M01: Syllabus

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The slides on this page are not accessible (for screen readers, etc). The 1up and 3up slides are better.

Module Topics

  1. Themes
  2. Course Structure
  3. Getting Help
Slide 000
Discussion forum for this study module

Video: Download m01.00_welcome

video m01.00_welcome

CS135 is supported by a small army of other course personnel:

  • The ones you’re most likely to meet are ISAs or “Instructional Support Assistants”.
    These are undergraduate co-op students whom we hire full-time for their co-op job. They’ve all taken the course and are here to help you in office hours and help answer questions on our Q&A forums. They also set up automatic tests for your programs and do many other behind-the-scenes jobs.
  • Instructional Apprentices are graduate students with a special interest in teaching.
  • Karen Anderson is our Instructional Support Coordinator and a long-term staff member. She’s the institutional memory for CS135, hires and supervises the ISAs, IAs, TAs, etc. Karen is responsible for the detested task of handling cheating cases. She also coordinates missed grading components (e.g assignments, exams, etc.) due to medical reasons or special circumstances (e.g. AccessAbility Services accommodations, death affecting someone near and dear to you, etc.).
  • The TAs for CS135 are graduate students who do most of the marking.

More details at Help -> Personnel .

Slide 001
Slide 002

There are four major components to CS135. We’ll discuss each of them in turn.

About time: Waterloo time is known more formally as EDT (Eastern Daylight Time) or GMT-04:00 until Sun. Mar. 13, 2022, 02:00 when clocks in Waterloo move forward one hour and it is known as EST (Eastern Standard Time) or GMT-05:00.

The course website displays the current Waterloo time in the blue square in the upper left corner. The display does assume that your computer’s clock is set correctly to your local time and timezone.

Slide 003

This is the commentary on the “slide”. This commentary happens to be written. Some of the commentary will be videos.

The commentary is the part that an instructor would typically add in a lecture.

Here’s an image of a sample self-check exercise (if we included a real self-check, you would need to log-in; we want to keep this module accessible to everyone):

sample self-check

Self-check exercises are usually “check all that apply” questions. For example, the previous question has two answers. You need to check both of them (and no others) for it to be considered correct.

Slide 004

Active learners are better learners. One way you can be active learners is to check your understanding and put it into practise as often as possible. To help you with that, we’ve embedded two kinds of exercises into the lectures:

  • “Self check” exercises (mentioned on the slide). These are multiple choice questions that are automatically (and immediately!) marked to give your feedback on your understanding so far. We think these are incredibly important – important enough to make them worth 10% of your final grade.
  • The other kind of exercise we will not grade directly. These are simple exercises to do (usually in DrRacket, the programming environment we’ll use). They’re important, too! Doing them as your study will pay off by being able to do your assignments more quickly and more correctly.

Some examples of the mark calculations for self-check exercises:

  • You correctly answer every question on time but only half of them were correct on your first try. Your mark is $10 \cdot min(1, \frac{100}{3\cdot 100} + \frac{4\cdot 50}{3\cdot 100}) = 10 \cdot min(1, \frac{1}{3} + \frac{2}{3}) = 10$ marks (the most you can get). Wow, full marks for only getting half of them correct! That should tell you that getting the right answer is less important than thinking carefully about them and learning from them.
  • You correctly answer 66 of the 100 questions on time but only half of the ones you answer were correct on the first try. Your mark is $10 \cdot min(1, \frac{66}{3\cdot 100} + \frac{4\cdot 33}{3\cdot 100})$ or 6.66 marks of the 10 available.

If you are having difficulty with the self-check exercises, you may want to speak with your instructor.

Slide 005

There is a link to the module’s discussion forum at the top of the module. Post questions about the module’s content there. If you specifically want your question taken up in Q&A, say so and indicate your section. It’s not a guarantee, but it’s a good start.

Please be realistic about what we can answer about assignments. We can clarify intent. We can discuss examples. We can make links back to material in the modules. We can’t answer the question for you.

Slide 006

Assignments are where you demonstrate your mastery of the course material. They are also critical in developing and deepening your mastery, which also makes future assignments, exams and even courses easier and faster to do with less stress. All assignments are important since they target different pieces of the puzzle and build on understanding from previous assignments.

The specifications for what you are to do are found in the Assignments. They are submitted electronically to a tool called “MarkUs”. More about MarkUs in assignment A00.

Start assignments early. As soon as they are released read through them to see what you already know how to do and watch for what you don’t know in upcoming modules.

