Plotting and Programming in Python - Aberystwyth University

May 8th and 15th, 2018

1 pm - 5 pm

Instructors: Colin Sauze

Helpers: Alex Pitchford, Katie Awty-Carroll, Deepthi Sareddy, Nicholas Dimonaco, Amanda Clare, Vladimir Khodygo

General Information

This workshop will cover the Software Carpentry course Plotting and Programming in Python.

Software Carpentry aims to help researchers get their work done in less time and with less pain by teaching them basic research computing skills. This hands-on workshop will cover basic concepts and tools, including program design, version control, data management, and task automation. Participants will be encouraged to help one another and to apply what they have learned to their own research problems.

For more information on what we teach and why, please see our paper "Best Practices for Scientific Computing".

Who: The course is aimed at graduate students and other researchers. You don't need to have any previous knowledge of the tools that will be presented at the workshop.

Where: Room 3.03, Physical Sciences Building, Aberystwyth University, Penglais, SY23 3BZ. Get directions with OpenStreetMap or Google Maps.

When: May 8th and 15th, 2018. Add to your Google Calendar.

Requirements: Computers will be available for all participants to use. Participants may bring a laptop if they prefer. It must be running a Mac, Linux, or Windows operating system (not a tablet, Chromebook, etc.) and they will need to have administrative privileges. They should have a few specific software packages installed (listed below). They are also required to abide by Software Carpentry's Code of Conduct.

Accessibility: We are committed to making this workshop accessible to everybody. The workshop organizers have checked that:

The room being used is located on the 3rd floor of the building, there is a lift going to this floor. However there are two steps between the lift and the room.

Materials will be provided in advance of the workshop and large-print handouts are available if needed by notifying the organizers in advance. If we can help making learning easier for you (e.g. sign-language interpreters, lactation facilities) please get in touch (using contact details below) and we will attempt to provide them.

Contact: Please email for more information.



Please be sure to complete these surveys before and after the workshop.

Pre-workshop Survey

Post-workshop Survey

Day 1 (May 8th)

13:00 Setup and Running/Quitting Python
13:30 Variables and Assignment
13:50 Data Types and Type Conversion
14:10 Built-in Functions and Help
14:30 Break
15:00 Libraries
15:20 Reading Tabular Data into DataFrames
15:40 Pandas DataFrames
16:00 Plotting

Day 2 (May 15th)

13:00 Lists
13:30 For Loops
14:00 Looping Over Data Sets
14:30 Break
15:00 Writing Functions
15:30 Variable Scope
15:50 Conditionals
16:20 Programming Style
16:50 Wrap-Up

We will use this collaborative document for chatting, taking notes, and sharing URLs and bits of code.


Plotting and Programming in Python

  • Using Variables
  • Understanding data types
  • Using libraries
  • Reading data into dataframes
  • Plotting data
  • Working with Lists and Arrays
  • Loops and conditionals
  • Creating and using functions
  • Reference...


To participate in a Software Carpentry workshop, you will need access to the software described below. In addition, you will need an up-to-date web browser.

We maintain a list of common issues that occur during installation as a reference for instructors that may be useful on the Configuration Problems and Solutions wiki page.


Python is a popular language for research computing, and great for general-purpose programming as well. Installing all of its research packages individually can be a bit difficult, so we recommend Anaconda, an all-in-one installer.

Alternatively you can use a desktop computer in the room with a pre-installed version of Python that has all the required packages.

Regardless of how you choose to install it, please make sure you install Python version 3.x (e.g., 3.6 is fine).


Video Tutorial
  1. Open with your web browser.
  2. Download the Python 3 installer for Windows.
  3. Install Python 3 using all of the defaults for installation except make sure to check Make Anaconda the default Python.


Video Tutorial
  1. Open with your web browser.
  2. Download the Python 3 installer for OS X.
  3. Install Python 3 using all of the defaults for installation.


  1. Open with your web browser.
  2. Download the Python 3 installer for Linux.
    (The installation requires using the shell. If you aren't comfortable doing the installation yourself stop here and request help at the workshop.)
  3. Open a terminal window.
  4. Type
    bash Anaconda3-
    and then press tab. The name of the file you just downloaded should appear. If it does not, navigate to the folder where you downloaded the file, for example with:
    cd Downloads
    Then, try again.
  5. Press enter. You will follow the text-only prompts. To move through the text, press the space key. Type yes and press enter to approve the license. Press enter to approve the default location for the files. Type yes and press enter to prepend Anaconda to your PATH (this makes the Anaconda distribution the default Python).
  6. Close the terminal window.