British Computer Society

British Computer Society
British Computer Society
Type Professional Organisation
Founded 1957
Origins London Computer Group, The British Computer Society
Key people HRH The Duke of Kent, KG (Patron)
Area served UK and worldwide
Focus Information and Communications Technology
Method Chartered status, Industry standards, Conferences, Publications and regulation of ICT education
Members 70,000+
Motto Enabling the information society

The British Computer Society, is a professional body and a learned society that represents those working in Information Technology in the United Kingdom and internationally. Established in 1957, in 2009 it rebranded as BCS — The Chartered Institute for IT, although this has not yet been reflected in a legal name change.[1]



With a worldwide membership of over 70,000 members in over 100 countries, BCS is a registered charity and was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1984. Its objectives are to promote the study and application of communications technology and computing technology and to advance knowledge of education in ICT for the benefit of professional practitioners and the general public.

BCS is a member institution of Engineering Council UK, and therefore is responsible for regulation of ICT and computer science fields within the UK. The BCS is also a member of the Council of European Professional Informatics Societies (CEPIS).

BCS has offices off the Strand in Southampton Street, south of Covent Garden in central London. The main administrative offices are in Swindon, Wiltshire, west of London. It also has an office in Sri Lanka.

Members are sent the bimonthly IT professional magazine ITNOW (formerly The Computer Bulletin).


The Coat of Arms of the British Computer Society.
The former logo of The British Computer Society.

The forerunner of BCS was the London Computer Group (LCG), founded in 1956. BCS was formed a year later from the merger of the LCG and an unincorporated association of scientists into an unincorporated club. In October 1957, BCS was incorporated, by Articles of Association, as The British Computer Society Ltd: the first President of BCS was Sir Maurice Wilkes (1913–2010), FRS.

In 1966, the BCS was granted charitable status and in 1970, the BCS was given Armorial Bearings including the shield and crest. The major ethical responsibilities of BCS are emphasized by the leopard's face, surmounting the whole crest and depicting eternal vigilance over the integrity of the Society and its members.

The BCS patron is HRH The Duke of Kent, KG. He became patron in December 1976 and has been actively involved in BCS activities, particularly having been President in the Silver Jubilee Year in 1982–1983.

In 2007, BCS launched — a job site specifically aimed at IT professionals.[citation needed]

On 21 September 2009, the British Computer Society went through a transformation and re-branded itself as BCS — The Chartered Institute for IT.[1] In 2010, an Extraordinary General Meeting was called to discuss the direction of the BCS.[2][3] The debate has been covered by the computing press.[4][5][6][7]


BCS is governed by a Trustee Board comprising the President, the Deputy President, the immediate past President, up to nine Vice Presidents (including Vice-President Finance), and five Professional Members elected by the advisory Council.

The BCS advisory Council elects the Honorary Officers — the President, the Deputy President and up to nine Vice-Presidents, together with the immediate past President and five members of Council.

The advisory Council provides advice to the Trustee Board on the direction and operation of BCS; in particular it is consulted on strategic plans and the annual budget. The Council is a representative body of the membership, with members elected directly by the professional membership, and by the Branches, Groups and Forums.

Chartered IT Professional

The BCS is the only professional body in the United Kingdom with the ability to grant chartered status to IT professionals under its Royal Charter, granted to them by the Privy Council.[8] Thus having the ability to grant Chartered (Professional) status to both its Fellows and Professional members. Known as Chartered IT Professional, they are entitled to use the suffix CITP. The BCS keeps a register of current Chartered Members and Fellows.[9]


BCS has different grades of membership:

Honorary grade
Professional grades
  • Fellow (FBCS)
  • Member (MBCS)
Ordinary grades
  • Associate Member (AMBCS)
  • Student Member
Group, corporate and other membership categories
  • Affiliate: for those with an interest in IT but not yet employed in an IT role.
  • Group membership: nearly 200 organisations now encourage their IT professionals to join the Society through its Group Membership Scheme.[11]
  • Education affiliates: education intuitions can also be accredited by BCS.[12]
Other Chartered designations
Designatory (post-nominal) letters

Members are encouraged to display the designatory letters to which they are entitled whenever appropriate. The order of designatory (post-nominal) letters is complex and open to a certain amount of interpretation. The accepted authority on this subject is ‘Debrett’s Correct Form’.[13] Normally these should appear after decorations, degrees and chartered letters. Members holding CEng should also display the designatory letters of the institution through which they are registered immediately after the CEng. Conventionally, members holding Chartered status (CITP) display this immediately after their membership letters (e.g., FBCS CITP or MBCS CITP). However, as CITP may now be awarded by other organisations it may also be displayed separately.

