COSC101-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

Working in a Digital World

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


This course provides students with an understanding of how the digital world is engineered, and exposes them to a range of tools commonly used by knowledge workers. Students will learn to critically evaluate systems from both a technical and human point of view.

This course will give you a deeper understanding of computers by examining how they work, how they interface to the human world, and what the limits of computation are. It focuses on how the technical considerations (hardware and software) impact the other key part of the computer system, the human. This connects technical issues (such as clock speed, colour depth and encryption) with the corresponding human issues (such as reaction times, colour perception and privacy).

Learning Outcomes

  • On successful completion of this course, students will -
  • Be able to form a critical view of the role of digital systems (including computers, mobile devices and the internet) in society.
  • Be able to explain the key components of a digital system, and how it impacts the user experience.
  • Be able to use digital systems efficiently and effectively.
  • Be able to evaluate new interfaces critically.
  • Be able to understand new systems beyond “screen essentialism” i.e. understanding the underlying mechanisms.
  • Being able to discuss the impact of a digital system on society, including ethical and privacy considerations, and the impact of digital systems in Aotearoa New Zealand as a bicultural society.
  • Be aware of trends in computing, and the limits of computation.


COSC110, DIGI101

Equivalent Courses

Timetable 2023

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 13:00 - 14:00 A3 Lecture Theatre
20 Feb - 2 Apr
24 Apr - 4 Jun
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Friday 12:00 - 13:00 A3 Lecture Theatre
20 Feb - 2 Apr
24 Apr - 4 Jun
Lecture C
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 17:00 - 19:30 C2 Lecture Theatre
22 May - 28 May
Computer Lab A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 15:00 - 17:00 Jack Erskine 136 Lab 4
27 Feb - 2 Apr
24 Apr - 4 Jun
02 Tuesday 09:00 - 11:00 Jack Erskine 136 Lab 4
27 Feb - 2 Apr
24 Apr - 4 Jun
03 Wednesday 14:00 - 16:00 Jack Erskine 136 Lab 4
27 Feb - 2 Apr
24 Apr - 4 Jun
04 Tuesday 14:00 - 16:00 Jack Erskine 131 Lab 1
27 Feb - 2 Apr
24 Apr - 4 Jun

Examination and Formal Tests

Test A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 19:00 - 20:00 Jack Erskine 131 Lab 1
24 Apr - 30 Apr
02 Monday 19:00 - 20:00 Jack Erskine 133 Lab 2
24 Apr - 30 Apr
03 Monday 19:00 - 20:00 Jack Erskine 134 Lab 3
24 Apr - 30 Apr
04 Monday 19:00 - 20:00 Jack Erskine 136 Lab 4
24 Apr - 30 Apr

Timetable Note

• Two lectures per week will provide the platform for learning terminology and the details of how digital systems work and how they impact their users.
• Two hours a week will be scheduled for tutorials; these will vary between hands-on labs where you work with tools and explore how to use them effectively and efficiently, and discussion tutorials where you will gain experience applying the frameworks you have learned to critically discuss issues that arise in digital systems.

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Tim Bell


Christoph Bartneck and Christopher Thomson


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Assignment 15% Assessment of writing about issues in digital systems (using digital publishing tools)
Mid Semester Test 20%
Lab Quizzes 15% Weekly quizzes in tutorials (through the Learn LMS)
Final Exam 50%

Textbooks / Resources

• There is no formal recommended textbook, as we will use online resources and material supplied through Learn.
• We will also make use of Internet sites with relevant material, such as and References to these sites will be given throughout the course, but you should also use them when you need more detailed explanations of terms used in the course.

Additional Course Outline Information

Grade moderation

The Computer Science department's grading policy states that in order to pass a course you must meet two requirements:
1. You must achieve an average grade of at least 50% over all assessment items.
2. You must achieve an average mark of at least 45% on invigilated assessment items.

If you satisfy both these criteria, your grade will be determined by the following University-wide scale for converting marks to grades: an average mark of 50% is sufficient for a C- grade, an average mark of 55% earns a C grade, 60% earns a C+ grade and so forth. However if you do not satisfy both the passing criteria you will be given either a D or E grade depending on marks. Marks are sometimes scaled to achieve consistency between courses from year to year.

Students may apply for special consideration if their performance in an assessment is affected by extenuating circumstances beyond their control.

Applications for special consideration should be submitted via the Examinations Office website within five days of the assessment.

Where an extension may be granted for an assessment, this will be decided by direct application to the Department and an application to the Examinations Office may not be required.

Special consideration is not available for items worth less than 10% of the course.

Students prevented by extenuating circumstances from completing the course after the final date for withdrawing, may apply for special consideration for late discontinuation of the course. Applications must be submitted to the Examinations Office within five days of the end of the main examination period for the semester.

Computing Equipment

The practical part of this course uses personal computers (Windows PCs), which are available in the COSC110 computer laboratory on level 1 of the Erskine building (room 131). You will be shown where this equipment is located within the laboratory, and will be allocated two hours per week of tutor-assisted lab work. Your student card will provide access for some after-hours work in this lab.
Note that outside of lab times the Computer Science Department’s computers may only be used for assigned course work!
The ICT Services department (ICTS) makes PCs available in various workrooms around campus. Most of these facilities are available 24 hours per day, although some of the workrooms can be booked for classes and access may be limited at certain times. Further information can be found here

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $916.00

International fee $4,750.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

Minimum enrolments

This course will not be offered if fewer than 15 people apply to enrol.

For further information see Computer Science and Software Engineering .

All COSC101 Occurrences

  • COSC101-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023