Foundations of Computing – Subject Review

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Sonia is currently a second year Arts student with a double major of Media and Communications and Psychology. In her spare time she loves to go for walks and do photography.

Foundations of Computing involved learning the programming language Python. You don’t need any prior experience, the language is taught from scratch. However, if you know your stuff, you can undertake a programming competency test, which with a 75% pass mark, allows you to skip ahead to Foundation of Algorithms.

The first half of semester is spent purely on the syntax of the language, learning all the essential methods and data structures. After, special interest areas are covered which do vary from year to year. Our topics included algorithms, html and character encoding.

Each week there were three one hour lectures, and a two hour workshop. The first two lectures relate purely to Python language content, with the third lecture rotating between revision and guest lectures. The revision lectures were an open forum for anyone to ask questions. The guest lectures included individuals from Google, The Age and University of Melbourne, who discussed these specific area of work and included new computing concepts as well.

The lecture content was explained clearly, making it easy to understand. If anything was still a miss, there were many avenues for help. These included office hours, online help sessions, and tutors and demonstrators in workshops, as well as the revision lectures.

Assessment included worksheets (10%), 3 x projects (10% each), Mid Semester Test (10%) and the Exam (50%). The projects included interesting ways of applying code to practice such as writing a program to solve a maze.

Overall, while it was challenging at times, I really enjoyed this subject. The staff involved were always enthusiastic and with the amount of assistance available, you were never left not knowing what to do. Moreover, the guest lectures gave you an idea of where a career in computing could take you, whether it’s data journalism at The Age or a developer at Google. This subject does require you to make the effort, but it is well worth it for the skills you acquire, allowing you to understand concepts that are applicable in other programming languages as well.

Foundations of Computing is the core subject for computing oriented majors in the Bachelor of Science. It can be taken as a breadth subject also. See the handbook link here

– Sonia

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