21 March 2018 Minutes

Meeting minutes from the Informatics Board of Studies meeting at 2.00pm Wednesday 21st March 2018 in Appleton Tower, Room 7.14. This meeting replaced the original meetings scheduled for 21st February 2018 and the rescheduled meeting for 14th March 2018.

*MINUTES IN DRAFT FORM - Yet to be approved by convenor

Present - Stuart Anderson (BoS Convenor), Alan Smaill, Alexandra Welsh (Secretary), Vicky Mactaggart, Murray Cole, Mary Cryan, Bob Fisher, Jacques Fleuriot, Stephen Gilmore, Sharon Goldwater, Heng Guo, Matthias Hennig, Alex Lascarides, Rico Sennrich, Kami Vaniea, Richard Mayr, Johanna Moore, Ben Morse (EPCC), Alister Hamilton (E+EE, School of Engineering).


1. Welcome and Introductions - Convenor, Stuart Anderson introduced himself and welcomed Ben Morse (EPCC) and Alister Hamilton (E+EE, School of Engineering). The board members signed in on the attendance sheet.


2. Apologies - The chair noted apologies from Don Sannella, George Kinnear, Les Haworth, James Anderson, Paul Anderson, Adam Lopez. Alexandra Welsh apologised for not removing earlier apologies from Kami Vaniea and Alex Lascarides from the previously cancelled meeting.


3. Minutes of Previous Meeting -07th February 2018Although the minutes were not been approved by the Convenor at the time of the meeting, they were published on the web page for consideration and feedback and taken as read - there were no amendments to the last meeting's minutes.


4. Matters Arising

Stuart advised that Don’s proposed course from BoS meeting on 7th Feb 2018, Item 2) Informatics 1 – Functional Programming and Computational Thinking can have resits if there are separate exams. Alexandra Welsh advised that Don had submitted his proposal the morning of 21st March and that they had been forwarded to Stuart Anderson for consideration and possible convenor's action. ISS will not upload proposal on to EUCLID until it has been approved by the convenor.

Item 5) from BoS meeting on 7th Feb 2018, TTDS tags still need to be put on but tags are still to be decided before this can be done.


5. Full  Course Proposal - Algorithmic Foundations of Data Science - He Sun

Heng Guo presented this item on behalf of He Sun. This proposal is for a course that would cover theoretical, sampling and processing not currently covered in the school curriculum and should help reduce the load on popular courses. Sharon advised that Kousha was in favour of this proposal. Murray Cole felt there was little overlap with computerisation. Stuart noted that the sample questions need to be very course specific. This course would be 10 credits which would make it a lighter weight alternative to the 20 credit PMR course. Members were in support of this proposal as it fills a gap it what is being taught. It was noted that the description would need to be tidied up. Resourcing and room space would also need to be considered if this course is very popular.

OUTCOME: Approved

ACTION: Alan Smaill, He Sun and Kousha to resubmit proposal to ISS.

ACTION: Alan Smaill and Kousha to tag course, and advise ISS for inclusion in DPT course collections.

ACTION: ISS to create course for 2018/19, once approved by Stuart Anderson.


6. New Course Proposal - Usable Security and Privacy - Kami Vaniea

Kami advised that the intention of this course was to draw from Computer Security and Human Computer Interaction. The structure of the course is also supportive of the concepts of Computer Security and Human Computer Interaction experience. Both Computer Security and Human Computer Interaction have large numbers of students. This course would also have a slightly different assessment weight (70/30 instead of 40/60). This course would also fit the National Cyber Security with most of the elements discussed in the proposal. Looking at a 2018/19 start for this course. Kami is teaching HCI in 2019/20. Alex Lascarides is supportive of this course but not supportive of more new courses. There were concerns around the exam marking scale as course is similar to HCI. Stuart advised it would be good to see this course run for a year and then review. Bob asked that the prerequisites be CS and HCI.

OUTCOME: Approved, pending full course proposal.

ACTION: Full course proposal to be submitted by Kami, Alan Smaill and Stuart Anderson in the next 7 days.

ACTION: Convenor to approve full proposal using convenor’s action and pass to ISS.

ACTION: ISS to create course on EUCLID for 2018/19 session, and update DPTs.



