Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)


Department: Computer Science


Type Open Level 4 Credits 10 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • COMP2181 Theory of Computation


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To give students a deeper knowledge of algorithmic solutions for typical computer science problems.
  • To extend the students' knowledge of the latest advances in understanding the limits of computation and the ways of coping with computational hardness.


  • Algorithms: approximation, exact, fixed parameter tractable, polynomial
  • Input restrictions: hereditary and intersection graph classes
  • Graph width
  • Graph containment relations
  • Graph reconfiguration

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On completion of the module, students will be able to demonstrate:
  • a comprehensive understanding of how the theory of computation is applied in the design of algorithms
  • a critical evaluation of different approaches to the algorithmic solution for computationally hard problems
  • a critical awareness of some of the latest advances in research on theoretical aspects of computation
Subject-specific Skills:
  • On completion of the module, students will be able to demonstrate:
  • an ability to critically apply notions from the theory of computation
  • an ability to choose and evaluate the best way to tackle computationally hard problems
  • an ability to judge research on the cutting edge of the theory of computation
Key Skills:
  • On completion of the module, students will be able to demonstrate:
  • an ability to abstract and solve problems
  • an ability to learn independently
  • an ability to communicate technical information

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures enable the students to learn new material relevant to the theory of computation
  • Formative homework exercises identify areas where further independent research could be conducted
  • Summative assessments test the knowledge acquired and the students' ability to use this knowledge to solve complex problems.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
lectures 24 2 per week 1 hour 24
preparation and reading 76
total 100

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Examination 2 hours 100% No

Formative Assessment:

Example formative exercises are given during the course. Additional revision lectures may be arranged in the module's lecture slots in the 3rd term.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University