Elements of Computing Science - Online computer science courses | Arts and Science ONLINE

Elements of Computing Science

CISC 101/3.0

Introduction to algorithms: their definition, design, coding, and execution on computers. Intended for students who have no programming experience.

Please note: This course is typically offered in the summer term

Please note: For Fall 2021 CISC 101 will be offered online to distance students on a one-time basis. There will be a limited number of spaces available in this course. Please also note that there may be synchronous sessions in this course. 

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

After completing CISC101, students will be able to:

  • Design new and adapt existing algorithms to solve computing problems
  • Express an algorithm in Python code
  • Examine and refine a Python program to improve its robustness, readability and efficiency
  • Design and construct a simple Graphical User Interface (a “GUI”) using the tkinter module
  • Summarize the historical evolution and modern construction of a computer
  • Discuss current trends and events in computer science
  • Better appreciate their own aptitude for programming


We are surrounded by computing devices that are just useless lumps of metal and plastic without the code written by creative and skilled programmers. These people first understand the problem and then, alone or as part of a team, devise an algorithm or set of algorithms that can solve it. Next the programmer has to translate the algorithm into a language that can be understood by the computing device. If he or she has done their job well, their code will not only work efficiently under normal conditions, but it will work under extreme conditions and continue to work until external system changes require the code to be updated.

The following questions will be discussed:

  • What is an algorithm?
  • How does a computing device work and how can we tell it what to do?
  • Is a working program always a good program?
  • How can you write a program to make it more easily modified by yourself or other programmers?
  • What are the common algorithms that every programmer should know?

What better way to learn how to code an algorithm than to do it? So, along with these discussions, the course will spend considerable time teaching you how to write simple programs in Python. Python is a modern object-oriented language that is popular, powerful and easy to learn.


Summer 22: May-June
Course Dates: 
May 9 - June 17, 2022
Exam Dates: 
June 20- 22, 2022



25% - Five coding assignments
20% - Four quizzes
5% - Participation
50% - Final Exam

** Evaluation Subject to Change **


Discussion topics can come from:

  • Questions on video material and exercises
  • Assignment difficulties
  • Problems understanding quiz solutions
  • Evolution of modern computing technology
  • Current computing trends, events and their effect on you and society

Expectations for Discussion Board includes:

  • Initial post submitted on time as designated in course outline
  • Length of post sufficient to demonstrate active participation and minimum grammatical error
  • Posts should demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key idea and concepts
  • Response to at least two other students and promote discussion by due date
  • Responses to classmates should be respectful and sensitive to others’ gender, culture, background, etc.


Hazem Abbas (hazem.abbas@queensu.ca)

Time Commitment

Students can expect to spend around 120 hours in study, practice and online activity for CISC 101.

  • Each week will have between 4 and 5 hours of videos to study
  • Practice exercises will take between 2 and 3 hours to complete each week
  • The time spent on an assignment will depend on coding aptitude and how well the preceding material has been learned. An assignment could be completed in as little as 2 or 3 hours, but could take up to 6 hours. Assignment 1 will take the least time, and will be the easiest coding assignment to complete. Coding is best learned through practice, so the assignments supply an important reinforcement of course material. Coding efficiency usually improves with experience, so later assignments will not necessarily take longer than earlier ones, even though the completed programs will be longer
  • A quiz will take an hour to write each week, starting in week 2
  • Time spent in forums and chat rooms will vary, but could count for an hour each week
  • Readings are not required, but may be used at the student’s option to provide clarification of video material

Course Resources


SOLUS is Queen’s Student On-Line University System. You’ll have access to a SOLUS account once you become a Queen’s student. You’ll use SOLUS to register for courses, add and drop courses, update your contact information, view financial and academic information, and pay your tuition.

About OnQ

onQ is Queen's online learning platform. You'll log into onQ to access your course. All materials related to your course—notes, readings, videos, recordings, discussion forums, assignments, quizzes, groupwork, tutorials, and help—will be on the onQ site.

About Credit Units

Queen’s courses are weighted in credit units. A typical one-term course is worth 3.0 units, and a typical two-term course is worth 6.0 units. You combine these units to create your degree. A general (three-year) BA or BSc requires a total of 90 credit units.

Computer Requirements

To take an online course, you’ll need a high speed internet connection as well as a microphone and speakers to be able to watch videos, hear sounds, and participate in interactive online activities. A webcam is recommended but not necessary.

System Requirements:

Computer Specifications

  • Windows 8.1 or newer
  • OSX 10.13 (High Sierra) or newer
  • Dual Core 2 GHz processor
  • 4 GB RAM
  • Soundcard
  • USB Headset
  • Webcam

Supported Browsers

  • Chrome (preferred - latest version)
  • Firefox (latest version)
  • Safari is not recommended as it causes several known issues in onQ
  • Edge is not recommended as it causes several known issues in onQ

Internet Connection

  • Wired high speed access: Cable or better
  • Wifi is not recommended


  • Latest version

Media Player

  • Flash (latest version)

Adobe Reader

  • Latest Version


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Grading Scheme

The information below is intended for undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Academic Regulations in other Faculties may differ.

Letter Grade Grade Point

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Tuition Fees

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Non-Queen’s Students

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