7. New Course Proposal - Informatics Large Practical - Stephen Gilmore

This course proposes a single unified large practical course to replace the current large practical courses that make up the DPTs. Stephen advised that a lot of the large practicals achieved the same goals. This course would limit students from being enrolled in the wrong large practical. This came from issues raised by students that some of the large practicals and more difficult than others. Prohibited combinations also caused issues. The tags are good for all subject areas as this large practical would cover all of them. There were concerns that there might be an issue with this course from the point of marking - it would be tight to submit work plans in 2 weeks. Filling marking posts has also proved difficult in the past. These concerns extended in to a discussion about the students numbers possibly growing to 200+ in a few years time and how this would impact resourcing. This course would be open to visiting students and that the school needed to be mindful of student numbers which could prove challenging. Prerequisites need to be used to see which courses students can do.

Stuart advised that Timetabling have already warned that December diet exams are already at capacity for Semester 1 courses.

OUTCOME: Approved, pending submission of full proposal.

ACTION: Stephen to submit full course proposal in the next 7 days with Stuart, Sharon and Alan Smaill and pass to ISS.

ACTION: ISS to create course on EUCLID for 2018/19, after approved by Convenor’s action, and update DPTs.

ACTION: ISS to close the old large practical courses (AILP, CSLP, SELP) from September 2018.



8. New Course Proposal - DSTI Dissertation (Informatics) - Bob Fisher

If students choose to become MSc this programme would let them do a project/dissertation via a regulated framework over a longer period of time. Bob reported that only 2x students are eligible to do this at the moment. The growth is small and students can pick from 6x schools with whom they could do like to do their dissertation. At the moment most students exit with a Cert or a Diploma. Bob doesn’t feel this would be an extra burden on the school. It was discussed that students would need to pick their projects with the 4th years, however the projects would need to be upscaled from 40 credits to 60 credits worth of work.The DSTI is currently spread over 6 years with a dissertation in years 5 or 6. Bob feels that these wouldn’t be extraordinary changes to what is currently being undertaken - intermittent courses in a determined period of time.

Concerns were raised by some of the members regarding student numbers and their potential impact on resources, however it was pointed out that the numbers are very low and that the students are spread out across 6x schools. There were also concerns raised that staff have little experience of delivering an DSTI course and that staff are already saturated in work - need to know what the support level would be. Bob advised that staff would be able to veto if they wish to supervise these students themselves. It was discussed that the staff supervising the students would need to be in the area of the student’s dissertation; if all of the area staff veto, where does that leave the students? There were concerns that if the area chosen was one with already huge demand, there might not be any available resources. Bob advised that students would need to have done specific prerequisites as natural limitations. IT was agreed that a tick box should be added to show if a project was appropriate or inappropriate for DL students. Bob feels there are currently enough staff who are willing to take this work onboard. Staff could also supervise using Skype, even though it is a face to face course, not long distance.

Remote internships were discussed as a possible solution, however limited staff having experience with this might be an issue.

It was discussed that another supplement proposal would be required to accomodate visiting students in this programme.

Ben Morse advised that the VET, Medical and BIO schools have all done DSTI and seems to have worked.

Courses at DSTI level act as a filter and allowances have been made as to not flood the school. 100 current programmes, 30 are MSc with a dissertation 3 years down the line, spread across 6 schools. Should numbers increase students should be asked to nominate their school preferences as early as possible, that way they can enter a project fully committed. If student numbers grow for the DSTI programme, schools may need to look at creating a new course with staff committed to delivering, rather than tag onto existing.

Bob advised that students have already enrolled on the DSTI programme and now we have to deliver. The school also receives funding for these students. It was discussed that there is currently no quota as per university regulations, however other schools seem to have them as well as postgrads.

Stuart advised that students would require a proposal after the first 3 months of the programme - needs to cover IPP and get feedback.

OUTCOME: Approved

ACTION: Stuart to discover issues around quota and how other schools approach this and report to staff.

ACTION: Bob to submit an extra proposal to cover visiting students.


9. New Proposal for a PhD in Pervasive Parallelism (Part-time) - Murray Cole

Murray reported that one CDT student would like to go part time, however there currently isn’t that option available, like with the other programmes. Murray advised that it would be the exact same course except with what is necessary for part time study. There would be no direct entry into this programme, only for students already doing PhD. It was noted that students would need to be warned and flagged that they might run out of funding before they have finished their studies if they go part time. This has received the approval of EPSRC.

It was discussed that a uniform part time option should be made available for all CDT PhD programmes. Murray advised that he had an issue finding a part time degree description for part time PhD programmes.

OUTCOME: Approved, pending submission from Stuart Anderson.

ACTION: Stuart to meet with CDT directors to complete a submission for EUCLID.

ACTION: Murray Cole to create Part Time degree description with Grad School for part time PhD.


