Information Technology and Computer Science

Courses include: 
Software Engineering, Computer Science, Network Engineering, Information and Computer Technology, Information Systems...

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  • Study I.T. and Computer Science. Photo credit: Macquarie UniversityStudy I.T. and Computer Science. Photo credit: Macquarie University

Though often grouped together (as we have done here) and often used as interchangeable terms for courses that are about computers, these two subjects are actually very different.

Information technology takes the computer as its start point and looks at all the things that can be done with it, particularly in a business setting. Many IT degrees focus on this, and are designed to give students an understanding of the principles and techniques involved in the analysis, design, implementation and maintenance of computer systems within a business environment. 

‘Information technology’ originally dealt with the use of computers and software to convert, store, protect, process and transmit information, but the term is now used generically to talk about many aspects of computing and technology. You will therefore also find information technology degrees that offer specialisations in non-traditional areas including games design and development, human-computer interaction; cyber forensics, information security and management; and digital media.

Computer Science, on the other hand, studies the design, construction and uses of computers and computer systems. Depending on the focus and direction of the School that teaches it, a degree in computer science might start with establishing a solid understanding of computational, scientific and mathematical skills before going on to offer courses in areas such as software, web design, artificial intelligence and human-computer design. Other courses – for example at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney – focus very much on educating students to be the designers of new technology. In the latter approach there is often a strong crossover between computer science and the discipline of Engineering, which also focuses on design, practice and development.

Masters programmes are available in both Information Technology and Computer Science and an extensive range of subjects are available at Masters by Research and PhD.