The main purpose of this class is to ease the transition in to taking one of the undergraduate labs required of astrophysics majors here at Berkeley. In a few short weeks, students are asked to learn how to work in a Unix environment, write programs using IDL, learn the concepts needed for the lab, actually do the lab, and then write up the results in LaTeX. This is all on top of doing work for other classes. The hope is that after taking this class, managing all of this will be a bit easier, as you will know how to use the Unix operating system and how to write efficient and effective code in IDL.
For some more information about the course, including a week by week outline of the course (to which I promise not to adhere), check out the syllabus.