BSc (Hons) Computer Networks - University of Portsmouth
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BSc (Hons)

Computer Networks

UCAS codeI122

full time3yrs

placement option1yr

Learn to effectively meet the business requirements of network systems

Course Overview

Why take this course?

Computer networks have revolutionised our lives, from the Internet and the Web to mobile computing and cloud applications. Nowadays, computer networks play a vital role in all aspects of businesses, governments, and public services. Not surprisingly, computer networks specialists are highly sought by the industry. In addition to attractive salaries, computer networks graduates enjoy interesting and exciting professional careers working with a wide range of projects and clients.

This course will provide you with knowledge and practical skills to design, implement, and support computer networks at small and large companies, and to engineer new networking technologies influencing the future of the industry.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Use our fully equipped multi-platform suites and computer labs to enhance your learning experience
  • Develop computer networking projects for a variety of real-life application scenarios to give you opportunities to work with state of the art networking technologies
  • Prepare yourselves for obtaining industry-standard vendor certifications, such as Cisco, HP, and others
  • Opt to do a salaried placement year either in the UK or overseas to gain proven industrial experience by the time you graduate

What opportunities might it lead to?

This course is accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), meeting the standards set by the UK Engineering Council in the Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC). This accredited course fully satisfies IET educational requirements for eventual professional registration as an Incorporated Engineer (IEng).

Studying this degree will open routes to exciting careers in a number of well-established and emerging industries successfully pursued by our graduates, including:

  • consumer and professional electronics
  • pharmaceuticals and health care
  • defence
  • broadcasting and telecommunications
  • IT development and consulting
  • banking and finance


Katie Tuffrey, computing student 2012

One of the best things about the course is it's very hands on. You learn by doing and not just theory.

Katie Tuffrey, computing student 2012



Find out what our students say about studying at Portsmouth, including:

  • Hands-on opportunities to gain practical experience by solving real-world problems
  • Approachable and passionate lecturers with industrial experience 
  • Excellent facilities and good employment prospects

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Structure & Teaching

Year one

Your first year will introduce you to the underlying scientific principles of computing and network technologies, and the necessary academic skills that you will be relying on throughout the course. You will also cover basics of data communications, software, and systems administration.

Core units in this year include:

  • Concepts of Data Communication Networks
  • Fundamentals of Computer Systems
  • Introduction to Algorithms and Programming
  • Scientific Principles for ICT
  • System Administration and Internetworking
  • Writing and Research in the Workplace

Year two

You will start to define your specialist area through a choice of options as well as covering core topics in network architectures, design and management. There is also a considerable amount of hands-on project work including a group design task.

Core units in this year include:

  • Network Protocols
  • Group Design Project
  • Network Routing Architectures
  • Switched Network Architectures
  • Network Services Administration and Virtualisation

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • IWLP
  • Network Simulation and Traffic Management
  • Pervasive Network Applications

Year three*

In this year you will consolidate your skills and learning. There is a smaller number of core units to allow for a substantial final-year project, which provides an opportunity for you to investigate and experiment with a specific network-related topic that could be linked to a company or business requirement.

Core units in this year include:

  • Individual Project
  • Network Design
  • Network Operations and Management
  • WAN and VLAN Solutions
  • Enterprise and ISP Network Solutions

*This course is also available as a 4-year sandwich (work placement)

We use the best and most current research and professional practice, alongside feedback from our students, to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.


Here at the University we aim to provide a lively and modern learning environment. During this course you will experience a mixture of lectures, tutorials, laboratory and practical work consisting of individual and group assignments with a strong design emphasis.

The time you spend in teaching activities may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year typically spent their time as follows:

  • Year one students: 29% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 71% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year two students: 23% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 77% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year three students: 18% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 82% studying independently and 0% on work placement


We assess you in ways that encourage a deeper understanding and allow you to develop your professional skills including through:

  • technical reports and logbooks
  • written exams
  • mini projects
  • presentations
  • case studies
  • group assignments

The way you’re assessed may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:

  • Year one students: 43% by written exams, 10% by practical exams and 47% by coursework
  • Year two students: 40% by written exams, 0% by practical exams and 60% by coursework
  • Year three students: 25% by written exams, 10% by practical exams and 65% by coursework

Tutor's view


Dr Shikun Zhou

It is equally important that you enjoy your university study whilst making yourselves ready for your future career. We place an emphasis on student-oriented problem based learning with practical network design projects, linking our curriculum with real world events and applications.

