CSCU9B1 - Essential Skills for the Information Age

Note: this is the Autumn 2013 syllabus - some details around the regulations have to be updated, but the course content is unchanged.


Prof Carron Shankland (Course organiser)
Room 4B62, Email:

Dr Gabriela Ochoa
Room 4B104, Email:

Dr Jingpeng Li
Room 4B95, Email:

None. However, students who intend following a degree with further computer science should take CSCU9A1 instead.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students will understand:

  • Basic computer architecture and the different types of memory and storage devices.
  • What an operating system is and how it differs from applications software.
  • How their desktop machine fits into the university network and ultimately to the rest of the world.
  • The basic principles of networking and mobile computing.
  • The key ideas in WWW design.

They will also have gained the practical skills to be able to:

  • Organise their workload efficiently.
  • Present their ideas through written, electronic and oral communication.
  • Confidently use the Windows interface and the main components of MS Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access).
  • Adapt and incorporate images into documents using tools such as Paint and Gimp.
  • Create web pages with text editors and other tools, apply style sheets and use basic HTML5.

They will have increased awareness of the place of computers in the modern world, and of some social issues arising from the use of computers.

Transferable Skills

The packages being taught are industry standard and so the practical IT skills developed by students can be generalised and used in any discipline where there is a need for:

  • The preparation of electronic and paper documentation
  • The storage, retrieval, manipulation and visualisation of large amounts of data
  • The use of electronic aids for communication

Students will develop problem-solving skills that can be adapted and used in many other situations where structured, analytical thought is required. Finally, they will be required to demonstrate the ability to apply theory and techniques to unseen problems, to work independently and under a time constraint.


  • Computer systems (3 lectures)
    • Introduction to the University's computer systems
    • Computer architecture
    • Files and file systems
    • Operating systems
  • Networks and the Internet (3 lectures)
    • Network topology
    • The Internet (WWW, e-mail, FTP, search engines)
    • Network protocols
    • Domains and routing
    • Client-server architectureres.
  • Mobile Computing (1 lecture)
  • Text and Graphics (7 practicals)
    • Word processing
    • Document Organisation, Referencing, Security and Macros
    • Mail merges and report production
    • Image manipulation
    • Creating electronic presentations
    • Timing, Animation and Multimedia in presentations
  • Spreadsheets (2 practicals)
    • The nature of a spreadsheet
    • Formulas, relative/absolute addressing
    • Producing graphs and charts
    • Working with groups of spreadsheets
  • Databases (3 practicals)
    • The nature of a database
    • Tables and relations
    • Queries
    • Report production
  • Web design (3 lectures, 7 practicals)
    • Introduction to XHTML
    • Using Cascading Style Sheets
    • Using simple scripts and embedding multimedia objects
    • Design for usability and accessibility



  • Don't Make Me Think!: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, Steve Krug, New Riders; 2 edition (18 Aug 2005). ISBN-13: 978-0321344755
  • Discovering Computers, Brief: Your Interactive Guide to the Digital World (International edition, 2011), Shelly et al, Course Technology, ISBN-13: 9781111532314
  • Creating a Web Site: The Missing Manual, Matthew MacDonald (2011), O'Reilly, E-book ISBN: 9781449398743, Print ISBN: 144939874-X

None of the above texts cover HTML or Microsoft Office in any great detail. There are abundant resources available for learning about these topics, including websites, books (many of which are in the University library) and online help.


  • Practical Checkpoints (30%)
  • Website design, implementation and testing (35%)
  • Class test (spreadsheets) (35%)

In order to pass the module it is necessary to attempt every assessment although it is not necessary to pass them all. Your final mark will be calculated by combining your mark for each assessment. In order to obtain a pass mark for the module you must:

  • Submit all items of assessed coursework

Non-submission of any single item of assessed coursework will result in the award of 0% mark for the module as a whole. This rule (regarding coursework) may be relaxed for students who can show good cause for failure to submit. Good cause may include illness (for which a medical certificate or other evidence will be required). If a student is unable to attend the exam, he/she must apply to Student Programmes for a deferred exam. There are established procedures for this: further information is available from the Student Programmes Office.

If you do not attend the class test, you will receive zero marks for that test. A further consequence will be that you will receive an 0% mark for the module. Assessed coursework that is submitted late will be accepted up to seven calendar days after the submission date (or expiry of any agreed extension). See the online guidance about late submission and penalties. This rule (regarding coursework) may be relaxed for students who can show good cause for failure to submit. Good cause may include illness (for which a medical certificate or other evidence will be required). Similarly, failure to attend a test may be excused if there is good cause.

Students who achieve less than 30% in the checkpoints will have their overall modules mark capped at 40%.

Students who obtain 1-39% for the module overall will be eligible for a Repeat examination. For CSCU9B1 this will consist of the Spreadsheets test. The mark awarded following a Repeat examination is capped at 40%.

If, at any stage, you foresee any difficulties in meeting these requirements, please contact the Course Organiser as soon as possible. The Course Organiser is Prof Carron Shankland, room: 4B62 - Cottrell Building, phone: 01786 467444 (Internal: 7444).


Work which is submitted for assessment must be your own work. All students should note that the University has a formal policy on plagiarism which can be found at

Plagiarism means presenting the work of others as though it were your own. The University takes a very serious view of plagiarism, and the penalties can be severe (ranging from a reduced mark in the assessment, through a fail mark for the module, to expulsion from the University for more serious, or repeated, offences). Specific guidance in relation to Computing Science assignments may be found in the Computing Science Student Handbook

Attendance Requirements

You are expected to attend all lectures and practical classes, in order to derive the maximum benefit from your time at University. It is your responsibility to make the most of the opportunities for education offered to you by the University.

Student Handbook for Computing Science

You will receive a copy of the Computing Science student handbook. You should read this carefully, particularly the sections on assessment and plagiarism. There is also useful information in there about course structure, which will help you plan your future module choices in Computing. The handbook is also available online at


Arrangements are in place so that any student with a valid University username and password can see their academic history, at any time, including the most recent mark (from anywhere in the world) via the World Wide Web and Succeed.

Further information and teaching materials for this module.

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