Topics is a Spring term project introducing various advanced aspects in computer science. It is mandatory for all year 1 students.

We will add links to more information as it becomes available.


You will create and present ‘educational’ web pages which introduce a topic in Computing to a non-specialist audience. This is potentially a lot of fun and we hope you will enjoy it.


Topics aims to promote your use of the Library services, and to introduce concepts relevant to courses in later years. In addition, it is there to enable you to work on something with a research-oriented flavour, and to give you experience in group working and group presentations.


  • You will produce a website explaining your allocated topic, or some aspects of it, to an interested general audience such as yourselves, other non-specialists in the Department or the general web-surfing community.
  • You will create individual webpages where you demonstrate which part of the research you have done.
  • It should show evidence of your critical faculties. Simply pasting-in parts of web pages that you have found on the internet is not acceptable. Be aware that search engines make it easy for us to detect any such plagiarism. You may wish to include a FAQ (frequently-asked questions) page containing, say, ten or more questions whose accompanying answers present your own view of the material.
  • Your pages should be visually attractive, but also technically accurate and well-structured, and should not assume that the viewer has much prior technical knowledge of the topic.
  • Take advantage of the nature of the web medium and of the possibly limited attention span of viewers. Don’t write pages which fill the screen with huge quantities of monolithic text. Diversify your pages by suitable use of colour, pictures, active diagrams or links to other web sites. You may even employ sound or video – but beware of hardware/software incompatibility problems: see Technical Stuff below.
  • Your pages should be genuinely informative rather than merely entertaining.

Originality and References to Sources

Almost all the material appearing on your web pages must be written by yourselves. It is not acceptable for large amounts of material to be simply pasted “as is” – or even with cosmetic editing – from existing web pages or other public sources. We expect your work to be original.

Formal checks will be applied to your work to test its originality.

It is acceptable for you to display occasional and small amounts of text or images from other sources provided these are clearly acknowledged as such by full and visible referencing.

All quotations from other people’s work (students, academics, journalists, companies – anyone) must be credited by references supplying full details (e.g. page numbers or URLs) of the sources. The use of others’ ideas without direct quotation should also be acknowledged. This is standard academic practice. It’s not an admission of weakness, on the contrary, it shows how widely-read you are! Consider how you would wish your own original work to be treated by others.

Failure to deliver essentially original work and/or failure to acknowledge fully your sources will be heavily penalised and may result in further action.

Work Schedule

  • The topics will be presented to you in scheduled lecture slots in Week 1 of the Spring Term.
  • You will be working in groups of four (typically) to undertake the library research and the creation of the web pages.
    • The composition of these groups will be decided at the start of the Spring Term.
    • The groups will be allocated suitable directories and accounts to work in.
    • The composition of the groups will not thereafter be altered unless there are very exceptional circumstances.
    • Each group will be allocated a topic, after all the topics lectures have been presented.
  • Your web pages must be completed and submitted by the strict deadline of Tuesday of week 10.
  • In the last week of the Spring Term your group will be required to give a presentation of your work. The series of presentations and associated prize-giving is called the TopicsFest. More details will be given closer to the time.


The Topics option requires some research on your part:

  • Use the Library and remember that the librarians can help you.
  • The web is also a useful source of information (but also of much mis-information).
  • Staff will be available to answer queries during the work period;
    • Times will be arranged directly by the Topics lecturers or their assistants;
    • But remember, it’s your job to do the research!

Technical Stuff

  • You may make use of editors, web authoring tools, or other technologies, if you wish.
  • Your pages must be viewable on the hardware and in the version (or versions) of the major browsers currently provided in the laboratories.
  • Any features not so viewable may not be marked.
  • A directory will be assigned by CSG to each group at the start of the web page creation period;
    • This directory is solely for Topics work and will expire after the deadline;
    • Do not keep personal or confidential data in it!
  • Your actual files (not merely links to them) must all be zipped up and submitted for marking.
  • Link your web pages using relative (rather than absolute) URLs, to render them portable.
  • Marks may be lost if your pages do not run properly (see below).

The TopicsFest

The Topics fest is a day of presentations of your work, and should be enjoyable as well as intellectually stimulating. All of you will take part: both presenting and participating. There will be morning and afternoon refreshments and a buffet lunch. The schedule of presentations should not be too onerous and you should have time to socialize with your fellow students to chat about the presentations and other things. A detailed programme will be posted in due course.

Your Presentation at the Fest

Your presentation must be in .pdf format. You can prepare the slides using either Powerpoint or OpenOffice. OpenOffice reads powerpoint formats and allows you to export directly to pdf format. If you use Windows/PowerPoint you will need a .pdf printer.

On the TopicsFest day the presentations will be displayed on a machine running Linux, with the chromium browser. You will not be able log in, and must access your presentation using the URL of your project webspace. You may wish to provide a link from your pages to your presentation for convenience. The presentation should last for 20 minutes, followed by five minutes for questions. As a rule of thumb you should prepare 1 slide for each minute.

When presenting do not change between your slides and your web pages. If you want to demonstrate anything from your web pages then do so after you have completed giving the presentation slides.

The marks are given for the presentation so keep any demonstration of your web pages short.

Marking scheme