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Unit information: Computer Graphics (Teaching Unit) in 2020/21

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Computer Graphics (Teaching Unit)
Unit code COMS30020
Credit points 0
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Lock
Open unit status Not open

COMS10016 Imperative and Functional Programming and COMS10017 Object-Oriented Programming and Algorithms I or equivalent.

COMS20010 Algorithms II or equivalent.

Proficiency programming with C

Knowledge of linear algebra

Knowledge of matrices and vectors


EITHER COMS30018 Computer Graphics (Exam assessment, 10 credits)

OR COMS30019 Computer Graphics (Coursework assessment, 20 credits).

Please note:

COMS30020 is the Teaching Unit for the Computer Graphics option.

Single Honours Computer Science students can choose to be assessed by either examination (10 credits, COMS30018) or coursework (20 credits, COMS30019) by selecting the appropriate co-requisite assessment unit.

Any other students that are permitted to take the Computer Graphics option are assessed by examination (10 credits) and should be enrolled on the co-requisite exam assessment unit (COMS30018).

School/department Department of Computer Science
Faculty Faculty of Engineering


The general area of Computer Graphics encapsulates many different topics such as animation, interaction, physics, geometry and optimisation. This particular unit will focus primarily on rendering - the process of creating “realistic” images from geometry data. This unit does not intend to teach specific graphics APIs (such as OpenGL or DirectX), but rather will explore the fundamental principles and practices that underlie such libraries. The nature of the unit is such that the understanding gained from investigating these fundamental principles and practices will give students a deep understanding of how such APIs operate. As a result of this, students will have the knowledge and insight that will enable them to gain an appreciation of (and rapidly become proficient in) any relevant graphics framework.

This unit will first introduce the basic foundations of computer graphics (pixels, colours, coordinate systems etc.) before going on to consider alternative fundamental approaches to rendering (such as Raytracing and Rasterising). To support the objectives of this unit, various essential and transferable tools and techniques will be covered including interpolation, matrix transformation and applied linear algebra. Students will have the opportunity to explore different approaches to lighting and shadow as well as advanced techniques for improving rendering performance and realism.

Intended learning outcomes

Successful completion of this unit will enable a student, in both Examination and Coursework to:

  1. Select appropriate tools and techniques for rendering, based on an informed understand of the characteristics of each approach
  2. Implement rendering algorithms appropriate to a given context of use
  3. Select and implement appropriate optimisations to improve rendering performance
  4. Make informed trade-offs between output image realism and rendering time

In addition to the above, the Coursework assignment will also enable students to:

  1. Apply tools and techniques to create realistic and aesthetically appealing graphical representations

Teaching details

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

Teaching will take place over Weeks 1-7, with coursework support in weeks 8-10 and for students assessed by examination, consolidation and revision sessions in Weeks 11 and 12.

Assessment Details

Examination details:

January timed assessment (100%, 10 credits)


Coursework details:

Coursework, to be completed in Weeks 8-10 (100%, 20 credits)

Reading and References

The main reading resource for this unit is the well-respected “scratch-a-pixel” site: