7 February 2018 Minutes

Minutes from the Informatics Board of Studies meeting that took place at 2.00pm, Wednesday 7th February 2018 in Appleton Tower, Room 7.14. This meeting replaced the original meeting on 24th January 2018 and the rescheduled meeting on 31st January 2018.



Present - Stuart Anderson (BoS Convenor) Alan Smaill, Stefano Albrecht, Paul Anderson, Kousha Etessami, Stephen Gilmore, Sharon Goldwater, Heng Guo, Timothy Hospedales, Alex Lascarides, Iain Murray, Paul Patras, Don Sannella, Rik Sarkar, Volker Seeker, Kami Vaniea, He Sun, Finn Zhan Chen (Student Rep), Vicky Mactaggart (Secretary).


Chair gave apologies from - Alexandra Welsh - Alex to add  apologies received.


Minutes of Previous Meeting - 29th November 2017


The minutes were read and approved. It was noted that the following points still need to be actioned;

04102017 Updates: ISS to create new distance learning courses and send to College for approval (Performance Modelling / Image and Vision Computing).

ACTION: ISS to create the two new distance learning courses for 2018/19.

UPDATE: Alex to create new courses on EUCLID and send for Level 1 approval.


Item 1) New Course Proposal - Foundations of Data Science - He Sun

A new UG4 data science course outline was presented for academic session 2018/19. Common content with the pre-existing Extreme Computing course was considered, however EXC is a hands on practical course, whereas this would be theoretical, and may be more appealing to machine learning students. Content should be coordinated with Social and Technological Networks (STN) however, to avoid any overlap.  It was advised that a full proposal be brought to the next BoS, with clear pre-requisites for UG students and recommended background knowledge for PGT students. It should also be made clear for the benefit of students from other Schools, that the course requires programming knowledge. There was discussion regarding setting up a self-test like MLPR, where students can test their aptness for the course prior to enrolment, to further ensure suitability.

OUTCOME: Course outline provisionally approved.

ACTION: He Sun to make suggested changes and bring full course proposal to next BoS meeting.


Item 2) New Course Proposal - Informatics 1 – Functional Programming and Computational Thinking - Don Sannella

A full course proposal was presented for academic session 2018/19, combining and replacing two existing 1st Year courses; Informatics 1 – Functional Programming (INF1-FP), and Informatics 1 – Computation and Logic (INF1-CL). It was suggested the course title was lengthy and could simply be called Informatics 1A. As with INF1-FP and INF1-CL, this course would be required for all our UG1 students, and cover much the same material, but revamped. The addition of optional introductory lectures would allow students with no programming background to get up to speed before INF1-OP in Semester 2. In parallel, there would be more advanced material made available for students with programming experience. It was noted that merging these courses into a 20 credit course would mean Visiting Undergraduate students would need to do the full 20 credits, but this would affect only a handful of students. Currently, students are able to pass one of INF1-FP/CL and fail one, but still be allowed to progress and resit in second year.  Now they will need to pass the full 20 credit course on both the written exam and the programming exam. DS to decide whether to run two separate exams or to host locally and run them both together with a break mid-way (note: this could be problematic to organise for students with adjustment schedules). Students that fail one of these courses this year, will also now need to resit the new 20 credit course (resit regulations to be confirmed).

OUTCOME: Course proposal approved.

ACTION: DS to coordinate with VS regarding INF1-OP content overlap regarding the 6 introductory lectures.

ACTION: SoA to speak to Gillian Bell and review taught assessment regulations regarding resits, and feed back to DS.

ACTION: DS to submit revised proposal (course title, exam details) to ITO to be approved by Convenors action.

ACTION: ISS to create new course on EUCLID and close old courses. Pointers to be added to all courses to confirm this course replaces INFRXXXX and this course has been replaced by INFRXXXX.

ACTION: ISS to inform all affected Schools that these courses are changing.


Item 3) New Course Proposal - Fundamentals of Artificial Intelligence - Alan Smaill

A new Level 11 AI course outline was presented, aimed at MSc students, but UG5 rather than PG, so that MInf students are eligible to enrol too. At 20 credits the course would require two course lecturers – AS would be happy to teach half, but the other half would need resourced. Are there alternative AI courses that could be cut, in order to resource this one? It was noted that the content is similar to INF2D but aimed at MSc students for whom INF2D isn’t an available course option. INF2D is a pre-requisite for the MInf so it would also allow students that aren’t currently eligible, to transfer onto the MInf degree.

OUTCOME: Course outline provisionally approved, subject to resourcing.

ACTION: AS to think about resourcing and bring full course proposal to next BoS.[MV1] 


Item 4) Course Proposal Change - Reinforcement Learning - Stefano Albrecht

SA is taking over the RL course for academic session 2018/19 and has a number of changes to the course material, including updating the slides, reducing items of coursework from 2 x 10% to 1 x 25%, and reordering content so that it flows better. There has been a huge growth in student numbers recently so the course needs to be optimised with respect to the change in class size. It was recommended that reference to specific software (MATLAB) is removed from the DRPS course description, and referenced on the School course webpage only.

OUTCOME: Course changes approved.

ACTION: SA to provide ISS with updated course descriptor (changes to description, recommended knowledge, and assessment required).

