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COSC326 Computational Problem Solving

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Solving problems in a computational environment. Choosing the right techniques, verifying performance, understanding and satisfying client requirements. Working individually and in teams to provide effective solutions.

This paper develops and extends the analytical and creative skills required in programming. A series of etudes - some individual, some in pairs and some in groups - require solutions that challenge your abilities as programmers. As well as finding solutions, there is an emphasis on testing and verifying them and communicating the outcome to the "client" (who, in this case, is the instructor).

Paper title Computational Problem Solving
Paper code COSC326
Subject Computer Science
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period(s) Summer School (On campus)
Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,110.75
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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COSC 201 or COSC 202 or COSC 242
Recommended Preparation
COSC 201 and COSC 202
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Science

Computer Science Adviser

Teaching staff

Co-ordinator: Professor Brendan McCane

Summer School: Professor Brendan McCane
First semester: Dr Stefanie Zollmann

Paper Structure

This paper aims to improve and develop programming skills by setting a series of exercises that require an analytical and creative approach to problem solving. Most, but not all, of these exercises will involve programming tasks. Some will not use computers at all; some will use them only for ancillary tasks. Each solution will be assessed against the requirements, and students will be expected to go back and rework each problem until it is completed satisfactorily. Students will be required to fully test and debug their programs as well as learn to identify inefficiencies.

Assessment: This paper is 100% internally assessed and is pass/fail. To pass the paper students must complete a series of etudes (exercises).

Teaching Arrangements

This paper has no lectures. Students take part in 'town hall meetings' and 2-hour labs as indicated in the timetable below.


No textbooks are required for this paper.

Course outline

View course outline for COSC326

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

The central learning outcomes from COSC 326 relate to the strategies and mechanics of problem solving in the context of programming. Specifically:

  • Understanding a problem (simplification, clarification, generalisation and specification)
  • Learning different problem-solving strategies (eg creative approaches, top down, choice of tools, etc)
  • Specific computer-related techniques in problem solving (eg limitations of programs, recursion, testing, efficiency)
  • Working with people (eg group management and dynamics, collaboration, record keeping and reporting)

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Summer School

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system

Computer Lab

Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 09:00-10:50 2-5, 7
Tuesday 09:00-10:50 2-7
Wednesday 09:00-10:50 2-7
Thursday 09:00-10:50 2-7
Friday 09:00-10:50 2-7


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 11:00-11:50 2-7
Friday 11:00-11:50 2-7

Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system

Computer Lab

Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Tuesday 11:00-12:50 9-15, 17-22
Friday 11:00-12:50 9-14, 17-22
A2 Tuesday 14:00-15:50 9-15, 17-22
Wednesday 12:00-13:50 9-15, 17-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Thursday 10:00-10:50 9-15, 17-22
A2 Friday 10:00-10:50 9-14, 17-22