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.

NOTICE: Awarding credits for modules D and E are on hold since they are missing exercises. You can start doing the existing exercises but credits will be given when the modules are complete.

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.


We can only register credits for people with Aalto student number or people with flexible study rights (JOO -rights) to study at Aalto. Obtaining JOO -rights can take a while but once you have it, we can award your credits afterwards.

Otherwise, you can request a course certificate for a successfully completed course (no official ECTS).

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.

Contact us at scip@aalto.fi once you would like your results checked and work assigned, or any other questions you may have.

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 (you should have it if you have flexible study rights to study at Aalto) and that you would like your performance to be evaluated.

If you are not an Aalto student nor have the rights to study at Aalto but would like to receive a certificate, please include this information to your request.


This course is run by Aalto Scientific Computing. Contact us at scip@aalto.fi.

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