Bill Manaris : Spring 2009 / CSCI 180 Course Syllabus
College of CharlestonJanuary 9, 2009

CSCI 180 Computers, Music and Art

Course Syllabus


Dr. Bill Manaris


Room: 223 J.C. Long Building
Phone: (95)3-8159

Office Hours:

Monday, Wednesday from 10:30AM - noon.
Tuesday, Thursday from 10:45AM - noon.
Other hours available by appointment.

Course Description:

A course introducing the creative side of computing in the context of music, sounds, images, and other digital artifacts. Students will be exposed to media modeling and computational thinking in the liberal arts and sciences. Students will develop several digital artifacts.

Course is open to all majors. No previous programming experience required.

Tentative Outline:

Syllabus, Survey, Intro to Media Computing, Algorithms, MIT's Scratch, Intro to Music Composition (guest lecture), Audio, MP3, MIDI, Sounds, Audacity, Intro to Art (guest lecture), Intro to Python, Images, and other topics as time permits.


Jeffrey Elkner, Allen B. Downey and Chris Meyers (2008), "How to Think Like a Computer Scientist - Learning with Python", 2nd ed., The Open Book Project.


  • Richards R. (2001), "A New Aesthetic for Environmental Awareness: Chaos Theory, the Beauty of Nature, and our Broader Humanistic Identity". Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Vol. 41, No. 2, pp. 59-95.
  • Spehar, B., C.W.G. Clifford, B.R. Newell, and R.P. Taylor. (2003). "Universal Aesthetic of Fractals." Computers & Graphics, vol. 27, pp. 813-820.

Additional reading materials will provided via handouts, the class website.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Familiarity with appropriate data, information and knowledge-gathering techniques and research skills in the discipline.
    • This course will introduce you to computer data modeling, algorithmic techniques, and computer-related research in the context of music, sounds, images, and other digital artifacts. You will:
      • Learn how to creatively transform media such as music, sounds, images, and other digital artifacts.
      • Learn how to use computers to explore, visualize, speculate, and invent.
      • Develop an appreciation for computational thinking.
      • Gain experience with at least two programming languages (a visual one and a scripting one) and various tools.
  2. Using appropriate critical thinking skills and problem-solving techniques in a variety of contexts.
    • See (1) above.
  3. Understanding the goals of liberal arts and sciences education and the core values of College of Charleston.
    • This course is designed mainly to serve non-majors in the liberal arts and sciences by immersing them in creative computational thinking and design.
      • Given that our civilization runs on software (and that this will be even more so 10-20 years from now), it is becoming necessary for liberally educated people to be able to engage in computational (algorithmic) thinking, as the effects of this thinking (i.e., software intensive systems) touch nearly every other discipline, and permeate nearly every aspect of our civilization.
      • You will begin to gain appreciation of the fact that such systems can amplify human intelligence, but they cannot replace human judgment.
      • Readings will explore the intersection between computing and the liberal arts and sciences.
  4. Using effective skills and strategies for working collaboratively.
    • You will participate in various collaborative activities, such as collaborative written exercises, team programming in-class activities, and group projects.


To receive a passing grade for the course, you must average a passing grade on each of the following: assignments, tests, and final exam.

Scale: A: 90-100; B: 80-89; C: 70-79; D: 60-69; F: < 60. (The grades of B+/, C+/, and D+/ may be given at the professor's discretion.)

Final Grade Computation: Assignments (4-6) 35%, Tests (2) 35%, Comprehensive Final Exam or Final Project 20%, and Class Participation 10%.

Honor Code:

  • You must do your assignments alone (or with your teammates, for group assignments).
  • You are not allowed to discuss assignments and possible solutions with any person other than the instructor (or with your teammates, for group assignments). Any violation of these rules is an honor offense.
  • On assignments you will be asked to identify the person(s) you received help from, if any.
  • Also see the College of Charleston Student Handbook, especially sections on The Honor Code (p. 10), and Student Code of Conduct (p. 12). There is other useful information there.

Test Policies:

  • Attendance at tests is mandatory. You must complete tests with no discussion or sharing of information with other students.
  • Calculators, computers, cell phones, etc. may not be used during a test, unless otherwise directed.

Classroom Policies:

  • You are expected to attend all classes (your class participation grade depends on it).
  • You are expected to take good notes during lecture (bring a notebook and pen).
  • You are expected to participate in class with questions and invited discussion.
  • If you miss class:
  • We will engage in inquiry-based learning, and in-class activities.
  • Since we are in a lab, you must use the computers only as directed (e.g., no checking email, or playing games) during class.
  • You should turn off all electronic devices (e.g., cell phones, pagers, etc.).
  • In summary, you should contribute positively to the classroom learning experience, and respect your classmates right to learn (see College of Charleston Student Handbook, section on Classroom Code of Conduct (p. 62)).

Assignment Policies:

  • Assignment grades will be based on creative inspiration, design, style, and correctness of result.
  • Submission instructions will be provided for each assignment.

Late Policy:

  • You have four "late" days for the whole semester. You may use these days as you wish for assignment submission. If you use them up, no late assignments will be accepted.
  • If you submit everything on time (i.e., use no late days), you will earn an additional 2.5 bonus points on your course grade.
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