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Unit information: Origins of Computer Science in 2017/18

Unit name Origins of Computer Science
Unit code COMS12303
Credit points 10
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. David May
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Computer Science
Faculty Faculty of Engineering


There is an increasing amount of important historical background to modern Computer Science. Far from being an interesting aside, this background often offers insight into why the subject has developed in a given direction, for example as a result of economic, social or technical factors. The aim of this unit is to overview of the origins of Computer Science as a subject, focusing on prominent figures, theories and events in history.

Intended learning outcomes

Successful completion of this unit will enable you to: appreciate prominent figures, theories and events which have shaped the subject of Computer Science, reason about the impact and sense of technical decisions in relation to the historic, social, economic and technological factors of the time, access, read and précis research level literature.

Teaching details

24 hours of lecture/seminar time, 80-100 hours of individual study. Presentation of material during lecture/seminar time will be split between (invited) staff and students, the later of which will be expected to present an overview of the reading matter assigned to that slot.

Assessment Details

Coursework (100%). Final marks to be derived from a combination of presentation of material during lecture/seminar slots (e.g.) oral presentations, and written material (e.g.) essays and précis.

Reading and References

University of Chicago Press The Chicago Manual of Style: The Essential Guide for Writers, Editors and Publishers Any edition fine (currently 16th edition available) ISBN: 978-0226104201 Background.

W. Strunk Jr and E.B. White The Elements of Style Longman ISBN: 978-0205309023 Recommended.

A full reading list of material available online (for example online journals) is available via the unit web-page.