Proposal on First and Second Year Programming/Design Courses

First and Second Year Computing Subjects

Proposal by Richard Buckland


What this is

A proposal to change our first and second year computing subjects so that we are CFY-proof. There is a great deal of opposition to CFY in the school. The dean seems strongly set on CFY happening. It is uncertain what the outcome will be. This proposal is not about the CFY debate, it is about designing our subjects so that the full or partial implementation of CFY will not be a disaster for the first few comp subjects. The proposal also addresses the other problems above so it will be a benefit even if we manage to reject CFY.

Proposed faculty design subject: "Communications and Design"

On paper this subject looks quite good. From my reading the content is about 50% faculty driven and 50% done in individual schools. How good it will be in practise is quite another issue. (personally i'm cautiously optimistic). The big problem for us is what it displaces when squeezing it into our programmes. Our argument against it is we *already* teach design in our comp subjects. This proposal strengthens that argument. This proposal is independent of whether or not the faculty design subject is adopted in any of our degree programmes.

The proposal

That we have 4 comp subjects at 100 level and 200 level (ignoring 1081 and 2021 which remain unchanged). Computing 1, Design 1, Computing 2, Design 2.

Working TitleStage/OfferedRemarks
Computing 1(y1/s1+s2*)corresponding to 1021/1721 and 1091
Design 1 (y1/s2+x2*)corresponding to 1011/1711
Computing 2(y2/s1) corresponding to 2041
Design 2 (y2/s2) corresponding to 2011/2711

*not main offering

Electrical Engineers do Computing 1 → Computing 2. The only prereq for Computing 2 would be computing 1. This means they avoid the material they find irrelevant. If they decide they wish to transfer to one of our degrees after session 1 they then can do so seamlessly and take the main offering of Design 1. If they decide after session 2 then they would take Design 1 in summer session. Ditto for our midyear intakes. That way everyone is square at the start of second year and we need only offer Computing2 and Design2 in once a year.

Our Students do Computing1 → Design1 → Design2 → Computing2. The prereq for Design1 is Computing1. The prereq for Design2 is Design1.

This means both our current, and our proposed (see bill's CFY page) programs continue to work, with only subject name changes required.

The Content of the Subjects

These four subjects should have a firm coverage outline. Not so prescriptive that the LIC can't adapt the subject to emerging trends or the particular assignment themes, but enough that later subjects can rely on certain material having been well covered. This consistency is needed to stop material being covered multiple times and disheartening the students.

There should also be sufficient stability and consistency that staff can move easily from one subject to another. So that we have a pool of teaching staff for the junior year subjects, and no one person gets stuck on a particular subject. We should elsewhere consider ways of ensuring this.

Richard Buckland
School of Computer Science & Engineering
The University of New South Wales

UNSW's CRICOS Provider No. is 00098G
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