These notes describe the programme of studies for 400 level in the Department of Computer Science. They include brief descriptions of the papers, including staff, textbooks, and class times. Those descriptions are tentative and may be changed. Any changes will be described at the first formal meeting of a paper for which changes are made.
We hope you have an interesting and enjoyable year in the department.
There will be a two-hour meeting for each class each week in each paper, which will be held in G34 or in a lab as appropriate. Classes are relatively informal. We expect you to take an active part in them. You should attend all of them. If you have to miss a meeting, please give your apologies in advance. Changes to class times shown below are possible but very unlikely.
Most papers have an examination worth 60% and assignments worth 40% of the final mark. Each paper involves set assignments on various topics. One of the preliminary lecture hand-outs gives the number, due dates, and exact assessment weighting of assignments. Keep that hand-out! This information will be placed in the individual course web pages.
Deadlines for submission must be observed; there is a penalty of 10% per working day for late submissions.
Formal three-hour examinations will be held at the normal examination time (end of Semester). Unless otherwise advised you should assume they will be closed book examinations. The Examinations Office will choose the locations close to exam time as usual.
Workload is always an issue for 400-level students. If you have a problem with workload in a particular paper, speak to the lecturer(s) concerned, or get your class representative to do so. The 400-level courses are always being revised, and your feedback is valued. One important aspect concerns the balance between semesters. You will find your project work demanding a lot of your time in the second semester.
All projects are worth 40 points; all semester papers are worth 20 points.
While no textbooks are formally required, some are recommended, and students are expected to make considerable use of the University Library for books and periodicals. We have electronic subscriptions to many relevant journals.
If you had a departmental user-code last year, you have the same one again this year.
If you are enrolled in one of these papers and did not have a departmental user-code, we shall give you one.
If you are not yet enrolled in one of these papers, take care of that first.
We provide access to our machines for course-work only. Using them implies that you promise to obey the departmental and University regulations; see http://www.cs.otago.ac.nz/student/resreg/resreg.php.
Much departmental communication is based on e-mail. All mail from this department to you will be sent to your university-provided student e-mail address. If you want your e-mail delivered to some other address, it is up to you to arrange this.
Please make sure you read your e-mail frequently. Coördinators will use e-mail for announcements and messages of interest to 400-level students.
We have a skilled and helpful technical support team. You should e-mail requests for help to email@example.com. They tend to be very busy, especially at the start of a semester.
The department is trying to reduce its printing costs, so some or all materials for papers may be provided in electronic form rather than on paper. This does not mean that it is any less important for you to read anything we direct your attention to. Assume that even electronic material is examinable unless you are told otherwise. If you find reading on-screen particularly difficult, let your lecturer(s) know so that special arrangements can be made.
We expect our students to attend our seminar programme. Seminars are normally held on Fridays at 1 pm in Owheo G34. The atmosphere is informal and many interesting topics are discussed. This is your chance to learn about things we cannot include in the lectures, and to question and argue with the experts.
Students with enquiries about disabilities of any kind, including temporary ones, should contact Kaye Saunders (firstname.lastname@example.org; 479 8397) for further information.
Alistair Knott (email@example.com) is the department's Māori support person (kaiāwhina), and also has links with the Pacific Island centre. If you would like information about support or mentoring, or have any questions, please contact Alistair.
If you need to claim special consideration (e.g., due to impairment of performance) in a final examination you should apply through eVision (https://evision.otago.ac.nz/sitsvision/wrd/siw_lgn) within five days of your last examination.
If you have a problem that affects your internal assessment, inform this department. If possible, discuss it with your lecturer(s) beforehand.
Projects are research supervised by a staff member. They last for two semesters. Every project requires a written interim report at the end of the first semester, an oral presentation at the beginning of the second semester, and a written final report at the end.
The written reports are expected to conform to guidelines described in the document “Notes on the Preparation of Theses” (available from the reference section of the library) and to the guidelines supplied by the department. You should read the 2018 project guide.
You can also read a list of suggested project topics.
If you are enrolled in the first year of a two-year Masters degree (MA or MSc), you must take a project paper, and it would normally be COSC480. If you are enrolled in a Postgraduate Diploma (PGDipArts or PGDipSci), you do not have to take a project paper unless you intend to carry on to the one-year MSc or MA by thesis. If you do decide to take a project paper it would normally be COSC480.
A COSC480 project could be a critical literature survey (especially suitable for MSc students) or some software development (especially suitable for Post-graduate Diploma students). It is up to you and your supervisor to work out a suitable workload. We recommend that you select a project topic from our list, but you can suggest another topic, if you can find a staff member who is willing to supervise it. For MSc students the project may lead into next year's thesis; these students will need to arrange a thesis topic and supervisor. We very strongly recommend regular and frequent meetings with your supervisor, whatever kind of project you are doing. We do not enforce this, but your supervisor is there to help and you do not want to fail.
If you are enrolled in an Honours degree (BA Hons or BSc Hons), you must take COSC490.
A COSC490 project could be a critical literature survey or some other kind of research. It is up to you and your supervisor to work out a suitable workload. We recommend that you select a project topic from our list, but you can suggest another topic, if you can find a staff member who is willing to supervise it. We very strongly recommend regular and frequent meetings with your supervisor, whatever kind of project you are doing. We do not enforce this, but your supervisor is there to help and you do not want to fail.
COSC420 — Neural Networks
COSC430 — Advanced Database Topics
COSC431 — Information Retrieval
COSC450 — Computer Vision and Graphics
COSC402 - Advanced Computer Networks
COSC412 — Cryptography and Security
COSC440 — Advanced Operating Systems