CS492/CS692 W07 Course Structure

This page contains elaboration on the structure of the CS492/CS692 offering in Winter 2007, including sections on lectures, the marking scheme, the late policy, assignments, role-playing exercises, and plagiarism.


Lectures are scheduled for two eighty-minute slots per week, TR 8:30-9:50, MC 4040. 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).


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 Thursday. Assignments will be submitted in hardcopy, placed in the course assignment boxes, except for assignment 4 and assignment 5, which will be brought to the class on the due date). All the assignments for the term are described on the website by the time of the first class. It is up to you to plan your time well in order to produce top quality assignments by the given due dates.

Role-playing exercises (RPE)

Two teams of preferrably two or possibly three students will assign themselves to a given weekly topic. Formation of teams and choice of topics must be completed by Thursday January 11, and will be handled by the RPE TA on a first-come, first-served basis. We will make an effort to have teams for the first RPE finalized no later than Tuesday January 9. Those who participate in the first two RPEs will be marked more leniently than others. Review the list of RPEs on the website and then send mail to adcaine@uwaterloo.ca by January 9 to indicate your preference. Take into account the given dates of the RPEs and the dates of your other responsibilities, e.g., midterms, in choosing your preferred RPEs. By class time on January 11, anyone who has not yet sent mail to slot him- or herself into an RPE will be assigned an RPE slot by the RPE TA. Check the website after January 11 to find out in which team you have been placed. The deadlines below are described in terms of RPEs that take place on a Thursday. A few RPEs are scheduled for a Tuesday. The deadline for Tuesday RPEs is given in parentheses after the corresponding deadline for Thursday RPEs. A few normal deadlines have to be shifted a bit because they fall out on days that the university is closed; also these exceptions are found in parentheses after the corresponding normal deadline. Since RPE teams are finalized early in the term, it is once more up to you to find appropriate times during the term to complete the required preparation for the RPE, prior to its scheduled date.

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. A team has the latitude to make adjustments to the initial scenario, including the exact wording of each side's position. Both sides must agree with the final wording and the revisions must be approved by the RPE TA. This means that both sides should have a clear agreement as to topic of the RPE. If a team elects to revise the wording of the scenario, it must post revised scenarios to the newsgroup uw.cs.cs492 by the Friday prior to its RPE.

Each team will prepare a position paper, of from 1000 to 3000 words, by 4pm on the Monday (Friday) preceeding its RPE. Writing this position paper will generally involve more background research in the library and on the Web, and perhaps interviews with actual members of the groups being represented. Students will post position papers to the newsgroup uw.cs.cs492. It is acceptable to post a link to a site where the position paper resides. PDF or PostScript is preferred to, e.g. Word documents. In addition, students will deposit one hardcopy of the position paper into the assignment box on the 3rd floor of MC, no later than 10am the following day (the following Monday). Format the document to leave room in the margins for comments from the RPE TA. The RPE TA has also requested that students run spell checkers on their documents!

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 Thursday (Tuesday). 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 prior to the RPE.

At the RPE on Thursday (Tuesday), each team will briefly present its positions in six minutes maximum per team. Note that team A may not necessarily be asked to present its 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. Please note that this role playing exercise is not a debate. Instead, each side portays a position and adheres to that position. A period of two minutes per team will be left at the end of the class for final words from each side. This should be an effort to clearly articulate to the audience the position being taken and its overall worth.

Taking into account the points made in class, the teams are required to go off and produce, by the following Wednesday (Monday) (RPE 10's joint communique normally due Wed Feb 21st must be moved to Mon Feb 26th due to reading week.) afternoon at 4pm, a joint communique outlining what they can agree on and a common course of action; the communique is similar to that produced after a Union Negotiation. This communique will be posted to the newsgroup. We are looking for some effort to have the two sides articulate clearly where they have found a middle ground. There is no set limit for this document, but it is expected to be moderate in size, on the order of a page, perhaps.

After reading the joint communique, students shall provide feedback on the newsgroup by 9am the Thursday (Tuesday) 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:

The 20 marks for the RPE will break down as: 10 for oral presentation, 8 for position paper and 2 for joint communique.

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 RPE TA, so that team members who do not contribute can potentially lose marks. The teams presenting on opposite sides on the same date do not necessarily receive the same mark.

Please note that it is also important to allow all team members an opportunity to demonstrate their skill in oral communication, either in presenting part of the team's position, in responding to questions from the audience during the discussion session, or in delivering the final two minute summary.


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 RPE TA for guidance.

Last revised 3 January 2007