Computer Science (COMP) 200

Introduction to Computing and Information Systems (Revision 7)

COMP 200 Course website

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online (with eTextbook)

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Science

Skills Required: Basic computer literacy and competence are required.

Prerequisite: None. Complete the steps to Are You Ready to Start an SCIS Program or Course?

Precluded Course: None

Faculty: Faculty of Science and Technology

Centre: School of Computing and Information Systems

COMP 200 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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**Note: Students who are not Computer Science majors, professionals, or who are not committed to a program of studies in CS should NOT take this course and should consider COMP 210 or 214 instead. Students who are concerned about not meeting the prerequisites for this course are encouraged to contact the course coordinator before registering.


COMP 200 is a three-credit course designed to cover the fundamentals of information systems, and to serve as an introduction to, and prerequisite for, a program in computing and information systems (CIS). The course covers basic hardware concepts; the structure (or architecture) of computers; the software hierarchy, from systems software to application programs; as well as concepts and development of the field.

Students in this course will be expected to use a combination of locally installed and external electronic materials to develop skills needed for further study in the field. These skills include downloading, installing, and using specialized software tools, and setting the paths to allow programs to access their components and files. Because in COMP 200 is a preparatory course for further study in computer science, the level and difficulty of technical content is fairly high.

For students not majoring in computer science, COMP 200 may not be an appropriate choice. For students seeking a junior Science option or introductory, user-oriented computer course, COMP 210 or COMP 214 are recommended. (Check your program regulations and transfer credit agreements where appropriate).

Learning Objectives

Students successfully completing this course will be able to:

  • discuss the importance of information systems in organizations.
  • list and discuss key steps in microcomputer development and evolution.
  • correctly use terms and methods of data representation and measurement.
  • define and discuss system software components.
  • describe the roles and functions of the central processing unit, primary memory, and storage.
  • describe and discuss the types and functions of peripheral, or auxiliary, devices.
  • list and describe single- and multi-user business applications.
  • describe the components of relational databases.
  • perform a simple data normalization.
  • describe the principles of integrated and shared information systems.
  • describe the key elements of data- and tele-communications technology.
  • define and describe client/server systems and Internet applications.
  • describe the methods and tools for developing application software, including programming languages.
  • describe the principles and methods of systems analysis, design, and implementation
  • write simple scripting programs using Python.
  • install and use the basic features of a programming language compiler.
  • identify and discuss computer technology trends and emerging technologies.

Learning Outcomes

After completing COMP 200, students should be well prepared for further study in computer science (CS) topics such as system or network administration, programming, and database design or administration. Students will have gained some basic programming experience and will be familiar with the installation and basic use of programming tools required in more advanced CS courses.


COMP 200 consists of the following six units:

Unit One — Foundations of Computer Science

  • Section 1: An Introduction to Computer Science
  • Section 2: Algorithm Discovery and Design
  • Section 3: The Efficiency of Algorithms

Unit Two — Hardware

  • Section 1: Binary Numbers, Boolean Logic, and Gates
  • Section 2: Computer Systems Organization

Unit Three — The Virtual Machine

  • Section 1: System Software and Virtual Machines
  • Section 2: Computer Networks, the Internet, and the World Wide Web
  • Section 3: Information Security

Unit Four — Software

  • Section 1: Introduction to High Level Programming
  • Section 2: The Tower of Babel
  • Section 3: Compilers and Language Translation
  • Section 4: Models of Computation

Unit Five — Applications

  • Section 1: Simulation and Modeling
  • Section 2: Electronic Commerce and Databases
  • Section 3: Artificial Intelligence
  • Section 4: Computer Graphics and Entertainment

Unit Six — Social Issues in Computing

  • Section 1: Making Decisions about Computers, Information, and Society


To receive credit for COMP 200, you must achieve a course composite grade of at least “D” (50 percent), including an average grade 50 percent on the course projects, and at least 50 percent on the final examination. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Quiz 1 2%
Assignment 1 3%
Quiz 2 2%
Assignment 2 3%
Quiz 3 2%
Assignment 3 3%
Quiz 4 2%
Assignment 4 3%
Quiz 5 2%
Assignment 5 3%
Quiz 6 2%
Assignment 6 3%
Project 1 10%
Project 2 10%
Project 3 10%
Conference Participation: 10%
Final Exam 30%
Total 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators that can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials

Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

Schneider, G. Michael & Gersting, Judith L. (2013). Invitation to Computer Science (6th Ed.). Boston, MA: Nelson Education.

A print version of the eText can be purchased from the publisher through a direct-to-student link provided in the course website; you can also acquire the textbook on your own if you wish.

The remaining learning materials are distributed in electronic format. At this time, those materials include:

  • Computer Science 200 Study Guide.
  • Detailed descriptions of the requirements for the individual quizzes and assignments.
  • A course evaluation form.
  • selected online resources.
  • Additional supporting materials of interest to students of COMP 200 may occasionally be made available electronically.
  • MS-Access may also be used in Comp 200, but is not required. A free option to download MS-Access is included in the online course materials, or the database design project may be done without using a database management program.

Challenge for Credit Course Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows students to demonstrate that they have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university level course.

Full information for the Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the COMP 200 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least "D" (50 percent) on the examination and "D" (50 percent) on the project.

Project Exam Total
50% 50% 100%

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 7, June 16, 2015.

View previous syllabus

Updated May 10 2016 by Student & Academic Services