to submit your coursework.
  • Past exam papers and Examiners' commentaries which are updated annually and available to download. These provide an insight into how questions should have been tackled and outline common mistakes made by students in the past.

We also provide all students with a student registration card.

Sample study materials for the Computing courses – extracts from the subject guides that we provide for each course. You are welcome to download these, to help you learn more about each course and decide whether it is right for you before you register, but note that these are extracts only; registered students will be sent a printed copy of the full version of the subject guide for each of their courses and can also get full electronic versions via the Student Portal.

Online support

Once you register, we send you a University of London username and password enabling you to log in to the Student Portal. You can then access your University of London email account and two other key online resources:

The virtual learning environment

By supporting your studies and helping you feel part of a community, the VLE forms an important part of your study experience with us. It includes:

  • Electronic study materials.
  • Student discussion forums. 

The Online Library

The Online Library holds thousands of journal articles which you can access free of charge. A dedicated helpdesk is available if you have any difficulties in finding what you need.


You need to provide your own books, so we do advise you to check that you can obtain them before you register. You may be able to use other university or local libraries, both in the UK and overseas. A booklist for the Level 1 courses is provided in the Computing programme resources part of this website. 



The fees below relate to the 2015-2016 session and are subject to annual review.

BSc and Diploma2015-2016
Application fee£ 80
Registration fee£ 755
Examination fee per full course (or project for BSc)£ 310
Examination fee per half course £ 155
Continuing registration fee£ 370
Total Diploma £ 2,755
Total BSc £ 5,295
Work Experience Entry Route2015-2016
Application fee£ 80
Registration fee£ 380
Continuing registration fee£ 370
Examination fee per full course£ 310
Transfer fee£ 750
Individual courses taken on a stand alone basis2015-2016
Application fee£ 80
Composite fee (registration and one examination attempt) per full course / half course£ 500 / £250
Resit examination fee per full course / half course£ 310 / £155
Fee for extension of registration, per annum, per Individual course / half course£ 250 / £125
ConvertGBP x 1

Disclaimer: the currency conversion tool is provided to you for convenience only and does not constitute an endorsement or approval by the University of London; the exchange rates are provided dynamically via a third-party source, consequently, the University of London International Programmes is not responsible for their accuracy.

The totals provided above are examples of the total amount of fees payable to the University for the whole programme of study. These examples use the current fees, do not reflect any annual change to fees and assume completion in the minimum time permitted.

When to pay

The application handling fee is payable when you make your application. The closing date for applications is 1 October. If you meet the entrance requirements you will be invited to register.

The initial registration fee is payable when you register with the University. The closing date for registrations is 30 November.

The examination fee is payable when you choose to enter an examination. Examination entries are accepted from mid-December to the closing date of 1 February. Examinations take place in May or June each year.

The continuing registration fee is payable in the second and subsequent years of registration at the time when you confirm the courses that you will be registered for during that year. The closing date for continuing registration is 1 November.

A transfer fee is payable if you complete the Work experience entry route and transfer to the BSc degree. In the year that you transfer, no continuing registration fee is payable.

How to pay

All University fees must be paid in pounds sterling (GBP). The University accepts:

  • Western Union - Quick Pay
  • Credit/debit card (Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, Electron, JCB)
  • Sterling banker's draft/cheque
  • International money/postal order.

Further details are given in payment methods.

Other costs

In addition to the fees payable to the University, you should also budget for:

  • textbooks (this may well be in the region of £400 per year if you are taking four units in one year);
  • tuition costs (if studying at a teaching institution);
  • the fee charged by your local examination centre to cover its costs; this fee will vary.


Fees are subject to annual review and the University reserves the right to amend previously announced fees, if necessary. For a full list fees that may be applicable, please see the fee schedule.



Level 1 and Level 2 courses are assessed by one three-hour unseen written examination and coursework. The Level 4 'Mathematics for computing' course is assessed by a three-hour unseen written paper only.

Level 3 courses are assessed by a two-hour fifteen minute unseen written paper and coursework. The project is assessed by a two-hour fifteen minute unseen written paper, a preliminary report and a final report. 

You do not have to come to London to take your examinations. Examinations are held once a year, usually in May/June, in local overseas centres around the world as well as in London. Examinations overseas are arranged mainly through Ministries of Education or the British Council. You will be charged a fee by your local examination centre (this fee will vary). For further information please see the assessment and exams section of our website.


Academic Requirements

BSc Computing and Information Systems

To be eligible for the BSc degree you must:

  • normally* be at least 17 years old and either have passes in:
    - two subjects at GCE 'A' level plus at least three further subjects at GCSE/GCE 'O' level (at not less than grade C or a 'pass' if taken prior to 1975) or
    - three subjects at GCE ‘A’ level (with one ‘A’ level at not less than grade D) or
    - three subjects at GCE 'A' level, plus one further subject at GCSE/GCE 'O' level (at not less than grade C) or- two subjects at GCE 'A' Level and two further subjects at GCE 'AS' Level and
  • have a level of competence at least equivalent to a pass at GCE 'AS' level in a mathematical subject. GCSE/GCE 'O' level in mathematics at no less than grade B will also be considered for admissions purposes (the University will consider qualifications of a comparable standard to GCE 'AS' and GCSE/GCE 'O' levels - the decision on comparable qualifications is taken at the discretion of the University) and
  • have fluent comprehension and writing skills in English.

