3 May 2017 Minutes

Meeting minutes from the Informatics Extraordinary Board of Studies meeting held at 2.00pm, Wednesday 3rd May 2017, Informatics Forum, Rms 4.31/4.33

Present - Björn Franke (BoS Convenor), Sharon Goldwater, Frank Keller, Nigel Goddard, Mahesh Marina, Myungjin Lee, Vicky Mactaggart, Alexandra Welsh (BoS Secretary).


1. Apologies -  Alan Smaill (BoS Academic  Secretary), Les Haworth (BoS External Member), Christophe Dubach, Henry Thompson, Jane Hillston, Paul Anderson, Richard Shillcock, Steve Renals, Bob Fisher, Aggelos Kiayias, Myrto Arapinis, Subramanian Ramamoorthy.


2. Minutes of Previous Meeting

Last minutes taken as read and approved. Björn Franke had a few queries about some of the last meeting's action points -

ITEM 7. New Course Proposal - Advanced Topics in Cyber Security and Privacy - Myrto Arapinis. This item was originally on the agenda for this Extraordinary BoS but has now been pushed back to the BoS in September 2017. A full proposal is to be submitted before then for consideration in September.

ITEM 8. Course Proposal (course change) - Natural Language Understanding - Frank Keller. UPDATE: This item has been done.

ITEM 9. Course Proposal (change) - Introductory Applied Machine Learning (Full & Distance Learning) Nigel Goddard. ITO to chase up.

ITEM 10. Course Proposal (change) - Introduction to Vision and Robotics - Maurice Fallon. UPDATE: This item has been done.

ITEM 12.  Course Proposal (change) - Randomized Algorithms - Mary Cryan. ITO to confirm updated. 

ITEM 13. Course Proposal (change) - INF1 - Computation and Logic (Item from TC) - Mike Fourman. ITO to chase outcomes from Mike. UPDATE: Done.


3. Matters Arising

There were no matters arising.


4. New Course Proposal - Blockchains and Distributed Ledgers - Aggelos Kiayias

Björn Franke advised CO is travelling so not able to attend. It was noted that some of the recommendations from the last BoS were updated in the revised proposal, such as the syllabus, however there were concerns regarding the number of assignments in relation to the credits being awarded. There were also some concerns regarding the phrasing of the Learning Outcomes as in their current state they may not be testable. It was also recommended that the Pre-Requisites need to be revised to take the MSc students in to account (if they can take the course). There were concerns that might worry about not having access to model exam questions as this is a new course.

Outcome: Agreed this item wouldn't have to come back to a BoS as could be dealt with informally. If there is no agreement in time for the 2017/18 session, it was discussed that this item could be pushed back to the September BoS to be included in the 2018/19 academic session and the 2017/18 instance  be deleted.

Action: Björn Franke to meet with CO on Friday 5th May to discuss these issues.


5. Course Change Proposal - UG3 Computer Communications & Networks (COMN): Course Re-Design - Mahesh Marina and Myungjin Lee

Course hasn't been redesigned/updated in 7/8 years - course and content need revised. Proposed increase to 20 credits from the current 10 credits. Revise the assignments and broaden it to cover material. Move course up to level 10. Course work would stay at 40% but would better suit workload model. CO looked at Computer Security model when considering changes to this course. Recommended assessments be considered as 1x assignment was 10 credits but the 3x assignments for 20 credits might be a little heavy.

Looking at 3x lectures per week. Recommended CO's provide additional information when submitting timetable requests as to whether it is a double or single slot.

Outcome: APPROVED pending changes.

Action: CO's need to revise Learning Outcomes and hand to ITO to make immediate changes to EUCLID. Timetable needs also need to be submitted to the ITO.


6. Programme Change Proposal - Discontinue "with Management" degrees - Alan Smaill

These 'with Management' flavoured DPTs were encouraged initially by the upper management levels of the University. 'With Management' programmes have a cost involved due to maintenance of the DPT, duty allocation, teaching resources, liaising with other management courses. These DPT's are not to be confused with the 'and Management' DPTs. Other Schools have already closed their 'with Management' programmes and this would fit in with the School of Informatics larger Strategy Review. This change wouldn't affect shared joint degrees.

Outcome: Approved. BoS accept to close 'with Management' programmes for further intake and withdraw the programmes all together once the last students currently on the programmes have graduated.

Action: Proposal to be taken to College for the changes to be affected for the 2018/19 intake.


7. Course Change Proposal - Reinforcement Learning (course description & structure) - Subramanian Ramamoorthy

Ram Ramamoorthy was not present to table this item. Björn Franke read out the CO's proposal and clarified that he was not involved with the proposal. CO proposes to change the course work from Coursework 80% Exam 20% split to Coursework 70% Exam 30%. The CO also proposes the course descriptor be updated as the field has evolved.  Pre-requisites should also be updated - students who take Reinforcement Learning should have taken a prior Machine Learning course and have comparable mathematical ability highlighted in the proposal. CO also would like the course descriptor to explicitly state that the assignments include a substantial programming exercise (Python/Matlab).

