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Your Time in the Department


We hope that your time with us enables you to become a complete engineer and/or scientist, while enjoying yourself at the same time. There is no contradiction between these two; you should have adequate time to do both. We also hope that you get to know us and that we can work together to maintain a lively and dynamic department in which to study. For our part, we try to ensure that learning is not a battle between staff and students, and we firmly believe that we are here to help you, not fail you. By the same token, you are not here to pass a course with the minimum of effort. In this section we try to set out what we expect from you, and what you can expect from us:



The Department, like the University, is committed to equality and diversity for its students and staff alike. The University's policy on "Dignity at Work and Study" can be read in the "Rules and Regulations for Students" booklet. If you encounter any problems you should contact your personal tutor, or the year tutor.

We would like you to feel that the Department is somewhere you can belong, and that it provides an informal social environment, as well as a good working environment in which you feel well-motivated and supported. A community spirit like this doesn't just happen; it needs commitment from staff and students alike.

Your work

Computer Science is above all a practical subject. The only way to become a skilled computer scientist is by doing practical work, for example writing specifications, designing hardware, or implementing programs. In order to reward quality in practical work, a large fraction of your marks (100% for some units) is earned by means of coursework in one form or another. In this way, your marks reflect your quality as a computer scientist (not just your ability to pass exams).

Coursework enables you and your lecturers and tutor to evaluate your progress and to help you to improve the quality of your work. Some of the work will be marked and the marks will contribute towards your results.

Key people

In time you will get to know everyone in the Department. As a starting point it is worthwhile to know whom to go to with questions or other matters:

Year Committees

After you leave university you will probably remember your fellow students long after you have forgotten the staff. Being with a convivial group of students with a shared interest in computing (at least) is the best way to get the most out of the courses. There is a Computer Science Society which we encourage you to join. This is a wholly student run organization which both organizes social events and provides a bridge between the academic and the student bodies.

The Computer Science Society organizes the elections for the Year Committees. The Year Committee for each year of the course consists of up to four students from that year. These will be elected in the first three weeks of each academic year, and can change during the year if that is decided in some democratic way.

The Year Committee should keep in touch with the Year Tutor. In particular, the Class Representative is responsible for gathering opinion and feedback on courses, and should cooperate with the Year Tutor in this. For further details, see the section below on Feedback, Suggestions and Complaints.

There are also various roles you can be associated with in the Computer Science Society. The roles are not fixed, but might be for example:

The Computer Science Society is free to raise funds for individual projects and events, whether centred on computing or not, such as staff-student sports and social events, inviting outside speakers on computing topics, and so on. There is also a departmental subsidy available for approved projects, for which the Computer Science Society can apply by making a proposal to the Head of Department.

Feedback, Suggestions, Complaints

There are various ways in which you can give your opinions and suggestions concerning your course and other aspects of life in the Computer Science Department. This feedback is an essential part of the development and improvement of courses, and also helps staff and students overcome any problems and misunderstandings that may arise from time to time.


For each unit, you will be asked to fill out a questionnaire. The questionnaires are filled in anonymously, on-line. When a unit ends, or when a lecturer finishes their part on a unit, you will be mailed a URL (web address), and be asked to fill in the questionnaire on that URL. For each lecturer you will be asked to answer questions on teaching quality (audibility, etc), for each unit you will be asked to fill in questions on unit contents (consistency, completeness, place in the course, etc). The questionnaires are processed and collected by the Director of Studies.

Urgent Problems

Apart from these formal feedback procedures, any problems or suggestions can be brought to the lecturers, or the year tutors, or your personal tutors, at any time. If there is something that needs immediate attention, the best way is for one or more students to arrange a meeting with the appropriate staff member and discuss the problem. An atmosphere of openness and rational discussion is the key to resolving problems. If you cannot resolve the problem, then please see the Programme Director or ultimately the Head of Department.

MSc Conversion Course Forum

The MSc conversion course has a forum for feedback that meets early in the year; see the Departmental Diary.


Most communication between staff and students will take place during lectures and lab sessions, etc. However, there are situations where a message needs to be sent to a large group of people. This could be, for example, the announcement of a social event, or an urgent message about coursework. For this we use various communication mechanisms:

We expect everyone in the Department to be literate in the use of e-mail and the Web. The basics of both media are taught during the first week of the first year, so make sure you attend.

Everyone in the department is automatically registered for e-mail, web access, and the use of department computers. If you take Computer Science as a subsidiary subject, you will need to get registered for the units (see the Student Administrator). This will give you access to suitable computing facilities.


