CSc 352 - Systems Programming and UNIX

University of Arizona, Spring 2022

Course Description

Programming in C, including single and multi-dimensional arrays, lists, stacks, queues, trees, and bit manipulation. Unix topics, including debuggers, makefiles, shell programming, and other topics that support systems programming.

Location and Time

This is an in-person course. The course will meet in ILC 130 2:00-3:15pm on Monday and Wednesday.


Completion of CS 210 and 252.

Instructor & Teaching Staff

There will also be several TAs. See the class website for their contact info and office hour times.

Teaching Methods

Throughout the course, the following teaching methodologies should be applied.

By active learning, I mean that class time won’t be just 75 minutes of me talking. Instead, class meetings will include a number of in-class activities (ICAs) for you to work on individually and/or in a group. Thus, you can spend some time “actively” learn, rather than “passively” listen to the instructor.

By peer-teaching, I mean that you will have opportunities to learn from your classmates, and vice-versa. In many of the in-class activities, you will be able to work on groups and help each-other when necessary.

By flipped-classroom, I mean that you will often be assigned reading or other material to complete before attending each class meeting time. By doing this, you will come to class with (at least some) preparation. This will hopefully result in more class time allocated towards active learning!

Course Objectives

There are two high-level topics in this course: UNIX systems and C programming. I will cover the high-level structure of a UNIX system, including the file system, the shell, processes, etc. I will also cover a number of shell commands, and teach you the basics of how to create a shell script. You will also learn the core components of the C language, pointers, memory management, and how to create a data structure with C. You will also learn some tools to help you create better C programs - GDB, make, and Valgrind.

Learning Outcomes

A students who completes this course with good grades should be able to do the following:

Course Communications

The means of communication for this course will be either in-class, office hours, or via email.

Coursework and Grading Policies

The breakdown of grades in this course is as follows:

There will be three exams throughout the course (including the final), for a total of 50%. The final will be worth 20%, and the other two 15% each. These exams may cover material from class, the programming assignments, and the readings covered up-to the day of the exam.

There will be 10-12 programming assignments throughout the course, which will contribute to 40% percent of the student’s grade. These will be individual assignment, unless the instructor specifies otherwise and each will be weighted equally.

10% of your grade in this class comes from pop quizzes. There will be somewhere between 10-15 pop quizzes spread out throughout the semester. These will be in-class quizzes. In order to help account for having to miss class at times (for example, if you are sick) your lowest 3 pop quiz grades will be dropped.

There will also be assigned material to read/watch along with each day of class. You should try to accomplish each reading before class on the day it appears on the schedule. That way, during class, you should already have some background on the topic at-hand, and can learn it more effectively.

The instructor and teaching staff will do their best to have grades back to students within 1 week. This includes, but is not limited to, grades for exams, projects, programming assignments, attendance, videos, and quizzes. Once a grade has been entered for a particular item on the digital grade-book, students have at most 5 days (including weekends) to dispute the grade. This includes disputes related to excuses such as sickness, personal matters, dean’s excuses, etc. If 5 days pass and there has not been such a request, the grade is final.

The correspondence between percentage grade and numeric grade is as follows:

Late Days

In this class, you are given 2 late days. What this means is that you are allowed to submit up to 2 programming assignments within 24 hours after the due date throughout the semester, without penalty. You should not burn through all of these free late days on the first few assignments though! Consider saving some for later in the course, when you might be in dire need :). Other than these, any work submitted late will get a 0.

Final Exam

The final exam will be on May 6th 1-3pm. There will be no make-up opportunities for the final exam. You should not schedule any flights, travel plans, or other commitments that conflict with this. You must be in Tucson to take it.


There are two required / highly-recommended textbooks for this course:

There will be assigned readings from these books. You will be expected to have completed the readings before the day of class that they correspond to, and testing on the content from the readings is fair-game for the exams. Technically, you could get away without purchasing the books, but that is not recommended. Not only should you be doing the readings throughout the course, but also, the exams will be open book for these two texts (hard-copy only).

Software and Hardware

You should have access to a Mac, Windows, or Linux computer and a reliable internet connection. You will need to be able to connect to Lectura to compile and run programs on a regular basis.