Diploma in Computing and Information Systems

To be eligible for the Diploma you must:

  • normally* be aged 17 years or older before 1 September in the year you first register with the University (there can be no exceptions to this requirement) and
  • EITHER have passed a minimum of four separate subjects at GCSE/GCE ‘O’ level (at not less than grade C) including Mathematics or equivalent examination and
  • provide proof of competence in English acceptable to the University (it may be necessary for you to have passed a recognised test of proficiency, at the appropriate level, within the past three years) and
  • have been admitted to a full- or part-time course of instruction at a recognised centre, which is listed offering this programme on the Directory of Institutions.
  • OR must have been admitted to a full- or part-time course of instruction at an institution with 'Advanced' status, having successfully completed the entry test of that institution.

Work Experience Entry Route to BSc Computing and Information Systems

To be eligible for the Work Experience Entry Route you must:

  • normally* be aged 21 years or older before 1 September in the year you first register with the University and
  • have passed a minimum of four separate subjects at GCSE/GCE ‘O’ level (at not less than Grade C) including Mathematics and
  • provide proof of competency in English acceptable to the University (it may be necessary for you to have passed a recognised test of proficiency, at the appropriate level, within the past three years) and
  • have at least two years relevant work experience (i.e. with computing or IT elements either from a job in a computing-oriented company or a job in computing or IT).

*Applications will be considered from applicants who do not meet the normal minimum age requirement for admission. Each application will be considered on an individual basis, and the decision taken at the discretion of the University of London.

Note: applicants with other qualifications not listed above and/or suitable work experience will be considered by the University on an individual basis. There are many other acceptable entrance qualifications [PDF: 9pgs, 160KB], both from the UK and overseas, which the University accepts instead of British 'O' and 'A' levels. If you do not satisfy the criteria for automatic acceptance we will still consider your application on an individual basis under our Special Admissions procedures. If we cannot accept you with your current qualifications and experience, we will advise you what qualifications you could take in order to become eligible in the future.

Computer requirements

You must have regular access to a computer with an internet connection to use the University of London International Programmes website and the Student Portal. These are where your programme’s study resources are located. Through the Student Portal you can register as a student, enter exams and use your programme’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The VLE provides you with electronic learning materials, access to the University of London Online Library, networking opportunities, and other resources.

Additional computer requirements for Computing and Information Systems

Whether studying on your own or at an institution, all Computing and Information Systems students will need access to the following equipment and software.


The recommended minimum configuration is as follows:

  • Processor: 2GHz
  • Hard drive: 10GB – free
  • Screen resolution: 1024 x 768 colour
  • Networking: Network adapter –Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Audio output Soundcard: stereo
  • Sound card and speakers are also recommended for playing audio material.

At Level 2, access to a suitable network is very important for full learning benefit. If you do not have such access, it will not be impossible for you to complete the degree, but you would not have the same study experience as a student with this access. The highest level of access you will require for effective study will be as a (temporary) network manager so that you can experiment with configuration. In particular, lack of appropriate network access will affect your ability to study ‘Data communications and enterprise networking’ in the most effective way possible.

Other machines, apart from those that are PC-compatible, are acceptable provided they run equivalent software.


You are advised to make use of common operating systems, as follows:

  • Windows™, Linux or OSX.
  • Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, etc.
  • Word processor, spreadsheet and database. No systems are recommended specifically, but under Windows™, an integrated package such as Microsoft Office is sufficient, while under Linux, OpenOffice is adequate.
  • A Java resource.
  • To enable  site functionality, Acrobat Reader, Flash plug-in, Shockwave plug-in, JavaScript-enabled, Java-enabled may be required.
  • Linux is recommended (for example, Ubuntu Linux; free to download; or request a CD from

For Level 3, additional software is required for some courses. This information is given under the course outlines concerned in the Regulations.

Accreditation of prior learning (APL)

APL means that you are not required to take a particular course as part of your degree. APL may be awarded for up to four full courses at Level 1, or a maximum of two courses at Level 2. APL is not awarded for any course at Level 3. To be eligible, you must satisfy the University that you have already passed examinations that compare in level, content and standard to the syllabuses from which you want APL. Some APL we award is 'automatic'; all other APL is considered on a 'non-automatic' basis. To be considered for APL you must satisfy our criteria and make an application. Any APL awarded is only valid for a limited period which will be specified in your decision letter. If you do not attempt an examination during this period, the APL will expire. If you still want the APL to count towards your degree you will need to apply again. All non-automatic APL isconsidered on payment of a fee of £80 per course. For further details about APL please see the Accreditation for Prior Learning section of our website.


Academic direction - Computing - Goldsmiths, University of London

The UK's leading creative university, Goldsmiths is all about the freedom to experiment, to think differently, to be an individual. Goldsmiths brings creative and unconventional approaches to all of its subjects, always based on the highest academic standards of teaching and research. From undergraduate and postgraduate programmes to part-time and professional courses, Goldsmiths has an excellent range of innovative study opportunities, with the visual and performing arts departments being especially renowned. No fewer than five of its graduates, including Damien Hirst, have gone on to win the prestigious Turner Prize.

Goldsmiths' Department of Computing is a leading centre in the UK for the study of Arts and Music Computing, Cognitive Computing and Artificial Intelligence, and Computer Science. Academic staff are leaders and partners on a variety of research projects and have key alliances with other universities (including Cambridge University, MIT, Brown University, Leeds University, and King’s College London), cultural institutions (the Department works with several museums including Tate Modern), creative and telecommunications industries. Further information about the department and teaching staff can be found at the departmental homepage [external link].

Current research within the Department includes Ontology of Digital Culture (developing an application for searching audio and video content online), Intelligent Sound and Music Systems (understanding how human music cognition functions), Adaptive Technologies (enhancing the functionality of hypermedia systems), and Algorithms and Computer Networks (encompassing algorithm design and analysis, wireless networks, data compression, and combinatorics).

Goldsmiths' responsibilities include writing study materials, giving advice to students and teaching institutions, and ensuring that students are examined to the same standard as at Goldsmiths and the University of London as a whole.

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