10. New Course Proposal for Natural Computing (NC) - Michael Herrmann

This course already exists online and needed a locally delivered version. Sharon advised that the online course is not able to be seen at the moment. This course is modelled a few years ago and is not a sumerative course but a formative one. It was discussed that the course name would need to be looked at so as to be clearer for students - bionatural computer? Prerequisites would require courses in calculus, etc.  It was discussed that the the prerequisites need to be more accurate. Videos have not been prepared for this course which is a concern as there is mention of Learn and Media Hopper on the proposal.

Stuart noted that the online distance learning course was approved by the BoS in the past. Michael has offered to deliver the version of the course as well as the local version.

Coursework and assignment burden will need to be looked at - maybe do in pairs for 25%?

OUTCOME: Approved, pending resubmission.

ACTION: Michael to make the changes required and submit to Stuart Anderson, Alan Smaill and Sharon Goldwater to approve by convenor action.

ACTION: ISS to create course for 2018/19, once approved.


11. New Course Proposal for Artificial Intelligence, Present and Future - Alan Smaill

This would be a 10 point course at MSc level. AI & MSc is underrepresented. This course is intended to cover symbolic and research levels and have the expertise in Edinburgh. It was discussed that there are too many assessments which need to be revised to 1x formative and 1x sumerative. Also need to look at reasoning processes. It was noted that this course might only last a year or so. It was agreed that there isn’t a course on offer that fits this space and covers ethical questions on AI. There were concerns that 10 credits might not be enough for the work involved in this course and it is not clear if students already know about Machine Learning. Stuart remarked that this course appears like an accelerated INF2D course. The members liked the idea of a AI MSc course with correct topics for practical applications students encounter.

There were concerns that the current proposed title could be deceptive to students as it could allude to covering all of AI. Accelerated Introduction to AI was suggested. It was also discussed that students would need ML course so they had context for this course.

OUTCOME: Pending.

ACTION: Jacques Fleuriot, Bob Fisher, Alan Smaill and Johanna Moore to discuss what the curriculum should be and come up with new proposal, with in the next 9 days.

ACTION: Alan Smaill to bring revised version back to final BoS on 4th April 2018.



12. Update Proposal - Computational Complexity (INFR11102) - Heng Guo

Heng wants to change the course and content. The course work would change from 3 pieces of coursework to 2. Looking at delivering course in Semester 1 from Semester 2. It was noted that the 2nd coursework should be sumerative and the 1st coursework formative.

OUTCOME: Approved.

ACTION: ISS to make changes to course descriptor as discussed.

ACTION: Vicky Mactaggart to discuss timetabling options with Heng Guo.


13. Update Proposal - DPTs for MSc and MScR in Data Science - Sharon Goldwater & Adam Lopez

Sharon presented item. It was noted that DPTs are more constrained for particular courses. Database courses level 11 only has 3x choices which causes a lot of issues as students don’t have a lot of knowledge of database systems - students would prefer other options and broaden to databases and management, for example. New list would have new courses, already discussed at the BoS today. Some members quetioned if the course was more data structures than data bases, which is covered in INF2B. Stuart feels this proposal is reseaonable - although the label might not be 100%, the constraints work and the diversity is good.

OUTCOME: Approved.

ACTION: ISS to make changes to the DPTs for 2018/19.

UPDATE: Some changes made March 2018 - need to wait for several new courses to be approved & created before DPT can be finalised.


14. Full Course Proposal for Natural Language Processing 2 - Adam Lopez & Rico Sennrich

Rico presented this item and advised this course would help streamline for resourcing and review overlaps in offerings. New 20 credit course would make offering easier. There was some discussion that the title might cause some confusion with the level 8 course. It was noted that there currently isn’t a course on dial-up systems. This course would take 3x 10 credit courses and create 1x 20 credit course.

OUTCOME: Approved

ACTION: ISS to create new course on EUCLID for 2018/19 once new course title agreed.

ACTION: ISS to look at closing old courses this one is replacing.

UPDATE: Sharon Goldwater emailed (22/03/2018) and confirmed the new course should be called "Natural Language Understanding, Generation, and Machine Translation"  The acronym to use will be: NLU+


15. Possible issues with MSc AI DPTs 2018 - Vicky Mactaggart

This item has been discussed with Sharon and Alan Smaill. There are issues in the way AI DPTs align with full time and part time MSc versions. Sharon advised that there is a difference in the amount of credits the students can choose in AI of course collection (40/60) 40 credits in full time and part time appear.

