Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Introduction to Data Science: Python and SQL

LEVEL 01 - Year 1 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Environmental Management and Planning

DESCRIPTION This study-unit introduces students to two widely-used data science languages and is intended to cater for students with no prior programming experience.

In the first part of the study-unit, students will be introduced to the basics of writing and running Python scripts. The basic syntax of Python will be introduced, including statements, variables, comments, conditionals and loops, as well as lists, tuples and dictionaries, functions, and modules. These will be addressed through practical exercises and examples.

In the second part of the study-unit, students will be introduced to SQL (Structured Query Language). The basic syntax of SQL will be introduced including table creation, queries, relationships, and data updates and insertions.

A variety of Earth Systems Science databases and case studies will be used for illustrative and practice purposes throughout the study-unit.

Study-unit Aims:

This study-unit aims:

- To make students aware of the utility and versatility of programming and query languages and their applications in Earth Systems Science;
- To enable students to effectively work with databases using SQL;
- To enable students to write simple code using Python.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Describe the fundamental features of the Python programming language;
- Solve basic problems by writing programs;
- Describe what a database is and how it relates to SQL;
- Build a database and query it.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Use lists, tuples, sets, and dictionaries in Python programs;
- Identify Python data types;
- Write loops and decision statements in Python;
- Write functions and pass arguments in Python;
- Read and write files in Python;
- Write SQL code to build database structures;
- Update database content with SQL;
- Use SQL to retrieve data with filter conditions and from multiple tables.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Wentworth, P., Elkner, J., Downey, A.B. and Meyers, C. (2012). How to Think Like a Computer Scientist: Learning with Python 3. Available online as an open source book:

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Laboratory Session

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Project SEM1 Yes 100%


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The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2021/2. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.