Version 1.2

A possible new structure for the 3rd and 4th year undergraduate and advanced masters curriculum.


The background.

We seem to be moving into a complaints oriented culture and in the last couple of years students have complained about courses, exams, written protest letters etc. and it looks likely to continue once the students are paying more explicitly for their education. How can we manage this process?


Other problems that occur is the level of practical work, the poor attitude to reading round the subject and using the library. There is also the issue of finding cover for staff having sabbaticals or wishing to go to conferences. Finally we need to make our laboratory activities more visible in the curriculum for politics/funding reasons.


A possible solution.

One problem with the current system is the fact that students have to enroll for a 10 credit module and cannot drop it after 3 weeks has elapsed. There is a lack of flexibility about the system.


I propose the following structure: The individual project stays the same, (40 credits over 2 semesters.).


There is a book of laboratory assignments and library research topics which is distributed to all students. They are required to select and submit so many exercises from this portfolio. The submissions would be of reports, software, essays as appropriate. The topics would be related to certain sets of lectures presented by staff, (40 credits over 2 semesters.)


A programme of lectures is published, so lecturer A gives say 10 lectures on his/her subject at some convenient time (they could be held over a short period - say 2 weeks or over the whole term); lecturer B gives 5 lectures on another topic etc. The students choose which lecturers they go to, they do not register for a module, they register for this fat 20 credits module in each semester. The examination takes place at the end of semester 2. There are 4 three hour papers. Each lecturer puts a question on each paper. The students take all 4 papers and decide THEMSELVES which lectures to go to and which lab. assignments to do, in order to be able to do the exam paper. It gives them more flexibility for their studies but with it comes responsibility. if they don't like subject X or lecturer Y's style they can avoid it but they will have to attend and study some other subject in order to do the exam.


The dual students would do the same except they would only submit half of the lab, assignments and only have to answer 2 questions in each paper (and so leave after 90 minutes). Their project should be something that links their two subjects thus counting for 20 credit in CS and 20 credits in the other subject. Year 3.


In year 4 the structure would be similar with 20 credits in each semester for the IT company scheme, 20 credits each semester on more advanced lectures and 20 credits each semester for options, research topics, advanced labs.


The advanced MSc students would do 30 credits each semester on labs (including thesis preparation in Semester 2) and on lectures with the 60 credit project as before, with suitable arrangements for the advanced duals.


It does not quite fit with the semesterisation philosophy since I am proposing no examination at the end of semester 1. The labs could be assessed then, but the issue of semester 1 exam marks seems to be a farce anyway since the external doesn't ratify them until June so why do we bother?


There is a crafty way round this, however. Suppose the single subject students registered for their individual project (group project in year 4) and the lab modules only in Semester 1. This is 40 credits. Then we run 40 credits worth of lectures with associated exams in Semester 2 so that the load in this semester is 80. This is allowed under the regulations. That way we only examine the labs module in semester 1 (and the interim project report). In semester 2 the project is examined, the second set of labs are examined and the 40 credit lecture course will have 4 written papers. The lecture modules would be linked (co-requisites) so that we could use a mixed question paper strategy. The lectures would take place in both semesters - this would have to be emphasised to the students - but only examined in semester 2. The duals would register for 20 credits worth of lectures in Semester 2 but take all 4 exams - this is also allowed as far as we can tell. They may need special module numbers.


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New version.

Year 3.


Semester 1

Semester 2


Individual laboratory project

Individual laboratory project


20 credits

20 credits


Laboratories and Library

Laboratories and library.


20 credits

20 credits


Lecture programme.


40 credits



Year 4.


Semester 1

Semester 2


IT Company scheme.

IT Company scheme.


20 credits

20 credits


Advanced labs/research topics/options.

Advanced labs/research topics/options.


20 credits

20 credits


Advanced lecture programme.


40 credits


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Old version.

Year 3.


Semester 1

Semester 2


Individual laboratory project

Individual laboratory project


20 credits

20 credits


Laboratories and Library

Laboratories and library.


20 credits

20 credits


Lecture programme.

Lecture programme.


20 credits

20 credits



Year 4.


Semester 1

Semester 2


IT Company scheme.

IT Company scheme.


20 credits

20 credits


Advanced labs/research topics/options.

Advanced labs/research topics/options.


20 credits

20 credits


Advanced lecture programme.

Advanced lecture programme.


20 credits

20 credits


WMLH. (24/2/98)