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Programming and Fundamental Algorithms


Current progress in information technology has meant the majority of organisations are using IT to innovate, and without an understanding of fundamental computing concepts future managers, scientists, engineers will be unable to take strategical decisions and provide critical thinking on most projects in full confidence.

The module is focused around two core themes in computing: algorithms and programming/development. These two concepts go hand in hand and it is understood that to be a good developer, algorithmic concepts need to be comprehensively understood and students should be able to critical apply knowledge from the theoretical aspects towards practical implementations of solutions for complex system designs in business, engineering, science and IT.

The programming focus is based on a high level programming language such as the C/C++ programming language and/or python, considered by many as one of the more useful programming languages and still the language of choice in many industries – once mastered the transition to the other popular programming languages Java, C-sharp, Objective C can be relatively straightforward. Importantly, this is not about teaching programming but about forming a conceptual understanding of computing principles with programming as a vehicle to further grasp these concepts with the added bonus of adding an important skill to the CV. Future editions may adopt other programming languages.

Principal Module Aims:

The over-arching aim of this module is: Give students the ability and confidence to solve problems efficiently using computers.

The sub-aims of this module are: Form an understanding of some classic algorithms from the literature Develop the understanding of which solutions/algorithmic paradigms work best for certain types of problems Design straightforward algorithms for yet unseen problems that have straightforward solutions Learn programming methods and how to design good code for a proposed algorithm.


  • Master a sound, conceptual understanding of the theory and concepts of programming and fundamental algorithms and data structures.
  • Autonomously distinguish the right solution for a given problem from amongst a set of algorithmic and programming tools.
  • Program effectively and independently in a high level programming language at an intermediate level.
  • Take, straightforward to complex, algorithmic concepts, whether created or based on literature and implement them correctly.


  • Introduction Sorting as an introduction to algorithms
    Data structures
    Complexity and decision making
    Brute force and divide and conquer methods for solving problems
    Dynamic programmig and greedy methods
    Exhaustive search and recursion
    Advanced Data structures
    Graph algorithms and data structure– algorithms based on graph theory for solving problems that can be expressed as graphs
    Misc. algorithms (eg string matching, spatial data structures etc.) as part of in-class tutorials, introduced throughout the module.
    Limitations of algorithms and coping with limitations
    Conclusions, recap and next steps
  • Tutorials
    Introduction to programming
    Introduction to Types and Commands
    Dealing with pointers
    Generics and abstract data types
    Concepts of Object Oriented Programming Inheritance Polymorphism
    File I/O
    Introduction to multithreading
  • 4 x problem solving examples in class (
  • Demonstrations and group work Worksheets solving one/two problems from each lecture 2 versions of problems one more advanced for more advanced students Group project (in class) – learn advantages, pitfalls and practicalities of programming as part of a team


  • PMA Project (85%)
  • Take home project (15%)


2 weeks includin 16.6 hours of lectures, 3 hours of seminars and 21 hours of tutorials


Please note although module duration is expressed as 2 weeks, in practice there is only 1 scheduled week of campus-time, and the other week is there to account for pre-reading which can be done in students’ own time and not in a specified or scheduled week.