02 May 2018 Minutes

Meeting minutes from the Extraordinary Informatics Board of Studies meeting held at 2.00pm on Wednesday, 2nd May 2018 in Appleton Tower, Room 6.16.

Minutes yet to be approved by convenor


Present - Stuart Anderson (BoS Convenor), Alan Smaill (Academic Secretary), Alexandra Welsh ( Administrative Secretary), Vicky Mactaggart, Myrto Arapinis, David Aspinall, Stephen Gilmore, Sharon Goldwater, Don Sannella, Petros Wallden.


Apologies - Chair gave apologies from Les Haworth (School of Engineering), George Kinnear (School of Mathematics), Christophe Dubach.


Minutes of Previous Meeting - 04 April 2018. These minutes were taken as read and a true account of the meeting.


Matters Arising


Item 1) New Proposed Programme - Taught MSc in Security, Privacy and Trust - Myrto Arapinis

Mytro feels that a programme like this is needed in the UK and as such could attract students, including those wanting to apply for CDT. This programme could also allow for  Government Communications Headquarters [GCHQ] ( National Cyber Security Centre [NCSC]) accreditation. There also appears to be demand from students for this kind of programme. Myrto feels that the programme wouldn't necessarily need cryptoanalysis, however would attract Mathematics students.

Stuart Anderson advised that the initial paperwork that will be submitted to college needs to be completed no later than 9th May 2018 as the CCAB meeting is due to take place on 16th May 2018.  It was discussed that these kinds of proposals are sometimes rejected due to under specified information and supporting courses not being approved at the point the programme is proposed.  Stuart advised that Myrto would need to complete the CSE Programme Proposal Documentation Stage 1 Initial Approval form and is happy to help David Aspinall and Myrto with the programme proposal paperwork. Stuart advised the members present that this programme is already in the school plan and has already received the backing of the Head of School, Jane Hillston. This programme also forms part of the business case for the City Deal, from a skills perspective, and has links to the Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI).

There was a discussion around the courses that would make up this programme. This programme would also offer non-informatics courses, which has received positive feedback. There was also a discussion on the expected size of the courses and the resourcing that would be required for the project aspects – 10 staff could take up to 40 projects? Look at 25 in 1st year? It was agreed that 50 students would be a lot for a seminar style taught course. It was discussed if there would need to be a student limit on the courses as they would only be for students on specific degrees. It was discussed that Research Methods would need to be compulsory. Stephen Gilmore also cautioned to watch the pre-requisites due to assumed knowledge and suggested students take courses from a general Informatics collection (i.e. don’t take general CS courses, but take 40 credits of level 11 Informatics courses). Stuart Anderson suggested the collection could be 50-90 credits in CS related courses and students interests would refine the rest. Stuart could investigate how to negotiate with college for caps on the courses for this programme. There could also be a programme requirement; if not when the student starts on programme, then when they leave.

It was highlighted that there was a typo on page 5 of the initial Taught MSc in Security, Privacy and Trust programme proposal – level 9 courses need to be added.

Sharon Goldwater is conscious of the resourcing required regarding the proposed new courses and programme - this is her biggest concern.  Sharon was also concerned that the criteria should match the courses being offered. It was discussed that there is a root that a non-programmer could take on this programme, however they would be limited to a maximum of 30 credits non-programing courses. It was discussed that a course with the business school or Information Security could be introduced to the programme in future.

Stephen raised some concerns about the structure of the Advanced Topics in Cyber Security and Privacy course being proposed and that it might not be very hands on or engaging for students. Myrto Arapinis advised that it is like a standard course offered in the USA. It was noted that proposer, Vassilis Zikas,  has not arrived at the school yet and Myrto feels that the fleshed out proposal for Advanced Topics in Cyber Security and Privacy will not be ready in the next week, however the proposed course could potentially be left off the programme proposal? Stuart advised that outline proposals could be considered, however existing courses would make the programme easier to approve.

Sharon advised that in her experience, USA structured courses do not work very well in the UK and that is was better suited to PhD students as the MSc in the UK was not at the same level. Sharon advised she had spent weeks exploring lots of topics and had put in a lot of effort as things needed to be accessible but not too detailed. Sharon is also concerned about the paper ready courses as students could do a similar paper in Semester 2. Proposed course Research Methods in Security, Privacy & Trust, would have an IRR type component; this would mean the same kinds of issues as IPP & IRR when it came to papers as students need to present 2x different papers. Sharon cautioned, students would need to be assigned topics or they will pick a similar topic of their previous report.

OUTCOME: Approved, pending full proposal.

ACTION: Stuart Anderson to help Myrto Arapinis and David Aspinall complete the CSE Programme Proposal Documentation Stage 1 Initial Approval form and the full programme proposal for Taught MSc in Cyber Security, Privacy and Trust. This must be done no later than 9th May 2018.  

ACTION: Myrto Arapinis to submit the completed CSE Programme Proposal Documentation Stage 1 Initial Approval form and the full programme proposal for Taught MSc in Cyber Security, Privacy and Trust to college for consideration at the CCAB meeting on 16th May 2018. This is due no later than 14th May 2018.


*Updated documents being presented at CSE-CCAB meeting, submitted to ISS 11th May 2018.

**Updated Stage 2 document being presented at CSE-CCAB meeting, submitted to ISS 14th May 2018 and sent to Matt Elliot Deputy Head of Academic Affairs in College of Science & Engineering .



