Fall 2023 - CMPT 120 D400

Introduction to Computing Science and Programming I (3)

Class Number: 6048

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 6 – Dec 5, 2023: Mon, Wed, Fri, 11:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

    Oct 10, 2023: Tue, 11:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 11, 2023
    Mon, 12:00–3:00 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    BC Math 12 or equivalent is recommended.



An elementary introduction to computing science and computer programming, suitable for students with little or no programming background. Students will learn fundamental concepts and terminology of computing science, acquire elementary skills for programming in a high-level language, e.g. Python. The students will be exposed to diverse fields within, and applications of computing science. Topics will include: pseudocode; data types and control structures; fundamental algorithms; recursion; reading and writing files; measuring performance of algorithms; debugging tools; basic terminal navigation using shell commands. Treatment is informal and programming is presented as a problem-solving tool. Students with credit for CMPT 102, 128, 130 or 166 may not take this course for further credit. Students who have taken CMPT 125, 129, 130 or 135 first may not then take this course for further credit. Quantitative/Breadth-Science.


CMPT 120 Placement Test
Do you have enough computing knowledge to pass our placement test? Have you taken Computing Science courses in High School or elsewhere? Have you worked in a business or volunteered as a computer programmer? Have you written programs of 200-300 lines of code or more?
IF YES you may NOT have to take CMPT 120 and could enroll directly into the next required course – CMPT 125. Challenge yourself and take our placement test.  https://courses.cs.sfu.ca/forms/cmpt-cmpt-120-placement-test/
IF NO – please go ahead and enroll in CMPT 120! You are in the right place!

Course Info
You will learn computer science concepts and solve real-world problems using the Python programming language. This course will be offered in person, face-to-face. Details of technology and tools needed in class and for tests will be provided in the first class of the semester. 

This course's lecture time will often feature live coding exercises where we will collaboratively work through creating a program. Students are recommended to bring a laptop to lecture, if possible. Labs will help you apply the ideas you have learned with the support of TAs. Assignments will help further build your confidence with problem solving through programming. Some assignments will allow you to work with a partner (if you choose). Once you have successfully completed the course, you will have the necessary skills to program the computer to solve interesting problems. Plus, you will appreciate and write quality code for good causes.

New AI tools (like ChatGPC and Co-pilot) can complement many of the skills taught in this class. However, students must learn to write the code themselves and not just rely on an AI. To ensure students are learning the material by completing assignments, there will be an in-class quiz announced for most assignments. A student's mark for each assignment will be calculated as: (their percentage on the assignment submission) * (their percentage on the assignment's quiz). For example, a student who earns 95% on their assignment submission, and 86% on the associated quiz will earn 81.7% for that assignment overall.


  • Algorithms and computational thinking
  • Procedural programming in Python
  • Data types and control structures
  • Application areas within computing science
  • Fundamental algorithms, including searching, sorting, basics of recursion
  • Computability and complexity, introduction
  • Basics of binary encoding



There will be marks for labs, assignments with quizzes, a midterm exam, and a final exam. A more detailed marking scheme will be provided in the first class of the semester.



Reference Books

  • Computer Science Illuminated, Nell Dale, John Lewis, Jones & Bartlett, 2012, 9781449672843
  • Starting out with Programming Logic and Design, Tony Gaddis, Pearson, 2015, 9780133985078
  • Starting out with Python-4th Edition, Tony Gaddis, Pearson, 2017, 9780134543666


Think Python - How to Think Like a Computer Scientist: Interactive Edition https://runestone.academy/runestone/books/published/thinkcspy/index.html

This interactive text is available online for free.

Free Download: http://greenteapress.com/thinkpython2/thinkpython2.pdf


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.