Do I need my own computer?
You do not need a computer of your own to attend our course, although you will find it a very useful thing to have. We provide machines in the practical labs for you to work on. At the time of the practical sessions we also have demonstrators around to give you help with any problems.
When you register you are given access to our student intranet which is powered by Sharepoint and available off campus to users running the Microsoft Windows operating system.
The initial work is based around the IBM Personal Computer running the Microsoft Windows operating system. In performance terms the demands that we place are not too great. Any machine purchased in the last couple of years should be suitable. If you are buying, make sure that you get one with at least 4G of memory. If you want to create/play games you should also make sure that you have a machine with a graphics accelerator which supports DirectX, this will allow you to create and run programs using Microsoft XNA.
These days you probably conduct so much of your life using a computer that not bringing one along is unthinkable. You might like to try and persuade your parents that only the latest and most powerful machine would be up to the task, but in reality a fairly modest machine will be acceptable.
Many students now use laptop computers rather than fixed machines. These are now quite affordable but you must remember that they shatter when dropped and are quite susceptible to being stolen. Laptops are also more difficult and expensive to upgrade. Having said that, they can be useful around campus. In any lecture nowadays it is quite common for students to enter notes directly into their machines. Or perhaps they are on Facebook...
Whatever kind of machine that you bring you should make sure that you have adequate insurance. If you take a room in university accommodation this cover is provided for free. If you live somewhere else you should take out an appropriate policy, or investigate whether or not the parent home insurance covers your possessions.
One piece of good news is that we are members of Microsoft Academic Alliance. This means that we can give you access to a wide range of Microsoft Operating Systems and development tools for free. These can be loaded onto your machines and used both as a student and when you leave us.
One thing we can't get for free though is Microsoft Office. There are some good deals out there worth chasing, it is often possible to get student versions of this suite for a very reasonable price. You can also sign up for Office 365 which gives you access to Office (and lots of other software) for a nominal monthly sum.
One other thing that you might find interesting is the way that it is now possible to think about using a games console or mobile device as a target for programs that you write. We do this now in the first year of our course (we were one of the first universities ever to do this) and so you could make a reasonable case for getting an XBOX 360 as this will allow you to write your own XNA games for it. You can also target mobile phones and other devices and quite a few of our students take their coursework programs and sell them in Windows Markeplace and the Google and Apple App stores.