Grading policy

This course will be run as a graduate reading seminar. The goal of the course is for you to be able to learn and synthesize as many of the readings as possible and apply them to what you are interested in. Hence your grade will be based on:

I reserve the right to change this scheme at any time. This course will be run with a fair but flexible grading system; I will scale the class grades up if I deem them to be too low, but I will not scale them to make grades lower.


You are expected to read all of the papers that will be read for class. Reading and thinking about the papers before class will enable us to have fruitful discussion. Hence beforehand you are required to read the paper and comment on it using the Connect discussion list for the paper. In order to allow the presenter to have enough time to look over what everyone has said, you must post your comments on a paper by 8pm the day before the paper is to be discussed.

A good paper reflection will cover the following points:

The postings will be graded on a 0, 1, 2, 3 grading scale:

To ensure that we all agree about what consists of a 0, 1, 2, or 3 review, I've provided a set of sample reviews for a paper that we won't be covering. I also will grade the first reading assignment so that you can have an idea of what to expect, but I will not count that grade.

A 3 is worth 100%. A 2 is worth 80%. A 1 is worth 60%. Everyone gets four free zeros on papers, plus you do not have to post for the paper(s) you present or lead discussion for. Beyond the four free zeros, I may consider allowing you to turn in some reviews late under extenuating circumstances, but you must contact me ahead of time, and I reserve the right to refuse your request. Note that I will grade this as dropping your lowest four grades, regardless of if they are zeros or not.

Presentations & Discussions

While I will run some classes (particularly at the beginning of the term), for the most part class time will be spent on student presentations and discussions. Presentations will be paired, so that each paper is being led by two people. Both people are responsible for seeing me at least two days in advance of the presentation to ensure that they understand the material for the paper that they are presenting. Note that I am generally not in the office on Fridays.

Details for the presenter:

The discussion leader:

Each person is responsible for two papers; one as the presenter and one as the discussion leader. Like the postings, they will be graded on a 0, 1, 2, 3 scale. Different grades can be given for two people on the same paper. You will not be graded on your public speaking skills. (A word on improving your public speaking for those who are particularly anxious).

A 3 is worth 100%. A 2 is worth 85%. A 1 is worth 70%. A 0 will result in a drop of your final grade by 25%. If you know ahead of time that you will miss your appointed time, if you can arrange a swap with someone, there is no penalty as long as you inform me ahead of time. If an emergency comes up you must contact me as soon as possible to let me know that you will not be able to make it, and I may allow you to make the grade up in some other fashion. Hint: a paper deadline that you've known about for months is not an emergency.


This class is a project class, and one of the major components will be the project. You can find more information about the project here.


I will give at least one small assignment to make sure that you understand some concepts that will be fundamental to the class.

In-class Participation

This class will be much more exciting for all involved if you share your perspective on the materials discussed. I will not be issuing grades for participation on a daily basis; I will base this part of your grade on your participation across the entire course. If you are concerned about your participation levels, please come talk to me.

If you are sick

If you are sick, please let me know. Please do not come to class while very sick --- it's not good for you, it's not good for the rest of us. If you have the flu, please fill out this form. I will not count your illness against class participation. I will also arrange for you to turn in your paper responses late (or you can use some of your free zeros for the papers - your choice). If you are ill for your presentation or discussion, please, please let me know ASAP, and we'll figure something out.

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Rachel Pottinger
E-mail Address: rap [at] cs [dot] ubc [dot] ca
Office Location: ICCS 345
Phone: (604)822-0436
Postal/Courier address:
The Department of Computer Science
University of British Columbia
201-2366 Main Mall
Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z4