Getting Help

The instructor and teaching staff provide a number of opportunities to receive help when you are stuck. The instructor and TAs will have office hours each week. The times of the office hours will likely happen via zoom.

If you are unable to use office hours, you can also get help via the email lists. There will be two email lists for the course:

You are also welcome to email the instructor or a TA directly if you want to set up an alternate time to meet. If you are ever stuck, ask for help!


Unless otherwise specified, you may not work in groups on any coursework in this course. You may not share code, copy/paste code, or look at each-others code, or discuss the details of the solutions. The instructor may use software to help detect cheating (similar code). If cheating is detected on your work, penalties may include (but are not limited to):

Course Schedule

See the schedule page on the class website for the topic and reading schedule.

Department of Computer Science Code of Conduct

The Department of Computer Science is committed to providing and maintaining a supportive educational environment for all. We strive to be welcoming, respect privacy and confidentiality, behave respectfully and courteously, and practice intellectual honesty. Disruptive behaviors (such as physical or emotional harassment, dismissive attitudes, and abuse of department resources) will not be tolerated.

Classroom Behavior Policy

To foster a positive learning environment, students and instructors have a shared responsibility. We want a welcoming environment where we can challenge ourselves to succeed. To that end, our focus is on the tasks at hand and not on extraneous activities (e.g., texting, chatting, reading a newspaper, making phone calls, web surfing, etc.).Students are asked to refrain from disruptive conversations with people sitting around them during lecture. Students observed engaging in disruptive activity will be asked to cease this behavior. Those who continue to disrupt the class will be asked to leave lecture or discussion and may be reported to the Dean of Students.

Threatening Behavior Policy

The UA Threatening Behavior by Students Policy prohibits threats of physical harm to any member of the University community, including to oneself. See

Accessibility and Accommodations

At the University of Arizona we strive to make learning experiences as accessible as possible. If you anticipate or experience physical or academic barriers based on disability or pregnancy, you are welcome to let me know so that we can discuss options. You are also encouraged to contact Disability Resources (520-621-3268) to explore reasonable accommodation. Please be aware that the accessible table and chairs in this room should remain available for students who find that standard classroom seating is not usable.

Code of Academic Integrity

Students are encouraged to share intellectual views and discuss freely the principles and applications of course materials. However, graded work/exercises must be the product of independent effort unless otherwise instructed. Students are expected to adhere to the UA Code of Academic Integrity as described in the UA General Catalog. See

The University Libraries have some excellent tips for avoiding plagiarism, available at

Selling class notes and/or other course materials to other students or to a third party for resale is not permitted without the instructor’s express written consent.

Violations to this and other course rules are subject to the Code of Academic Integrity and may result in course sanctions. Additionally, students who use D2L or UA e-mail to sell or buy these copyrighted materials are subject to Code of Conduct Violations for misuse of student e-mail addresses. This conduct may also constitute copyright infringement.

Additional Resources for Students

UA Academic policies and procedures are available at Student Assistance and Advocacy information is available at

Incomplete (I) or Withdrawal (W):

Requests for incomplete (I) or withdrawal (W) must be made in accordance with University policies, which are available at and respectively.

Absence and Class Participation Policy

The UA’s policy concerning Class Attendance, Participation, and Administrative Drops is available at:

The UA policy regarding absences for any sincerely held religious belief, observance or practice will be accommodated where reasonable:

Absences pre-approved by the UA Dean of Students (or dean’s designee) will be honored. See

UA Nondiscrimination and Anti-harassment Policy

The University of Arizona is committed to creating and maintaining an environment free of discrimination. In support of this commitment, the University prohibits discrimination, including harassment and retaliation, based on a protected classification, including race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or genetic information. For more information, including how to report a concern, please see

Obtaining Help

Makeup Policy for Students Who Register Late

Students who register after school has already begun are not guaranteed to be given the opportunity to make up late work.



As we enter the Spring semester, our health and safety remain the university’s highest priority. To protect the health of everyone in this class, students are required to follow the university guidelines on COVID-19 mitigation. Please visit

Subject to Change Statement

Information contained in the course syllabus, other than the grade and absence policy, may be subject to change with advance notice, as deemed appropriate by the instructor.