BSc Computer Science Subjects: What Are They?

Here’s what the subjects are in a BSc in computer science:

To get a Bachelor of Science in computer science, you have to take a lot of classes.

Degrees are usually designed to take four years, and a wide range of topics is covered in those years.

Students will learn fundamental programming techniques, gain experience with common languages, and explore specialties.

So if you want to learn all about the subjects in a BSc in computer science, then this article is for you.

Let’s get started!

BSc Computer Science Subjects: What Are They?

What Is Involved in Getting a BS in Computer Science?

A BS in computer science is a degree that trains students in the knowledge and skills needed to become a professional computer programmer.

Ultimately, it’s a big category.

Computer scientists design software, build computer systems, work in cross-disciplinary fields (like robotics), and so much more.

To get a computer science degree, you need to learn the basics for a wide berth of specific topics.

You will work with multiple programming languages, study logic, think about testing and analysis, and cover a fair amount of math.

The degree will also require many subjects outside of computer science.

English, math, laboratory sciences, and many other classes are normal for any degree, and computer science is not an exception.

Covering all of that, especially considering that every college takes a different approach, is just too much to fit in one article.

Instead, I’m going to skip all of the extra stuff and focus on classes and subjects that are common to computer science itself.

What Are the Subjects in a BSc in Computer Science? (18 Core Subjects)

Even after narrowing the discussion, there are still more undergraduate computer science courses than you will be able to take in a typical degree program.

Ultimately, you will choose elective courses that help you funnel into an area of specialty as a computer scientist.

But before that, you will be introduced to a range of broad and useful topics. 

After reviewing more than a dozen different computer science programs from across the country, I found that these are the most common subjects.

#1 Intro to Computer Science

This is where it all begins.

Many undergraduate degree programs start with an introductory course.

This allows students to get a feel for the nature of the topic and better discern whether or not it’s something they want to pursue as a major.

Most intro to computer science courses takes students through basic programming concepts in a few different languages.

The most common languages covered in these classes are C (or C++), Java, and Python.

But, that’s not the limit. It’s really up to the college and degree program as to what specifically will be in an intro course.

What you can expect is that it will stick to basic programming concepts and save the more complicated content for later in the degree program.

#2 Digital Electronics

In digital electronics, students learn about logic circuits.

You can kind of think about this as being a precursor to digital programming.

Many computer science programs consider a working knowledge of digital electronics to be crucial for computer science professionals.

In these classes, you will likely learn how to work with and program logical circuits.

Classes also commonly cover broader topics that apply to digital electronics, like Boolean algebra, analog to digital (and vice versa), and logic families.

Depending on the class, students might even work with programmable logic boards. With these, you don’t type programs into a computer.

Instead, you physically manipulate the boards (usually with a series of plugs and cables) to change the logic and make a basic program.

#3 C Programming

C is one of the fundamental programming languages, and generally speaking, computer scientists are expected to have at least a working knowledge of it.

That said, C is often supplanted by C++ in computer science courses.

C++ is an extension of C that includes additional capabilities, like objects (more on that in a later class).

A computer scientist who is well-versed in C++ can also work with C, which is why many courses will focus on C++ and more or less skip over C. 

Regardless of which language is the focus, these classes usually introduce students to programming concepts.

There may be overlaps with the introductory course, but you can expert this course to delve deeper into programming concepts and techniques.

Because the class only focuses on one language, you will garner much more proficiency in the language through this course.

#4 Computer Networks

This is a course that helps students understand how computers communicate with each other.

While computer networking is not solely under the purview of computer science, there is an important overlap. 

Computer scientists who write code or software that is intended to work across a network need to know the essentials of computer networks.

In this class, you will likely cover how networks are designed.

You’ll learn things about hardware, but in a computer science networking class, the focus tends to lie more on the logic of network designs and functions.

That can include network layering, how communication actually works, and software controls for all of it.

#5 Intro to Data Structures

Data management and analysis are huge topics under the computer science umbrella.

This class takes those broad ideas and narrows the focus down to data structures.

These are conceptual ways to organize and process data.

Common topics in the class include an object-oriented approach to data structures, searching and sorting algorithms, arrays (both single and multi-dimensional), and a procedural programming approach to data structures.

This course alone will not make one an expert in data structures, but it helps build the foundation needed to move forward into more advanced topics on the subject.

#6 Object-Oriented Programming

Object-oriented programming is an approach to computer science that centers coding around the data rather than the logical process.

With this approach, programmers can set up objects that are able to interact with supplied data. 

The idea is that working objects can be reused in other segments of code or entirely different programs.

This reusability leads to efficient programming and enables a program to be structured in efficient ways.

The most common object-oriented programming languages are Java, C++, and Python.

Most object-oriented programming classes will focus on one or more of these languages and show students the fundamentals of objects and classes to help build a foundational skillset.

#7 Fundamentals of Operating Systems

Operating systems are large software platforms that enable modern computerized devices to function in diverse ways.

Some of the best-known operating systems are Windows, iOS, Android, and macOS.

In the fundamentals of operating systems class, students learn the overarching features that make operating systems work.

You might look at similarities between the best-known operating systems. You will also learn a process that can help build an operating system (or at least a simple one).

#8 Java Programming

A Java programming class will cover essential programming concepts but focus only on applying them in Java languages.

