Sitting in on units
A PhD is necessarily very specialised: you become an expert on a very
specific topic. Furthermore a PhD is a lot of work and it's tempting
to focus on it to the exclusion of everything else. A research
assistantship is similar. Becoming an expert in one area is good but
at the same time you want to be a well-rounded computer scientist.
You want to be able to talk to (and collaborate with, and rate
proposals from) people outside your immediate area. This is a
learning process, especially in a fast-moving subject
like computer science.
To become better-rounded you'll have to make time to learn about
things outside your area. Attending seminars and sitting in on units
are good ways to do this, and your advisor should support you in
We're all busy but you will find it easier to make the time as a PhD
student (unless you are writing up) or RA than when you have some
other full-time job!
Registering for voluntary units
As a courtesy you may want to ask the unit lecturer if you can sit it
on the unit. You can register for CS units as "voluntary unit" so that
you'll be on the mailing list in case of timetable changes or other
announcements. This will also allow you to submit assignments and have
them marked, if you so wish. To register see Ian Holyer.
It's also possible to register units outside CS as voluntary units by
talking to the department in question.
To sit an exam you would need to make a special arrangement because
the faculty becomes involved at that point.
There does not seem to be any system for recording credits when a PhD
or RA completes a unit but if you are keen to do so it might be
How to find units
From the department
teaching page you can find links to:
The teaching page also has the units taken by CS students in each
programme and year. So if you want to brush up your maths, the first
year link will tell you what maths units our "straight CS" students take
and what units the Maths & CS students take.
You can also browse each department's own pages. Eng Maths units are
here. Other departments can be found in the University's A-Z index.
Apparently the Maths department has booklets and timetables for all
courses just inside the main door of their building, and these are
easier to use than their web pages.