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Masters News 2017-2018

(see previous years' issues here)

Sent to all postgraduate students in the School of Computer Science at The University of Manchester,
from Norman Paton, Director of Postgraduate Studies.

Masters News • Sunday 15 April 2018

I hope you have had some enjoyable leisure time during the vacation ... and not completely forgotten about your project!

I hope you have had some enjoyable leisure time during the vacation ... and not completely forgotten about your project!


Podcasts for most of your units should be available at:

Please let the student support office know if you have problems accessing them.

Academic Writing Tutorial Service

University Language Centre’s Academic Writing Tutorial Service: this provision is free to students at the University of Manchester.

These one to one sessions last approximately one hour and give students the opportunity to receive expert help in improving their written academic work. To apply, please fill out a request form: and email with a recent sample of your writing. Your sample must be 900 - 1500 words in length (you can submit a longer document if you wish but highlight areas of it, so the highlighted sections add up to around 1500 words).

Click on this link for further information:

PTES Survey - Free Byte Cafe Vouchers

The Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) is still open and if you haven’t had your say yet, we still want to hear from you!

You can complete your survey by logging into My Manchester.

The University takes part in PTES to make sure that we understand the differing experience of students as they undertake their Master’s. However, we need as many of you as possible to complete the survey to give us the clearest possible picture of what is working, and just as importantly what isn’t.

If you haven't yet completed the survey, as recognition for doing so, the school will give a 5 pound voucher for the Byte Cafe to everyone who brings confirmation of completion of the PTES (screenshot is probably the best) to SSO.

Manchester University Student Image Competition 2018

Capture research through your eyes and take part to win £150.

To enter you must be registered as postgraduate taught student at the University of Manchester.  Full details are available at

Take your photo and submit it online at

Deadline for entries is Monday 14th May 2018


Industrial Action • Saturday 24 March 2018

Message from Head of School on Strike Action

Friday 16 March was the last day of the current round of strikes that have affected some of your scheduled classes. You are probably aware that the dispute is not yet resolved, so it is possible, but by no means certain, that there will be more strikes later in the year. We know that this is a difficult time for you and other students, but do be reassured that the University has processes to deal with assessments affected by such circumstances.

I am meeting with senior colleagues early this week to review the information that we have collected about the number of classes that have been affected by the strikes. Only when we have done this can we decide precisely what actions are appropriate to help you catch up on missed learning and how to account for any effects on assessments.
I’ll be in touch later in the Semester when I have more to report. In the meantime, do raise any questions with your tutors and supervisors and, of course, through the your reps on the Staff Student Liaison Committees. It remains for me to thank you all for your patience and understanding.


Robert Stevens
Head of School


Masters News • Friday 2 March 2018

PTES The Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) is a national survey, that focuses on students' experience of their academic programme and associated resources.


The Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) is a national survey, that focuses on students' experience of their academic programme and associated resources.

This survey provides us with useful information, so to encourage you to complete it, there will be free pizza at the following times in the Masters Breakout Area (Kilburn 2.11):

Tuesday 6th March: 14:00 – 15:00
Wednesday 7th March: 13:00 – 14:00
Friday 9th March: 13:00 – 14:00

Please complete PTES and bring along a photo or printout of the completion screen / submission number.  

Exam Results

Most of the exam results from January are now available.  Most people have done well; with most of the results in, only 10 people were in line to have to resit units in the summer.  If we have concerns about your results, your Programme Director will be in touch; if you have anything you would like to discuss, please contact your Programme Director.  This may also be a suitable time to become familiar with the regulations around the assessment of masters programmes, which are outlined in the Handbook (


Masters News • Monday 19 February 2018

Easter Vacation Opening Hours 29th January - 23rd March 2018: Normal term-time access to MSc labs from 08.00 - 18.00 hrs 24th March - 15th April 2018:  Easter Vacation.

Easter Vacation Opening Hours

29th January - 23rd March 2018: Normal term-time access to MSc labs from 08.00 - 18.00 hrs

24th March - 15th April 2018:  Easter Vacation. Access into the School will only be permitted to those students able to show a valid out-of-hours pass.

• LF31, Tootill and1.8 are open 08.00-23.30 each day

• MSc labs are open 08.00-18.00 on weekdays (excluding Bank Holidays).

16th April - 8th June 2018:    Normal term-time access to MSc labs apart from 5th - 7th May & 26th - 28th May when a valid out-of-hours pass is required to use LF31, Tootill and 1.8 Labs only.

