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Teaching & Assessment

How will we teach you?

Computer Science is a practical subject so invariably all your course units will have some sort of practical element associated with them. You will be taught via lectures, laboratories, examples classes and tutorials. Attendance at ALL scheduled teaching activities in the first year is compulsory and attendance will be taken.

Our degree programmes are modular and are comprised of a number of course units. Each course unit typically consists of a number of lectures (maximum 22) plus laboratories/examples classes. Each course unit is identified by a unique course code, for example: COMP16121. Computer Science course units start "COMP", Mathematics "MATH", and Buisness School "BMAN". Each course unit is worth 10 or 20 credits (except some MATH course units which are worth 15 credits) and you are required to complete 120 credits worth of course units per year - typically 60 credits per semester.

In the School of Computer Science course unit number tell you something about the course unit (which isn't true of other Schools). For example COMP16121 - Object Orientated Programming with Java (I) - here the first number indicates the year (1 for first year) - so a first year course unit, the last digit indicates the semester (1 for 1st semester, 2 for second semester, 0 for both semesters) - so the 1 indicates it is a 1st semester course unit, and the penutimate number represents the number of credits associated with that course unit (1 -10 credits, 2 - 20 credits) - so the 2 indicates it is a 20 credit course unit. For undergraduate course units in the School of Computer Science each course unit is uniquely identifiable by the first three numbers in the course code - so 161 for COMP16121.


Most courses will have lectures associated with them, usually two 1-hour lecture slots per week. The way staff deliver lectures in the School varies considerably, with some lecturers putting emphasis on innovative approaches to teaching, whilst others use the more traditional lecture-style approach. In addition, some lecturers will provide complete sets of handouts, others will produce very little. Regardless, it is important you attend all lectures.

In the first year some of your lectures will be in a large group (more than 200 students) and lectures may not necessarily take place in the Kilburn building (although we try to make sure that they do).

Here is some general advice for making the most of lectures:

  • Lectures are often formal in nature and somewhat daunting. You may feel you don't understand the course material being taugh. However, do not worry, laboratories are used for reinforcing the lecture material and will help you to understand what you have been taught in lectures.
  • Make sure you attend ALL lectures - they are compulsory in the first year. We run lectures for your benefit. Your friend is not the lecturer so do not rely on catching up missed material from your friend or colleague - although do discuss the material as a group - this is useful!
  • If notes are given out beforehand, make sure you read them and prepare effectively for the lecture - this will help you understand the material as it is presented.
  • Make sure you arrive at the lecture in good time. Please do not be late, this disturbs the lecture for everyone else!
  • Be alert during lectures. You won't learn anything asleep on the back row. Come to the lecture prepared to learn.
  • Make sure you take notes during the lecture, do not rely on the handouts provided as the soul source of information - the lecturer may go through examples in detail, or cover extra material to aid in your understanding of the course material.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions during lectures, staff are often receptive to questions. If you do not understand something - ask! You can guarantee that you are not the only one who doesn't understand.

Examples Classes

Some course units have examples classes associated with them. Examples classes are run in a classroom environment where you will have the opportunity to attempt questions set by the lecturer and seek help and advice from demonstrators.


When you arrive you will be assigned a tutorial group depending upon your degree programme. Each tutorial group (typically 6 students) is led by a member of academic staff and take place in your tutor's office. The tutorials mainly concentrate on the group activities associated with the first year group project (COMP10120) for which tasks are timetabled weekly via the course unit Moodle website. Tutorials are not lectures, they are driven by the group and not necessary led by your tutor. It is important that you prepare for each tutorial beforehand.

Tutorials also allow you the opportunity to discuss any problems with your tutor, as well as offer feedback on course units, lectures etc.


Computer Science is a practical subject, consequently many "COMP" course units have a laboratory associated with them. The School has a large number of laboratories equipped with computers for use by Computer Science students only. These machines run both Windows XP and Linux operating systems - you can log into these using your University id and password.

You will be provided with laboratory manuals for each course unit at the start of each semester. It is important that you prepare effectively for laboratories and use your time in the laboratory efficeiently. You will find that the scheduled laboratory time is not sufficient for the assigned tasks,and we expect you to do some work outside of the scheduled laboratories in order to complete the exercises (in the form of preparing beforehand). Laboratories are manned by members of academic staff responsible for that course unit, along with student demonstrators, who are usually PhD students in the School. Please make use of the help avaialble in laboratories.

In general, you will be instructed about the requirements, method of submission and deadlines for each piece of laboratory work by the course unit leader. In addition, the laboratory manuals will contain detailed information about lab management arrangements and procedures, including timetables. You may be asked to submit labwork electronic-only, hardcopy-only or both.

A submission deadline will be issued for each piece of labwork. This will be the usual expected date of completion. Additionally, in general, an extension date may be specified and whether or not such an extension needs to be requested. If available, an extension could be taken if you require a little longer for some reason. There is no penalty for taking an extension. You would normally request an extension from the course unit leader or lab supervisor. Further extensions are not normally possible, unless you have mitigating circumstances, including extended illness, or significant family or personal circumstances, for example, a family bereavement. Please discuss these with the lab manager or course unit leader.

How will we assess you?

We assess your performance in a number of ways:

  • examinations - at the end of each semester (January and May/June)
  • laboratories - throughout the year. Completed work is marked and returned with feedback.
  • examples classes
  • tests
  • essays, presentations etc.

We will endeavor to provide feedback on all continuous assessments. Further information regarding the assessment of individual course units, including the proportions of coursework and examination, are set out in the detailed syllabus for each course unit, and can be found on the School undergraduate course unit pages.

Coursework and labwork must be submitted by the specified due date. Any coursework or labwork that is submitted late will be marked, however it will only count in order to bring the overall coursework/labwork for that module to the pass mark of 40%. All work must be submitted before the first day of the examination period or it will not normally be assessed.

The School uses its own system, Arcade, for monitoring attendance and performance, which you have access to so you can view your marks. Arcade will also contact you if you absent from any activities.

Your first year mark does not count towards your final degree. However, it is important you put 100% effort in your studies as success in later years depends upon a good understanding of the core material taught in the first year.