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I'm 27 and looking for advice on the career path for lecturing in Computer Science. At the moment I have just started a job at a blue chip company in Software Engineering. However my prime goal is to become a lecturer.

My education background is a little sidewards in terms of fundamental knowledge in Computing (details in algorithms, memory, programming) as I have a BA in Graphic Design and a conversion Masters in Computing (which skimmed the subject).

I would be interested in pursuing a Phd in Computer Science focusing on HCI/ software engineering. However my concern is whether or not I have the confidence in the fundamental knowledge as I only achieved a Pass on my Masters.

So my question is, would taking a postgraduate diploma in Advance Computer Science benefit before fully undertaking a Phd?

Both courses would be undertaken part-time whilst working.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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    What country? This sounds UKish. – Bill Barth May 15 '15 at 21:36
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    Bill Barth's question is particularly important because (as far as I know) the meaning of "lecturer" is entirely different in the UK and the US. – Andreas Blass May 16 '15 at 2:53
  • Hi, yes sorry I'm in the UK! – This Name May 16 '15 at 14:12
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I think that would depend on where and what you teach. I've been a "computer science" prof for years because at the beginning of my career while working for a "dot com" I was asked to substitute for a class at a very famous design school and the instructor never came back. Then I went to the department chair with a bunch of suggestions for things I thought they could improve in the program and they made me an assistant professor. Then they put me in charge of the technical faculty. Then they let me expand "coding" classes out into things like physical computing and HCI. And because of this experience (teaching, curricular development, faculty leadership, not to mention panels and publications) I've been hired at other places, and go back and forth between industry and teaching.

It does sound like you're in the UK but I know a lot (most) schools in the US will hire people with very strong industry experience even if they don't have a Ph. D. So while having a Ph. D. might be a clearer path to some extent, teaching gigs are competitive no matter what you do. Working in the industry might not necessarily work against you!

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    This might be a bit harder to swing nowadays, with the field not being quite so new now. Glad it worked out for you and your students, though! – aparente001 May 18 '15 at 12:13
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    Well, I don't know about that. I think any program training someone in a job-related skill is going to grant a certain nod to people with actual experience over someone with only "pure" academic experience. It's a selling point to the students for one thing, "Our professors are industry experts...." – Dave Kanter May 18 '15 at 13:51
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A PhD can very much be tailored to your skills: there are lots of areas of research in computer science and your interdisciplinary background will likely help find you a niche.

Of greater concern is what sort of academic career you want. At some universities a "lecturer" is 50/50 teaching and research, at others it is mostly teaching. If you want to work at a research-led university, a PhD is crucial and you may be able to just teach the topics you research.

At a teaching-led university, your industry experience will be of benefit (as modules tend to be more practical, less theoretical), but with greater teaching load you may end up lecturing something you're less confident in. This is fine: you'll learn the subject well enough, and really the skill is in constructing a suitable environment to facilitate students learning the subject, rather than reciting everything you know. But if this is the route you want to follow, you might save yourself some stress later by becoming a bit more confident in the fundamentals now.

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I'm not familiar with "postgraduate diploma in Advance Computer Science." If you were in the US, I would say, don't spend a lot of money at this point, just take a few courses as a non-degree-seeking student. You need to get deeply into the key undergraduate computer science courses, because you said you only skimmed computer science.

Getting admitted to a PhD program isn't the only hurdle. We also want to make sure you have the requisite grounding in the fundamentals so as to have a good start in your PhD program.

When you're doing your applications for a PhD program, you can present whatever degrees you have, and also the individual non-matriculated courses you took after graduating, with transcripts for everything you studied. They will be able to put the puzzle pieces together to get a full picture of you as an applicant.

(I'm assuming you have your own strong reasons for wanting to teach, so I'm just taking that as a given.)

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