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High School Computing

Experience a genuine university course that uses resources taken from undergraduate computing courses. This is a chance to be an undergraduate student for a few hours each week and to prepare yourself for university. Each course runs for one school term and present different aspects of Computer Science. Apply by contacting michael.schofield@unsw.edu.au.

High School Computing – Fundamentals

This course takes resources from COMP1511 - Programming Fundamentals and presents them in a way that high school students can experience a genuine undergraduate university course. For an investment of six hours per week for a ten-week term you can complete half of COMP1511 syllabus.

Time and Location

Students will be expected to work in study groups at a local high school for the ten weeks of NSW term 3 with additional work being done at home. This will require some co-ordination on the part of the students for space and supervision.

A typical study week would involve 3-4 hours in group work at school and 2-3 hours individual study at home. Experienced programmers may find the coursework a little less demanding.

If your circumstances make this difficult then there are ways the coursework can be modified to fit your needs.

Student Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, students will:

  • Have basic proficiency with the C programming language
  • Understand how to use basic data structures
  • Have learnt some techniques for debugging and testing code and programs
  • Have the ability to analyse a problem and solve it using programming

Assumed Knowledge

Before commencing this course, students should:

  • Have basic computer literacy (not necessarily have programmed before)
  • Have a basic understanding of mathematical principles

Otherwise no background knowledge is assumed.

Mentor Support

Additional mentor support is available for students through UNSW programs:

  • Women in Engineering
  • Nura Gili - Centre for Indigenous Programs


This course is an introductory course into the basics of Computer Programming and Computer Science. It is intended as an introduction to studying further in Computer Science or related fields. Topics include:

  • Fundamental programming concepts
  • Introduction to Computer Science
  • The C programming language and use of a C compiler
  • Programming style
  • Program design and organisation concepts
  • Program testing and debugging

Teaching Strategies

This course has a heavy practical orientation. Lectures will revolve around live demonstrations of programming and use of tools. Labs and assignments are also highly practical. Practical sessions will be conducted in a group environment with UNSW tutors supporting each group using remote learning technologies. On top of this, the course is not just about the specific technical aspects of Programming, but also a preparation for studying Computer Science and the thought processes and skills necessary for a career in the field.

Class Activities


Lectures will be used to present the theory and practice of the techniques and tools in this course. There will be extensive use of practical demonstrations during lectures. Lecture notes will be available on the course web pages before each lecture. Lectures are delivered entirely via YouTube, with links being provided each week alongside slides.

Live Streaming and Videos

In addition to scheduled lectures, there will be some more informal streams and pre-recorded videos to give students a chance to ask questions directly as well as cover content that is not "official" course content, but still might be very useful.

Tutorial/Lab Sessions

You will also be expected to attend a tutorial/laboratory session to clarify ideas from lectures and work through exercises based on the lecture material. Following the theoretical section of the tutorial/laboratory session, there will be time to work on practical exercises as well as have some time to have one on one conversations with your tutors to get specific help. Lab exercises will be done in small groups, and you and other students can work through them together, learning from each other. Tutors will facilitate you forming pairs/groups during Laboratory Sessions.

Help Forums

There will be help forums where tutors will be available for help with specific problems and assignment clarification.

Assessable Activities


Students will be asked to write personal reflections on what they have been learning as well as how they would like to improve and learn more about the content in the course. As non-technical communication is seen as a necessary skill for technical professionals, this exercise gives students some practice in this.

Lab Submission

Each lab exercise will be submitted for marking. All students will need to submit solutions, even if they've worked in a group and have the same solution as someone else.


There is one assessable programming assignment. Assignments give you the chance to practice what you have learned on relatively large problems (compared to the small exercises in the labs). Assignments are a very important part of this course, therefore it is essential that you attempt them yourself. Collaboration with other students is limited to discussion of fundamentals, not any discussion of assignment specifics.

Final Exam

The Exam will be an online quiz lasting one hour. It will contain implementation tasks which will require you to write short C programs. It will also contain sections which require you to read code or answer questions to show your knowledge of programming.

Student Conduct

The Student Code of Conduct sets out what the University expects from students as members of the UNSW community. As well as the learning, teaching and research environment, the University aims to provide an environment that enables students to achieve their full potential and to provide an experience consistent with the University's values and guiding principles. A condition of enrolment is that students inform themselves of the University's rules and policies affecting them and conduct themselves accordingly. In particular, students have the responsibility to observe standards of equity and respect in dealing with every member of the University community. This applies to all activities on UNSW premises and all external activities related to study and research. This includes behaviour in person as well as behaviour on social media, for example Facebook groups set up for the purpose of discussing UNSW courses or course work. Behaviour that is considered in breach of the Student Code Policy as discriminatory, sexually inappropriate, bullying, harassing, invading another's privacy or causing any person to fear for their personal safety is serious misconduct and can lead to severe penalties, including suspension or exclusion from UNSW.


Plagiarism is defined as using the words or ideas of others and presenting them as your own. UNSW and CSE treat plagiarism as academic misconduct, which means that it carries penalties as severe as being excluded from further study at UNSW. There are several on-line sources to help you understand what plagiarism is and how it is dealt with at UNSW.

Application and Registration

Students apply for this course by contacting michael.schofield@unsw.edu.au. Places are limited and preference will be given to students based on their answers to the short questionnaire. Successful students will be sent a link to the registration page. A fee of $49 applies for the ten-week course.