About the course and exercises

About the course

Hands-on scientific computing is guide to practical computing skills you need for other courses or research, but usually are left to learn yourselves. Basic skills such as version control or shell scripting are usually not taught, which makes big differences between how prepared people are.

Actually, this isn’t a traditional course. It’s more of a map of practical tools you can browse at your own pace. You can find this map at the main page, which is completely usable without the exercises you find here.

Who is this course for?

This course started for researchers who need a broader computing background than they get during their academic training.

This course is also usable for undergraduate students, who are studying things like data science and also need a broader computing background than they get (not studying software or computing directly).

Course mechanics

This is an “always open” course, you can go through the material at your own pace, in the order that suits you, and whenever suits you. We expect that for many people, referring to the material is all they need.

When you complete the material and exercises of the A, B, and C levels (Basic Linux and command line stuff, related science skills), you can get one credit. When you complete the HPC and advanced programming related parts, you can get one credit (levels D and E).

We expect that many people will find the material useful, many fewer will find the need to work on exercises here

The lessons

The second part of “not a normal course” is that there aren’t lessons! At least not in the traditional sense…

For these practical skills, almost everything you may need to know is already available online. The problem is that there is too much out there, so where do you start? We point you to the best material that you can find online, which you’ll have to read and understand yourself. This is a bit harder than reading things in one consistent format, but… that’s part of what we want to teach. We want you to be able to find and read new things yourself, whatever format it may be in.


There is no deadline for completing exercises and you can come back to them when you want. But, the course will evolve over time, and if you don’t finish it soon enough, the work you did may no longer apply to the grade…

Exercises consist of multiple choice, drag and drop and text questionnaire types. You may submit exercises 1-2 times depending on exercise. Please note that some of the exercises may not display correctly depending on your browser. If you still have problems, deactivating some extensions may help.

Course grading and credits

To earn credits from this course you need to complete at least 90% of exercises and have at least 50% correct. Course evaluation is divided into modules A-C and D-E and you can earn 1 credit from each modules (overall 2 credits). Instead of credits external users may request a certificate after approved completion of course. The course is evaluated on a pass/fail grading scale.

Finishing the course and requesting credits

Since this is an “always open” course, you need to reach out to us once you have completed enough to get the certificate.

Course grading has 2 options which are explained below.

  1. You are an Aalto student and would like to receive the credits, contact us at scip@aalto.fi. Please include in your e-mail the following information: Subject: Hands-on scientific computing, your first name, last name, Aalto student number / temporary Aalto student number and that you would like your performance to be evaluated.

  2. Student from other Finnish Universities and adult learners, please fill in the FITech application at Studyinfo.fi:

    1. Application for degree students from other Finnish Universities (Bachelor’s or Master’s students)
    2. Application for FITech adult learners (PhD students and adult learners)

    Make sure you are using the same personal information during the course and in the application. You need to have Finnish personal identity code to apply for the credits and online banking access code for strong authentication to confirm your identity. You will receive automatic messages from the application system. After the application has been handled, you need to confirm your identity. When everything is in order and grade registered, we will send you the electronic transcript of records. Questions? Please contact fitech-sci@aalto.fi.


This course is run by Aalto Scientific Computing. Contact us at scip@aalto.fi for any technical course questions or evaluation requests (Aalto students).

FITech students should contact fitech-sci@aalto.fi for evaluation requests.

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