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COMP161 Computer Programming

An introduction to computer programming suitable for beginners with little or no prior experience. Introduces the Java programming language, basic object oriented concepts, and simple graphical applications.

If you have no prior computer programming background, then COMP 161 is the paper for you. It is a beginner’s introduction to programming in the object-oriented Java language. We offer COMP 161 on campus in S1, and by distance in S2 and in a “non standard” period (N1 / Pre Christmas Summer School). COMP 161 occupies an important part in the computer science curriculum, because is normally required preparation for COMP 162 (which is a prerequisite for all 200-level Computer Science papers). Students with prior programming experience may sit an Advanced Placement Test for direct entry to COMP162.

Paper title Computer Programming
Paper code COMP161
Subject Computer and Information Science
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period(s) Semester 1 (On campus)
Semester 2 (Distance learning)
1st Non standard period (13 November 2023 - 16 December 2023) (Distance learning)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,141.35
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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COMP 160
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Commerce, Science
Enrolments for this paper require departmental permission. View more information about departmental permission.

Computer Science Adviser

Teaching staff

Course Co-ordinator: Anthony Robins

Lecturer: (all periods): Anthony Robins

Laboratories: Karen GrayReuben Crimp


Paper Structure

Lecture and Lab Topics:

  • Introduction
  • Data types and language basics
  • Program structure, methods and basics
  • Expressions, arithmetic
  • Graphics, drawing and GUIs
  • Objects 1, special methods
  • Objects 2, strings
  • Structured programming
  • Design & testing 1
  • Boolean expressions, blocks, if else
  • Selection
  • Repetition 1
  • Repetition 2
  • Arrays 1 
  • Arrays 2
  • Objects 3, classes and methods
  • Objects 4, references
  • Collections, ArrayList 
  • Design & testing 2
  • Files, multi-dimensional arrays
  • Graphics 1, components
  • Graphics 2, events
  • Graphics 3, examples      
  • OO topics
  • Simulation. Programming
  • Topics in computer science


  • A sequence of programming mastery tests worth 60%.  Each mastery test must be passed in order to be eligible to sit the next one.
  • Two programming practical tests worth 10% and 30%.
Teaching Arrangements

On campus in Semester One (S1):

  • Two lectures per week (one hour each)
  • Two labs per week (two hours each)

Distance taught in Semester Two (S2) and Pre-Christmas Summer School (N1):

  • This Distance Learning offering of this paper is taught remotely, but features in-person assessment
    (students are required to undertake assessment in-person in a set physical location.)

Textbooks are not required for this paper.

Course outline

View course outline for COMP 161

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Lifelong learning, Critical thinking, Information literacy, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

This paper will enable students to:

  • Understand fundamental concepts relating to computer programming
  • Demonstrate the ability to design and develop simple computer programs
  • Develop knowledge and skills relating to problem solving, program design, object oriented programming, and event-driven graphical programming

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system

Computer Lab

Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Monday 11:00-12:50 10-14, 16-22
A2 Monday 14:00-15:50 10-14, 16-22
A3 Monday 16:00-17:50 10-14, 16-22
A4 Tuesday 09:00-10:50 10-14, 16, 18-22
A5 Tuesday 11:00-12:50 10-14, 16, 18-22
A6 Tuesday 14:00-15:50 10-14, 16, 18-22
A7 Tuesday 17:00-18:50 10-14, 16, 18-22
A8 Monday 09:00-10:50 10-14, 16-22
A9 Wednesday 11:00-12:50 10-14, 16-22
AND one stream from
B1 Wednesday 14:00-15:50 9-14, 16-22
B2 Thursday 09:00-10:50 9-14, 16-22
B3 Thursday 11:00-12:50 9-14, 16-22
B4 Thursday 14:00-15:50 9-14, 16-22
B5 Thursday 17:00-18:50 9-14, 16-22
B6 Friday 11:00-12:50 9-13, 16-22
B7 Friday 14:00-15:50 9-13, 16-22
B8 Friday 09:00-10:50 9-13, 16-22
B9 Wednesday 16:00-17:50 9-14, 16-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 16:00-16:50 9-14, 16, 18-22
Thursday 16:00-16:50 9-14, 16-22

Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system

1st Non standard period (13 November 2023 - 16 December 2023)

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system