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Facilities & Features

The Network Lab

Our new £1 million state of the art network laboratory rivals anything available at other British universities. It will give you in-lab and remote access to over 250 servers in a data centre-like environment. You will get the chance to configure, experiment with, and manage different networking technologies. You can also learn various programming languages such as Java, PHP and C, and use a wide range of network analysis tools such as OPNET and Wireshark. Our lab accommodates learning in all areas of computer networks and data communication systems.

Specialist Software and Equipment

A full range of industry software will be available for you to use in the computer labs, supported by multi-platform network suites offering a variety of operating systems. You will have a range of excellent resources at your fingertips including:

  • Cisco and HP networking equipment
  • ECAD and software development suites
  • analogue and digital electronics development and testing facilities
  • telecommunications and control systems
  • Linux, Windows and Unix operating systems

Maths Café

Drop in any time and get one-to-one help with that tricky maths or stats problem. With handouts on key topics to take away and computer-aided learning packages, we can get the problem solved and help you improve your numeracy skills.

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Budgeting for your studies

There are extra costs associated with studying, which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Recommended texts:
If you wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow from the University Library, the average price is £50-£60. You may be studying up to 6 units a year, each with a standard recommended text.

General costs:
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for costs of photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

Final year project:
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose to develop.

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Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Career prospects
Where next?

This accredited course fully satisfies educational requirements for eventual professional registration as an Incorporated Engineer (IEng). You will have a sound knowledge of computer networks and systems, and practical design and development skills, making you attractive to a wide variety of employers in areas as diverse as IT, e-commerce, leisure and travel, healthcare, home entertainment, and banking.

It is also fairly common for our graduates to be snapped up by the employer they worked for in their placement year. Others continue their study at both MSc and PhD levels, specialising further in areas such as next generation computer networks and communications systems. Alternatively, you can continue expanding your professional expertise through many of the computing graduate programmes with major “blue chip” companies.

The demand for computer networks specialists continues to grow and graduates from this course have been successful in finding work with these big names:

  • Cisco
  • IBM
  • HP
  • Microsoft
  • KPMG
  • PWC
  • BAE Systems
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Barclays

Work experience

Work experience
Employment boosting opportunites

The best way to boost your CV is by doing an industry placement. This is a great opportunity to put your developing skills into practice in an industrial or commercial setting - and be paid for it! Taking a year in industry is an extremely effective way to increase your employability for when you finish the course. You may even find that your placement employer hires you once you graduate.

There are also opportunities to do a placement overseas in one of 31 participating countries via our Erasmus exchange programme. We actively encourage such placements as it is a great way for you to experience another culture and develop some language skills.

Our team at the Student Placement and Employability Centre (SPEC) offers information and guidance during the recruitment process for your placement and supports you throughout the year in industry. We also ensure you have access to a range of other volunteering and work experience opportunities.

Here are some examples of the roles our students have secured for their placements:

  • Network Analyst at Oxford University Press
  • Systems Engineer at GE Aviation
  • Software Developer at Smoothwall
  • Systems Engineer at National Air Traffic Services (NATS)

Career planning

Career planning

To make sure you take the right steps on your career path, we’re here to give you help, support and advice throughout your study. Even after you’ve graduated, we continue to give you support for up to five years.

Employers tell us that they want graduates to be able to demonstrate certain skills when they come out of university. Our courses take account of this. We make sure we prepare you for employment through work-related learning, projects, placements and working in simulated environments that are designed to prepare you for the working world.

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Apply now or visit us

Apply for 2018 entry

To apply, you'll need this course's UCAS code, which is at the top of this page, and the University of Portsmouth institution code – P80.

Apply now

After you apply, we'll invite you to an Applicant Experience Day where you’ll get to speak to lecturers and meet your future classmates.

Open Days for courses starting in 2019

Come to an Open Day and explore our course facilities, tour the campus and have a look around our halls of residence.

Book your Open Day

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.

University of Portsmouth
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Winston Churchill Avenue
Portsmouth PO1 2UP

T: +44 (0)23 9284 8484