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Our School

Our University is at the forefront of research and teaching in both computer science and electronic engineering. Throughout our history we have launched innovative new courses with curricula at the cutting edge of technology.

  • More than two-thirds of our computer science research is 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent' (REF 2014)

World-class facilities

As a member of our student and research community you will benefit from the use of our exceptional laboratories and facilities. We have several computer labs that are exclusively for our School's students. We also have a variety of specialist facilities in the areas of brain-computer interfaces, robotics, embedded systems, lasers/photonics and networking.

Almost fifty years of pioneering research

Our original Department of Computer Science and Department of Electronic Systems Engineering were both founded in 1966. The subjects came together in 2007 in our School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering.

Computer science

Our original Department of Computer Science was founded by Professor Tony Brooker, who came to Essex from Manchester where he had worked with Alan Turing. Professor Brooker invented the compiler-compiler, one of the earliest applications of a formal understanding of the nature of programming languages.

We were one of the first departments in the UK to be seriously interested in artificial intelligence, with work during the 1970s on simulation of societies by Jim Doran and the representation of ordinary knowledge by Pat Hayes, with his pioneering work on naive physics and commonsense reasoning. In 1984 Ray Turner produced the first book on logics for AI.

Electronic engineering

We have been one of the leading electronics departments in the country throughout our history. Our MSc in Telecommunications was the first in the world to cover the complete telecommunication system, including both switching and transmission. This course attracted considerable interest from the outset, with British Telecommunications sponsoring it during its early years, contributing £2 million towards lectureships and studentships.

Our research has led to some major breakthroughs. We invented the world's first telephone based system for deaf people to communicate with each other in 1981. The system was based on sign language, with cameras and display devices that were able to work within the limited telephone bandwidth. This enabled sign language communication to be used two decades before the widespread use of broadband and web-cameras.

Recent history

In recent years we have attracted many highly active research staff and we are conducting world-leading research in areas such as evolutionary computation, brain-computer interfacing, intelligent inhabited environments and financial forecasting. Our robotics research group is the largest of its kind in the UK.

Our academics have also invented a streamlined protocol system for worldwide high speed optical communications. Formerly seven layers were needed. Our research showed that only three of these are necessary for optical networks. The work also showed how a worldwide network (an optical fibre ring around the whole planet) could be managed, including quality of service and account management.