Cyber for Future Policymakers, fall 2022

CS 12 / 201, DHP D291

Syllabus v1.1

Course Description

Computer technology runs modern societies, underlying virtually every activity we do, from how the foods we eat arrive on our table to how we receive and consume information. Because cyber technology has such a profound influence on society, policymakers frequently face decisions on technical issues. Cyber for Future Policymakers is designed to provide students interested in policy, political science, and international relations aspects of cyber technology with an understanding of how these technologies work and the underlying issues of the policy debate. This course will cover Internet architecture and basic networking, the Web, cloud architectures, cryptography, security and privacy, open source systems, AI and machine learning, and other new technologies; it has a heavy emphasis on labs. It assumes no more previous exposure to computer science than a single programming course.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • explain cyber technologies of current policy interest, both verbally and in writing
  • discuss technical topics with people who lack a technical background
  • write briefing papers on current and new technologies
  • deliver presentations on current and new technologies
  • CS 201 / DHP D291 students will also be able to discuss policy decision-making relevant to cyber technologies.

Course Topics

  • Communications Networks
  • Internet Architecture
  • Understanding the World Wide Web (WWW)
  • Cloud Computing
  • Intellectual Property and Open Source Software (OSS)
  • Cybersecurity and Privacy (e.g., cryptography, malware, cyberattacks, protection measures, etc.)
  • Identity Management
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
  • Quantum Computing


An introductory course in programming: CS 10 or 11 or equivalent. The introductory programming course can include programming in C++, Python, or Java, but should not be JavaScript based. The course needs to teach not only programming, but also introduce algorithmic thinking and data structures.

This requirement is a prerequisite; the programming course may not be taken simultaneously.

Which section should I register for?

  • If you are an undergraduate student, register for CS 12. Undergraduates are not permitted to take the graduate-level sections.
  • If you are a student in the Fletcher School, register for DHP D291. DHP P201 will also study the U.S. government structure related to cyber issues.
  • If you are a graduate student in the CSPP program, Computer Science, or are otherwise not in Fletcher, register for CS 201.

Course Materials

  • Required textbook:
    • Kernighan, Brian W. Understanding the Digital World: What You Need to Know about Computers, the Internet, Privacy, and Security. Second Edition. Princeton University Press, 2017.
    • The second edition is required. There is new content that will be assigned reading, which is not present in the first edition.
  • Laptop with the following software installed:
    • At least two web browsers (e.g., Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Edge, Brave)
    • Wireshark — this is an open source and platform-independent network protocol and traffic analyzer.
    • A command line terminal software (built-in on Mac and Linux laptops; for Windows 10, use the Linux subsystem, use Ubuntu as distribution).

Class Times & Location

This class will be held in-person for fall 2021. Note the the course followed the AS&E schedule, not the Fletcher schedule for classes.

  • Mondays & Wednesdays, 10:30 – 11:45 AM (all sections)
  • Fridays, 10:30 – 11:45 AM (CS 201 and DHP D291 sections only)
  • All classes (Mon, Wed, and Fri) meet in Joyce Cummings Center, room 280

The first class will be Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022. The last day of class will be Monday, Dec. 12, 2022. Final presentation (in lieu of an exam) will be held during the class’s final exam period, which is Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022, at 3:30 PM.

Instructors & TAs

Dave Lillethun is the head instructor and will teach the Monday & Wednesday classes. Diana Park will teach the Friday classes.

Office hours and contact information will be posted in Canvas.



There will be five lab assignments to complete at home. These will be graded as Exceeds Expectations / Meets Expectations / Needs Improvements / or Not Assesable. Labs that do not Meet Expectations may be resubmitted using the resubmission policy below.

Short Briefing Papers

There will be five short briefing papers to write at home. This will be written based on a prompt that the instructors provide. They will be graded as Exceeds Expectations / Meets Expectations / Needs Improvements / or Not Assesable. Briefing papers that do not Meet Expectations may be resubmitted using the resubmission policy below. CS 201 / DHP D291 students will write all five short briefing papers, whereas just two of the briefing papers will be assigned to CS 12 students.

Project Paper

There will be one “project” briefing paper to write at home. (So-called because it counts towards the “Projects” category of your grade, not the same category as the other papers.) This will be written on a topic of your choice (subject to approval by the instructors). The length and expectations will be more for CS 201 / DHP D291 students, whereas CS 12 students will write a paper the same length as the short briefing papers. These will be graded as Exceeds Expectations / Meets Expectations / Needs Improvements / or Not Assesable. Briefing papers that do not Meet Expectations may be resubmitted using the resubmission policy below.


There will be one presentation on the same topic as your large briefing paper. The length and expectations will be more for CS 201 / DHP D291 students than CS 12 students. These will be graded as Exceeds Expectations / Meets Expectations / Needs Improvements / or Not Assesable. Although the presentation cannot be resubmitted, you will have feedback on your large briefing paper before you have to give the presentation, and you will have the opportunity to submit your slides for feedback in advance. So you will be able to know how good your content and slides are in advance, and make improvements before the presentation if necessary.


CS 201 / DHP D291 students will engage in a simulation activity. These will be graded as Exceeds Expectations / Meets Expectations / Needs Improvements / or Not Assesable. The simulation will occur during one of the Friday classes, so CS 12 students are not required to participate.


There will be several in-class quizzes on Mondays (one about every 2-3 weeks), which will be given during the first 30 minutes of class. Each of the questions on the quizzes will be graded as Exceeds Expectations / Meets Expectations / Needs Improvements / or Not Assesable. Rather than a percentage score, your course grade will be affected by how many of the questions Meet Expectations and how many Exceed Expectations. CS 12 students may (or may not) have different questions than CS 201 / DHP D291 students.

