Module Catalogue 2023/24

CSC1033 : Foundations of Data Science

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr John Colquhoun
  • Lecturer: Dr Dan Nesbitt
  • Owning School: Computing
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Code Title
CSC1034Programming Portfolio 1
CSC1035Programming Portfolio 2
Co Requisite Comment



This module will provide students with an understanding of information storage and retrieval. This relates to all forms of data, including text and multimedia (image, video and audio) stored on and consumed from the web, amongst other sources. The module covers fundamental techniques and strategies of information storage and retrieval used in a variety of online applications such as web- search engines and business storage and analytics.

Outline Of Syllabus

*       Retrieval, browsing, user information needs, and other core concerns.
*       Notions of structured, unstructured and semi-structured data
*       Data representation (XML, character sets, images, audio/video)
*       Relational databases, SQL
*       A generic architecture for information retrieval
*       Spiders/crawlers, stopwords and keywords, indexing and stemming
*       Query expansion and its relationship with the Semantic Web.
*       Metadata and semantics, faceted classifications, and other "linked data" issues
*       Information models, databases and data normalization for transactional systems (OLTP)
*       Data de-normalization, data marts / data warehouses, star and snowflake schemas, and cubes as support for analytical systems (OLAP) as support to Business Intelligence
*       The challenges presented by "Big Data"
*       NoSQL and Cloud Computing for distributed and scalable treatment of "Big Data".
*       Exemplar applications, including publishing archives, web-based search engines
*       Data Ethics

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

At the end of this module students will be able to
•       explain theories behind search and assess the impacts on search performance inherent in variations in their construction
•       elaborate a range of techniques for analysing, modelling, and retrieving data
•       contrast different kinds of applications, and their integration, in satisfying specific user information needs
•       elaborate, contrast and evaluate information models that support efficient storage, retrieval and browsing, in a variety of applications
•       contrast the need for efficiency of data storage with the needs of batch access to large datasets
•       apply appropriate, standard, metadata sets and semantics to ensure effective data storage and curation
•       identify the important features for storage, retrieval and browsing of different forms of data.

Intended Skill Outcomes

At the end of this module students will be able to apply data storage and retrieval techniques to typical systems encountered in computing, will be able to analyse and design the data needs of systems, and will be able to communicate the technical requirements and analysis. Further practical skills related to this material are developed in the co-requisite modules Portfolio 1 and Portfolio 2.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture421:0042:00Lectures are planned to be delivered in person but if this is stopped, we will instead release video
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion11:301:30Semester 2 examination. Will be online.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion121:0012:00Semester 1 Assessed Coursework. There will be no return to the Semester 1 examination
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion41:004:00Formative exercises (mock tests, quiz questions-non compulsory)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion421:0042:00Lecture follow-up
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion121:0012:00Revision for semester 2 exam
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical212:0042:00Practical activities which can be done online at home if required to stop in-person teaching.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery180:309:00Online Q&A session/drop-in with module staff. Also to be used as coursework clinic in Semester 1.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study135:3035:30Background reading and independent study
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Techniques and theory are presented in lectures. Practical sessions provide experience of designing and building database applications and can be carried out online.
This is a very practical subject, and it is important that the learning materials are supported by hands-on opportunities provided by practical classes, and on the related Programming Portfolio modules.
The new online drop-in/clinic sessions give students additional support and chances to talk to staff members. This will include students who are not present in Newcastle.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination902A50Exam
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Case study1M50Assessed Coursework covering Semester 1 taught material.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise2MMock Test prior to Exam to consolidate student knowledge ahead of summative exam
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The written examination in Semester 2 will assess the fundamental knowledge and understanding of Semester 2 taught material.
Semester 1 will be assessed with a piece of coursework allowing the students to apply the theory taught in lectures to a given scenario.
A mock test will take place in Semester 2 to enable the students to prepare for the examination.
The portfolio modules will also use elements from this module enabling further practice for the students.

N.B. This module has both “Exam Assessment” and “Other Assessment” (e.g. coursework). If the total mark for either assessment falls below 35%, the maximum mark returned for the module will normally be 35%.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2023/24 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2024/25 entry will be published here in early-April 2024. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.