Professional Issues 2014/15
The course is taught by
Michael Fourman and
This course is compulsory for all students taking a single or
combined Honours degree involving Computer Science or Software
The Professional Issues course is an essential component of our BCS accrediation.
This accreditation is recognised beyond the UK through various international
The Seoul Accord recognises the substantial academic equivalence of
accredited engineering education programmes. BCS was one of the
founding signatories of the Accord. This means that programmes
granted full CITP accreditation by BCS since 2008 will be recognised
by other Accord signatories. This recognition is important for
individuals entering the engineering profession in international
territories covered by Seoul Accord signatories. It demonstrates an
equivalence of their achievements and allows potential employers and
professional institutions to benchmark standards.
Since the BCS
is a Nominated Body with the Engineering Council,
engineering-related programmes accredited by BCS are also recognised
under the Washington and
Sydney Accords. The Washington
Accord is an international agreement among bodies responsible
for accrediting engineering degree programs. It mutually recognises
engineering education accreditation processes at Chartered Engineer
level. The Sydney
Accord provides a mechanism for recognising engineering
education accreditation processes at Incorporated Engineer
For further information about academic accreditation, please visit the BCS website.
Meetings take place Monday and Thursday 16:10—18:00, in
in Teviot Medical
School, Teviot LT.
a documentary about Edward Snowden by Laura Poitras
12 noon Tuesday 2 December 2014
The movie is rated five-stars by the Guardian ("Gripping"), and four-stars by
the Independent ("Extraordinary"), the Financial Times ("True-life spy thriller"),
the Observer ("Utterly engrossing"), the Telegraph ("Everybody needs to see it"),
and the Times ("Completely Gripping").
Events are kickstarter-like: the showing will happen if we sell 34 tickets by
Thursday 23 November 2014. The event is open to the public. Best to buy tickets soon,
as it could sell out.
Buy tickets from OurScreen.
Thursday 6th Nov
16:10 - 17:00
Kate Ho of Tigerface
Digital, and Project Ginsberg
Building a startup team is never easy. There needs to be a balance
between the tech, marketing and product. In this talk, I'll be talking
about the evolution we've had in building the core team at Ginsberg
(ginsberg.io): from how we hire in the beginning, to how the software
development practices, to how our customer support works.
17:10 - 18:00 Nicola Hillhouse,
Serial Entrepreneur: VideoWiki; ConfBuzz ...
These talks will be split into two sessions with a short break at
around 17:00, followed by a visit to a nearby hostelry.
16:10 - 18:00 Thursday 23rd Oct in G.07 Informatics
Raising money and keeping it legal – investment and IP from an engineer’s perspective.
This talk will be split into two sessions with a short break at
around 17:00, and will be followed by a reception.
If you are NOT a student taking the PI course and wish to come to
this talk and reception, please register via eventbrite.
As CTO, Alistair has overall responsibility for the technical
strategy of Skyscanner and ensuring it meets the business'
needs. This ranges from ensuring that systems scale to handle
continued exponential growth in search volume, to defining the
architecture of new products and incubating the new technologies
that will fuel future growth. He also evangelizes the
technical capabilities of Skyscanner to the outside world.
At home, when he isn’t playing around with tech, he learns history and languages, cooks and sails dinghies. Alistair never travels without “Some knowledge of the language, it can help to keep me out of trouble and the locals really appreciate it”!
16:10 Thursday 9th Oct in Teviot LT
Pitching, personality and (ethical) promotion, Nicola
In this session we'll start by looking at how you pitch and explain your ideas - an essential skill for engaging potential investors, for getting a peer/business partner/manager/mentor on board, and for engaging potential customers/users.
To prepare for that take a listen to episode 1 of an excellent new documentary podcast tracking the starting up of a new business:
We'll also be looking at other aspects of promoting what you do - how
you might promote yourself, your work, and what legal and ethical
aspects to keep in mind whilst you do that whether you are using
email lists, social media, or mainstream press.
- 16:00 Thursday October 2 Finite Automata and the Infinite
(click for video) G.07 Informatics Forum
The Milner lecture is given
... by someone from outside the University who has done
or is doing excellent and original theoretical work which has a
perceived significance for practical computing.
You should take notes at this lecture and submit a short report
(200-250 words). It may help to imagine that you are working for a
forward-looking software house, and writing a brief report, for
management, on the key advances reported and your assessment of the
impact they may have on practical computing. (You may need to do
some research on the web, or ask questions after the lecture, in
order to make this assessment.)
You should submit your report, identified only by your
student number, in class or to the ITO,
by 16:10 on Thursday
The course textbook is
Copies of material used in class will be available in PDF format on the course webpage. The website also contains a list of other relevant documents.
- Philip Wadler, lectures on communication skills (video).
- William Strunk, Jr., and E. B. White,
The Elements of Style,
Longman, 1999 (Fourth edition),
£5.41 from Amazon.
- Free Online Edition of William Strunk, Jr.'s 1918 original.
- Geoffrey Pullum, 50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice. I stand by my claim that the modest monetary and time cost to read Strunk and White is the best investment you can make in your career, but do take into account Pullum's critique. (My thanks to those who alerted me to Pullum's article.)
- Donald Knuth,
Section 1 is particularly valuable.
- George Orwell,
Politics and the English Language,
from Inside the Whale and Other Essays, Penguin, 1969.
- Max Atkins,
Lend Me Your Ears:
All you need to know about making speeches and presentations,
- Edward Tufte,
The Visual Display of Quantitative Information,
Graphics Press, 2001 (second edition).
- Edward Tufte,
Graphics Press, 1990.
(Challenger is discussed on pages 38-52.)
- Edward Tufte,
Graphics Press, 1997.
- Edward Tufte,
Graphics Press, 2006.
(Powerpoint is discussed on pages 156-185.)
- Additional sources.
You will require clickers for marking presentations (see below). Clickers are available from the library.
Coursework is worth 15% of marks for the course, and the final exam is worth 85%.
- Written report. A one-page written report summarising one
of the guest lectures. Report marked for both presentation and
content. Worth: 5%. Due: 4pm Thu 13 Nov.
- Presentation. A 150-second presentation on a topic of your
choice from the course textbook. Presentations are a combination of
live and video, where the video is submitted in advance. Presentations
will be marked for both presentation and content. Presentations
will be assessed by your fellow students using clickers.
Worth: 5%. Due: presentations in class at end of term.
- Tutorials. The second half of each lecture is a tutorial.
There is an exercise attached to each tutorial worth 0.25%, marked all or nothing.
Total worth 5%. Due: tutorial after each lecture.
- Mon 22 Sep. Communication Skills—Writing:
- Thu 25 Sep. Professional Issuess—Setting the Agenda
- Mon 29 Sep. Communication Skills—Writing:
- Mon 6 Oct. Communication Skills—Speaking and Graphics:
- Mon 13 Oct. Communication Skills—Speaking and Graphics:
- Mon 20 Oct. Discrimination.
Humanity or GTFO by Lindsey Kuper,
Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage,
NPR Planet Money: When Women Stopped Coding.
- Mon 3 Nov. Current affairs.
- Mon 10 Nov. Current affairs.
Spying on lawyers:
Dark Web seizures:
- Mon 17 Nov. Information graphics.
Bret Victor's Magic Ink,
- Thu 20 Nov, Mon 24 Nov, Thu 27 Nov. Student presentations.
The examination (that contributes 85% of the asssessment of the course) will involve a compulsory multi-part short-answer question (Q1) and an essay-style question (choose one from two Q2/Q3). Examination questions may be based on the content of lectures given by visitors as well as on course notes and texts.
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