29 April 2020 DRAFT Minutes

Minutes for the Informatics Board of Studies Meeting at 14:00hrs-15:00hrs, Wednesday 29th April 2020 ONLINE

Welcome to all members 

Present – Stuart Anderson (Convener), Sharon Goldwater, Michael Fourman, Ian Simpson, Bob Fisher, Arno Onken, John Longley, Paolo Guagliardo, Simon Tomlinson, Mohsen Khadem, Heather Yorston, James Garforth, Angela Nicholson, Vicky Mactaggart, Anne MacKenzie (Administrative Secretary)

Apologies -Jane Hillston, Philip Wadler, Iain Murray, Maria Wolters, Mary Cryan, Gillian Bell, Pavlos Andreadis, Aurora Constantin,

 Draft Minutes of Previous Meeting - 19th February 2020 minutes approved 

 Matters Arising

Review of Actions:

19022020_BoS Item 1 – not completed (New Programme Graduate Apprenticeship)

19022020_BoS Item 2 – Graduate Apprenticeship Hons Project Course created. 1st instance to be created Nov 2020

19022020_BoS Item 3 – Euclid updated (INF2-SEPP) - complete

19022020_BoS Item 4 – DPT Updates - complete

19022020_BoS Item 5 – ITCS Course updated – complete

19022020_BoS Item 6 – represented at this BoS

19022020_BoS Item 7 –Courses not rolling forward to 20/21 – complete

19022020_BoS Item 8 – STN Exam move Sem1 – complete

19022020_BoS Item 9 – Randomized Algorithms -change of name (new course in Euclid) – complete

19022020_BoS Item 10 – EPCC New Programme proposal – update requested

19022020_BoS Item 11, 12 & 13 – Stuart Anderson to request an update


29042020_BoS Item 1 - Performance Modelling (Distance Learning) - Jane Hillston

Stuart Anderson presented Jane’s request to add Probability and Statistics (MATH11204) (or equivalent) as a pre-requisite to the Performance Modelling (Distance Learning) Course. Sharon Goldwater pointed out that ‘or equivalent’ cannot be specified as a pre-requisite, but could be added in the “Other Requirements” box. Stuart confirmed this would be acceptable to Jane.

Sharon also commented that instead of “or equivalent” it would be ideal to explicitly list the things students need to know, but as a stop-gap the ‘or equivalent’ statement would cover it.

Bob Fisher commented that most of the students will not have taken the statistics course as it is a new offering. He thought it would be useful to include the details for the course in the “Other Requirements”. Bob also suggested that Anne MacKenzie contact the DSTI Admin office to make them aware of the change.

Outcome: Update approved

Action: Anne MacKenzie to add MATH11204 or equivalent (if more details about course content are needed, please contact the Course Organiser) to Other Requirements and advise DSTI Admin of this change


29042020_BoS Item 2 - Minor update to the CogSci DPT approved at last BoS - Sharon Goldwater

Sharon Goldwater presented the information that PPLS are updating their 2nd Yr Courses, and that these new courses are not yet available in DRPS. Their intention to replace the compulsory course “Research Methods and Statistics (PPLS08001) with Data Analysis for Psychology in R2 (2nd Yr Course) (PPLSxxxx). We will need to update the Cognitive Science DPT once the DRPS has rolled forward and the course exists.

Secondly Sharon clarified the status of these courses in terms of pre-requisites for hons level psychology courses –  PPLS say it’s not a pre-requisite for most of the hons courses. Students are expected to read and understand papers that talk about experimental design and  statistical significance – these should be covered by the INF2 course Foundations of Data Science  - this is in the DPT as an alternative course – so either course is good to satisfy the hons level , but if students want to do a dissertation in Psychology then they ought to take the Psychology version of the course at it covers things INF2-FDS does not such as generalised linear models and details of experimental design. Note in DPT is updated to cover this.

