COMP101P - Principles of Programming

This database contains 2017-18 versions of the syllabuses. For current versions please see here.


IEP Year 1 Discipline specific module

Taught ByGraham Roberts (50%)
David Clark (50%)
AimsThis course introduces two different programming styles, imperative and functional programming. Its primary intention is to develop key programming and problem solving skills but it has a secondary aim, which is to build students' confidence in their ability to take on and learn new programming languages within a short space of time. In order to achieve these aims, this is an intense and practical course that relies on dedicated and active engagement of the student both within and outside lectures. To provide support for this self-learning, the course has accompanying lab classes that are compulsory.
Learning OutcomesTo be able to:
  1. Design, implement, debug and test small programs using at least two different programming paradigms, given straightforward specifications
  2. Develop algorithms to solve a wide range of common programming problems
  3. Compare and contrast the different paradigms, understanding the relative advantages and disadvantages of each
  4. Use common programming tools such as compilers, editors and debuggers
  5. to have an understanding of core computer architecture, memory and memory management, and the binary representation of data values


Core Programming Concepts

  • What is programming?
  • Programs and algorithms.
  • Compilers and interpreters.
  • Debugging programs.

Introduction to Imperative Programming

  • Core imperative programming ideas: sequence, selection, iteration, recursion, assignment and variables.
  • Types and type checking.
  • Functions, parameters, scope and lifetime.
  • Arrays and files.
  • Pointers and memory management.

Introduction to Functional Programming

  • Core functional programming ideas.
  • Recursion and recursive data structures such as lists.
  • Lazy evaluation.
  • Role of types.
  • Higher order functions.
  • List comprehension.
  • Recursive functions.
  • Input output monad.

Program design in the small

  • Developing small programs using methods and functions.
  • Designing and implementing simple algorithms and data structures.
  • Good programming practice and defensive programming.

Method of Instruction

Lecture presentations, online material, programming lab classes, and exercises.


The course has the following assessment components:

  • Written Examination (2.5 hours, 80%);
  • Coursework Section (20%).

To pass this course, students must:

  • Obtain an overall pass mark of 40% for all components combined;
  • Obtain a minimum mark of 30% in each component worth ≥ 30% of the module as a whole.

Note that the coursework is composed of several items.


Reading list available via the UCL Library catalogue.