Malawi Award and 2018 Project

The Project Malawi team of staff and students from the School were “Highly Commended” for their outstanding public engagement initiative in bringing Computer Science education to remote parts of central Africa. There were many very good projects across the Faculty in the highly competitive "Bettter World” awards ceremony. So congratulations to the team: Dave Ames, Karen Corless, Jo Hodge, Carol Murray, David Rydeheard, Sarah Zaman, Mihai-Dan Garbur, Razvan Lacatusu and Teo Taylor, and to Nikki Luxford and Ripple Africa for hosting the team in Africa. This year we are putting together a new team to revisit Malawi and we need student volunteers. To be a volunteer, you must have had some experience in teaching or involvement with activities for schoolchildren. You will be expected to raise funds for your visit, but support will be provided for this. Contact David Rydeheard.

Monday Careers Service

Alex Jones is a new Careers Service consultant to the School, and will be available on Monday afternoons 12:00-15:00 in Room LF6, opposite the Byte Cafe. There’s no need to make an appointment; just drop in with a CV, application, or any careers query. Keep up to date with Alex on Facebook.

Women in Computer Science

Next Weds 28 Feb, 14:00-15:00 the School is running a small focus group exploring why women chose to study Computer Science at Manchester.  In the UK, women are under-represented in Computer Science, and your views will directly support our aims to increase female numbers in the School. Participants will be awarded an Athena SWAN open badge and there will also be free tea and cakes! Please email Ruth Whelan, our Recruitment & Admissions Manager, to express your interest.

Volunteering Week

The School is holding a Thank You event this Friday 23 Feb in IT407 from 11:00-12:00 for all the current Student Volunteers we know about. This is part of of the University’s Student Volunteering Week 2018, 19-25 February. So if you’re a Student rep, Mentor, registered for MLP or the Volunteer Hub, PASS leader, Schools outreach ambassador, CSSoc committee member or Wellbeing Champion please do come along.


Masters News • Friday 26 January 2018

I hope you had an enjoyable and relaxing break, and that the exams seem to have gone smoothly.

I hope you had an enjoyable and relaxing break, and that the exams seem to have gone smoothly.

Meet Your Programme Directors

Now that the first semester has completed, and work is about to start on the second semester and the dissertation, we would like to provide a chance for students to discuss how things are going with their programme directors.  To enable this, we have the following sessions:

Wednesday 7 February

• ACS: 15:00 – 15:30, 2.19 KB

• ACSwITM: 15:00 – 15:30, 2.15 KB

These will be followed from 15:30 – 16:00 by cake and soft drinks in the PGT break out room (in 2.25A/B). Part time students and MRes students are invited to discuss any issues 1:1 with their Programme Directors.

Out of Hours Passes

From Monday 29 Jan, out-of-hours access for the Kilburn Building will be with an activated University ID card only: separate paper out-of-hours passes will no longer be issued. Students issued with a paper out-of-hours pass during Semester 1 (September 2017 – January 2018) must return it in person to SSO (room LF21) between Mon 29 January and Weds 28 February so that your University ID card can be updated for Semester 2 access. If you don’t return your paper pass by the end of February 2018, your University ID card will deactivate and you will lose your out-of-hours access. Any queries, please email SSO.

Social Events

Would you be interested in a social event for masters students in the school?  If so, please send me your suggestions and/or discuss ideas with your class representatives.

Staff Student Consultative Committee

The minutes of the first formal meeting of your class representatives with staff are in the Student Representation section of the CS-PGT-Community area on Blackboard.

Distinguished Achievement Award

Congratulations to Rory Devonport, an MSc in Advanced Computer Science, who won the university Distinguished Achievement Award, which was presented at the graduation in December.

Rory Devonport has a first degree in Civil Engineering, and having discipline-hopped to take an MSc in Advanced Computer Science, obtained the highest overall average (across the taught and research elements) from a class of 144 students.

Rory particularly distinguished himself in the dissertation. His dissertation focused on the automatic detection of sarcasm in tweets. The external examiner on the programme says: “The quality of work would not look out of place in a very good PhD thesis and the volume of work, given the time available to project students is quite extraordinary. [He] has collected data, had the data labelled, and built and evaluated several non-trivial classification systems. The level of experimental and statistical rigor is excellent”.

Mitigating Circumstances

If you want to tell us about any mitigating circumstances for the Semester 1 exam period, the deadline is Mon 29 Jan 2018. If you have any queries, please talk to your Programme Director.