Approved: Updates Approved

Action: Anne to update Cog Sci DPTs with new PPLS course and the note re course selection

Stuart confirmed that the meeting will finish at 3pm and asked if there is any other competent business beyond items 3 and 4? Based on this, he decided to take item 4 next to leave time for INF1A discussion.


29042020_BoS Item 4 - Proposed DPT changes for CDT 1st year MSc(R) programme - Ian Simpson

Ian apologised for the late submission of the proposal and explained that he has only been Director of CDT since March. After extensive 1:1 meetings with every CDT student to discuss their first year and experiences, what emerged unanimously is that the 1st year programme of the current DPT does not have enough optional course choices to cover the interdisciplinary nature of the programme.

Student backgrounds range from clinical doctors, social scientists, computer scientists, mathematicians and biologists – the restricted options resulted in a lot of concession requests from PTs , discussions and a lot of courses that students would probably have benefitted from taking were unavailable to them. 

Initial thoughts to increase the options available by redistributing the credits and rearrangement of compulsory courses. The second thought that the Responsible Research Innovation (RRI) thread that goes through all the new CDT’s in the UK is new territory. In the original proposition – working RRI into project proposals - there is one course in each semester delivered by Social Scientists – to establish foundational knowledge in 1st course, then applied knowledge in second course .  In practice – very difficult, after more discussions with the Executive, students and the Executive Director of Social Science  (Robin Williams) they decided the best thing would be to drop the Sem 2 course and concentrate Social Science’s efforts to make the  Sem 1 course work, which currently it does not due to being put together too quickly and the very different nature of how quantitative scientists/students work (compared to social scientists). If we continue without changes, then a repeat of this year is likely, which has had a very negative effect on the cohort.

Hence the decision to try to get the Semester 1 course right and to supplement this with non-assessed RRI through-year development for the cohorts – this results in dropping one 10 credit course in Semester 2 that becomes available for optional courses.

Second aspect is about the group project – currently 40 credits, for 3 group projects in which students submitted a joint single report - this worked ok but not great.  It caused a lot of problems, one issue is that it’s a lot of credits, and this was an issue among the cohort. The new proposal is to make the project worth 20 credits and to run this run slightly differently with the same learning outcomes, same objectives – this will be 1 large integrated project but with each student taking one aspect and writing an individual report for 20 credits.

Iain Murray has identified that a new course will need to be created for a change of credits from 40 to 20 credits.

Ian summarised the proposition - to drop the second RRI Course and change Project from 40 to 20 credits thereby expanding the course choice by opening up the possibility of more options. Course options are those mainly already approved through concessions. He added that they have tried to mimic the changes in the part-time (2 year) DPT version too.

Sharon commented that overall, these changes look good. There are likely to be questions from the plans for delivery being online next year – definitely semester1 and possibly semester 2 online – but these can be addressed later.

Some courses might not be offered online. Have Social Sciences confirmed RRI will run as this is a compulsory course? Ian added that they have identified a possible alternative but it’s a non-assessed course.

Bob Fisher added a general point that if we are creating new courses – to try not to create a new course for on-line only as once Covid goes away we can return to regular delivery.

 A couple of non-online issues - Sharon confirmed Iain’s point that a new course will be needed. Stuart confirmed we could do this because the deadline date was rescheduled to 15 May. Create a new course with revised course description text.

Simon Tomlinson asked a question or made a point (?) Sorry this was not recorded as it was typed into chat and I failed to note it!

Outcome: Approved

Action: – Ian Simpson to submit a new course proposal – based on amendments to existing course

Action: Anne to create the 20 credit version of BAI-GP and to make the specified updates to the DPTs.


29042020_BoS Item 3 - INF1A proposed amendments - Philip Wadler and Michael Fourman

Michael presented the proposal as Philip was unavailable. The paper is in two parts – the first part is the rationale for making the changes to the functional programming part of the course and the second part proposes to change the assessment model to continuous assessment as the only possible option if the course is delivered online. There were already issues with assessment of the programming part due to the size of the cohort requiring 3 sittings. Led to various problems including comparability of the sittings.

