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What's the difference between computer science and software engineering?

Last weekend I was reflecting on the difference between computer science and software engineering.

I studied computer science at university and I now work as a full-time software engineer. However, I know of people that instead preferred to study software engineering instead of computer science.

I think that computer science is more about the communication between software and hardware, and there is a lot of emphasis on mathematics, algorithms, computational theory and in general the science behind computers. For example, one of the modules that I took during my first year was database systems. But it was explained using relational algebra.

Software engineering revolves more around the software development lifecycle, and engineering principles.

Academic wise, the difference is subtle, both programs differ by a few modules. Probably software engineering students do more programming than computer scientist. Job-wise, I think they end up taking the same career paths.

What do you think?

Discussion (2)

jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy • Edited on

Computer Science has a far greater emphasis on theory and less on building finished products. Software Engineering is more about applying the stuff that the Computer Science bofffins came up with in a practical, useful way

maddy profile image
Maddy Author

I agree. Software engineering lays on top of computer science and seems to be more "commercial-oriented" than computer science.