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Sure, you know a million apps … do you know any computer science?

Computer Science is the study of computation built on fascinating (and beautiful!) principles.
Computer science concepts apply in many fields: graphics, art & design, math, knowledge representation, engineering, biology, markets, and many more. Use the power of computing in your career!

New Course


The Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) will offer a new course in Winter Quarter 2011 titled: COMPUTER SCIENCE PRINCIPLES. The course is designed for non-majors and covers fundamental concepts of computer science that are essential knowledge for a well educated person living in the 21st century.

CS Principles has no Pre-reqs, fulfills the QSR, is 5 credits, meets: Lec MWF, Lab TuTh: 12:30-1:20.


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Why Take CSE120
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Be A Pioneer

The COMPUTER SCIENCE PRINCIPLES class is part of a 5-campus effort (UW, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, UNC at Charlotte, Metropolitan College of Denver) to create a new course to be the basis for a new AP computing exam for all students. It’s a new never-before-taught syllabus. Pioneers wanted!

Content: Seven Big Ideas

CSE120 covers the seven Big Ideas in computing as defined by the College Board’s Commission on the Computer Science Principles Exam. The ideas are

  • Computing is a creative human activity that enables innovation
  • Abstraction is a way to understand and solve problems
  • Data and information help to create knowledge
  • Algorithms are tools for developing and expressing solutions to computational problems
  • Programming is a creative process that produces computational artifacts
  • Digital devices, systems, and the networks that interconnect them enable and foster computational approaches to solving problems
  • Computing enables innovation in other fields, like sciences, engineering, humanities, etc.

FAQs for Computer Science Principles

Questions people ask about Computer Science Principles:

  • Q: Should I take this course if I don’t want to be a computer science major?
    A: Yes, it’s designed for non-majors; it teaches the computer knowledge all people should know.

  • Q: If I’m pretty good with apps and games, is this class a waste of my time?
    A: No, this class doesn’t teach apps or games. It teaches computer science.

  • Q: Will CSE120 be offered again?
    A: This is a “pilot” offering; it will probably be offered regularly, but today we don’t know.

  • Q: Is CSE120 a programming course?
    A: No! We teach many topics including some programming, but only enough to help you to think computationally and effectively apply computing for yourself.

  • Q: What programming language does CSE120 teach?
    A: We use a multimedia language called Processing, and the widely used language Python.


CSE120 Computer Science Principles has been developed as part of a project funded by the National Science Foundation’s Broadening Participation in Computing Program and The College Board's Advanced Placement Program. It is one of five pilot courses teaching this material. Students taking the class will be expected to participate in surveys evaluating the effectiveness of the class, its curriculum, instructor and materials.
     Contact: snyder at cs dot washington dot edu