CSC102: How The Internet Works

Class Time:
M/W 9:00AM–10:20AM
Ford Hall 241
Eitan Mendelowitz
Ford Hall 252
Office Hours:
W 1:10PM–2:40PM (or by appointment)

Course Description

The Internet has transformed society, opening up communication channels never dreamed of by previous generations.This course introduces students to the structure, design, and operation of the Internet, beginning with the electronic and physical construction of networks and basic network protocols. It addresses personal safety online, how email and Web browsers work, and the design of simple webpages. Along the way, the course explores the historical and societal implications of this new medium.

There is no required text for this course, however, the following books are recommended:

You may also like Web 101, by Wendy Lehnert and Richard Kopec, which was used for this course in previous semesters. It contains extra material and is correspondingly more expensive. These books have been placed on reserve in the science library.

For information focused on specific topics relating to the Internet, Wikipedia usually contains accurate information.


Weekly homework assignments expand upon the class material and develop students' expertise with related topics. Homework should be submitted via Moodle, and is due before the beginning of class (9:00am) on the day indicated.

Homework will often include a weekly quiz that will emphasize basic facts and foundational skills, and serves as a rapid assessment of material presented in the readings and in class. Quizzes are open-book and open-notes, and will be administered via Moodle.

As a culminating activity in this class, each student has the choice to either complete a take-home final exam, or to independently research a topic of current interest relating to the internet. If you choose to write a research paper, then you will present the fruits of your research as a 4-6 page paper (1000-1500 words) and in an oral presentation to the class. All research topics must be approved in advance; if a student has not submitted an approved topic by the deadline (typically in the second week of the course) then she must take the final instead.

Collaboration Policy: You may freely use internet resources and your course notes in completing assignments and quizzes for this course. You may not consult any person other than the professor when completing quizzes or exams. (Clarifying questions should be directed to the professor.) On assignments you may collaborate with others in the course, so long as you personally prepare the materials submitted under your name, and they accurately reflect your understanding of the topic. Any such collaborations should be indicated by a note submitted with the assignment.

This course is intended to be accessible to all. Students are encouraged to speak with the instructor about any changes to the course structure that could help accommodate individual learning styles.


Grading for this course emphasizes the experience gained by successfully completing the homework and other assignments. Specific weighting of different course components are listed in the table below. The class participation element includes both regular attendance, asking questions in class, and evidence of preparation for class discussions.

Homework & Quizzes:
Final Exam/Paper:

Late policy: All homework assignments are to be submitted before the beginning of class. Late assignments handed in before 5 pm on the due date will be penalized by half a letter grade, after that the penalty will be a full letter grade. Late assignments will not generally be accepted once the on-time papers have been graded and returned.

Additional Considerations

We want everyone to succeed in this course. Students requiring special accommodations due to disability or other factors are encouraged to contact the professor at their earliest convenience so that any necessary arrangements may be made.

This course syllabus and calendar are adapted from those by Nicholas Howe