9 March 2016 Minutes

Meeting minutes from the Informatics Board of Studies meeting held at 2.00pm, Wednesday 9 March 2016, 1.B10, Foresthill.

Present: B Franke (Convenor), A Smaill (Academic Secretary), D. Aspinall, M Cryan, K. Etessami, S Gilmore, N Goddard, N Heatley (Head of Student Services), M Herrmann, F Keller, A Kiayias, A. Lopez, S. Maneth, J. Moore, M O’Boyle, S Renals, M Rovatsos, I Stark, A Storkey, N Topham, K Vaniea, B Muir (secretary).


1. Apologies: J Hillston, J Kirby, D Sannella, P Stevens, M van Rossum, B Webb.

B. Franke opened the Board of Studies, welcoming all Board Members.


2. Minutes of the previous meeting

Item 13 was updated as follows:

Outcome: …..for INF2A, B & D only. Marks for INF2A to be approved electronically after changing marks where students had force fails due to hurdles.

All completed actions are recorded in the minutes, relevant updates have been recorded. 


3.  Matter Arising

Nothing further reported.


4.  Course Change: OS as 20 credit course – M. O’Boyle.

This course is currently listed as 10 credits but more closely matches 15 credits worth. The proposed change to a 20 credit version will allow lecturers to include more core material, and give students better feedback on their work. Lecture hours would increase from 15 to 20, there would be 3 pieces of coursework instead of 2, and the weighting of exam and coursework would change from 75/25 to 70/30.

I. Stark queried if there would be a piece of formative assessment?

Outcome: Approved, subject to inclusion of formative feedback.

Action: Move deadlines up for coursework, change CW1 to formative feedback (M. O’Boyle).

Submit changes on EUCLID (I.T.O.).

Update: Lecture confirmed deadlines moved to a week earlier for all 3 submissions – new deadlines week 3, 6 and 10.


5. Course Proposal: Cryptography – A. Kiayias.

This is a short proposal for a new course which will fill the gap in the current Informatics curriculum, offering a thorough introduction to modern cryptography focusing on models and proofs of security for various basic cryptographic primitives and protocols. This would be a 10 credit course al Level 11 for UG4 planned to start in 2016/17, with 90% exam and 10% coursework. If approved the full proposal will be reviewed by BoS electronically as this is the last meeting for 2015/16.

Staff suggested changing the assessment to 100% exam and some formative feedback, and would 20 hours of lectures suggest 20 credit course instead?

A. Kiayias confirmed the content for this proposal was fitted to the 10 credit model, but there is enough content available to create a 20 credit version in the future.

Outcome: Approved, subject to possible changes in assessment weighting.

Action: Submit full proposal, including changes to weightings to BoS electronically for final approval (A. Kiayias).


6. Course Change: CS as 20 credit course – K. Vaniea.

This course is being expanded from the current 10 credit version. The new course will keep most topics, which will be looked at in greater depth with the increase in lectures. Labs will also be added to help students interact with the content. Some contact hours will be used to assist students in labs.

 Coursework will now include 1 piece of formative feedback as well as the 2 summative assessments, and will move to Semester 1 which will help MSc students who need to take the course before other CS focused Semester 2 courses.

Outcome: Approved.

Action: Submit changes on EUCLID (I.T.O.).


7. Course Change: DBS as 20 credit course – P. Guagliardo (not present).

DBS does not fit the 10 credit model, so it being updated to a 20 credit version. B. Franke noted that there have been issues with feedback and resourcing the 10 credit DBS course.

Lectures will be increased to 33 hours and tutorials will be 9 hours, students will submit 2-3 SQL queries per week from week 3 to 11. There will be additional formative feedback.

Staff raised concerns about all 7 weeks of coursework counting towards the final grade, and carrying teaching into week 11. Prepared statements (security) should be added to the content of the course.

Outcome: Not approved.

Action: Update course proposal based on feedback received, submit proposal to BoS electronically for approval (P. Guagliardo).


8. Course Change: ADS to fit 10 credit model – M. Cryan.

The course nearly fits the 10 credit model as it is, and will make the following changes to fit the model; changing 2 pieces of summative assessment to 1 summative and 1 formative, and reduce lectures from 18 to 15 or 16. Students will still attend between 6 and 8 tutorials. M. Cryan also highlighted a preference for the course exam to be held at the end of the Semester it’s taught in – at the moment this happens by default as the course is in Semester 2.

Outcome: Approved.

Action: Submit changes on EUCLID (I.T.O.).


9. Course Change: AD to fit 10 credit model – S. Maneth.

Changes to this course were prompted by TA requests for more hours to cover the workload it generated. The assessment for this course will change from 70/30 to 60/40 for exam/coursework. Coursework will also change from 2 pieces of summative assessment to 1 formative and 1 summative. This will help reduce the TA hours required for the course, and match AD to the 10 credit model.