Time management is key. Just because you were able to do and/or submit one assignment last minute does not mean it will go so smoothly next time – leave yourself time for things going wrong (e.g. internet down or overloaded at near the due date, mobile device runs out of power, your last minute change breaks code that used to work, etc.).

Individual work

All assignments are to be done individually. Submit your own work and no one else’s.


You can (and should!) submit as soon as you have a partial result on one of the questions. Submit again when you have more. This is sometimes summarized as “Submit early; submit often1”. Submitting early and often serves as both a backup if something goes wrong with your computer as well as insurance that something will be marked, even if you get distracted (a hot date, maybe?) and forget to submit your final work.

%Submission is easiest via edX and has the advantage that course staff can easily see what %you’ve done. But submission directly to MarkUs (the system that actually collects your %submissions and we use for marking them) is possible. See Assignment A00.

Late penalties

We deduct 1% for each minute your assignment is late. So the real due date/time is 100 minutes (1 hour and 40 minutes) after the posted date/time; at that point even a perfect assignment will receive 0 marks.

We mark the most recent submission that occurs before the posted due date/time + 100 minutes.

You absolutely should submit long before the published deadline so that the above policy isn’t even relevant to you.


After your assignment is marked, you should review it using MarkUs to see any mistakes you made so you can correct them for the next assignment. You should also request a copy of the sample solutions to compare to your own solution. Even if you got a perfect mark, there may be techniques that you can learn.

Each assignment also has a post-mortem that gives common mistakes. Read it even if you got an excellent mark to help understand what we look for more thoroughly. (A “post-mortem” is an analysis performed after something is finished or the subject has died.)

If life prevents you from completing an assignment on time, you can submit it after the end of the penalty period (ie after due date/time + 100 minutes) and request that it be “marked for feedback”. Email the course account to alert the ISAs to look for it.

Slide 007

During the pandemic, these exams will be conducted on-line. We’re still working out details, but we expect that each student will be assigned to one of 2-3 time periods, each about 2.5 hours long. You will need to write the exam within that time period.

We’ll post more details as the exams approach.

Slide 008

Video: Download m01.80_assessment

video m01.80_assessment

Passing CS135 requires a mark of 50% or greater. However, the natural successor course is CS136. It has a prerequisite requirement of 60% or greater for CS135. So you are probably aiming for a mark of 60% or higher in CS135.

Slide 009

%Please read “Course Information -> Help” in edX for much more about all the ways %you can access help for CS135.

There are many discussion forums, each dedicated to a specific study module, assignment question, and so on. Be sure to post your question to the most applicable forum.

Don’t abuse private posts. In general, a post should be public unless

  • it is specific to you (your marks, the death of your second cousin twice removed, etc)
  • it asks a question about your solution
    Note: If you are asking a question about your solution, be sure it has been asked as a private post.

Identifying yourself

You are linked to many systems on campus via your “userid”. This is up to 8 characters long and based on your name. The userid for student “Jiminy Cricket” will be jcricket or, if there have been seven previous J Crickets attending UWaterloo, j8cricke.

Your “student id” is an 8 digit number. We rarely care about your student id.

Please include your userid in any email correspondence with us.

Slide 010

Find the Thrival Guide under “Help -> Thrival Guide”.

Slide 011

Please read the Math Faculty page on academic integrity .

Penalties for cheating start at losing 5% from your course mark and go all the way up to suspension or expulsion from the university, depending on the severity.

We use software to compare your assignments to others in the class. It’s pretty darn good at identifying cheaters.

Your honour and integrity are incredibly important commodities. They are important in building trust with your teammates, your employers, your financial institutions, your friends. Honour and integrity is important to how you view yourself and your sense of self-worth. Once lost, honour and integrity are hard to regain.

Cheating on assignments instantly begins to chip away at your honour and integrity.

The University of Waterloo also cares about your honour and integrity. If our students become known as cheaters the value of a UWaterloo degree decreases. Employers will be less willing to hire our students, graduate school opportunities will be less available, the best potential students will look elsewhere, it will become harder to hire the best professors, etc.

Maintain your honour and your integrity.

The University of Waterloo provides lots of resources for CS135. You should be able to get all the legitimate help you need right here. There should be no need to go to outside organizations for help. There should also be no need to help those organizations by giving them our materials so they can make a buck.

Academic penalties apply to those who share these materials without authorization.

Summary: You should not put assignments, exams, solutions (either yours or ours), etc. where they can be accessed by others – even after you’ve finished the course.

Slide 013

The end of each lecture module will review its goals. They give an indication of what we expect from you based on the module’s content.

  1. “Submit early; submit often” is an allusion to “Vote early; vote often”  ↩︎