Outcome: Approved.

Action: ITO to make changes as soon as possible.


8. Course Change Proposal - Revised Distance Learning Course Titles & Consistent SCQF Level for Introduction to Vision and Robotics - Bob Fisher

Björn gave Bob Fisher's apologies and presented this item on Bob's behalf.

Revised Distance Learning Course Titles - the Principal has said that courses being offered at the university are not allowed to be distinguishable from the outside (meaning there should be no difference between the courses), whether the courses are campus based or distance learning courses. This would mean creating new course titles by taking ’Distance Learning' out of the title.  There would be 3x different course codes for the same course where the delivery is the only difference (Campus version, Distance Learning version and DSTI version). Björn explained that this is because Finance have to have different course codes to distinguish different students from different schools as they have different fee models. It was suggested that there should only be one course code and that Finance could use the instances to differentiate between campus and distance learning.  Björn explained that Finance cannot attach a fee model to instances as money/fees are attached to the course codes.

Björn advised that Bob Fisher would write a FAQ, which will be circulated, to help staff navigate the different courses.

It was felt that there is a conflict of need between the University and Finance's need and that of the School to distinguish courses. The board members are concerned that, as the course titles will be indistinguishable, that there will be some confusion when registering students on courses; some students may be enrolled on the wrong courses by mistake with the auto completion function on EUCLID. This might also happen as, although there is a validation process on EUCLID, it can only be validate a student's course choices the once - should the student wish to change their course choices the validation through EUCLID will not be available. On PATH courses can be filtered but not on EUCLID. It was noted that courses would only be able to be told apart by looking up the course descriptor on DRPS. It was suggested that the user interface might need to be revised in order for internal staff to be able to distinguish between the different course delivery options.

It was discussed that if the BoS rejected this proposal that the MVM could refuse to put the courses with 'Distance Learning' through.

Outcome: The board members tentatively approved the proposal but would like the record to reflect that they do not agree with the Principal's decision to make the courses indistinguishable.

Action: BoS would like to revisit this item again in the future to review the impact the change has had on the staff and student experience.

Action: Item to be taken up with the Principal and Vice Principal as well as the Head of School.

Action: ITO to create 'new' courses in order to remove 'Distance Learning' from the title.


Consistent SCQF Level for Introduction to Vision and Robotics - it was noted that the On Campus versions have a different level than the Distance Learning versions despite there being no academic difference. Bob Fisher proposed to split the difference between the Level 9 and level 11 courses and make them both level 10. Vicky Mactaggart identified there is a bigger issue as the courses need to take in to account the PgCert criteria and need to be consistent or the PG students would be at a disadvantage.  The board was advised to view the spreadsheet attached to this item on the agenda as it highlights the inconsistencies’ of  levels and unfair hurdles across the courses - PG students are unable to re-sit exams. Vicky Mactaggart explained campus and online versions are contributing to different degree programmes/cohorts, but the DSTI and PgCert courses are both aimed at PG students working towards a PgCert.  In order to be awarded a PgCert, students must take 60 credits of courses - of which a minimum of 40 credits should be at SCQF Level 11 or above. At the moment ABS and IJP are not Level 11 meaning students will have to pass the remaining 3x courses (worth 40 credits) at 40% or above for each as well as an overall average in order to obtain a PgCert (please see the Taught Assessment Regulations Academic Year 2016/17; Regulation 57).

Frank Keller also noted that changes to levels will also affect the 3rd year exams. It was discussed that Learning Outcomes may need to be revised and changed. It was agreed that all 3x versions of IAML and IVR need to be consistent. 

Outcome: Course levels to be revised to make them consistent and bring back to the Board of Studies in September; look at making changes effective for 2018/19 academic session. Courses to go ahead this year with what is currently on offer.

Action: Bob Fisher to take on recommendations and revise proposal to be submitted at the Board of Studies on 27th September 2017 with a view to have the courses updated for 2018/19.


9. Programme Change - Information Update - Changes to MSc in Data Science - Björn Franke

Maths have approved a substantial update to their statistics courses at Level 10 and 11. This will impact the courses that Informatics are able to offer in the MSc in Data Science. Courses being removed are - Likelihood and Generalised Linear Models, Statistical Regression Models, Statistical Theory.

New courses are - Statistical Methodology (level 10), Incomplete Data Analysis (level 11), Generalised Regression Models (level 11), Non-parametric Regression Models (level 11), and Time Series (level 11).

Outcome: Approved.

Action: NFA - already done by Convenor action.


10. AOCB

There was no other current business.