Programming Primer - A short introduction to computer science
This course is aimed at candidates already accepted for one of our taught postgraduate programmes. If you have been made an offer for the MSc in Information Technology (IT) and wish to be considered for the MSc in Computer Science (CS) or the MSc in Data Science (DS) programmes, but did not achieve the appropriate standard in the admission test, then this module was designed for you.
For students who have already been accepted on the MSc in Computer Science (CS) or MSc in Data Science (DS) programmes this "primer" course will act as a "jump start" into your studies (if you weren't that comfortable with the notes or the admission test then this is probably an appropriate course to take).
The module is run in a "blended" style where the cohort reads materials in advance of the class and then the face-to-face session is devoted to exercises, questions, and clarification of the materials. Each session, apart from the first one, has homework which consolidates the materials covered in the session and prepares the student for the following session.
The programming language used for this course is Python.
Please be warned that this module is an intensive study period requiring considerable effort outside of the scheduled sessions.
To provide an introduction to the content of the Computer Systems, Fundamentals of Computing, and Programming modules, from the MSc CS and MSc DS programmes.
The syllabus is provisional and is adapted dynamically to cope with the varying requirements of the student cohort.
Dates for 2018-19
- Monday 10th September
- Wednesday 12th September
- Friday 14th September
- Monday 17th September
- Wednesday 19th September
- Friday 21st September
All sessions run 6pm-8:30pm. Location of all sessions are in rooms 404/405 in the main Birkbeck building. The end of module test will be on Monday, 24th September 2018.
- A (very) brief intro to Computer Science and Data Science
- edit-compile-run; types, variables & assignment
- Virtual Machines (very simple overview - something like the materials in the Computer Systems module)
- The building blocks of programs
- Input and output
- Conditionals, while and for loops
- Functions (methods)
- More on Strings and things
- Functions (static methods): signatures, arguments, local variables
Session Four: The Fundamental of Computing material
- A refresher on basic arithmetic and simple set operations
- Counting in number bases: octal, hex, binary
Session Five: The Computer Systems material
- Computer architecture (CA) and Operating system (OS) overview
- Simple searching and data structures
Session Six: Consolidation and review
All dates and timetables are listed in the programme handbooks of individual programmes.
None - but exercises are provided and it is recommended that the student complete them.
At the end of this primer course there will be an opportunity for MSc IT students to take a revised admissions test. Passing the test at an appropriate level can result in immediate transfer of registration from the IT programme to the CS or DS programmes of study.
For students interested in transferring to the MSc CS programme then passing the test allows the key CS modules (Computer Systems and Fundamentals of Computing) to be taken during the first year, which can facilitate transfer to the CS programme after one year of the IT programme.
Notes and lab worksheets will be available for the course and are included in the course fee.
The recommended programming text depends on the programme of study you wish to undertake.
For prospective Data Science students:
- Python for Everybody - Exploring Data In Python 3 by Charles Severance, 2016
For prospective Computer Science students:
- Think Python - How to Think Like a Computer Scientist by Allen Downey, Second edition, 2015 (for Python 3)
which is the text "Python for Everybody" is based on.
We will provide supplementary materials as required.