Academic Writing Tutorial Service

This service is free to students at the University of Manchester.  These one to one sessions last approximately one hour and give students the opportunity to receive expert help in improving their written academic work. To apply, please fill out a request form and email with a recent sample of your writing (it must be 900 - 1500 words in length): this could be part of an essay, dissertation, research proposal or project.

Click on this link for further information:

Volunteer Days

The University organises a range of Volunteer Days with partner organisations across the city on a regular basis.  These give you the opportunity to spend a half or full day working as part of a team with other students to get a specific task done.  Activities include, for example, tea parties for older people, fundraising and supporting environmental projects in local parks.

In many cases a member of university staff is there on the day and transport to and from campus is provided.

To find out more go to and click to enter Volunteer Hub. This is the University’s database of volunteering opportunities. Refine your search by filtering the opportunity type to ‘fixed/short term’ and look for the opportunities where the organisation is listed as ‘The University of Manchester Volunteering Team’.


Masters News • Friday 1 December 2017

Student Representatives...

Student Representatives

There will be a meeting between school staff and PGT student representatives on 13th December.  If you have any issues that you would like to raise, please contact one of your representatives.  You can find out who they are, along with other information about student representative processes in the CS-PGT-Community area on Blackboard.

Also in the CS-PGT-Community area is a My Learning Essentials space that includes materials that should be relevant to your studies.  This includes training material on revision, which may be useful before the exams.

Kilburn / IT Building: Christmas and New Year Access

From Saturday 16th December – Friday 22nd December 2017 inclusive and from Wednesday 3rd January – Sunday 14th January 2018 inclusive, UG and MSc student access is daily between 08:00 - 23:30 hrs for students who have valid Out-of-Hours Passes.

Kilburn Labs open during the vacation period are LF31, Tootill 0 and Tootill 1, Collabs, 1.8.

From Saturday 23rd December 2017 – Tuesday 2nd January 2018 inclusive, when both buildings are closed and there is no student access, The University's Learning Commons and George Kenyon IT Cluster are open throughout this period except for Monday 25th and Tuesday 26th December 2017 if you wish to take the opportunity to use the facilities available there.

Student Support Office Christmas Opening

The School's Student Support Office (SSO) will be open as usual during December 2017 from 09.00 - 17.00 hrs, apart from the following dates and times:

• Wednesday 13th December closed for the day at: 15:30 hrs

• Thursday 14th December closed between: 15:30 – 16:30 hrs

• Monday 18th December closed for the day at: 13:30 hrs

• Tuesday 19th December closed for the day at: 14:15 hrs

• Friday 22nd December closed to student queries at: 15:00 hrs

• Wednesday 3rd January 2018 re-opening after the University's Holiday period at: 9:00 hrs   

Unit Surveys

The Unit Surveys for Period 2 units are open from 4th December to 5th January; please let the staff on the unit and the school hear both what was good (and not so good) about your experience. We reflect and act on these every year.


Masters News • Thursday 16 November 2017

2016/17 Results Published...

2016/17 Results Published

The results from last year's students have been published, and the associated graduation will take place on 14th December.  There will be a fair amount to celebrate; the following table shows the percentage of students who obtained the different levels of qualification:









Postgraduate Diploma


Postgraduate Certificate




Overall, the cohort has done well, with 83% obtaining a Distinction or Merit.

President's Visit to School

Nancy Rothwell, the President and Vice Chancellor of the University will be visiting the school on 28th November.  Her visit will include a session with students, to which all are invited, and to which class representatives are particularly encouraged to attend.  This tends to be mostly an interactive session.  The details are:

Open Meeting with Undergraduate and Postgraduate Students

3.30pm       [Venue: 2.15 Kilburn Building]

CSSoc: Meet a PhD - Machine Learning

William Woof, a PhD student in the School, specialising in Reinforcement Learning will give a brief overview of Machine Learning, Deep Learning and Reinforcement Learning. Afterwards, there'll be time for Q&A and some free pizza ... sponsored by KPMG. Details: Monday 20 Nov at 17:00 in Collab 1. If you’re interested in attending, please fill in this short form.

Wellbeing Week

Next week is Wellbeing Week at the university.  The full programme of events, and descriptions of said events, can be found at:


Masters News • Monday 6 November 2017

Meet the Professionals...

