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The University of Southampton

COMP6233 Topics in Computer Science

Module Overview

Computer science is now a mature discipline, with a well defined curriculum, for example from the ACM/IEEE joint task force, or the UK's Quality Assurance Agency. Any student of computer science should be familiar with a range of topics such as computability, algorithms, computational complexity, computer design, programming language design, programming methodology, data structures, information retrieval, parallel and distributed computing, computer networks, cyber security and artificial intelligence. In addition, computing students should be aware of the effects their field has had, and will continue to have, on individuals, organisations, and society. This module gives an opportunity to review the breadth of computer science, to focus on some key ideas, and to reflect on its wider impact.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Identify the main fields of computer science and explain the important concepts in these fields
  • Read critically key articles which have had significant impact on the discipline
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Discuss and debate key topics and questions of interest within the discipline and to society in general
  • Motivate outsiders to learn more about computer science
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Produce computational artefacts such as web apps or animations which demonstrate key concepts


- Algorithms and Computational Complexity - Models of computation, computability and decidability - Design of computers and operating systems - Information storage and retrieval from databases to hypertext - Parallel and distributed computing - Computer Networks and security - Programming languages and methodologies - Artificial Intelligence: techniques and challenges

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Students will given a list of key computer science articles to read through the semester. There will be 2 or 3 contact sessions per week. These will give students opportunities to discuss the material, to clarify any details they are unsure of, and consider the impact of the ideas presented both on the field of computer science and also how their applications have impacted individuals, organisations, and society. During the course, students will be tested on their understanding of the directed reading. Written feedback will be given on these short answer and multiple choice tests in the following week's classes, together with model answers. In addition, a series of seminars or debates will be organised on a topic based on the directed reading, for example: which language is best for teaching students to program. Students will be assessed on their participation and contributions to these sessions. Generic verbal feedback will be given at the end of the discussion, and written feedback at the end of the whole series. Finally, students will in pairs develop and demonstrate an application, web app, or animation to explain and illustrate a key concept in computer science to an interested teenager. Verbal feedback on this artefact will be given immediately after the demonstration.

Preparation for scheduled sessions12
Wider reading or practice38
Completion of assessment task64
Follow-up work12
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

John MacCormick (2013). Nine Algorithms That Changed the Future. 

J Glenn Brookshear (2011). Computer Science: an overview. 

Reading List. Students will be provided a list of classic papers which are available on-line which they will be expected to read in order to gain an overview of the field, and also have access to a range of textbooks which help them prepare for the assessed seminars and tests.



MethodPercentage contribution
Continuous Assessment 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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