ACTION: ISS to update course DRPS on EUCLID for 2018/19.


Item 5) DPT Minor Changes - Stephen Gilmore

As the School Curriculum Advisory Officer (SCAO), SG reviewed the Schools Degree Programme Tables and proposed a number of updates, in order to iron out inconsistencies and ensure consistent provision on DPTs. Courses that have missing subject tags (AI, CG, CS, SE) need to choose the appropriate tag(s). Courses have also been asked to reflect on whether their current tags are still relevant, and advise ISS if changes are required. Following tag updates, course collections need to be updated, to ensure that courses are listed in the correct groupings, and on the relevant DPTs.

There was debate over whether TTDS is an AI course or not. SG to discuss with the course lecturer and confirm.

OUTCOME: DPT changes approved.

ACTION: SG to confirm TTDS course tags with lecturer, and confirm with ISS.

ACTION: ISS to make the proposed changes to course subject tags on Theon, and DPTS on EUCLID for 2018/19.

ACTION: ISS/SCAO to review subject tags and DPTs annually, and ensure all changes are approved by BoS.

ACTION: SG to bring guidance for staff to the next BoS, explaining the subject tags and the affect they have on DPTs.

ACTION: AS to set an agenda item for next BoS to clarify the Informatics subject areas within DRPS.[MV2] 


Item 6) New Course Description for Computer Security DRPS page - Kami Vaniea & Myrto Arapinis

There was concern over content overlap between the two courses ‘Computer Security’ (UG3, Semester 1) and ‘Secure Programming’ (UG4, Semester 2) due to an out of date course description on DRPS. The descriptor for CS has now been updated to clarify the course content, and the division between CS and SP. The course lecturer confirmed that the intention is that students can take both CS and SP, and future SP lectures will build on CS content.

OUTCOME: Course descriptor approved.

ACTION: ISS to update EUCLID with new course details.


Item 7) New Proposal for compulsory courses in UG3 - Sharon Goldwater

In order to manage increasing student numbers and such a large curriculum, it was proposed that we make more courses compulsory, and quota optional courses. Proposal 1 suggests making ‘Introductory Applied Machine Learning’ (IAML, INF10069) compulsory for all UG3 students on MInf and AI degree programmes. Proposal 2 suggests making ‘Computer Security’ (CS, INF10067) compulsory for all UG3 students on MInf, CS and SE degrees (excluding joint degrees), and moving it from Semester 1 to Semester 2 to allow UG3 students to take both IAML and CS. Making CS compulsory for students has strong academic justification following a previous TPR recommendation.

OUTCOME: Proposal 1 and Proposal 2 approved.

ACTION: UG2 organiser (Rik Sarkar) to update the Year 2 handbook, advising students that INF2D is a required course for the MInf, just in case they wish to transfer in the future.

ACTION: UG3 organiser (Christophe Dubache) to update the Year 3 handbook, recommending that if students want to switch to MInf then they will need to take both IAML and CS in 3rd Year, as these courses will be compulsory for the MInf from 2018/19.

ACTION: ISS to move CS to Semester 2 from 2018/18, and make CS a compulsory course in Year 3 of the following DPTs; AI+CS, AI+SE, CS BEng, CS BSc, MInf, SE.

ACTION: ISS to make IAML a compulsory course in Year 3 of the following DPTs; AI, AI+CS, AI+Maths, AI+SE, AI with management, MInf).


Proposal 3 suggested combining and replacing the current Year 3 practical’s (AILP, CSLP, SELP) with a single course – ‘Individual or Informatics Large Practical’ (ILP) from academic session 2018/19. These courses were originally set up to allow a vertical thread of programming learning into the Semester 2 ‘System Design Project’ course. There was discussion over having an umbrella course with 3 subject options beneath, but the general consensus was one single practical with project options all students can choose from. It was noted that Compiling Techniques (CT) is also a large practical course, so students could choose to take ILP or CT.

 OUTCOME: Proposal 3 approved.

ACTION: All Large Practical lecturers to meet and bring a full ILP course proposal to the next BoS.


Item 8) Change to IVR to Dec Exam Diet - Tim Hospedales & Michael Mistry

TH requested a move of the IVR exam from the April/May exam diet, to the December diet. This would enable the examining of both the main cohort and VUGs within one exam sitting, rather than having to set two separate exams. SoA advised that there is limited space in the December exam timetable and would need to seek guidance from College. Note: VS would also like to move the EXC exam to the December diet, if possible.

OUTCOME: Awaiting further information.

ACTION: SoA to speak to College about exam diet changes and report back to next BoS.


Item 9) DPT Update - Data Science MSc Course Collection - Stuart Anderson

The Data Science MSc and MRes DPTs need updated to ensure courses appear in the correct collections, and that course concessions are no longer required. This item was covered by the previous Item 5 ‘DPT Minor Changes’ (SGilmore).

OUTCOME: DPT changes approved

ACTION: ISS to update the MSc DS and MRes DS DPTs as recommended in Item 5.


AOCB (Any other current business)

There was no other business and the meeting was concluded.


Date of Next Meeting

Wednesday 14th March 2018, Room 714, Appleton Tower.