Item 2) New Proposed Course - Research Methods in Security, Privacy & Trust - Myrto Arapinis

Sharon is concerned that this course is trying to do too many different things – presentation and survey course. Sharon feels that if students are not assessed on material they are less likely to learn. Myrto replied that there would be mandatory presentations that will be at the level of exposure, but that students could then focus submissions on their own topic. It was suggested that a 10 point accelerated level 11 security course could be considered to cover 20 points of Computer Security; that would leave 10 points for the students to cover what they want to do with the rest of the proposal. This course has also taken into account the Maths students, where security is not imposed on the students who wish to pursue cryptology. Stuart advised that the assessment needs to match and assess the learning outcomes and objectives. Myrto replied that as Security is very broad, she is not sure how much more she could do to challenge learning objectives and feels that exposure is enough. It was discussed that other courses have some assumed background but don’t limit the students to simple exposure as it is hard to gauge what they have learned on the course. It was discussed that as there is no way of predicting the number of students who have done Computer Security, if a UG student applied for course and has already taken 20credits, a prohibited combination could be made. Stuart Anderson also suggested adding a practical coursework.

It was discussed that when designing the exam; the course could cover 6 topics then the exam could cover 4 of the 6 topics taught, which would allow for better concepts.

There was a discussion about whether the research element should be split off and added to the Advanced Topics in Cyber Security and Privacy proposal as MSc students don’t want a research course. It was suggested that students could do a topic from seed papers from IRR, but that need to be cautious of CDT. It was discussed could have accelerated CS and IRR. It was felt that the current assessment would need to be reviewed. It was suggested that the exam would need to cover 50% of the taught component. Assessment could be done by having a conference/presentation of papers, then evaluate, then small project. A project for the CDT was considered reasonable. As for the MSc, it would be an extension of a topic and will be very resource intensive as staff would need to referee and evaluate papers. It was discussed that TurnItIn has a feature that could enable random peer review (peer assessment).

The final suggestion was to have an exam, course work related to research (1x formative coursework which is critiqued for feedback).

OUTCOME: Approved, pending revised, full proposal.

ACTION: Myrto Arapinis to submit the full completed Research Methods in Security, Privacy & Trust proposal by 9th May 2018 for submission to college for the CCAB meeting.

*Updated documents being presented at CSE-CCAB meeting , submitted to ISS 11th May 2018.




Item 3 ) New Proposed Course - Advanced Topics in Cyber Security and Privacy - Vassilis Zikas & Myrto Arapinis

Mytro advised that the proposer of this course had not yet arrived at the University, so was unable to present this item. Myrto advised that this course would support and form part of the Taught MSc in Security, Privacy and Trust programme that she was proposing.

This proposal was discussed without the proposer. Alan Smaill feels that this proposal doesn't fit the Coursework Policy has to write a critique of papers.  Again, Sharon feels this kind of course model doesn't work well in the UK. It was noted that the issues being brought up could not be discussed due to the proposer's absence.  Mytro doesn’t want research methods and feels this course would be great for the CDT, however will be resource intensive.

It was discussed that, as the 20 sessions at 1/2 hours each would limit the course to no more than 40 students. Myrto thought the cap would be around 20/30 students. There were concerns around weighted pair review assessments as they are hard to control quality.

OUTCOME: Approved, pending revised proposal.

ACTION: New proposal to be revised and submitted with programme for college consideration.

* No updated document has been received for this proposed course as of 14th May 2018.



Item 4) New Proposed Course - Quantum Cyber Security - Petros Wallden & Myrto Arapinis

Petros feels this proposal covers a ‘hot’ subject area that is well recognised with the Government Communications Headquarters [GCHQ]. Petros feels this subject is bound to become more important as students find it attractive as a future field. This course covers classical cryptography as well as quantum technologies - students would not require a background in quantum courses. This course is about realising what quantum can do and how to be secure and access protocols.

Exam would cover 90% of the assessment, with the remaining 10% covered by tutorial questions or implementation of algorithms. The main assessment would be the exam.

There was a discussion around how this course relates to quantum courses. Petros advised that there would be little/ slight overlap as some courses already teach some quantum background. Having done the Quantum Compiling course will help students understand the quantum algorithms. Petros doesn’t feel this course would take students away from other quantum courses, but would appeal to those who have already done quantum courses. Sharon reported that feedback analysis shows that students think that quantum and security are related, hence the concern that this course would pull numbers away from other courses.

Stuart Anderson requested that this proposal be tidied up and ‘fleshed out’ before it can be resubmitted for college consideration. The proposal needs to look at how to assess learning objectives, how the students understand what they are being taught and how to test this. Stuart advised that learning objectives should not be about a changed mental state.

If approved, would look at teaching this course in 2019/20 academic session, so need to push through to college.

OUTCOME: Potential approval, pending full proposal to be submitted and approved by convenor’s action.

ACTION: Vicky Mactaggart to send Data Science proposal to Petros Wallden, for guidance purposes.

ACTION: Petros Wallden to revise proposal and resubmit to convenor for consideration, once proposed changes have been made.

ACTION: Stuart to approve as convenor and advise Myrto Arapinis, Petros Wallden and ISS.

ACTION: Myrto Arapinis to submit the full completed Quantum Cyber Security proposal by 9th May 2018 for submission to college for the CCAB meeting.


*Updated documents being presented at CSE-CCAB meeting, submitted to ISS 11th May 2018.



***Stuart Anderson advised that all of these proposals would also need the approval of the Head of School, once revised and completed.



Item 5) Change to EXC move to Dec diet - Stuart Anderson

FOR INFORMATION ONLY - Extreme Computing (INFR11088) examination will be moved to December diet from 2018/19 onwards, so the VUGs and the main class all take a single examination, as agareed by Covnenor's Action (May 2018). EXC



Item 6) New Proposed Programme Description - Stuart Anderson

Stuart advised that this item was no longer required. NFA.



AOCB (Any Other Current Business) 

There was no other current business.