Plans are still very high-level at the moment.

Philip has added some additional learning outcomes to the functional programming part. Added equational reasoning, algebraic and abstract data types.

Proposal is to keep 2 separate streams of tutorials – still to work out how to deliver these online.  The style used in Computation and Logic (CL) was more integrated, with lots of students in groups of 6 but unsure how best to go online with this.

The assessment will be achieved by each lecturer having short lectures by video, some live lectures (1 per week – summarising the previous week’s learning and setting a schedule for the current week and addressing any student questions. The videos will mainly be splitting each existing lecture into 3 to 5 shorter clips each with a little self-assessment attached.

In addition to self-assessment there will be weekly (10 different sessions) an assessed coursework – to be worked out in detail over the summer

To pass the course, students will be required to pass both halves. If 10 assessments then drop lowest 2 marks - can drop any 2 apart from the final assessment which will be more integrative than earlier assessments. Philip still to sign up for this aspect.

Heather Yorston asked 2 questions:  1 – does the marking need to be moderated, Sharon said she didn’t think so as moderation is based on individual pieces of coursework.

Michael confirmed for CL most of the marking will be automated, maybe apart from the final assessment.

2 - What technology will be used? – Stuart recommended that Michael and Heather have a conversation about using STACK technology for logic. Chat to Chris Sangwin

A further question was - Will the questions cover some of Heather’s lectures? – Michael replied - Yes implicitly if not explicitly definitely on the quizzes.

Bob Fisher commented that he is confused about the assessment model – Michael explained that he was talking about the two parts of the course separately.  10 assessments, each marked 5 – so 40 for FP, 40 for CL and 20% for the quizzes

Will there be programming involved?  Michel – yes students will do this offline and then enter it later. He added there will be kinds of logic exercises – following the model of tutorials designed to test understanding and ability to apply procedures. Michael agreed assessment of programming is harder, not just passing tests, but want to assess quality and level of understanding.

James Garforth queried that in the description 20% would be assessed in lectures – he appreciated that this is different online but once back to normal delivery - what is the benefit apart from forcing students to turn up to lectures. Michael replied that  online it will be worthwhile to check understanding – students will be expected to take the quiz within a few hours of the lecture – they will encourage students to take these – James said he has concerns for students with learning adjustments or in different time zones to be able to do this.

John Longley queried the 20% marks for quizzes – he recalled Michael had said students will get marks for submitting quiz, regardless of how they do it. Michael clarified that each quiz will have a low bar for completion.

Is the real purpose to motivate engagement? – are we comfortable awarding “carrot” marks. Michael replied No, the engagement needs to be more than this, students have to have attended the lecture and understood the lecture for this to work, they can keep taking the quiz until they pass the bar.

Sharon commented that Michael’s clarification is really helpful that they can keep sitting the quiz until they get over the hurdle. There are issues in “do you give marks just for engagement” it is a touchy area – whilst is does provide some push for the student to engage they can get upset if they are already a better engaged student the minimal assessment just wastes their time. Hurdle has to be enough so that better students don’t feel they are wasting time. These quizzes will be more appropriate at the non-hons level rather than say Masters.

Stuart Anderson rounded the session up:

Michael to tidy up the proposal – please send technical comments Michael and Phil for -review by Sharon and Stuart before it goes to Anne for DRPS.

Sharon – everyone still has to work out the on-lining of courses so it’s unreasonable to expect this to be in place already for INF1A. Everyone is having to deal with this.

Outcome: - Approve update to the Course description

Action:- Anne to update Course Description.


AOCB (Any Other Current Business)  

There is likely to be another BoS in June 2020 to accommodate changes for online delivery of courses. (late June?)

There is a CCAB scheduled for the 28th June