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Bachelor Brochure Computer Science

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We live in a connected world that is driven by technology. The experts behind these networks and the systems behind them are inventing the future, and it is one of endless possibilities. Users take it for granted that information is always available, whenever and wherever they want it, but all this depends on science. And it’s not just about information. Computer Science lies behind the systems that run trains, cars, banks. All this technology throws up some challenges too. What would happen for instance if someone were to hack into the public transport system? How can we safeguard our privacy on the web? E-criminals need to be tackled by e-crimefighters. Networks and Security are two major topics in computer science today. We are constantly making systems safer, more user-friendly, faster and more useful.

To join VU’s international talent network, we expect certain qualities from you; curiosity, passion, ambition and openness to change. You might think that’s a lot to ask, but you will get a lot in return. Lectures by top researchers in the field of Computer Science and an international environment. Outstanding teaching with plentiful opportunities in a dynamic field, both internation-ally and within the Netherlands. There is always employment for those with talent.


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There are many aspects to Computer Science, from the technical background to the user interface and the users themselves. You’ll learn about designing and building networked systems, but you’ll also learn how to define requirements and work out the social impact of technology. Over three years, you’ll learn the basics that every IT specialist should know. You’ll receive lectures and do practicals and you’ll also work on projects in teams to see how it feels to work for an actual business.Your first year will lay the foundation, which means focusing more on technical aspects like programming, web technology and security. The mathematical basis for this is problem-solving and logic.In your second year you will delve deeper into the subjects that you explored in the first year through more advanced courses. In courses such as Intelligent Systems, Databases and Security, you will combine some of the knowledge you already have to give you a broader overview.In your third year, you will decide in which direction you want to take your studies. Half the year consists of a minor of your own choice, the other half you finish your Bachelor with a project. The minor you choose decides the flavor of your degree. Minors can have a technical focus, like deep programming or a more user oriented focus like Web data and services. Minors outside the faculty are also possible. What will you choose?


WHICH COURSES WILL YOU DO IN YOUR FIRST YEAR?• IntroductiontoComputerScience Familiarize yourself with the topics, terminology and set-up of your Bachelor’s

programme in Computer Science. •ComputerSystems Find out how a computer system works, from the smallest processing unit to the

processor and everything in between. This course takes you from the basics to a fully working system.

•PervasiveComputing This course presents IT applications that help us in everyday life and technical

solutions to everyday problems. It’s all about computing behind the scenes and building systems that support our daily lives.


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•Webtechnology Take a look ‘under the hood’ of the world wide web. What technology drives the

web? What are the requirements for building a good web-interface, from the per-spective of both the user and the designer?

•AcademicEnglish The academic world has its own form of English which is useful to learn about. At

the end of the course, you will know how to write a research paper in an accepta-ble way.


In your second year you will learn about some of the most important subjects in CS today. In your third year, you will choose your own particular field of interest and complete a minor. Some of your second year courses include:

SECURITYYou’ve learned how systems are built and what happens between the processor and the User Interface. Now you’ll use this knowledge to discover the vulnerabilities of computer systems and learn how they can be exploited. More importantly, you’ll learn how to counter against malicious attacks and the many challenges of building secure systems.

HUMAN-COMPUTER INTERACTIONComputers are everywhere and when we talk about User Interface Design it’s no longer just about the mouse-and-keyboard situation. Interaction between man and machine is becoming more and more intuitive. This course will teach you about the User side of systems, from user needs analysis and conceptual design to prototyping and usability evaluation.

INTELLIGENT SYSTEMS“An intelligent system is basically a large collection of very basic, not so intelligent, instructions and algorithms. But when all these work together well, the system can become intelligent. Just like a single termite cannot build a termite mound, so one simple unit cannot be intelligent. We research ‘robot controller units’, swarms of small robots that can adapt to unfamiliar situations through ‘intelligence’.Prof.GusztiEiben

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VU University Amsterdam offers excellent teaching with ample opportunity for choice and good supervision. We make heavy demands on both our lecturers and our students. The degree programmes are designed to get the very best results. Special facilities are in place for excellent students, including excellence programmes and honours courses. We think it is important that you know whether you have chosen the right programme as soon as possible, so VU University Amsterdam issues a Binding Recommendation on Continuation of Studies (BSA) at the end of your first year.

ACTIVE PARTICIPATIONOur teaching is organized in a way that will enable you to obtain a Bachelor’s degree within three years as long as you take an active part in the programme. We expect active participation. In return, you can expect active support from your lecturers. During your first year, you will also be supervised by a mentor and/or tutor. A practical tip: you can take at least one preliminary test in every subject before you do your exams to see whether you have learned enough to pass the exam.

BINDING RECOMMENDATION ON CONTINUATION OF STUDIESYou will be issued with advice about your progress four times during the first year. The fourth advice will constitute a binding recommendation: it will tell you whether you have attained the standard for continuing your studies or not. As a rule you must earn 36 out of a total of 60 ECTS credits. In addition, you must pass all the modules from your first year within two years.

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VU University Amsterdam operates in the heart of society. It is a university where you can be yourself and fulfil your true potential. We offer the perfect combi-nation of freedom and supervision. Located on the dynamic Zuidas district in Amsterdam, the campus at VU University Amsterdam is easily accessible and makes an ideal base for finding out more about other specialist areas and adjacent businesses.

SUPERVISION DURING THE FIRST YEARYou will be supervised by mentors and/or tutors during your first year. The study advisor will also keep a close eye on your progress. If you fail to attain the required standard, you will be offered help in stopping or switching programmes. We will take special circums-tances such as illness or other personal problems into consideration.


