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Postgraduate Reviews of Courses at Birkbeck, University of London

Not sure what kind of impact this may have, but at this point I am quite determined to have some kind of justice. I am into Computer Science/Data Science, and Birkbeck Uni is terrible. I can only talk for the Computer Science department masters: if you have any kind of doubt, stay away from this Uni.

The most glaring issue: randomly assigned thesis supervisors. You've read it right. You cannot choose your supervisor. You will be assigned one randomly with no option to change it. If you're wondering if this means your work on your topic of preference will be revised by a complete stranger that has no experience or knowledge whatsoever in that subject, that is correct. They will be of zero help, or rather detrimental, not replying to emails and making random comments just to state that they contributed to the supervision. A way for Birkbeck staff to do less work.

Other issues: Data Science course is put together with a complete lack of vision. Meaning, a course in Data Analytics will be shoved down your throat first semester without any student being previously tested on their knowledge of Statistics, and/or any introductory course in Statistics. In my year, this meant an absolutely nightmarish course where every kind of novice was completely lost and continuously interrupting the lessons for, guess what, beginner's questions. In addition to that, the course includes two mandatory classes done by the MSc Director, and those two are simply time and money down the drain: they are a mish-mash of googled material with no consistency whatsoever. The rest of the classes are basic CompSci classes stripped down in content to fit the schedule without any vision. Essential topics like Data Structures and Algorithms are basically skimmed over, while too much time is lost on other basic topics the industry gives zero interest in (e.g. boolean calculations by hand).

Realising the mess that Data Science MSc is midway into it, I switched to Computer Science. There, the situation is less bad, in the sense that professors seem to have some direction. However, the course is still very basic and there is little to do when it comes to the most important part of the MSc: your supervisor is randomly assigned. If you care about any kind of supervision, forget it. If you're happy on doing the project yourself, like doing your own app and writing a bunch of thesis pages on it, you'll be ok – then again I can't see why you'd have chosen a MSc degree in the first place.

The online experience during Covid has been ok-ish, although they somehow managed to make it worse over time. They switched from a fully working software that was great (Panopto) that was deployed in the early months, to go for Microsoft Teams, losing a lot of useful features in the process. Why they did it is everyone's guess: no teacher or student I talked to is happy about this switch.

If you are into any Computer Science program and have any doubt between this and any other Uni, I'd go for another Uni. I'm pretty sure the randomized thesis supervisor is unique to Birkbeck Computer Science Department. I know for example that other Birkbeck Departments (e.g. Psychology) do not have such system. read full review
I think Birkbeck is out of place. Birkbeck deserves to climb the top university rankings, it's only a matter of time for it to happen anyway. Birkbeck is investing heavily in the acquisition of local new premises, in renovation and research. In a few years, Birkbeck will probably enter the top 100 of the best universities in the world, it is enough to see his progression every year. read full review
I wish I had chosen a different univesity. If you have decent undergraduate grades I suggest you look into UCL, York, Brunel and Sussex. Despite their touted selection for students with a good undergraduate, Birbeck will take ANYBODY who is willing to pay the fees, there is no selection, it is all just a pretense. read full review
Don't be fooled by their skilfull marketing. Birbeck is just an average university, leveraging a lot of the UCL's reputation. I wish I had chosen another university. read full review