IMG 20221010 115310

BSc in Information Sciences

Equipping students to navigate the dynamic and complex technology landscape

Digital technology has pervaded many aspects of our personal and professional lives. The technology landscape is constantly changing and the power and potential of digital technology are only going to increase. On the one hand, there is a lot of scope for creatively using this potential to address challenges faced by citizens and society at large. On the other hand, indiscriminate use of digital technology is likely to have negative consequences. 

We focus on providing a programme that foregrounds the use of technology in the public sphere and adopting an approach that prepares students for a future where the current becomes obsolete and yet, their learnings guide them forward.

Graduating practitioners should not only be skilled at identifying and formalising ways to address problems, but have the sensibility and ability to engage with multiple stakeholders with conflicting requirements and also have the capacity to learn, adapt and modify technologies to their context. 

We, at Azim Premji University, with our commitment to engage with social issues, provide this kind of technology education. Moreover, our four-year undergraduate programme structure with its common curriculum and occupational tracks is well-suited for a unique programme in computing technology education.

Who should join us?

The BSc in Information Sciences programme seeks to aid graduating students in addressing public challenges by using technology ethically and conscientiously. While the programme will be grounded in computer science, it will differ from existing ones in at least three respects:

  • It will encourage students to view digital technology critically. Students will engage with questions of accessibility and affordability and be made aware of limitations and negative consequences (including technology addiction).
  • From the outset, it will emphasise a problem-centric approach to the use of technology and will discourage the use of technology for technology’s sake.
  • It will explicitly focus on graduating students who are reflective in their approach to technology and are capable of self-learning.

Why study with us?

We offer Interdisciplinary Openness

Our programmes encourage you to explore and follow your interests. We design our courses to ensure that you can specialise in a subject of your choice while learning various subjects across disciplines.

A Common Curriculum for all students

You will meet all your classmates at the beginning of your course to build all the tools you need for your four years of study. This includes foundational courses, an understanding of India, interdisciplinary studies, and courses in creative expressions.

We provide Academic Assistance

Our consistent academic assistance through language support, peer tutoring, faculty mentorship etc ensures that you meet the programme’s academic requirements.

We ensure Financial Support

We extend need-based financial assistance to students that cover tuition and accommodation expenses.

Programme Structure

Course Structure

As with other disciplinary majors, students will be required to complete 12 courses to qualify for a degree. Of these, 9 will be core courses divided into four themes. The remaining three will constitute a track that will enable students to gain more specialised skills. Students opting for a project related to their major in their 7th semester will also take a 3‑credit seminar course on Technology and Society. 

In addition to these courses, students may take electives in the major through their flexible credits.

The Common Curriculum will introduce students to the study of the themes and areas that emphasise and build critical and analytical abilities, and sensibilities for dialogue, reflection and cooperative learning. The Common Curriculum has three sub-components organised as below:

Foundations: Build capacity for critical thinking, reasoning and communication.

Understanding India: India’s history, society and possible future.

  • Creative Expressions

    This component of the Common Curriculum aims to introduce students to the value of aesthetic exploration in education. We aim to do this by drawing from the experiences of students, whether in physical activity, art, or craft. Such experiences are important to understand the world, relate to the diversity of communities, and for overall wellbeing. All this is achieved through activities that have specific credits allotted to them.

We have organised the nine Disciplinary Major into four themes:

Perspectives (one course): The first course in the curriculum will require students to look at how they use technology in everyday life and how digital systems are built. They will also be introduced to thinking systematically and formally about problems inspired from everyday experience.

Theoretical and Mathematical Foundations (two courses): Two courses in discrete mathematics and algorithms will build essential foundations for the courses in the programming and the systems themes.

Programming Foundations (three courses): Through a set of three courses, students will learn the principles of programming along with basic problem-solving, an understanding of data organisation and application development (with support for Indian language scripts).

Systems (three courses): This set of three courses will allow students to understand machine internals, the fundamentals of databases, operating systems and networking, and how transformational systems are used to link different levels of computation.

Tracks (three courses): The idea of tracks is to allow students to engage with current technology in the context of addressing public challenges. While we have imagined several potential tracks, the actual offerings will depend on the cohort size and faculty availability. The tracks we will offer would have a natural pairing with an occupation track or a disciplinary minor so that we can leverage the structure of our undergraduate programme to the fullest extent. Students will benefit from the synergy between their major track and their occupational track/​minor. Here are the tracks we have envisaged:

  • Graphics and computer vision (with applications in Education)
  • Embedded systems and Sensor Networks (with applications in Environmental monitoring)
  • Application Development (with applications in Health ICT, CSE)

    Security and Data Privacy in the social sector

  • AI (ML & Natural Language Processing (in the context of Indian Languages)

Technology and Society: Students who choose to undertake a project in their seventh semester will be required to take this course. This course will look at issues of accessibility, affordability, inclusiveness and the impact of digital technology. Students may also carry out some field work to recognise resource constraints and other technological challenges in the Indian context.

