CS492/CS692 W03 Course Structure

This page contains elaboration on the structure of the CS492/CS692 offering in Winter 2003, including sections on lectures, the marking scheme, the late policy, assignments, role-playing exercises, and plagiarism.


Lectures are scheduled for three fifty-minute slots per week (MWF 9:30-10:30, MC2034). The class will be run more like a discussion seminar than a standard lecture. Students are expected to do the preparatory readings (as listed in the timetable) in advance; discussion will commence using those readings as a base. The instructor may talk for five minutes here and there in order to set the stage, make a technical point, summarize, or concentrate attention. Student participation is important not only to facilitate the learning process but because marks are assessed for class participation.

Marking scheme

Final marks are based on: Keep in mind that there is no midterm or final in the course.

Late policy

There is no late policy. That is: late assignments earn no credit. Exceptions will be made in, well, exceptional circumstances (a life-threatening illness, for example), provided that alternate arrangements are made well in advance.


Assignments will consist of written pieces of varying length on class topics. Each assignment will have a specified focused subject or set of subjects from which to choose; in a week when an assignment is due, it is due at 10am on the Tuesday. Assignments will be submitted in hardcopy, placed in the course assignment boxes (except for assignment 6 and assignment 7, which will be brought to the class on the due date).

Role-playing exercises (RPE)

Two teams of two (preferred) or three students will assign themselves to a given weekly topic. Formation of teams and choice of topics must be completed by Wednesday January 15, and will be handled by the TA on a first-come, first-served basis. Review the list of RPEs on the website and then send mail to tt5tran@math to indicate your preference.

Each team will take the role of a particular group with concerns in that area; the teams will typically have conflicting or opposed views. The initial scenario will be outlined by the instructor. Groups have the latitude to make modest adjustments to the initial scenario; both sides must agree with the final wording and the revisions must be approved by the TA. Students must post revised scenarios to the newsgroup uw.cs.cs492 by the Friday prior to the RPE (Note: all times are specified for Friday RPEs; RPEs held on other days of the week will have due dates relative to the date of the RPE (see here)).

Each team will prepare a position paper (from 1000 to 3000 words) for 4pm on Tuesday. This will generally involve more background research in the library and on the Web, and perhaps interviews with actual members of the groups being represented. Some groups in the past have included some useful URLs to information pertaining to the topic. Students will post position papers to the newsgroup uw.cs.cs492 and will drop off a hardcopy of the position paper in the black assignment boxes.

Other students are expected to read the refined scenario and position papers in preparation for the in-class exercise.  Students may want to post to the newsgroup some initial comments and questions before the RPE on Friday.  In some situations, it may be more appropriate to keep questions and concerns for the actual RPE itself, so that we do not exhaust all discussion before we even begin the RPE.

On Friday, each team will briefly present their positions (eight minutes maximum per team, and note that team A may not necessarily be asked to start with their position before team B). These presentations should not just repeat points made in the position papers, but should lead naturally into the discussion to follow. The class will then direct questions and comments to the teams, in a manner similar to that of a public forum or press conference.  Discussion of whether the teams have depicted their roles accurately in their position papers and presentations is also relevant.

Taking into account the points made in class, the teams are required to go off and produce, by the following Wednesday afternoon at 4pm, a joint communique outlining what they can agree on and a common course of action (similar to a Union Negotiation). This communique will be posted to the newsgroup.

After reading the joint communique, students shall provide feedback by 9am the Friday following the RPE in question. A mark will be assigned to the presenters, based on the position papers, the discussion in class, and the final communique on the points of:

It is expected that all members on one side will receive the same mark, but exceptional circumstances may be brought to the attention of the TA, so that team members who do not contribute can potentially lose marks. The teams which present on opposite sides on the same date do not necessarily receive the same mark.

Please note that the intention of the exercise is to allow all team members an opportunity to demonstrate their skill in oral communication, either in presenting part of the team's position or in responding to questions from the audience during the discussion session.


As with all courses, it is understood that students are to do their own work unless otherwise instructed; that they must acknowledge consultation with other people and texts; that when they quote from other sources, it should be brief and relevant; that they should add value to the material they have collected through further structuring and analysis. This is particularly important in light of the use of the Web in this course. Any violation of the Student Academic Discipline Policy (Policy #71) will be prosecuted. When in doubt, please consult the instructor or TA for guidance.

Last revised 28 December 2002.