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Wesleyan University

Python Programming: A Concise Introduction

Wesleyan University via Coursera

This course may be unavailable.


The goal of the course is to introduce students to Python Version 3.x programming using hands on instruction. It will show how to install Python and use the Spyder IDE (Integrated Development Environment) for writing and debugging programs. The approach will be to present an example followed by a small exercise where the learner tries something similar to solidify a concept. At the end of each module there will be an exercise where the student is required to write simple programs and submit them for grading. It is intended for students with little or no programming background, although students with such a background should be able to move forward at their preferred pace.

The course is four modules long and is designed to be completed in four weeks.

SPECIAL NOTE: Python Programming: A Concise Introduction course will close for new learner enrollment on 2/16/22. In order to earn a Course Certificate, you will need to complete all graded assignments by 8/16/22. If you are interested in earning a Course Certificate for this course, please upgrade or apply for Financial Aid by 8/16/22. If you are a Coursera for Business learner, you can continue to use your sponsored credit through that date.


  • Beginning to Program in Python
    • In this module we introduce writing functions in Python using the convenient Spyder development environment. The lesson begins with instructions on installing the popular Anaconda distribution of Python, which includes Spyder. It continues by showing how to use the editor in Spyder to type in a function and then run it. Each lesson alternates between introducing a concept by example and having the student test his/her understanding by constructing a function similar to that example. The module lecture is contained in a single program source file named This file, which should be downloaded by the student at the beginning of the module, contains the complete lecture except the solutions to the ungraded exercises. The student should work each of these before viewing the instructor's solution. By using the unique capability of Spyder (using IPython Notebooks), the program file is segmented into cells each of which can be executed independently of the others. Thus the student does not have to manage multiple program files and finishes with a lecture file with filled-in student exercises that can be used for reference. Python topics included in this module are print statement, arithmetic operators, input statement, combining of strings, if statement, while loop, and for loop. The module ends with a series of small functions to write to be submitted for grading. Grading is done by custom software and should normally take only minutes with no limit to the number of re-submissions. Hopefully, you'll finish with a perfect score.
  • Working with Lists and Importing Libraries. The Random library.
    • Lists, datatypes, libraries, the random library.
  • Tuples, Data Dictionaries, Text and CSV Files
    • So far, we have one collection data type, the list. In this module we take up two more: the tuple and the data dictionary. After that we introduce reading and writing text files and give some illustrative examples. Finally, we take up reading and writing Comma Separated Value (CSV) files.
  • Functional Values, Sorting, Formatting, Statistics, and a Menu Driven Database Program
    • In this lesson, we take up a variety of topics and give an example using much of what we've covered in the course. First, we show how functions can return values. Then we show how to build lists of various types and how to sort these lists. After that we use the statistic library to introduce basic descriptive statistics. Finally, we show how to use formatting in print statements. As a recap, we work through an application making use of what we've learned to build a menu-driven program that maintains a small database.

Taught by

Bill Boyd


4.0 rating, based on 6 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Python Programming: A Concise Introduction

  • I really enjoyed this course. I found the instructor clear and well-organised. The level of difficulty was perfect for me. I have never done a programming course before at any level but use a computer frequently and can write intermediate level HTML…
  • Anonymous
    Poorly constructed course. Spent more time trying to get assignments uploaded in 'Autograder' than actually working in Python. Example is scripts that work in Spyder, PyScripter or other IDE, but would fail the Autograder with little to no reason why.

    Suggest taking one of the other Python classes (Dr Severance Univ of Mich, for example) as they use modern, online Python Development Environments that allow for collaboration and feedback to let you really learn hows and whys.
  • Anonymous
    I thoroughly enjoyed the course, managed 100% and had not coded for over a decade.
    Well constructed, does specifically what it sets out to do and is well explained. Do not try to upload all your assignment to autograder in one file. Upload problem by problem. A basic divide and conquer approach in programming.
  • Profile image for Alex Nemeth
    Alex Nemeth
    I have taken many Python courses. This was the course was the rug that made the room come together. Excellent inspiring Instructor, straight forward, well explained instruction. The assignments and exams focused on key structural and useful programming. This is probably the best programming course I have ever taken.
  • Anonymous
    I took this course for free and thought it was great. I didn't submit any of the assignments as the online system is too time consuming for submitted but instead completed them offline.

    The introduction to Spyder IDE is much better than many of the other courses I took.

    One area for improvement I would like to see is to have a better resolution screen capture. The one in the course is blurry when made full screen and a highlighted cursor would be nice too.
  • Profile image for Alex Ivanov
    Alex Ivanov

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