Computer Science (COMP) 393

Advanced Graphics with Shaders (Revision 1)

COMP 393 Course website

Permanently closed, effective April 26, 2018.

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Science

Prerequisite: COMP 390, and one of the following: COMP 206, COMP 268, COMP 306, COMP 307, or COMP 308. Basic C/C++ programming knowledge is required.

Faculty: Faculty of Science & Technology

Centre: School of Computing and Information Systems

COMP 393 is not available for challenge.

**Note: Students who are concerned about not meeting the prerequisites for this course are encouraged to contact the course coordinator before registering


Advanced Graphics with Shaders is a 3-credit senior course that expands students’ capabilities from basic computer graphics knowledge to advanced graphics rendering techniques using OpenGL Shading Language (GLSL). GLSL belongs to a new genre of procedural shading languages, or shaders, which are widely used in advanced or realistic graphics rendering applications, including gaming and graphics tools.

The course is part of the Gaming Development Certificate offered by the School of Computing and Information Systems to meet the needs of gaming developers amid the competitive gaming industry.

Learning Outcomes

After successfully completing this course, students will be able to

  • design advanced graphics using shaders.
  • apply graphics algorithms to design and render realistic scenes.
  • program visually pleasing computer graphics scenes using GLSL.
  • articulate the trade-offs between visual effect and computational loading.


Unit 1: Preparation

  • This orientation unit covers the necessary computer setup, expectations, communication, and prerequisite skills to facilitate a successful, meaningful, and satisfactory learning experience

Unit 2: Introduction to Shaders and GLSL

  • This orientation unit covers the necessary computer setup, expectations, communication, and prerequisite skills to facilitate a successful, meaningful, and satisfactory learning experience

Unit 3: Visual Realism

  • This unit invites students to the technical aspect and psychological component in visual realism

Unit 4: Programming with GLSL

  • This unit presents an overview of the GLSL specification as a programming language. The syntax of GLSL is very similar to that of C/C++

Unit 5: Basic Surface-rendering Techniques

  • This unit introduces programming for loaded and calculated texturing

Unit 6: Noise

  • This unit discusses the noise function, the 2D noise function, and its applications. Students will extend their skills to applying 3D noise functions

Unit 7: Anti-Aliasing

  • This unit introduces a couple of techniques to tackle the problem visual quality and applies them in computer graphics scenes

Unit 8: Lighting and Shading

  • This unit explains the idea and the application of the bidirectional reflectance distribution function (BDRF) model

Unit 9: Basic Scene-modeling Strategies

  • This unit introduces simple geometry, curves, and fractals to use in creating more realistic renderings

Unit 10: Advanced Lighting Techniques

  • This unit introduces the use of normal maps for the sophisticated rendering of scenes

Unit 11: Shadows and Atmospheric Effects

  • This unit introduces shadows in computer graphics and a shadow map technique to render soft shadows. It also discusses atmospheric effects

Unit 12: Selected Topics

  • This unit gathers several interesting topics in computer graphics that are not discussed in previous units


To receive credit for COMP 393, you must achieve a course composite grade of at least “D” (50 percent), an average grade of at least 50 percent on the assignments, and a grade of at least 50 percent on the final examination. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Assignment Weight
Assignment 1: Surface Rendering 5%
Assignment 2: 3D Noise 10%
Assignment 3: Anti-aliasing 5%
Assignment 4: Object Modeling 5%
Assignment 5: UV map 5%
Assignment 6: Shadows 10%
Programming Project 30%
Final Take-home assessment 30%

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

Course Materials


There is no textbook for COMP 393. The learning materials are provided online through Athabasca University's learning management system, Moodle.

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 1, June 24, 2014.

Updated April 03 2019 by Student & Academic Services