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University of Michigan

Using Python to Access Web Data

University of Michigan via Coursera


This course will show how one can treat the Internet as a source of data. We will scrape, parse, and read web data as well as access data using web APIs. We will work with HTML, XML, and JSON data formats in Python. This course will cover Chapters 11-13 of the textbook “Python for Everybody”. To succeed in this course, you should be familiar with the material covered in Chapters 1-10 of the textbook and the first two courses in this specialization. These topics include variables and expressions, conditional execution (loops, branching, and try/except), functions, Python data structures (strings, lists, dictionaries, and tuples), and manipulating files. This course covers Python 3.


  • Getting Started
    • In this section you will install Python and a text editor. In previous classes in the specialization this was an optional assignment, but in this class it is the first requirement to get started. From this point forward we will stop using the browser-based Python grading environment because the browser-based Python environment (Skulpt) is not capable of running the more complex programs we will be developing in this class.
  • Regular Expressions (Chapter 11)
    • Regular expressions are a very specialized language that allow us to succinctly search strings and extract data from strings. Regular expressions are a language unto themselves. It is not essential to know how to use regular expressions, but they can be quite useful and powerful.
  • Networks and Sockets (Chapter 12)
    • In this section we learn about the protocols that web browsers use to retrieve documents and web applications use to interact with Application Program Interfaces (APIs).
  • Programs that Surf the Web (Chapter 12)
    • In this section we learn to use Python to retrieve data from web sites and APIs over the Internet.
  • Web Services and XML (Chapter 13)
    • In this section, we learn how to retrieve and parse XML (eXtensible Markup Language) data.
  • JSON and the REST Architecture (Chapter 13)
    • In this module, we work with Application Program Interfaces / Web Services using the JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) data format.

Taught by

Charles Severance



4.7 rating, based on 4,883 Class Central reviews

4.8 rating at Coursera based on 42445 ratings

Start your review of Using Python to Access Web Data

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I have one big criticism of this class. The Python keyword "import" is never explained. The concept of "module" is never explained. We're just told to cant this magic incantation "import re" and suddenly statements that generated traceback errors...
  • As I mentioned in the previous reviews about this Specialization, all these courses are meant for beginners without previous programming experience and difficulty of courses rises gradually. Thus, the first course was a real piece of cake, second got...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I really enjoyed the first two courses of Dr. Chuck's Python for Everybody Specialization -- but not this one. As some other reviewers have already stated I, too, felt increasingly frustrated and somehow left alone during this course. Most of this course's...
  • This course has helped me a big deal. Mr. Severence is such a genius in preparing the courses for his students to succeed. And something I liked most about the course is that one had to go on the ground and do tremendous research by himself to understand how certain things work out. Some people might find this very challenging but a good instructor does not spoon feed his trainee on a silver plate. The trainee's hands have to et dirty so as to grasp the concept permanently. To me, this course has changed my life and nowadays I don't have time to waste because everytime I get, I want to code and feel the excitement of discovering more things and seeing how things work out. Learning never stops, see you in the next chapter.
  • Ilke Guntan
    It was a nice course as an introduction to access web data. However, compared to previous courses, the explanation part was shorter and it was more on the edge of 'believe me and write the code like...' It made harder to learn it in true sense. I guess, it is mostly because of the explanations requires too much background knowledge that cannot be convey in these short lessons. I would prefer to have it longer though.
  • I took using python to access web data from coursera via financial aid otherwise it was impossible for me to get to this course I never paid for any course or anything on web due to not having finances and because of that I also don't have any online payment method cause I am still suffering with shortage of money and have currently applied in Comsats University Islamabad on scholarship program for software engineer program. I loved this course and loved working on assignments and quizzes I did it all with 100% and I am glad for that I really did it with full concentration. Thank you Coursera for making it available to me for free.
  • Great general Idea about accessing the web and application APIs using python. The only thing I considered as a disadvantage is that it misses practical projects to apply the excellent theoretical knowledge to actually pull data and send it through the web and use cases of it.
    Also, assignments don't support the idea of understanding every line of code, some lines you don't understand but you just use to make the code work, and others you have like templates you don't create by yourself, I think it's all because it misses some practice on concepts that it's explained
  • Anonymous
    I am working my way through the Python Specialization. The first two courses were fantastic. This course, "Using Python to Access Web Data", was a bit of a struggle. While I still like Dr. Chuck's on camera teaching and the examples he provided, the...
  • What a self explanatory course, Dr. Chucks trashed evry bit of modules in dealing with the world wide web(www) or web in general.i gained alot eve though i'm just an intermediate programmer, i now have a basic knowledge of xml and json indepth despite the fact that have been working with it before and i have no deep knowledge..Thanks Dr. Chcks once again for the eye opening course and extensive thanks to University of michigan and coursera.
  • The necessity of things like SSL encryption aren't explained, just kinda referenced. Good start to understanding where you can begin learning these kinds of things.
  • I think course will get you up and running in web scraping projects. which is best if you are a freelancer.
  • A little bit difficult but you can complete the course with hard work, the course has an excellent teacher
  • Awesome approach for beginners, mind blowing. It is the tip of the iceberg in many topics, but it will give you the big picture of what can be done. Dr. Chuck is the best, he explains in a very simple way topics that could scare the bravest!
  • I think I will understand much more clearly what I learnt in this course when I do several practices on web for self requirements. This course absolutely not for beginners, the codes are getting sophisticated so it require much more effort to understand. Thanks to Mr.Severance who makes the course as simple as to learn for us.
  • I'm afraid the course is a bit outdated. It explains the matter nicely, but does not offer a proper and effective way to make web scraping today.
    The teacher's ego overshadows the merits a bit, but the course offers some interesting, unique things - including interviews with developers of software languages and tools.
  • Steve Schoenbaechler

    Steve Schoenbaechler completed this course.

    With this review, you must understand, a major part of this review is because of my interest/expectations/etc., what I was looking for from the course. If you are interested in “fully engaging” in Python, becoming a computer scientist, etc., this course...
  • A very good introduction to HTML, XML, and JSON, and for learning the use of Python to extract, parse data from internet.
  • Anonymous
    This being the 3 of 5 courses in this specialization I understand that we are gradually increasing the difficulty and knowledge base we should be using. With that being said I do not feel as if this course was planned well. The first two courses I felt...
  • Really enjoyed this class. As always enjoy Dr. Chuck and his teaching, most excellent! I started out knowing nothing about programming any language and had only heard of Python a few times in life. Now I am enjoying it more and more. Retrieving data from...
  • Anonymous
    Could have been better explained. The first two courses were thorough and in depth, I actually learned in those, in this course I feel like I had to look for external sources for help and more explanation. One to two videos per topic for things that could...

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