There are a few standard technical things that we would recommend so you are able to access IT and digital resources at UCL.
You will need regular access to a laptop or desktop computer. You may also find it helpful to use a mobile device such as a tablet or smartphone but you won’t be able to learn and study effectively with one of these alone.
Your computer needs to be capable of accessing the internet and running any essential software you need (see below). If you purchased your machine in the last six or seven years it should meet the requirements for most courses. For example, the minimum requirements for a Windows laptop are i5 processor, 8Gb RAM and 256GB SSD drive. Bear in mind that some courses may require more specialist equipment or software so you need to check this.
As mentioned above, 256GB is the recommended minimum. But when it comes to storing your files, we recommend that you make use of your N: drive which is provided to you by UCL. The N: drive is your personal storage area which is secure, backed up nightly and can be accessed from your own device. More information about the N: drive and how to access it.
If you need to buy a new computer you can usually obtain a student discount. Visit our Hardware Purchasing pages for details of any discounts available to you at UCL.
An internet connection
You will need to be able to participate in online seminars and tutorials so it’s important that you have a reasonably fast and reliable connection. While you are on a UCL campus or in Halls of residence you will be provided with a free Wi-Fi service called eduroam. Eduroam is also available on other campuses around the UK once you have registered for the service at UCL.
A headset and webcam
Ideally you will have a headset with a built-in microphone. It may be possible to join online sessions using the in-built microphone and speakers on your computer but you will hear better (and sound better to others) with a headset.
It’s not essential to have a webcam but some online activities are enhanced if others can see you. Most laptops have a built-in webcam which is sufficient for this purpose and if you are using a desktop computer you may wish to purchase one if you don’t have one already.
Windows, macOS or Unix/Linux operating systems capable of running a modern web browser. In addition, some 'plugins' such as Java, Flash and a few other plugins for the web may be required.
As a minimum you will need a web browser such as Edge, Safari, Chrome or Firefox. These are all free to download. Some services will only run properly on certain browsers so you may need to download more than one.
Anti-virus software, preferably with a built-in firewall, is also strongly recommended. This is available to download free for UCL members. For more information about this and other ways to keep your computer secure, visit the Information Security pages.
You will need to use word processing software such as Microsoft Word and you may also need presentation software such as Microsoft PowerPoint. Microsoft Office includes these applications and more and Microsoft Office 365 available to download for free. See the Software for Students pages for more information.
Software for your course
Core software needed for your study is provided for you on a central computer service called Desktop@UCL Anywhere, which can also be accessed from your own device. Your department will advise on any additional software required for your course.
Setting up your work space
As you will probably be using a computer for a significant amount of time, make sure your work space is well set up, that you sit correctly and that you take regular breaks. If you are using a laptop as your main computer you should consider:
using a separate monitor or elevating your laptop so that the screen is at eye level;
using a separate keyboard and mouse.
If you are experiencing any pain or discomfort from using a computer or you require any assistive technology, you can contact the Digital Accessibility Hub.