School of Computer Science

Weekly Newsletter

21 September 2009


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News from Head of School

National Student Survey                                                                                               

The following table describes the performance of the school in the National Student Survey, which involves final year undergraduates. An analysis of the results for the university under Computer Science (this includes computing programmes within the school, across schools, and in other schools) gives a similar outcome. These results are for internal use only for the time being; the university level results become public (via on 29th September, when we can see how we have done compared with others.





The teaching on my course

1. Staff are good at explaining things



2. Staff have made the subject interesting



3. Staff are enthusiastic about what they are teaching



4. The course is intellectually stimulating



Assessment and feedback

5. The criteria used in marking have been clear in advance



6. Assessment arrangements and marking have been fair



7. Feedback on my work has been prompt



8. I have received detailed comments on my work



9. Feedback on my work has helped me clarify things I did not understand



Academic support

10. I have received sufficient advice and support with my studies



11. I have been able to contact staff when I needed to



12. Good advice was available when I needed to make study choices



Organisation and management

13. The timetable works efficiently as far as my activities are concerned



14. Any changes in the course or teaching have been communicated effectively



15. The course is well organised and running smoothly



Learning resources

16. The library resources and services are good enough for my needs



17. I have been able to access general IT resources when I needed to



18. I have been able to access specialised equipment, facilities or rooms when I needed to



Personal development

19. The course has helped me to present myself with confidence



20. My communication skills have improved



21. As a result of the course, I feel confident in tackling unfamiliar problems



22. Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of the course




In essence, we have improved on most headings, but not overall satisfaction (although the university level overall satisfaction score for the discipline goes up from 74 to 80, which will be the most important one for potential applicants). As such, this is a positive result, although we need not to be too euphoric; the results in 2008 were hit by poor scores from a cohort that were badly messed about by university restructuring, so we are still nowhere near our 2007 Overall Satisfaction result of 89%.


Overall, the university will be disappointed with its performance, which is worse in 2009 than in 2008. This means that there will be significant interest in the steps schools are taking to improve performance in future years, and as a school we will be seeking to identify appropriate actions (in particular in relation to Assessment and Feedback). In this setting, please feel encouraged to pass on ideas for actions to the Teaching Strategy team (Ian Watson and Pete Jinks).

Research Student Best Thesis and Best Paper Prizes                                        

Each year, at the Symposium, prizes are awarded for the best PhD thesis examined, and the best paper published, in the previous year.

This year the School prize for best thesis will go to Gwenn Englebienne for his thesis  'Animating Faces from Speech', which has gone forward to the BCS/CHCP Distinguished Dissertation Competition. Gwenn also presented part of the work at the prestigious NIPS conference in 2007. Congratulations to Gwenn!

We request nominations of papers by PhD students for the 2009 prizes. Thus, if you are:

1.      A student who has published a good paper during the last 12 months or so, please encourage your supervisor to put it forward for the best paper prize.

2.      A supervisor one or more of whose students published a good paper during the last 12 months or so, please encourage your supervisor to put it forward for the prizes.

3.      A research group leader, please ensure that one or more good papers published by research students in your group are put forward for the prizes.

Research School pages

Prize information and rules for entry

The deadline for submission is Thursday 1 October.  This is a hard deadline.



Next Generation Nucleic Acid Sequencing Meeting                                24 Sept

Recently developed sequencing platforms represent a major improvement in throughput and cost per base when compared to previous generation technologies. The availability of deep sequencing platforms potentially has high impact for enabling nucleic acid sequence based discovery.

This meeting is intended to act as a forum where delegates can share and learn from the experiences researchers have gained through using different platforms.

The event is free to attend. The number of delegates is limited to approx 50 individuals to be selected by the Organizing Committee.  Please contact Christopher Cowan for enquiries.

Square Kilometre Array Lunch                                                                      25 Sept

Antennas and front-ends for the SKA: progress and prospects.

Neil Roddis, Domain Specialist in Receptors at the SKA Program Development Office

12.30pm-1.30pm in the Lovell Seminar Room , room 3.225, Alan Turing Building.

University Foundation day lecture                                                                  14 Oct

The University marks its foundation each year with a Foundation Lecture given by someone of renown.  The President and Vice-Chancellor would like to invite as many members of staff as possible from across the University to attend this prestigious event.

The 2009 Foundation Lecture will be delivered by Professor Sir John Sulston, Chair of the Institute of Science, Ethics and Innovation.

The full programme is as follows:

Reception: 4.00pm University Place

Lecture: 4.30 pm University Place

If you are interested in attending, please request a ticket by emailing Lesley Sisson with your name, School and address.  Tickets will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Tutorial Announcement - Implementing Ontologies in OWL             11-12 Nov

The BioHealth Informatics group at the University of Manchester in partnership with NWeHealth will be hosting their internationally renowned OWL Ontology tutorials at the University.

This two-day introductory ‘hands-on’ workshop aims to provide attendees with both the theoretical foundations and practical experience to begin building OWL ontologies using the latest version of the Protégé-OWL tools (Protege4).  It is based on Manchester's well-known "Pizza tutorial" (

Registration and further information


Funding Opportunities

Royal Academy of Engineering Industrial Secondment Scheme  30 Sept 09

The scheme provides an invaluable opportunity for engineering teaching staff in Higher Education institutions to gain state-of-the-art industrial experience.

More information

Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship                                               01 Feb 10

Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship: Europe, the Middle East and Africa.  Google will award multiple scholarships based on the strength of candidate’s academic performance, leadership experience and demonstrated passion for computer science.

A group of female Bachelor’s, Masters, and PhD students will each receive a €7,000 or equivalent scholarship for the 2010/2011 academic year.  All finalists will be invited to visit Google’s Engineering Centre in Zurich for a networking retreat.

Full details

Deadline is 1 February 2010