18 October 2017 Minutes

Meeting minutes from the Informatics Board of Studies meeting held at 2.00pm on Wednesday, 18th October 2017 in Appleton Tower, Room 7.14.

Present - Alan Smaill (Academic Secretary), Alexandra Welsh (Secretary), Vicky Mactaggart, Don Sannella, Maria Wolters, Bob Fisher.


Apologies - Jane Hillston, Richard Shillcock, Sharon Goldwater, Paul Anderson, George Kinnear (School of Mathematics).  It was noted that the Board of Studies Convenor, Stuart Anderson, was absent as he is out of the country.


1. Minutes of Previous Meeting - 4th October 2017

Minutes were taken as read and deemed to be an accurate record.

04102017- Item 1. New Course Proposal - Software Testing Distance Learning Course Proposal - Bob was surprised that his item from last week's meeting was rejected as he'd been lead to believe that all of the distance learning proposals submitted were approved. Alan clarified that, at the last Board of Studies meeting Stuart stated he had spoken to Ajitha, that she did not want her course to be flipped. Bob said he had spoken to Ajitha and she seemed happy to flip her course. As there seemed to be a lot of second hand information, the Board of Studies members in attendance agreed that Ajitha should contact Informatics Teaching Office and Director of Teaching if she wants to bring this item back to the Board of Studies.

Alan advised that Sharon Goldwater had requested a few changes to the wording of the minutes for items 2, 3 and 9, after they were initially published to better reflect the order of discussion. These were approved by the Director of Teaching and Alex advised that the minutes had been updated on the web page.

04102017 Updates - Alex advised some items from the last meeting will remain outstanding until next year as the ITO cannot change the 2017/18 DPT. Changes will be made to instances for 2018/19 where appropriate. ITO to send off Distance Learning course proposals this week (04102017 Item 2. New Course Proposal - Performance Modelling Distance Learning Course Proposal and 3. New Course Proposal - Image and Vision Computing Distance Learning Course Proposal).

04102017 Item 15 Information Only - Minor updates to AI DPT's for 3rd Years - Don questioned the action on this item from last week's meeting. Alan clarified that this was in relation to 04102017 Item 9 (AI degree proposed closures and changes (AI+maths, AI+SE degrees, CS+maths degree)) with regards to the Computer Science degrees omitting compulsory courses whilst trying to remain flexible. This has been submitted to ITO to implement when the new instances are created for 2018/19.


2. Matters Arising


3. Course Changes - Product Development concessions for Advanced Design Informatics – Maria Wolters

Design Informatics was redesigned by Maria and Michael This proposal is to change the DPTs for the two Design Informatics programmes to align with the DPTs as implemented by ECA. Informatics had to wait for Data Science for Design to be approved by the ECA, which was not done until May last year.   Maria advised that a change with Data Science was necessary as too many students could not programme. Year1: Semester 1 would include 3x 20 credit courses - Data Science for Design, Case Studies in Design Informatics and Histories and Futures of Technology. Semester 2 allows for 20 credits of electives. Informatics students can opt out of programming courses if they meet the criteria/appropriate background. 

Year 2: all of the course work is in Semester 1 so students can concentrate on their thesis in Semester 2. The old set up had negative effects on students. Maria strongly urges students to take electives in first year. Students are also discouraged from taking 70 credits in one semester and 50 in another.

The old version agrees with the new version of the programme so Maria and the School Curriculum Approval Officer have arranged to grant concessions for the students on the programme this year with regards to the Product Development course.


ACTION: ITO to implement change for 2018/19 instance of Advanced Design Informatics.


4. Course Proposal - MInf with International Studies – Don Sannella

Don explained a full submission will follow for the November meeting, providing the initial views/feedback received from members is positive. This short paper proposes a simple change to the current MInf programme already on offer to create a new programme, making a year of study abroad a requirement of the degree. Don, in his role as Director of Internationalisation, advised that indicating the requirement in the degree title would be an attractive feature, allowing students a more international experience, both for our own students going abroad and international students coming to study here. It was agreed that this would have a positive diversity effect on the student body, especially the MSc population.

There are plenty of destinations already available for study abroad and Don is willing to work with international universities for an exchange programme.

Don has already received feedback from Sharon Goldwater and Hiroshi Shimodaira. Hiroshi noted that the school already has control of European exchange but Edinburgh Global is in charge of the international exchanges. Sharon noted that opening a new programme 'goes against the grain' of closing degrees, however was positive of the proposal.

It was discussed that the title of the new programme needs careful consideration and that Sharon Goldwater had already offered Don some ideas. MInf with Year Abroad was suggested at the meeting. 

Don clarified that students would be required to take their year 3 abroad which sits well as has 2 years to catch up. Year 4 would be considered for special circumstances such as a collaborative project/exchange lab with a supervisor taking place outside of the University of Edinburgh. This would be allowed with a concession. Hurdles would also need to be considered if a student didn't have strong results before applying for a year abroad.


ACTION: Don to submit full proposal at next Board of Studies meeting in November 2017.


5. (Previously Item 7 from BoS04102017) Change Proposal - Revised Distance Learning Courses - Consistency Queries and Impact of Change & Consistent SCQF Levels for Campus and Distance Learning Courses - Bob Fisher

Bob asked clarity around the instance codes. Alex clarified the instance codes as -

SS1 = Course which aren't open to visiting students

SV1 = Courses which are open to visiting students and Main cohort

VV1 = Courses which are open to visiting students and have an exam (are not coursework only) and are in Semester 1 but with an April Exam (SV1 instance examined in May, VV1 instance examined in December).

Bob also requested clarity regarding the course closures presented at the last meeting on 4th October.  Vicky Mactaggart advised that the DSTI courses on the list were deemed to be redundant, so have already been removed. Vicky will send out a revised list with updated course codes.

With regards to the Distance Learning courses on the list; Bob stated that Nigel proposes to keep his IAML level 11 course with additional coursework compared to the level 10 course.  The additional coursework should include material appropriate for a level 11 course. Alan advised that a new course descriptor and learning outcomes would be required as well.

Bob stated that since IVC is being proposed as a distance learning course and being pushed up to college, IVR could remain at level 9. Bob acknowledged that Advanced Vision level 11 may lose out on a little of the robotics aspects. The rest of the courses ABS, Advanced Vision and IJP listed all seem to be fine. It was noted that IJP is a level 9 course and IVC and PM distance learning are both level 11 courses. Bob advised that the DRPS requires at 40/60 credits to be level 11 for a Certificate. A Diploma is 90/ 120 credits, which means distance PGT students to take a level 9 distance learning course.

Bob questioned the IVR instance as being VV1 and requested that ITO check if this was correct on the system as should be SS1. It was agreed that all distance learning courses should be SS1 instance.

ACTION: Vicky Mactaggart to send around the clarified course list.

ACTION: Alex to check IVR instance is SS1 and make sure all other distance learning courses have a SS1 instance.



Bob mentioned that he had been in talks with Gill Bell about the possibility of getting a dedicated admin person to help look after the distance learning courses as support will be required once the distance learning courses take off.