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Postgraduate Reviews of Courses at Birkbeck, University of London

Well pitched course with some excellent teaching. Very well-prepared. Sometimes one feels the structure of the course could be improved by spreading it across 3 terms rather than 2. read full review
Excellent academic staff. Inspiring course and the other students are committed and supportive. Being in Bloomsbury is truly inspiring and the buildings create an atmosphere of top class university education. My MA course is very challenging and has made me really stretch myself. read full review
Delivery: It was fab while it was online. Truly worked for those who have careers. They did not give the promised choice as to whether we could remain remote or not, sitting in a freezing classroom until 8pm during the dark winter is not conducive to good learning, and is frankly unsafe considering the current climate on violence against women.

Structure: Overall it's a good rigorous course but the part-time mode is a lie. It is not made for people who work unless you have a static 9-5 which doesn't have more responsibility. The amount of reading set is too much. The dissertation preparation module was absolutely awful and did nothing to teach us how to do the work. Lecturers were often unaware of their own deadlines and would give conflicting information as to when our assessments were due. Module choices were limited and change each year, the module handbooks are vague and don't let us make an informed choice.

Academics: All my module leaders have been friendly at least. They however would do well to remember that a lot of their students also have careers when they consider how much work to set. One module I had would set on average 90 pages of pre-session reading AND a group presentation each week, and this caused far too much stress. In fact no actual teaching happened on that module - it was all group presentations. I paid to teach myself! Seems to be a recurring theme...

Overall - if you can leave your work at work, this is a great course. However it's not made for anyone who can't do the same amount of work as a full-time student, but over double the time. Totally leans on the 'University of London' brand but realistically offers a sub-par student experience. Should have kept the learning online. It was wrong of them to lie and say we'd get a choice. read full review
Unfortunately I would not recommend Birkbeck university for this clinical training, despite some brilliant tutors there. They seem to have no say in correcting how the course is run.
My one year foundation undergraduate course and certificate of higher education also had amazing tutors, but they were pushed out because of institutional racism and politics and had to leave. read full review
The overall experience has been really bad. There is little support from the university and very little contact with lecturers. Despite numerous complaints to the department, students concerns are often ignored. There are a lot of very disgruntled people on this course. read full review
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