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CSC1033 : Foundations of Data Science

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • 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


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

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 completion421:0042:00Lecture follow-up
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 completion11:301:30Semester 2 examination. Will be online. Will be replaced with a 24 hour take-home exam if required
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion121:0012:00Revision for semester 2 exam
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion41:004:00Formative exercises (mock tests, quiz questions-non compulsory)
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 which if teaching is suspended in-person will be replaced by recorded videos. 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. These sessions have proved popular in 2020-1 and we wish to continue with them.

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.

If the exam cannot run under exam conditions; this will be replaced with a 24 hour take-home exam if this cannot take place on campus.
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%.

Reading Lists