Meet the Professionals

Come and speed network with alumni from the University now working at ARM, PwC, TalkTalk, CACI Ltd, University of Manchester, Ivanti, BBC, Centrica, Cherry Stone Software, Bright Blue Consulting, BJSS, FDM, Marshall Wace Asset Management and d3t. It’s on Tues 21 Nov but register asap.

Wellbeing Champion

Nabya Arshad writes:

Hi everyone, I'm Nabya and I'm the new student Wellbeing Champion for the school of CS.

My main focus will be to help everyone take care of themselves. It's important to maintain a healthy balance in everything you do; working long hours will tire you out (the key is to work efficiently) whereas too much relaxation, well we all know what that leads to ...

So, whether you're a first year, postgrad, international or UK student - I'm here to help you all. If you have any queries, be it with finances, health concerns or uni is just stressing you out, and you're unsure of who to go to, get in touch with me and I can point you in the right direction.
Don't hesitate to contact me at

Linux on Your Laptop

This from Ian Cottam, the School’s Technical Support Manager: Interested in running Linux on your personal Windows machine? See our wiki for how to do it, either by via dual booting or in a virtual machine. If you have Win10 there’s a third option: Windows Subsystem Linux (WSL – 64bit Win only). It provides command line Linux within the Win GUI. If you need X, download the free Xming for Windows. I’ll be writing a longer HOWTO about all this, but you can get a long way by reading the Walking Randomly blog. It you’re a Mac user, you probably know that it has Unix as its foundation (accessed via Terminal), although it is not fully compatible with Linux.

World Antibiotic Awareness Week

The University Programme ‘One Student, One Campus, One Life – Action on Antibiotic Drug Resistance’, in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University, invites staff and students to attend a number of events to mark World Antibiotics Awareness Week and European Antibiotic Awareness Day. More information about these events, including links to register, can be found here.

Google Talk

A reminder that Todd Davies (BSc CS alumnus, now a Software Engineer at Google in Munich) will be talking about life at Google this Weds 8 Nov at 13:00 in LT1.1. Get your seat.

Github Workshop

This from Hendrik Molder (Y2, BM): Building a portfolio with GitHub pages. HackSoc is organising a hands-on workshop, definitely join us tomorrow Tues 7 Nov 16:00-18:00 in Collab 1 if you’d like to learn more about git and GitHub. We'll also briefly go over some basic HTML.

BAE Capture The Flag

CTF returns on Sat 25 Nov in the Kilburn building. Sign up to learn more about shell coding, cryptanalysis, forensics, reverse engineering, problem solving, packet analysis, hacking trivia and more.


Thoughtworks is hosting an evening of networking and digital discovery at their new Federation House site in Manchester, this Weds 8 Nov, free registration.


Masters News • Thursday 19 October 2017

Industrial Action As you may be aware, on the 23 and 24 October UCU, the principal union for academic staff, will be taking strike action.

Industrial Action

As you may be aware, on the 23 and 24 October UCU, the principal union for academic staff, will be taking strike action. Reasons for this action can be found in this UCU leaflet

This industrial action may mean that some teaching activities in the School or in the Alliance Manchester Business School may be disrupted (some staff may strike, others may choose not to).

The Kilburn and IT buildings will be open as normal, but there may be picket lines on campus.

Individual lecturers have been asked to inform you in advance of any scheduled teaching activities which might be disrupted.

As and when we receive further information, we will add it to the wikipage at

Regarding labs and submission of work:

1. All labs on 23 and 24 October will be open as normal, so that students can continue their lab work.

2. Staff and TAs may, or may not, be available at these sessions.

3. Unless or until you are told otherwise, deadlines for lab/coursework submissions remain unaltered.

Period 1 Course Unit Surveys

The Period 1 Unit Surveys will be open from 23rd October until 12th November.  This an anonymous process enables students to score each unit and to comment in any way they wish. 

We would be most grateful if you could complete the survey, as course unit organisers find this an invaluable way to make improvements to their course units.  For example, between last year and this year we have provided new guidance to staff about feedback based on last year's surveys. Members of staff will provide responses after the survey has closed.

Hardware Library

Do you like to tinker with hardware? Is there a special project for which you need some hardware? The School’s Hardware Library has a wide range of components for you to borrow. Everything from Raspberry Pis to Drones, Arduinos to Kinects, basic electronic components to robots, for you to play with.