Students must be prepared for the world of work at the end of the programme should they choose to enter it. We aim to provide the required skills and competencies for this through a Minor featuring courses in an Occupational or Interdisciplinary theme. These sets of courses are aimed to provide both conceptual understanding and skills and tools that will allow students to contribute through work and further study.

Seventh Semester Project: All students will either be carrying out a project or undertaking an internship (associated with their Occupational Track) in their seventh semester.

For students who opt for the project, we would like them to work on a product/​application that would align with the areas of emphasis of Azim Premji Foundation.

We may not provide the option of individual research projects. The product development projects are likely to be long-term endeavours with the involvement of students from multiple batches.

Students can opt for a Minor in any one of the indicative areas listed below:

  • Education
  • Media and Journalism
  • Data and Democracy
  • Sports and Fitness
  • Climate Studies
  • Arts

The selection of these indicative areas is based on the availability of courses and our evaluation of the student’s interests and academic needs. For each cohort, a final list of available courses will be announced at the end of their second semester.

Students can craft their own educational experience by selecting courses in the following ways:

  • Students will have the option to take additional courses in their Disciplinary Major.
  • Interdisciplinary Minor that will enable them for their further higher studies or career pathways.

These courses could also be selected to enhance and broaden their

  • Language skills and Quantitative reasoning capacities/​programming skills.
  • Understanding of themes outside their Major subject.

Classroom Practices

While the core curriculum will be superficially similar to comparable programmes offered elsewhere, our pedagogic approaches and our assessment methods will be unique. For example, we are clear that when we introduce technological tools in courses, we will do so based on pedagogical principles (those that illustrate the concepts being taught most effectively) rather than expedient ones (what is fashionable). We are confident that students can pick up new tools if their fundamentals are strong. Moreover, assessments will involve addressing public problems rather than esoteric computer science questions. To complement the core curriculum, students will opt for a track of three courses, which will allow them to engage with current technologies in a domain of their choice.

The curriculum of the BSc in Information Sciences programme will inculcate the following capacities and dispositions:

Strong Computing-Science Foundations

The field of computing is dynamic with a high tempo of change. Within four decades, we have seen four major revolutions: the internet, digital, social-networking, and emergent artificial intelligence (AI).

Students need a well-founded base in the science and mathematics of computing that can outlive and support the high tempo of technology and cultural shifts that the world is going through. Only a deep grounding in scientific foundations can provide a substrate for a stable mindset amidst these movements.

Towards this, we have identified several ways of thinking” and ways of doing” that will be essential for students to acquire. This includes becoming facile with programming, having the ability to reason formally about problems, and being comfortable with abstractions and thinking about digital systems spanning multiple levels (from hardware components to high-level code).

Technical competence

Students graduating from the programme should be comfortable with identifying, adopting and customising appropriate technological tools. In other words, the programme will bring about expertise in the use of computational techniques in general and also current technology skills — some through teaching, some through labs, and a lot through an ambient culture that supports self-learning.

Sensitivity to social issues

Students need to be aware of the challenges that the country needs to address and develop an understanding of how digital technology can assist in mitigating these challenges. The common curriculum in the first year prompts students to engage with social issues in India in a multi-faceted way. The perspectives built through the common curriculum will provide the foundation for students to look at technology in the context of addressing public issues. Sensitivity to social issues coupled with a dovetailing of computational attitude in a pervasive way through the entire curriculum will bring a precision and an algorithmic approach towards formulating and proposing solutions to these challenges.

Flexible and constructive attitude

Students will be encouraged to identify creative solutions to problems and to come up with working implementations of these solutions (thinking outside the box”). When it comes to adopting technology, we would like our students to tinker with and explore the internals” (thinking inside the box”).

Students should be open to evaluating and learning new technological tools while having the keenness to understand how they work and the persistence to engage with these tools even in the face of challenges. At the same time, we would like to inculcate some pragmatism and make students recognise that implementing any technological solution requires grappling with tradeoffs.

Professional work ethic

We want our students to work with integrity and become accustomed to professional norms. This includes adopting professional standards for documentation and version control, becoming used to working in teams and navigating the challenges that come with shared ownership of responsibilities, and being cognisant of licensing terms and adhering to them.

Critical outlook towards technology

Students should be aware of the limitations of technological tools and have the ability to question established” wisdom and resist polemical arguments (which are quite common in the technology space). An appreciation of the limits and limitations of machines should put in perspective the value of human thought and intelligence about what machines can deliver.

Reflective practice and self-directed learning

The ability to learn new tools is a professional necessity in the technology space. The curriculum will nudge students to become more aware of how they learn and will require them to learn new tools with limited guidance from faculty.

We also want students to view technological solutions as human creations (even if they are constructed using software tools) and want them to be aware of their design aesthetic and notions of elegance. In particular, we want students to gain a sensibility for when a hack” or a quick” solution is sufficient and when a more reasoned and elegant approach is warranted.

Effective communication

Students should be able to communicate technical ideas in various forms to both expert and lay audiences. Explaining how digital technologies work without resorting to jargon will not be treated as secondary to the ability to implement the technology.

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