Stuart will check the DPTs and advise which need corrected.

ACTION: Stuart to check DPTs and advise ISS of course collection corrections.

ACTION: ISS to update the DPTs for 2018/19.



16. EPCC Timetabling for 2018/19 - Ben Morse

Ben Morse advised that EPCC is moving to the central area over the summer and that the school will no longer be a part of Physics. It was reported that the programme fits better under the guidance of Informatics as the students use the labs near-by. Ben advised that there are a few things that need to be done as part of the move. Ben advised that a course would b]need to be created which was modeled on the one that Murray Cole has, but without the coursework assessment.

Ben advised that they will be closing the EPCC architecture course and will not be replacing the HPCC programme. Programmes are wild cards (10 credits). List of optional courses will limit the wild card ones. Within the individual courses there will be change and change of course names - Algorithm replaced, Advanced Programming changed, etc. Ben advised that EPCC currently have no MSc programmes for next year (2018/19). Ben advised that 4 students out of 21 have enrolled for something in EPCC. Stuart feels it would be a minor change if students did something in EPCC course. It was noted by Ben and Bob that more attractive courses to Inf and EPCC students for certain popular courses could maybe have a quota of 80? Ben felt that if the numbers went over 40, a second practical would need to be run. Materials are also available for self study. Ben advised that online courses have DSTI with slightly longer semester 2.

Ben advised that Parallel Architectures and HPC Architectures could be overlapped if given one after the other. Sharon thinks IAML would have overlap with Data Analytics. Murray Cole can see no issues with EPCC.

ACTION: Stuart to investigate EPCC ML options and course options with Ben Morse and look at appropriate course list.

ACTION: Ben to provide ISS with EPCC DPT and final list of Informatics course options for 2018/19.


17. UNISTATS Most Popular Course Enrolments - Vicky Mactaggart

Vicky advised that the deadline for this item passed last week, but that she took an executive decision and actioned what needed to be done. It was noted that the deadline passed after the cancelled Board of Studies meeting that was scheduled for 14th March 2018.


18. New Course Proposals/Changes to Neural Computation (INFR11008) and Bioinformatics 1 (INFR11016) - Sharon Goldwater & Matthias Hennig

Matthias and Sharon propose to change the current Neural Computation (INFR11008) and Bioinformatics 1 (INFR11016) courses to Level 11 (4th year UG). At the moment, both courses are Level 11 (Postgraduate) and students have required concessions. This requires new courses to be created, which can be approved at School level but needs to be tracked. There were concerns that this might cause issues for the MSc students. There were no objections and the new courses and levels were approved.

OUTCOME: Approved, pending issues investigation by Stuart Anderson and Matthias Hennig in to how this affects MSc students.

ACTION: Stuart Anderson and Matthias Hennig to bring back to BoS on 4th April 2018.

ACTION: Following confirmation at 4th April BoS, ISS to create new Level 11 UG4 versions of NC and BIO1 for 2018/19, and consider closing the L11 PG versions.


19. New Course Proposals/Changes to Introductory Applied Machine Learning (INFR10069) - Nigel Goddard

It was noted that this item was added late last night, 20th March 2018, due to the industrial strike action. Nigel didn't submit a proper proposal,  but an email of proposing the changes he wished to make to IAML. Nigel was not at the meeting to present his item. It was proposed that a new IAML Level 11 (4th year UG) course should be created to run parallel with the existing INFR10069 Level 10 (3rd year UG) course. This is because IAML forms part of other DPTs at Level 10 (3 year UG). It was discussed that making this change could potentially help with class numbers and resourcing as it is a very popular course. Ben advised that if the course is level 11 it could be added to his list.


It was discussed that a minor change to the learning outcomes and assessment for this proposal would be needed.

OUTCOME: Approved, pending changes to proposal and resubmission.

ACTION: Stuart, Alan Smaill and Nigel to meet and discuss proposal and submit a new one in 7 days.

ACTION: ISS to create new course on EUCLID once approved by convenors action.


20. For Information - Convenor's Action Changes

This is for information purposes - list of minor changes to courses that were approved by convenor's action between the last Board of Studies and this meeting. The changes have already been made to the courses where possible. Those that require a change/new course have yet to be actioned and have been added to this agenda for consideration.


21. AOCB (Any other current business)

There was no other current business proposed.


The next Board of Studies meeting is scheduled for 4th April 2018 and is an extraordinary Board of Studies. These meetings are usually used to tidy up loose ends for the current session going into the next. DRPS and DPT's are due to be published on 1st April 2018.