Ada Lovelace

Last Tuesday was Ada Lovelace Day and the School marked this by unveiling a portrait which hangs near the walkway entrance to Kilburn. In case you haven’t heard of her, Ada Lovelace is widely credited as being the first ever computer programmer, for her program written in 1842 for Babbage’s Analytical Engine.

D3T Drop-in

Award winning game and software development company d3t is based in Runcorn and creates software for the games and interactive sectors. If you'd like to make games and interactive software at one of ‘The Best Places to Work’ in the games industry meet them in Kilburn this Thurs 19 Oct, 12:00-14:00.


Masters News • Tuesday 3 October 2017

Assorted Events

There are lots of computing-related events in Manchester that you may be interested in participating in; this message gives some examples and links that may be useful.


This from Hendrik Molder (Y2, CSBM): next Tues 10 Oct, 17:30-19:00, Hacksoc presents the HackSoc & American Express Networking Event. #freepizza. We're glad to have American Express coming down and spending an awesome evening with us! The main focus of the event is on a topical & technical presentation by AMEX, which is followed by a short overview of career opportunities at American Express, after which there's a chance to have a chat with AMEX engineers and recruiters over PIZZA and drinks. Places are limited, so register now!

Great Uni Hack

Teodora Stoleru (Y2, CS) writes: We’re excited to announce that GreatUniHack is back for the fifth time on 11-12 November at the MMU Business School here in Manchester. Apply now and get the chance to express your ideas and build new connections. Don’t worry if you are new to programming. Everyone is welcome, from very beginners to students who have already gathered experience in the past years. Updates about the event, our sponsors and tips for the hackathon can be found on our facebook / twitter / website.

School Seminar

As part of the School’s regular seminar programme, This Weds 4 Oct at 13:30 in Kilburn LT1.4 Prof Er Meng Joo of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore will talk about “Cognitive Robotics: Recent Developments and Futuristic Trends”. All welcome.

Events Calendar

Sami Alabed (Y3, CSwIE) writes: Are you overwhelmed by the amount of events Kilburn and tech scene has in Manchester? Subscribe to the Kilburn Events calendar, which contains the UG events calendar, HackSoc events, CSSoc Events, TechNW (the wider tech scene in Manchester) events, and Europe-wide hackathons. It is highly modular so you can choose which calendar to sync with your own.


Masters News • Saturday 30 September 2017

Careers Fair: 3rd & 4th October 2017

School of Computer Science Careers Fair

There will be a Careers Fair in the Kilburn Building on from 12:00 to 3:00 on 3rd and 4th October, with different employers attending each day.  This is a good opportunity to meet with companies who often employ our graduates.  Details are at:

Exhibitors this year include Accenture, Amazon, American Express, Apadmi, ARM, Autodesk, Avecto, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Bloomberg, Cantarus, Cisco, Cyberscience, D3T, Deloitte, DigitalBridge, Fujitsu, IBM, Intechnica, Jaguar Land Rover, N Brown Group, KPMG, Late Rooms, Morgan Stanley, NCC Group, Ocado Technology, Royal Bank of Scotland,, The Hut Group, ThoughtWorks and Top Cash Back.


Masters News • Friday 22 September 2017

Welcome I hope that you have had an interesting and enjoyable Welcome Week, and feel all ready to get started on your chosen units next week.  This is the first Masters News of the new academic year.  In general, there will be ...


I hope that you have had an interesting and enjoyable Welcome Week, and feel all ready to get started on your chosen units next week. 

This is the first Masters News of the new academic year.  In general, there will be an issue every 2 weeks, although there may be some interim posts to advertise events, etc.  If there is something you would like to advertise to your class mates, please let me know.

Timetable Clashes

Please be aware that it is possible to select course units that have timetable clashes.  As such, please check that there are no such clashes between units you have selected.  The Student Support Office will seek to contact everyone with a clash today, but it would be good if you could also check.

Hack Manchester

HM takes place this year on 28-29 October at the Museum of Science and Industry. Teams of up to four turn up with an idea and have just 24 hours to create a working product. Interested? Tickets are selling fast!

Alan Turing Letters

Professor Jim Miles, who looks after the School’s important history archives, found some previously unknown letters from Alan Turing in a filing cabinet in the Kilburn building! This important discovery was widely reported by The Guardian, Nature, Sky News and many others.

iOS 11

Please be aware that this week's Apple's iOS 11 release is blocking Microsoft email accounts from sending messages using the default Mail app for iPhone and iPad.  As such, please check that this issue has been resolved before upgrading.