Since Java is an object-oriented language, you can safely assume that the class will focus on object-oriented techniques and approaches to programming.

Java is one of the most popular programming languages in the world, and well-rounded computer scientists need a working knowledge of the language in order to succeed in many environments.

An undergraduate Java programming class will teach enough that students can work functionally with the language (even if they aren’t experts by the end of the class).

#9 Computer Graphics

In computer graphics classes, students learn the essential ways that graphics are produced and handled by computer systems.

Topics in the class will often include GPU resource management, the essential mathematics of computer graphics, data structures, and image processing.

With this knowledge and the accompanying skills, students will be able to work on code and software that harnesses computer graphics hardware in order to solve problems and produce desired results.

#10 Visual Programming and Visual Basics

Visual Basic is a programming language that is used to create applications for Windows.

That makes it very popular and important for a well-rounded computer scientist to understand.

Classes that teach Visual Basics usually focus on fundamental programming concepts through the lens of applying them via this programming language.

Some of the key skills include using the function library that is built into the language.

Students will also learn how to write and use their own functions.

These classes also tend to spend time on event-driven programming as well as object-oriented programming fundamentals.

#11 Intro to Database Management Systems

Database management systems are used to store and organize very large data sets.

They are typically used by large-scale (often called enterprise) organizations.

Computer scientists often need familiarity with database management systems, as they are closely tied to many website operations and a lot of software development.

An intro class on this subject will usually introduce students to the most popular management systems, such as Oracle and MySQL.

They will also cover the fundamental principles of using and designing database management systems.

By the end of the course, students should have familiarity and comfort with database management and the associated concepts.

#12 Software Testing

Software testing is an essential computer science skill.

Software development often involves very large amounts of code, and the totality of it can be complicated and hard to follow.

With so much code, the propensity for bugs, operational failure, and unforeseen problems is ample, and software developers need good ways to address these problems before trying to sell or release a product.

A software testing class will introduce students to the core concepts involved in software testing.

Students will learn about common software tests, and they will explore ideas sufficient that they can devise some of their own unique software tests.

#13 Python Programming

Python is among the most popular programming languages in the world.

Like Java and C++, it’s commonly used, and it is an object-oriented language.

Undergraduate python programming classes typically stick to fundamental concepts, but everything is focused on Python itself.

Students will learn how to utilize resources built into Python.

They will also learn how to apply object-oriented programming strategies to develop working code in Python.

One class in Python will not make one an expert, but it does build essential skills.

Any student looking to further their Python skills will be primed to do so.

#14 Intro to Software Engineering

Software engineering is a massive concept within computer science.

Not all coding is designed around the concepts of software engineering.

Instead, software engineering represents a lot of the most powerful, complex, and involved coding that can go into a single product.

Modern software typically has multiple functions and purposes, so designing it takes a lot of work.

An introductory course in this field will introduce students to the broader ideas that govern software engineering.

Students will learn how to think about software engineering from a systems level.

Testing, development, and resource management are all frequently covered.

#15 Numerical Analysis

Computers are often used for the sake of crunching lots of numbers. Big data is essential in many fields and industries.

Computer scientists frequently work on developing software tools that enable experts in any number of fields to manage data and crunch the numbers in meaningful ways.

Computer science departments have a couple of ways to approach numerical analysis.

Some classes will focus on coding techniques that do well with numerical analysis.

Other classes focus on learning and mastering the fundamental math, rather than code itself.

Understanding mathematical principles can certainly help computer scientists develop numerical analytical tools.

Naturally, a class can split the difference and look at the raw math and coding techniques.

#16 Computer Science Labs

The number of computer science labs in a degree program will depend on the school that built the curriculum.

But, it is common to have at least one lab class during your time in college.

The labs vary a lot from school to school, but there are a few general principles that you can expect.

Generally speaking, computer science labs are there to give students hands-on experience in developing their practical skills. 

Many labs involve students writing codes for a major project (or a few projects) throughout the class.

Others get into hands-on uses of computers.

You might physically build a network, physically program digital electronics, or complete similarly hands-on tasks.

#17 Analytical Skill Development

Computers are useful because they allow for objective analysis of things at a very rapid pace.

In order to build analytical tools, computer scientists need basic analytical skills themselves.

That’s why analytical skill development classes are common in these degree programs. 

The courses often explain the value of analytical skills and how they are leveraged in computer science.

Students also go through exercises to help develop critical thinking and analytical skills.

The idea is to take a systematic approach to problem-solving and then think about how such an approach can be designed into a computer program.

#18 Value and Ethics

Value and ethics are common in a lot of STEM majors.

With computer science, it’s important to consider the implications of the programs or software you might develop in your career.

So, many degree programs include time spent on ethics.

These classes are not always taught within the computer science department.

Some schools will require computer science students to take an ethics class run by the philosophy, psychology, or arts and sciences department (some other departments might be involved for your specific school). 

The point of the class is to have students consider ethics from an objective perspective and learn ways to recognize and resolve ethical dilemmas. 


  • Theresa McDonough

    Tech entrepreneur and founder of Tech Medic, who has become a prominent advocate for the Right to Repair movement. She has testified before the US Federal Trade Commission and been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, helping influence change within the tech industry.

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