Outcome: Approved.

Action: Submit changes on EUCLID (I.T.O.).


10. Course Change: LP to fit 10 credit model – A. Smaill.

This course will remain as 10 credits, keeping the 2 exams (LP Programming and LP Theory) and changing the 2 summative assessments to formative i.e. course total from 100% exam.

I. Stark queried if the LP Programming exam could be held during the Semester instead of in the exam period?

Outcome: Approved, LP-P exam timing to be confirmed.

Action: A. Smaill to look at possibility of holding LP-P exam during the Semester.

Submit changes on EUCLID once exam timing confirm by lecturer (I.T.O.).


11. Course Change: CCS to fit 10 credit model – F. Keller.

This course will change it contact hours from 137 to 106; including reducing lectures from 20 to 15, tutorials from 7 to 5, and changing the assessments to 1 formative and 1 summative. F. Keller also expressed a preference for holding the CCS exam at the end of Semester 1 instead of Semester 2 as it’s currently set up.

Staff approved of the changes to contact hours and assessment, but made no comment on the change of exam session as this is part of a wider discussion which is ongoing.

Outcome: Approved, except change to exam session.

Action: Submit changes on EUCLID (I.T.O.).


12. Course Change/Proposal: ABS as 10 or 20 credits – M. Rovatsos.

The lecturer has created two version of this course, to match the 10 and 20 credit models.

Creating a 20 credit version would depend on the resourcing available and the number of other courses changing to 20. This version would keep the 75/25 exam and coursework split of the current ABS course, adding in 1 piece of formative feedback, and increase the total contact hours to 32 (from current 25).

The updated 10 credit version would lose the INF2D pre-requisite, keep the same 75/25 split and also have 2 summative and 1 formative piece of assessment.   

Staff considered whether the 10 and 20 credit versions could be created, and the School could use each version alternately? A. Smaill recommended a 20 credit ABS course will need to run in Semester 2, as the greater number of 20 credit courses are currently in Semester 1.

After further discussion it was agreed that the updated 10 credit ABS course will run, but the 20 credit version will not be created at this time.

Outcome: New 10 credit ABS course approved, 20 credit version not approved.

Action: Submit changes for current ABS on EUCLID (I.T.O.).


13. Course Change: CD as 20 credit course – N. Topham

This course has been run as a 10 credit course, but does not fit the model. The new 20 credit version will increase lectures from 18 to 22, lab sessions from 3 to 4, and change the weighting of exam/coursework from 70/30 to 60/40. There will be 3 summative and 1 formative assessment. N. Topham expects that the increase in credits will reduce the class size, which was 54 for 2015/16.

Outcome: Approved.

Action: Submit changes on EUCLID (I.T.O.).


14. Course Change: MLP as 20 credit course – S. Renals.

S. Renals proposed to increase lectures from 8 to 10-12, and change the assessments to spread out further over Semester 1 and 2. Currently students submit 2 pieces of coursework in week 6 Semester 1 (worth 30%) and week 1 Semester 2 (worth 70%). The new 20 credit version will have 4 assessments; week 6 and week 10 Semester 1 (worth 10% and 25%), and week 3 and 9 Semester 2 (worth 25% and 40%).

M. Cryan suggested the final coursework should be moved to week 8 in Semester 2.

Outcome: Approved, final coursework changed to week 8 Semester 2.

Action: Submit changes to EUCLID (I.T.O.).


15. Course Change: IAML as 20 credit course – N. Goddard.

The current IAML course is close to the 20 credit model. N. Goddard proposes to make a number of changes to the course including; re-introducing neural networks to the course content, more formative assessment by flipping lectures, adding in online self-assessment quizzes, and offering review sessions. There will be no changes to the two summative assessments (worth 25% towards the course total).

Staff asked if the IAML exam would include any INF2B content, as the course builds upon INF1-DA and INF2B. Could the course also include some security or privacy topics?

N. Goddard confirmed the IAML exam paper will be checked when it’s created, to make sure it doesn’t duplicate any content in INF2B, and it is better to include security and privacy in the other machine learning courses.

Outcome: Approved.

Action: Consider feedback from BoS, and confirm final proposal (N. Goddard).

Submit changes to EUCLID when final version is provided (I.T.O.).


16. Course Proposal: IAML online course – N. Goddard.

This 20 credit online version of IAML will be offered for 2016/17 and will include the same lectures and quizzes as the standard IAML course. Feedback and peer interaction will be provided through the use of labs (pairing students in Learn), and there will be ‘tutor drop-in’ sessions online in place of traditional lab sessions. The exam for this course will be based on the model used for online IVR.

Staff asked which Exam Board would review this course. A. Storkey and N. Goddard expect it to be examined at the UG3 Board with the standard IAML course, but this will be confirmed.

Outcome: Approved.

