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Unit information: Introduction to Computer Science in 2020/21

Unit name Introduction to Computer Science
Unit code COMSM0084
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Ray
Open unit status Not open



COMSM1201 Programming in C

COMSM1302 Overview of Computer Architecture

School/department Department of Computer Science
Faculty Faculty of Engineering


This unit provides an introduction to Computer Science for students who do not have a background in the subject. It aims to provide students with a broad overview of the discipline in terms of its history, key developments, its current role in society, industry and the wider economy, professional, legal and ethical issues, current research challenges, and career possibilities for Computer Science graduates.

In addition, the unit will prepare students for undertaking a major computer science project, both within a group and as individuals, covering all aspects including what makes a good project, background research, software development and research-oriented projects, the concepts of design and specification, industrial and interdisciplinary collaboration, the importance of testing and evaluation, the role of innovation and enterprise, and effective mechanisms for working in teams. Students will begin preparation for their summer project within the unit, including choosing a suitable topic and supervisor.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this unit students will be able to demonstrate that they have introductory level knowledge and understanding of:

  • key developments in the history of computer science
  • important professional, legal and ethical issues
  • current research challenges
  • computer science in industry, commerce and the wider economy
  • innovation and enterprise in technology development

In addition, students will be able to demonstrate a good understanding of:

  • what makes a good computer science project
  • how to undertake background research
  • the benefits of industrial and interdisciplinary collaboration
  • how to work effectively in a team
  • testing and evaluation

Teaching details

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions, including lectures, practical activities supported by drop-in sessions, group work and self-directed exercises

Assessment Details

100% coursework

Reading and References

  • Dewdney, A.K., New Turing Omnibus (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003) ISBN: 978-0805071665
  • The BCS Code of Conduct:
  • Bott, Frank, Professional Issues in Information Technology (2nd Edition) (The British Computer Society, 2014) ISBN: 978-1780171807