Introduction to Data Visualization, Fall 2016

This is a course in finding and telling visual stories from data. We will cover fundamental principles of data analysis and visual presentation, chart types and when to use them, and how to acquire, process and “interview” data. We will make interactive and static charts and maps using free software. There will be some coding, but no prior experience is required. The emphasis is on gaining practical skills that students can apply in a newsroom setting.

Weekly schedule

We will meet in 209/Greenhouse on Fridays from 9.30am - 12.30pm. Your instructor, Peter Aldhous, will maintain office hours in B1 from 1.30pm - 5.00pm, following each class. You are encouraged to arrange appointments to discuss your work.

Class time will also be scheduled for each of you to critique and lead class discussion of a recently published news graphic/interactive.

Alberto Cairo: The Functional Art: An Introduction to Information Graphics and Visualization
Nathan Yau: Data Points: Visualization That Means Something

Further reading/viewing will be recommended to support weekly class material.


Unexcused absence from two classes will drop you one letter grade; a third unexcused absence will result in an F. Excused absences will be permitted only in extraordinary circumstances. Regardless of the reason for an absence, students will be responsible for any assignments due and for learning material covered in class.


Class participation, weekly assignments: 45%
Final project: 45%
Attendance: 10%

Good manners

Students must turn off the ringers on their cell phones before class begins. Students may not check e-mail, social media sites or other websites during lecture portions of class or while working on class exercises.

Academic dishonesty and plagiarism

The high academic standard at the University of California, Berkeley, is reflected in each degree that is awarded. As a result, it is up to every student to maintain this high standard by ensuring that all academic work reflects his/her own ideas or properly attributes the ideas to the original sources.

These are some basic expectations of students with regards to academic integrity:

Disability accommodations

If you need disability-related accommodations in this class, if you have emergency medical information you wish to share with the instructor, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please inform the instructor as soon as possible by seeing him after class or making an appointment to visit during office hours. If you are not currently listed with DSP (Disabled Students’ Program) but believe that you could benefit from their support, you may apply online.