Some examples of BCS-related post-nominals:

  • Mr Frank James MBE, FBCS.
  • Mr Frank James MBE, MSc, CEng, MBCS, MIET.
  • Mr Frank James MBE, BSc (Hon), MBCS CITP.
  • Mr Frank James MBE, MSc, CSci, CITP, MIET.


BCS provides a range of qualifications both for users of computers and IT professionals.

BCS higher education qualifications

BCS conducts its own BCS Higher Education Qualifications in many countries. It was formerly known as BCS Professional Examinations. The levels are;

Other certifications


BCS also offers professional qualifications via its Information Systems Examination Board (ISEB).

ISEB provides a wide range of qualifications for IT professionals covering major areas including Management, Development, Service Delivery and Quality.[15]

ECDL ft rgb2.jpg
European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL)

BCS is licensed to offer the ECDL qualification in the UK.

Advanced ECDL

The advanced course of ECDL ("Advanced ECDL") has four sections, each a qualification in its own right. Upon achieving all four advanced qualifications, the individual will receive a qualification as an "ECDL Expert" — in the UK, this confers upon the person Associate Membership of The British Computer Society, should that person wish to sign up to a code of conduct and join BCS.


The e-Citizen qualification allows beginners to get online and start using the Internet. The qualification has been designed to provide a basic understanding of the Internet and to start using the web safely, from reading email to shopping online.[16]


e-type is a qualification that allows indiviuduals to improve and certify their typing skills. The average user can save up to 21 days a year by improving their typing speed as well as preventing repetitive strain injury (RSI). e-type comes with full support materials and computer based courseware before allowing the user to assess their skills using a simple online test.[17]


In common with many professional institutions, BCS has a number of regional branches and specialist groups. Currently there are 45 regional branches in the UK, 16 international sections and 50 specialist groups.

Regional branches

International sections

Specialist Groups

  • Fortran
  • Geospatial
  • Green IT
  • Health Informatics (Interactive Care)
  • Health Informatics (London and South East)
  • Health Informatics (Northern)
  • Health Informatics (Nursing)
  • Health Informatics (Primary Health Care)
  • Health Informatics (Scotland)
  • Independent Computer Contractors (ICC)
  • Learning & Development (L&D)
  • Information Retrieval
  • Information Risk Management and Assurance (IRMA)
  • Information Security
  • Interaction (formerly HCI)
  • Internet
  • IT Can Help
  • Law
  • Methods and Tools
  • Natural Language Translation
  • Open Source
  • Parallel Processing
  • Payroll
  • Project Management (PROMS-G)
  • Quality
  • Requirements Engineering (RESG)
  • Scottish Testing
  • Service Management
  • Sociotechnical
  • Software Practice Advancement (SPA)
  • Software Process Improvement Network (SPIN-UK)
  • Software Testing
  • Young Professionals Group (YPG)

See also


  1. ^ a b Bailey, Dave (21 September 2009). "BCS becomes The Chartered Institute for IT". Computing (British Computer Society). Retrieved 9 March 2011. 
  2. ^ "BCS Reform". British Computer Society. 2010. [dead link]
  3. ^ "BCS — Building for your Future". British Computer Society. 2010. [dead link]
  4. ^ Goodwin, Bill (14 April 2010). "The EGM debate: BCS v Len Keighley". Computer Weekly. Retrieved 9 March 2011. 
  5. ^ Cooter, Maxwell (4 June 2010). "BCS membership fights over direction". Network World. Retrieved 9 March 2011. 
  6. ^ Phipps, Simon (18 June 2010). "BCS EGM: It's Time To Vote For Transparency". Computerworld UK. Retrieved 9 March 2011. 
  7. ^ Oates, John (21 June 2010.). "BCS trustee threatens rebels with libel action". The Register. Retrieved 9 March 2011. 
  8. ^ "Chartered IT Professional (CITP)". British Computer Society. Retrieved 9 March 2011. 
  9. ^ Burgess, Fiona (18 May 2008). "Chartered IT Professional (CITP)". Retrieved 9 March 2011. 
  10. ^ "BCS Distinguished Fellow awarded to Scott McNealy" (Press release). British Computer Society. 15 November 2007. Retrieved 9 March 2011. 
  11. ^ "Join the industry body for IT professionals". British Computer Society. Retrieved 9 March 2011. 
  12. ^ "Education Affiliates". British Computer Society. Retrieved 9 March 2011. 
  13. ^ {{cite web |url='s-publications/books/correct-form.aspx
  14. ^ "BCS Diploma in Business Analysis". British Computer Society. Retrieved 9 March 2011. 
  15. ^ "ISEB Qualifications". British Computer Society. Retrieved 9 March 2011. 
  16. ^ "unknown". British Computer Society. [dead link]
  17. ^ "unknown". British Computer Society. [dead link]

External links

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