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Software development


The software development industry consists of organisations which develop, maintain and publish software or applications for themselves or for clients.

It is currently the fastest growing industry in the IT space.

Find out more about the software development sector, how to organise work experience and secure that first graduate role.

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An overview of the software development

The factors affecting the software development industry and its growth include:

  • the outsourcing of development work overseas
  • open source data
  • multiple platform working (for example, mobile technology)
  • cloud technology
  • big data
  • gaming

There has also been an increase in the use of systems for business process management such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) systems.

The industry websites below can help you keep up-to-date with what's happening in the market and will provide sector information. This can be particularly useful when faced with commercial awareness questions during a recruitment process.

Computer Weekly

British Computer Society

The Engineer


Who are the employers in this sector?

Global employers

Worldwide, the four largest vendors are Microsoft, Oracle Corporation, IBM and SAP.  A recent Brandminds report outlines the seven most important tech hubs in the world as Silicon Valley, Singapore, London, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, New York and Shanghai.

UK employers

The Tech Nation report outlines that almost £3 million people are employed in the UK digital tech economy. As well as well known global players, the market consists of many small and medium-sized companies and start-ups.

In the UK, many of these organisations are London-based; in west London as well as the east London-based Tech City. There is also a "Silicon Fen" hub around Cambridge, as well as clusters in Scotland and the Midlands.

East Midlands

Nottingham is fast becoming a notable tech hub within the UK with a good representation of larger organisations as well as start-ups. Tech Nottingham is a local network offering events and information for Nottingham's software community.

Many of our graduates choose to stay in Nottingham to work in the software development sector.  Recent graduates have moved to Capital One, Experian, Red Box Recorders and Midland HR.

Every year a number of Nottingham students opt to start their own software development companies. Support for this is available from the Ingenuity Lab based at Jubilee Campus.


How to use your degree in the sector

Within the software development industry there are many roles for software and application development. Job titles may not be standard across the industry so always look at the job description as well as the role title. It may also be useful to consider whether you would like to develop software in-house or for an organisation which provides software services to clients on a project basis.

Companies also recruit for other roles within the software project lifecycle. These might include:

  • project managers
  • technical sales and business development consultants
  • UX and UI designers
  • business analysts
  • systems analysts.

Some roles are less technical, for example a business analyst might be more involved in understanding client software requirements and communicating these to developers. An article from Ubiminds provides a useful and readable description of roles involved in a typical system lifecycle.

Ubiminds - What are the key Development Team Roles, Responsibilities, and Concerns within the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC)

Medium-sized and larger organisations will also require head office personnel. This could include marketing, HR and finance and project management, Graduates from any discipline would be able to apply for these types of roles in the software development sector.

Relevant degrees and/or programming experience

Computer science students are obviously highly sought-after within this sector. Organisations are also often interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) students due to their analytical skills and potential programming or IT experience.

A relevant degree is useful, but anyone with coding skills and some experience with programming languages should be able to apply.

Many employers are interested in candidates who can show that they have written code in their spare time and are able to pick up new languages, so it is not always necessary to have formal work experience.

Some organisations will be happy to train graduates in the software they use. Employers often say they are looking for a passion for technology above any specific coding skills.

It is also useful to talk about your transferable skills, for example how you can work effectively in teams and communicate with others to solve problems effectively.


How do I get a graduate role?

Many larger employers such as Microsoft and IBM offer graduate schemes, some medium-sized employers are also offering graduates roles or junior positions which are suitable for graduates.

Employers may prefer a computer science or STEM degree, but even for technical roles a passion and some work experience in tech may be sufficient.

Bright Network has a useful guide to tech graduate schemesLinkedIn is also a useful tool – recruiters are often proactive about approaching suitable graduates so make sure your profile is current and includes your interest and experience in technology.

Recruiters from global, national and regional IT organisations attend our careers fairs, as well as other events. These opportunities can be useful for networking and gaining information about opportunities. 

Careers fairs and employer presentations taking place at UoN

MyCareer - sources of vacancies targeted at UoN students and graduates

Gradcracker - job vacancies

CW Jobs

Prospects - job vacancies

TARGETjobs - job vacancies


How do I gain work experience?

A year-long placement or summer internship is a fantastic opportunity to gain some work experience.

University of Nottingham students have recently completed year-in-industry placements with companies such as Microsoft, ARM, Ocado, BMW and the Met Office. The Year In Industry scheme (YINI), based at University Park, can also help you source a year-in-industry placement.

Shorter-term work experience or internships will also help when you are applying. Internship and placement opportunities can be found on Gradcracker, Prospects and Rate My Placement websites, as well as My Career. 

MyCareer - sources of vacancies targeted at UoN students and graduates

Gradcracker - job vacancies

Prospects - job vacancies

Rate My Placement

We also have the Nottingham Internship Scheme where UoN students apply for placements in local companies during the Easter and summer vacations.

Nottingham Internship Scheme

As well as formal work experience, it may also be useful for you to gain coding experience through student societies or volunteering. Hacksoc offers opportunities and encourages students from all disciplines to gain coding experience. Any development projects as part of your course, extra-curricular projects, or even personal projects at home, will add value to your CV.



What are my further study options?

It is possible to study MSc courses in computer science and more specialised areas. Although a masters qualification is certainly not a prerequisite, postgraduates may find their specific experiences enable them to progress more quickly.

PhD students may find their skills useful in organisations looking to adopt brand new technologies who might be offering research and development roles.

Horizon is a Nottingham-led research institute bringing together researchers within industry partners looking to innovate.



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