Why I chose to study a Computing course at Falmouth
02 January 2024
When searching for a university, Falmouth caught my attention right away; university in a seaside town, tucked away on the Cornish coast? I'd always thought of moving to the 'big city' for uni, so Falmouth seemed an unusual choice. But after almost 3 years of studying here, it's certainly been one of the best decisions I ever made.
I first applied for a computing course within the Games Academy and soon switched to Computer Science during 1st year. It was the appealing prospect of working in teams to develop projects from day one, getting my hands dirty, rather than being stuck in lectures, never getting to apply anything I'd learnt. This is because of Falmouth's focus on preparing you for industry and giving you practical experience working alongside different disciplines, using industry-standard software.
Something that set Falmouth apart for me was their attitude towards grading. I never liked exams in college, especially for my A-Level in Computer Science. Dry-running code, in timed conditions, made no sense to me. I never felt like my ability to apply what I learned was ever fully tested. At Falmouth, there are no marked exams, it's all graded through coursework. While unusual for Computer Science, this practice fits the real world more accurately. You will design, pitch to peers and then write your project. Of course, programming projects can be notoriously difficult to mark, so you'll have the opportunity to defend and explain your code and design decisions in a viva (spoken exam). Programming can be extremely complex, with valid arguments to write something in two completely different ways. So being able to demonstrate your project live, go through it line by line and answer questions, allows you to gain all the marks you deserve. I've found this to be good practice for the industry, where code reviews are common.
During my interview, there was little concern for my A-Levels but rather, for what I could actually achieve. I showed them some code I'd written and a few projects I'd written throughout my gap year and just had a friendly chat. The entire process was very streamlined, relaxed and encouraging. Once I was accepted, they sent lots of postcards, welcome packs and entry material. I was made to feel welcome before I even arrived, which was great since I had never even attended an Open Day - a little naïve in hindsight.
Studying at Falmouth has been quite a unique experience. Creativity is at the forefront of the Uni's principles and it shines through in every class you take. Each module will have you thinking, designing, creating and problem-solving. You'll have the opportunity to dive into everything you know, to create something special. To work on something meaningful that goes beyond just a programming project to pass the class.
One of my major hobbies is music, being a guitarist for almost a decade. During our robotics module, I retrofit an acoustic guitar with some wiring and an Arduino, so that it could pick up the notes you'd play and register them in a guitar-hero-like game I'd written. There were many interesting projects within that module. A friend made their own physical version of "Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes". Another developed a robotic hand, which would watch and then match your hand signals (even the rude ones 😁). Still, that's my favourite module. The ability to fuse your hobbies and interests into your learning helps keep you engaged and passionate about your study. Not to say it's easy, the course is certainly challenging, but when the assignment is more akin to a passion project than coursework, it's hard not to give it your all.
It's not just the course that's special, Falmouth itself is a wonderful blend of Cornish culture, the arts and a 'live-and-let-live' attitude. The high street, while it is small, is packed with energy wall-to-wall. Wherever you look, there's an abundance of things to do: jam nights, open mics, jack box nights, live stand-up, rock nights, underground cocktail bars, sushi and all sorts of restaurants.
My personal favourite night out in Falmouth is to go and see one of the many regular live bands. If you're a music lover, you can have a gentle drink and listen to an alluring Jazz band or walk a little further and find yourself moshing to psyched-out fuzzy garage rock. There's always something going on.
If you're thinking of studying Computer Science and want to take a course that prepares you for real work, with a creative undertone to it all, then Falmouth is the place to be.