Action: Submit course proposal to EUCLID (I.T.O.).



17. Course Change: Numerical marking for IRP – M. van Rossum (not present).

Students on this course receive a fail, pass at Diploma level, or regular pass. For 2015/16 markers included a notional mark to indicate the different pass or fails i.e. 0, 40 or 50 to meet the College requirement for numerical marks. This means that students do not receive individual percentages based on the quality of their submission. It is proposed to change to only numerical marking for IRP in the future.

Outcome: Numerical marking for IRP approved.

Action: Submit changes to EUCLID (I.T.O.).


18. Course Change: Machine Translation assessment and syllabus – A. Lopez.

Machine Translation would change from 70/30 exam/coursework to 100% coursework, with changes to the syllabus detailed in the proposal. Following on from discussions outside of BoS A. Lopez would also like to propose changing the course to 20 credits.

M. Cryan queried if labs would be included? A. Lopez confirmed he will look at this option as part of the course change.

Outcome: Approved.

Action: Confirm if labs will be added to course (A. Lopez).

Submit all changes to EUCLID when this is confirmed (I.T.O.).


19. Course Change: SELP, CSLP and AILP to 20 credits – A. Smaill.

The changes to these LPs was prompted by TPR feedback; this would be for UG3 only. Each practical will change to a 20 credit course, and have 1 formative and 2 summative assessments. The size of the coursework will be increased as appropriate to fit the 20 credit model.

I. Stark suggested LPs could include diagnostic testing to help weaker students with their coding skills.

A. Smaill suggested this should be considered in the future.

Outcome: Approved.

Action: Submit changes to EUCLID (I.T.O.).


20. For Discussion: Updated course descriptors for all courses – B. Franke and A. Smaill.

B. Franke and A. Smaill have updated the course descriptors for all Informatics courses, so they now fit the requirement for a maximum of 5 Learning Outcomes.

Outcome: Approved.

Action: Submit changes on EUCLID (I.T.O.).


21. For Information: Draft DPT for BEng/MEng Electronics and Computer Science – B. Franke.

Following on from the January BoS, L. Haworth has provided draft DPTs for the BEng and MEng degree. These DPTs will be updated depending on further changes to Informatics UG3, and the selection of 10 and 20 credit courses that will be offered.

Outcome: N/A.

Action: N/A. 


22. For Information: Review of Security and Privacy content of curriculum – D. Aspinall.

D. Aspinall proposed to create a Working Group to examine the current provision of security and privacy in the School, this is driven by the requirements from B.C.S. for accreditation. These topics could be delivered in larger courses or embedded into other courses (the latter is preferred by B.C.S.).

The Working Group would include security teaching staff, UG1 and UG2 Year Organisers, the DoT, and staff responsible for accreditation and TQA. Meetings will be held from late March to June, and the WG will report to the first autumn meeting of the BoS in 2016/17. Other interested staff are also invited to join the group.

Outcome: N/A.

Action: Co-ordinate Working Group, report to next BoS (D. Aspinall).


23. AOCB

a) IRR and IRP marking, and changing to 10 credits.

 I. Stark proposed that IRP should use fixed mark bands, as in the "Assessment Grade Scheme" version of the University Common Mark Scheme: with 95 for A1, 85 for A2, and so on; with criteria similar to the existing thresholds for project marking.

Board members highlighted that the reasons to introduce numerical marking for IRP also applied to IRR, and suggested that a similar scheme apply to that. In addition, the Board considered changing both IRP and IRR to carry 10 credits each.  This was not proposed as a change in content, but instead a recognition of their existing operation as assessed against the Course Workload and Assessment Profile.  This also addressed the fact that several higher-level courses were now being recognised as 20-credit courses against the same profile.  It was also noted that keeping IRP and IRR at 20 credits would significantly limit student course choices.

F. Keller noted that the impact of this might differ across specialist areas, and cited Cognitive Science in particular.  I. Stark identified that for that specialism in particular, one of the recommended courses (ANLP) was already 20m credits, and the current meeting had just approved a change to 20 credits for IAML and MLP.    It was agreed that the IRR/IRP change could only work alongside this introduction of 20-credit courses, calibrated to a shared workload model.

There was some ad-hoc discussion of more radical changes to IRP, such as starting the MSc project itself, but there was no final agreement on this.

Outcome: Approved numerical marking for IRP, and changing IRP&IRR to 10 credits.

Action: Agree new model for IRP and IRR, including changes to 10 credits (Course Lecturers and Working Group).


b) BSc Computer Science and Economics degree

K. Etessami raised the possibility of creating this degree in the future. There is general support from Informatics teaching staff, and initial discussions with the School of Economics have been positive. Creating this degree should not need much more resourcing, as there won’t be any new courses.

Outcome: Support to carry discussion forward.

Action: Discuss further with School of Economics, feedback at next BoS (K. Etessami).