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COMP161 Computer Programming

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a selection of on-campus papers will be made available via distance and online learning for eligible students.
Find out which papers are available and how to apply on our COVID-19 website

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.  It occupies an important part in the computer science curriculum, because is normally required preparation for COMP162. Students with prior programming experience may sit an Advanced Placement Test for direct entry to COMP162.  (Note that COMP162 is a prerequisite for all 200-level Computer Science papers from 2022 onwards.) We offer COMP161 in first semester, and by distance at non standard time periods (see the course web page).

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)
1st Non standard period (23 June 2021 - 13 November 2021) (Distance learning)
2nd Non standard period (15 November 2021 - 18 December 2021) (Distance learning)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,092.15
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $5,004.75

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COMP 160
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Commerce, Science
No particular requirements.

Computer Science Adviser

Teaching staff

Course Co-ordinator: Anthony Robins

Semester 1: Anthony Robins

Distance (non standard times): Anthony Robins

Laboratories: Karen Gray, Nick Meek

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 practical mastery tests worth 60%.  Each mastery test must be passed in order to be eligible to sit the next one.
  • A final summary test worth 40%.
Teaching Arrangements
  • Two lectures per week (one hour each)
  • Two labs per week (two hours each)


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 10-13, 15-16, 18-22
A2 Monday 14:00-15:50 10-13, 15-16, 18-22
A3 Monday 16:00-17:50 10-13, 15-16, 18-22
A4 Tuesday 09:00-10:50 10-13, 15-22
A5 Tuesday 11:00-12:50 10-13, 15-22
A6 Tuesday 14:00-15:50 10-13, 15-22
A7 Tuesday 17:00-18:50 10-13, 15-22
AND one stream from
B1 Wednesday 14:00-15:50 9-13, 15-22
B2 Thursday 09:00-10:50 9-13, 15-22
B3 Thursday 11:00-12:50 9-13, 15-22
B4 Thursday 14:00-15:50 9-13, 15-22
B5 Thursday 17:00-18:50 9-13, 15-22
B6 Friday 11:00-12:50 9-12, 15-22
B7 Friday 14:00-15:50 9-12, 15-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 16:00-16:50 9-13, 15-22
Thursday 16:00-16:50 9-13, 15-22

1st Non standard period (23 June 2021 - 13 November 2021)

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

2nd Non standard period (15 November 2021 - 18 December 2021)

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