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Computer science and language

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What is CSL?

The CSL degree course is one of the most interdisciplinary offered by the University, bridging both science and arts, and its different strands foster a wide range of talents, from analytical problem-solving in computer science and mathematics to analysis of theories and data from linguistics, to fluency and cultural awareness in the language component. In computer science, students learn the underlying fundamentals of computer software and computer-related mathematics. Advanced areas of study include software engineering and artificial intelligence. Linguistics is the scientific study of languages in general. This cognitive science explores the internal properties of languages (constraints on syntax, semantics and sound patterns), the process of human language acquisition, and sociological factors that impinge on language use and languages in contact. The chosen language (French, German or Irish) is studied to degree level, with emphasis on aural, oral and written fluency. Students who study French or German will spend a year studying at a university abroad whereas for students studying Irish it is a possibility. Computational linguistics is a discipline that unites the three strands of this course. Students choose third and fourth year projects and options to allow them to shape their major focus within one of the three strands of the degree, or within computational linguistics.

Is this the right course for you?

This course offers a unique combination of skills - technical, mathematical, analytical and communicative. In doing so, it provides two of the most sought after skills today: degree-level fluency in a second language and a degree in computing, opening up hosts of future career possibilities. Many of these careers also involve the third degree-level strand of the course – linguistics. Predictive text in telephones, automatic speech recognition in directory enquiries, and internet search engines are just three examples of technologies that derive from computational linguistics; countless others are on the horizon. The course is appealing to students with strengths in analytical reasoning and an affinity for mastering languages but who do not want to choose between arts and sciences. While the course involves 50% focus on mathematics and computing, 25% on linguistics and 25% on the language, the optional elements allow students considerable flexibility to rebalance their major focus. If you enjoy mathematics, languages and problem solving and are interested in combining topics in creative and insightful ways, then this may be the right course for you.

Course content

In the first two years, half of the programme is devoted to computer science and half to the study of linguistics and your chosen language. Computational linguistics is a theme that unifies the three components. A year abroad is an integral part of the programme, further developing language skills and providing first-hand experience of university life in another country. The year abroad provides additional options that enhance the potential for students to define their own specialist areas within the programme. The final year offers students the opportunity to explore in greater depth areas where computers and language meet or in the classical core of the constituent disciplines: computer science, linguistics and a language. Students complete increasingly complex projects in each year of the programme.

All CSL students also participate in the Dublin Computational Linguistics Research Seminar Series. This weekly seminar is hosted jointly by TCD, UCD, DCU and DIT, rotating annually among these partners. Seminars vary from industry talks to breaking academic research. Sometimes these seminars are given by graduates of the programme.

Junior Freshman (1st year) modules:

Computer science

  • Mathematics

  • Introduction to programming

  • Representations and computation

Linguistics

  • Introduction to the study of language (general linguistics)

  • Introduction to phonetics and phonology

  • Introduction to syntax

Language

  • Written, oral and aural language fluency

  • Area studies

Senior Freshman (2nd year) modules:

Computer science

  • Discrete and continuous mathematics

  • Data structures and programming techniques
  • Natural language processing

Linguistics

  • Syntactic theory
  • Introduction to speech science
  • Formal semantics
  • Instrumental phonetics
  • Computational morphology
  • Statistics for linguistics

Language

  • Written, oral and aural language fluency

The Sophister years

Junior Sophister (third year) students study computer science and linguistics at a university abroad (typically in Belgium, France, Germany or Scotland, depending on the language studied). Subjects studied in the first two years of your degree will be continued in your year of study abroad (through your chosen foreign language). In the Senior Sophister (fourth) year you will take advanced modules in interdisciplinary areas such as artificial intelligence, information systems, computer processing of human language, and the analysis and synthesis of the human voice. You will also proceed to advanced study in your chosen language, perfecting both your oral skills and your written skills in translation and essay writing.

Optional modules and a major interdisciplinary project allow you to specialise in areas you particularly enjoy and to shape the degree around your individual strengths. Examples of final-year module options include computer graphics, databases, fuzzy logic, natural language evolution, and human second-language acquisition.

Assessment

Written examinations, course work and projects are all used in assessment. You will also complete a final-year dissertation as part of the degree.

Career opportunities

Since the course began in 1985, graduates have moved on to careers that reflect the range of topics within the degree. Graduates will be qualified to work as language specialists, information technologists or software specialists in any of the IT, banking, translation, publishing or multi-media sectors. A number work as software engineers in international consulting firms. Some have embarked on careers in professional translation; others have moved into primary and secondary-level education. About 65% of graduates work in software engineering (whether in a mainly English speaking country or in a country where the language of the degree focus is the primary language); about 25% pursue research careers. A number of graduates now hold academic staff positions in Ireland and abroad. Another 10% tend towards a focus in technical translation. Some graduates have taken up employment in government service, e.g. the European Patent Office, the Irish Diplomatic Corps.

Further information

www.scss.tcd.ie/csl

Tel: +353 1 896 1765

Specific Entry Requirements

Leaving Certificate HC3 Mathematics
HC1 If presenting French or German
HB3 If presenting Irish
Advanced GCE (A-Level) Grade C Mathematics
Grade C If presenting French or German
Grade B If presenting Irish
Students choose one language from French, German and Irish.

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