Late Work Policy

In this class, each students starts the semester with 12 “late tokens” that are each worth an extra day (24 hours) on an assignment — lab or briefing paper. There are no penalties for lateness as long as you use a sufficient number of late tokens. If you will not have work completed by the deadline, then email the instructor (contact information is in Canvas) before the deadline and tell him how many extra days you need. A corresponding number of late tokens will be deducted. You don’t need to provide any excuses, just the new date when you will submit the work. As long as you send that email before the assignment deadline, your late submission will be graded for full credit. (However, if there is an emergency situation that makes it impossible or unreasonable to contact us before the deadline, then just send the email as soon after the deadline as is reasonable.)

Note that the presentation, simulation, and quizzes are scheduled to occur in specific class periods, and therefore the deadline cannot be extended. However, make up assignments can be provided if you miss it due to a legitimate excused absence (such as illness). (Note that the presentations occur during the final exam period, so a make up presentation may require taking an “incomplete” grade in the class until the presentation can be rescheduled.) Email Diana if you will miss class on the day of the simulation, and email Dave for all other assignments.

Resubmission Policy

Labs and briefing papers (both the short ones and the project paper) that do not Meet Expectations may be revised and resubmitted. Only the grade from your last submission of an assignment counts towards your course grade. There are some restrictions on resubmissions, as follows:

  • We will only grade one resubmission per student per week. If you resubmit more than one assignment at a time, we will grade one that week, the next one the next week, and so on. If you resubmit more assignments than there are weeks remaining in the semester, then we will only grade as many of them as there are weeks left.
    • i.e., Resubmit regularly through the semester; do not wait until the last few weeks to try and resubmit everything!
  • You may not resubmit until you have received feedback on your assignment. (If you know your first attempt isn’t going to be good enough before you even see our feedback, then see the Late Work Policy above.)
  • You start the semester with eight (8) resubmission attempts. Each time you resubmit an assignment, you spend one (1) of your attempts to do so. Resubmitting an assignment multiple times will require an attempt for each resubmission. (For example, if you resubmit a briefing paper, the resubmission still doesn’t Meet Expectations, and you revise and resubmit again, then that would cost you two (2) attempts – one for each resubmission.)

Course Grades

Your letter grade will be determined by how many assignments in each category are graded at a Meets Expectations or higher level. The scale is slightly different for CS 201 / DHP D291 students than for CS 12 students (partly due to the differences in the assignments). The “Projects” category consists of: the project paper, the presentation, and the simulation.

The way to read these is, using the CS 201 / DHP D291 grading table for example, to earn an A you need to Meet Expectations on all 5 labs, all 5 short briefing papers, the large briefing paper, the presentation, the simulation, and at least 90% of the quiz questions. To get a C, you need to Meet Expectations on 3 of the labs, 3 of the briefing papers, 2 of the projects, and at least 70% of the quiz questions. Also, doing better in some categories does not make up for under-performing in other categories. For example, in the very unlikely scenario where you Meet Expectations on all 5 short briefing papers, all projects, and all quiz questions, but on only 2 of the labs, then you get a D. (So that might give you a hint about which assignments you should spend your resubmission attempts on.)

CS 201 / DHP D291

Labs (4)1234
Short Briefing Papers (3)1123
Projects (3)1233
Quiz Questions50%60%70%80%

CS 12

Labs (4)1234
Short Briefing Papers (2)0 *11 *2
Projects (2)1 *12 *2
Quiz Questions40%50%60%70%

* Indicates that the grade for one Short Briefing Paper may be substituted for the Project Paper. So if the Project Paper does not meet expectations, but one more of the Short Briefing Papers than is needed for this grade meets expectations, that grade may be used on the Short Briefing Paper instead. (e.g., you can get a B if your Presentation meets expectations, and your Project Paper does not, but both Short Briefing Papers do meet expectations)

+ / –

Plus (+) and minus (-) on your letter grade will be determined by the number of “Exceeds Expectations” grades you receive on the Projects (large briefing paper, presentation, and debate), as well as your quizzes overall: If you “Exceed Expectations” on at least 50% of all quiz questions through the semester, then that counts as one “Exceeds Expectations” for the quizzes overall to count towards a +/- (That means there are a total of 4 opportunities to get “Exceeds Expectations” towards you final course grade +/-)

If you get at least two (2) “Exceeds Expectations” grades, then you will have a + applied to your letter grade. If you do not get any “Exceeds Expectations” grades, then you will have a – applied. (Therefore, if you get exactly one (1) “Exceeds Expectations” grade, you will have neither a plus nor minus on your letter grade.)

If you do not meet the criteria for at least a D,- then you will get an F.

Course Policies

Students in this class are responsible for reading, understanding, and following all of the course policies listed here. For fall 2021, there are also additional COVID-19 policies for the course. By continuing to take this course, you indicate your agreement to follow all the policies. If there is any policy that you do not understand, please ask. Ignorance will not be accepted as an excuse for violating any policies.


This syllabus and any policies for this course are subject to change during the semester in response to changing conditions. Such changes are at the sole discretion of the course instructor. If any changes are made, the appropriate documents will be updated and the change will be announced to the entire class in a timely fashion.

This document has a version number at the beginning to help you tell when changes have been made. When there is a new version, the changes that were made will be listed in the following Change Log. (This may help, for example, so you don’t need to re-read the entire document just to find a small change.)

Change Log

v1.0: Initial version.

v1.1 Updated course grade criteria.

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