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COSC212 Web Application Development

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Development of dynamic web content and web applications, including client-side and server-side technologies, database systems and web authoring tools.

COSC 212 extends the skills taught in COMP 112 with the help of programming skills acquired from COMP 160. It focuses on bringing together websites and databases (in technical terms: client-side and server-side technologies). It is a useful paper both for those interested only in building websites and for those with a more general interest in Computer Science.

Paper title Web Application Development
Paper code COSC212
Subject Computer Science
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,092.15
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $5,004.75

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COMP 160
COMP 212
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Science
Computer Science Adviser,
Teaching staff

Course Co-ordinator: Associate Professor David Eyers
Lecturers: Associate Professor David Eyers and Dr Steven Livingstone
Laboratories: Nick Meek

Paper Structure
COSC 212 focuses mainly on programming techniques for creating dynamic web pages. These techniques allow students to create web pages that respond to user input, can store and process information, and generally behave like other applications. This focus on programming is reflected in the structure of the paper, which is based around laboratory exercises and practical assignments.

Although many of the concepts students will learn in COSC 112 may be applied to any development environment, students will also learn some of the most popular web development languages. For client-side programming we will use JavaScript, and students will learn how to make Ajax calls to retrieve data from a server and use the jQuery library to write short, descriptive code. On the server-side we will use PHP, which is the most commonly used server-side scripting language, and students will be introduced to SQL through the MySQL database management system.

Assessment - COSC 212 assessment is split between the exam and internal assessment as follows:
  • Assessed lab exercises are worth 1% each (a total of 16%)
  • Two assignments are worth 17% each
  • The final examination is worth 50%
Teaching Arrangements
There are two 50-minute lectures and two 2-hour lab sessions per week. Much of the lecture material is preparation for the practical work, which is the main focus of the paper. Through the labs students will develop an e-commerce style application, the Classic Cinema web store. Students will apply the techniques they learn in the labs to another application in two assignments.
There is no single text for COSC 212, but there is a range of useful resources. Several books are given below, which are available through Safari Books Online. Otago has a subscription to this service, so you should be able to reach these resources from any University computer. Individual resources will be recommended throughout the paper, but a few key ones are:

Robbins, Jennifer Niederst, Web Design in a Nutshell. O'Reilly Media, 2006.
The main text for COSC 112, this is still useful for COSC 212. It provides information about HTML and CSS as well as an introduction to JavaScript.

Flannagan, David, JavaScript: The Definitive Guide. O'Reilly Media, 2001.
Flannagan provides a more detailed look at JavaScript, which is the language we'll be using for much of the first half of the paper. It discusses the language in detail and introduces the jQuery library.

Crockford, Douglas, JavaScript: The Good Parts. O'Reilly Media, 2008.
Crockford gives a critical view of the JavaScript language and identifies a range of issues. It also provides advice about the best way to use the language while avoiding these pitfalls

Hudson, Paul, PHP in a Nutshell. O'Reilly Media, 2006.
Gives an overview of PHP, which is the language that we will be using in the later parts of the paper for server-side scripting.
Course outline
View course outline for COSC 212
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Lifelong learning, Ethics, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
This paper will enable students to:
  • Implement web applications using a range of current technologies
  • Understand the client-server model and the role of both client- and server-side technologies in modern web application development
  • Gain a basic understanding of functional programming, database systems and network structure
  • Demonstrate their ability to combine different technologies effectively and appropriately
  • Recognise the importance of securing information and the details of password-based authentication systems

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Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system

Computer Lab

Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Tuesday 14:00-15:50 28-34, 36-41
A2 Wednesday 10:00-11:50 28-34, 36-41
AND one stream from
B1 Thursday 12:00-13:50 28-34, 36-41
B2 Friday 14:00-15:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 15:00-15:50 28-34, 36-41
Wednesday 15:00-15:50 28-34, 36-41