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Studying at VU University Amsterdam means studying in an international environment with state-of-the-art facilities and it means that your education and the connections you make will take you beyond the borders of the Netherlands, into the international world of Computer Science. You will receive teaching from top researchers from all over the world. The fact that the programme is taught in English means that you will also be enhancing your employability.

VU University Amsterdam is home to the INTERTAIN Experimental Research lab, containing a simulated living environment where we can test intelligent systems and pervasive computing. Web scientists interested in web solutions for everyday life also work here. Our international staff also perform research on these systems and will teach you about them. You are also welcome to use the Intertain Homelab for your own projects. One of these projects concerns measuring physical social networks using sensors. The combination of hardware and software in the lab gives you a ‘hands on’ oportunity to build and test new technologies and work at all the technical stuff that goes on behind the screens in our connected world.

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“I was always interested in Computer Science, partly because it’s such a broad field with so many possibilities. You try to find solutions for problems. During my first two years I have learned to work independently. Because of the structured programme and the personal approach, I really enjoy studying at VU, it is very easy to make contact with other students and you learn new things every day!”



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HACKING: VULNERABILITY AND THE INTERNETHacking a certificate authority is like breaking into the passport system: You can create false identities and use them for criminal purposes. When it happened to a Dutch certificateauthority called Diginotar, it caused a stream of problems across the world. Most notably, it enabled some govern-ments to read the e-mails of theircitizens. How exactly do certificates work? And how can they be put to malicious use? And most importantly: how do hackers break into a system to gain access to them in the first place?

ALWAYS AVAILABLESome sites always seem to be online - websiteslikeGoogle,CNNandING,forexample. How do these companies make sure that their sites are always up and running, even though they receive millions of visitors every day? How can viruses or cyber-attacks be prevented from bringing the whole network down?

BETTER SERVICE, BETTER SECURITYMany people do their banking over the internet. They also book hotels and plane tickets, and do their shopping online. We have got used to all these services now, but these days it is also possible to buy a parking ticket or pay

for a fast food snack. How do all these transactions happen safely?

SOCIAL NETWORKSMany people make new friends through the internet. But what happens behind the scenes of all these social networks? And how do you make sure that people can find new and meaningful relationships effectively? Data from social networks is very inte-resting for computer science, but also for sociologists, for example. This is why we carry out research in partner-ship in this kind of area.

SEMANTIC WEB The internet continues to grow and develop. The growth in the amount of data on the internet is enormous. But not all that data is accessible. In fact, the majority of that data is notaccessible, which means that we cannot extract any information from it. VU University Amsterdam is carrying out research into the internet of the future - the semantic web. The seman-tic web will make it possible to access data in all forms and formats, linking it together to make as much of itavailable as possible. But the require-ments for this kind of web, which would be available around the world, are high. It would need to be secure, fast, smart and efficient.

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“After completing a Master’s in ‘Parallel and Distributed Computer Systems’ at VU University Amsterdam, I started work as a PhD candidate. I work in the ‘Computer Systems’ group. My research is about high performance computing and how we can get there using the multi-core systems that we find in clusters, grids and cloud systems. In the Master’s programme, the emphasis is on experimental work. Sometimes you cannot accurately predict what the effects of a change in an algorithm will be. Sometimes it is unclear how the hardware will behave, because manufacturers do not make certain features known publicly. In those cases, we have to test how the algorithms behave. This method of experimenting is exactly how I like to solve problems. The Master’s programme was the perfect preparation for the PhD research that I’m doing at the moment.”


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“STORM is the study association for Computer Science. Most students join because of the discount they get on books, but we also organize drinks and activities every wednesday. STORM also organizes excursions and companies give presentations. We give parties regularly. In our room, you can relax. We are involved in the study and the faculty student council. We even have an archive for old exams, so you can practice for your exams!”



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Graduates in Computer Science have been in high demand over the past years and will be for many years to come. The internet and IT technology are everywhere these days, and experts will always be needed to design, build, secure and operate the systems behind the systems.

Many students go on to do a Master’s degree. This allows you to specialize and become an expert in topics like ‘the Internet and Web Technology’ or ‘High Performance Distributed Computing’. Other Master’s programmes such as ‘Bioinformatics’ of ‘Artificial Intelligence’ are also very interesting options.

Of course, it is tempting to begin your career immediately after completing your Bachelor’s degree since the demand for our graduates is high. You could start work at one of the many small software companies, or if you prefer you can work at a larger IT company like Google or Microsoft. IT specialists are needed everywhere, from banks to hospitals to airlines. Of course, you could also start your own busi-ness. CONTINUING TO A PHDAfter completing a Master’s degree, you can always stay at university to obtain a PhD in one of our many research topics.

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VU University AmsterdamFaculty of Sciences De Boelelaan 10811081 HV AmsterdamT +31 (0)20 59 87 557 E [email protected]

© Departement Marketing & Communication VU, 22044/42_sep2012 Photo:M&C.Cover:ErikvanZwol.No rights may be derived from the contents of this brochure.



ADMISSION REQUIREMENTSDUTCH STUDENTSA VWO degree with one of the following profiles: •NatuurenTechniek•NatuurenGezondheidmetwiskundeB•EconomieenMaatschappijmetwiskundeB•CultuurenMaatschappijmetwiskundeBYou can also start the Bachelor with a WO-, HBO- or Open University first-year certificate if there is no deficiency for Math.

FOREIGN STUDENTSNon-Dutch students should hold a degree that is at leastequivalent to a Dutch VWO degree. You can find out if you meet the criteria on our website.