We hope your stay in Bristol will be problem free, that you have a wonderful life and sail through your studies. There are times however, when life or study doesn't progress in the way it should. This can be due to illness, personal problems, learning difficulties, etc. If something like this happens to you, you are not the only one, and there are many places in the Department and the University where you can go for advice or help:

Useful organisations

There are numerous useful organisations for students in Bristol. Many of these organisations are part of the Union (on Queens Road), for example the sports clubs, or the International Centre. Other services such as the Health Service are provided by the University. Below is a short list of contact points that you might find useful (although it is by no means complete).

Disabled Students

If you are disabled and experience any problems during your stay in Bristol, please contact the Access Unit for Deaf and Disabled Students based on the 4th floor, Union Building, Queen's Road, Bristol BS8 1LN. They can be contacted on (0117) 954 5727 (voice), (0117) 954 5728 (Text phone), (0117) 923 8546 (fax).

Day Nursery

The University day nursery for children of students and staff is open from 8:30 to 17:30, Monday to Friday, except Bank Holidays and other days when the University is closed. Children must be aged between three months and five years. A limited number of holiday placements during University vacations are available for older children (up to the age of seven). A system of ten half-day sessions per week is operated, and you may book as many sessions per week as you wish, subject to space being available. Children are expected to attend the same sessions every week. Further information may be obtained from The Supervisor, University Day Nursery, 34 St Michael's Park, Bristol, BS2 8BW, tel. 0117 927 6077.

Health Service

The University operates a medical centre, known as the Students' Health service. It is located at Hampton House Health Centre, St Michaels Hill, BS6 6AU. Appointments can be made on 0117 330 2720, and the emergency number is 0117 330 2721. You can contact the Health Service for both physical health care and mental health care or counselling.

Counselling Service

This is staffed by specially trained members of academic staff. They are familiar with the demands of university life and can offer confidential guidance based on their experience of student life. The service is at 1a Priory Road, is open from 09:00 to 17:00 during term time, and appointments can be made by phone on (0117) 954 6655.

Careers Service

The Careers Service has information on jobs, postgraduate study and employers. It can also help you with your CV, can help out with vacation work, and they have details of temporary job opportunities within the university and with local employers. You can find the Careers Service at 11 Priory Road, BS8 1TU, tel (0117) 9288221. They are open Monday to Friday from 10:00-16:45 during term time and from 14:00-16:45 outside term time. The Departmental liaison officer is Hayley Frapwell.

International Centre

The International Centre exists to promote the presence of the University of Bristol on the global academic stage. It provides help for staff and students of the University in their relationships with fellow institutions and individuals overseas, as well as welcoming and facilitating contact with visiting students, academics and administrators. Their offices are in the Students' Union Building on Queen's Road. The International Centre can also give advice to overseas students.


The Multifaith Chaplaincy Centre is at The Grange, 1 Woodland Road, BS8 1AU, telephone 0117 954 6600. It is open every weekday in term, and all students and staff of the university are welcome to drop in for coffee, to meet friends, to work, talk, ask for advice, pray, or just rest in a quiet environment. The chaplains are available to all students and staff, of any faith or none.


Nightline is run by students for students, and offers a confidential listening service for students wishing to discuss any kind of problem, as well as having information on pretty much any topic, from local bus times to sources of help on welfare and health matters and more. It operates its anonymous telephone and e-mail services during term-time, from 20:00 - 08:00 every night and is staffed by trained volunteers. Their telephone number is on the back of every student card. For further information, please visit the Nightline website:

Professional organisations

There are many organisations for professional computer scientists. These organisations often organise seminars and conferences, and publish journals on computer science.

BCS, British Computer Society

The British Computer Society is the leading professional and learned Society in the field of computers and information systems in the UK. As the Chartered Institution for information systems engineering, they set standards for industry. The BCS accredits courses in Computer Science.

Accreditation means that a candidate has fulfilled the academic requirement for registration as either a Chartered or Incorporated Engineer. A course may qualify for full or partial exemption from the BCS Professional Examination, and students graduating from such courses can attain Professional Membership after a shortened period of relevant experience and training. Full details of exemption and accreditation can be found on the BCS web site at

After its last visit to the Department in October 2007 the BCS made the following recommendations regarding some of the Department's programmes:

IET, Institution of Engineering and Technology

There are several other professional organisations which you can join, such as the IET, ACM and IEEE.

Following the last IET visit, also in October 2007, it made the following recommendations regarding some of the Department's programmes.

Full details of exemption and accreditation can be found on the IET web site at