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University stuff - John C. Kirk

Feb. 1st, 2003

11:50 pm - University stuff

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The good:

I got the marks back from my first Prolog assignment - "Very good, 10/10". So, considering that I got the textbook on Tuesday afternoon, installed Prolog on my PC on Tuesday evening, and handed the assignment in on Wednesday afternoon, I'm happy with my learning curve there :) I also like the electronic submission (i.e. emailing the source code rather than handing in a printout) for this module. Shame it doesn't directly count for anything (since this is an unofficial module), but it bodes well for my project later in the year.

The bad:

I've basically been completely screwed over on my research module. I spoke to Prof Maibaum on Friday (the course supervisor), and it turns out that the actual course bears very little relation to the published syllabus. I didn't take this module because I'm trying to avoid exams; personally, I'd rather sit an exam than write an essay. However, I figured it would look good on my CV to have some research experience. More importantly, I'll need to write reports like this sooner or later, so I thought it would be good to go to the promised "seminars about research methods, report/paper writing, presentation techniques, etc" (quoting directly from handbook).

The way this course actually works is that I choose a seminar from last term, then find a few papers connected to it, and write a 6-10 page report summarising all this information. This paper was due in yesterday, but I've been given a two week extension (on the grounds that I didn't know about it). I then attend the seminars this term, pick another one, and do another paper for submission at the end of this term. So, I'm not quite sure what the co-ordinator is getting paid for (assuming he's getting a quarter of my tuition fees for the term). The seminars I'm attending (on Wednesday afternoons) are organised by someone else, primarily for the benefit of PhD students and staff, so I'm just tagging along to them. There are no seminars that teach me how to write this report - I've got to figure that out for myself. I'm also not being "given a reading list" (quoting from handbook again) - I have to sort that out on my own too.

On the grounds that this isn't what I signed up for, and that I'm now playing catch-up (particularly at a time when I'm trying to cram in a term's worth of work for the AI courses, e.g. learning Prolog in a hurry), I asked the department whether I could drop this module, and do five "normal" modules this term (rather than the usual four), i.e. attend extra lectures and do an extra exam in May. But that's apparently not allowed, so I'm stuck with it. I could make a protest through the staff-student committee, but in practical terms that's only going to piss off the guy who will be marking my essays, which is going to do even more damage to my chances of getting a Distinction on this course.

The only consolation is that it looks like I don't have to give a presentation (unless there are any more changes...). Meh.

The ugly:

Probably best to refrain from personal attacks in a public forum :)