Christopher Strachey, the founder of the Programming Research Group at Oxford, wrote: It has long been my personal view that the separation of practical and theoretical work is artificial and injurious. Much of the practical work done in computing, both in software and in hardware design, is unsound and clumsy because the people who do it have not any clear understanding of the fundamental design principles of their work. Most of the abstract mathematical and theoretical work is sterile because it has no point of contact with real computing. One of the central aims of the Programming Research Group as a teaching and research group has been to set up an atmosphere in which this separation cannot happen.

The specific teaching mission of Oxford University Computing Laboratory upholds this view.

It is:

  1. to teach computing as a coherent science, with due emphasis on its mathematical foundations.

  2. to teach information technology as an engineering discipline with its over-riding goal of correct and cost-effective design based on rigorous scientific reasoning.

  3. to offer a progressive range of options including hardware and software, theory and practice, general technology and illustrative applications.

  4. to keep the syllabus in correspondence with the long-term needs of the employers of our graduates.

  5. to develop the students' intellectual abilities and personalities to fit them for future leadership of a demanding profession.

  6. to conduct research contributing to these goals, and to publish textbooks to help ourselves and others to reach them.


You have chosen to study at one of the world's leading centres for the development, application and teaching of Computer Science. You join an expanding group of researchers, lecturers and students, attracted to Oxford from all over the world. You are here because you want to study Computer Science, and we - the members of the Computing Laboratory, and of the Faculty of Computer Science - are here to give you the best training in that discipline and the best opportunity to study it that we can.

The Laboratory's reputation ranges from its fundamental research into computing methods and languages through to practical solution of engineering and scientific problems on the latest highly parallel computer architectures. Our wide-ranging collaborative work with leading industries in this country has been twice recognised by the rare honour of a Queen's Award for Technological Achievement. The development of computing at Oxford has been heavily supported by donations and sponsorship from our industrial partners; and when you graduate, we are confident that you will have a sound basis for a productive and rewarding career.

I hope that most of the paperwork you get from me and my successors and colleagues will be about Computer Science; I am afraid that this handbook is probably not. It is intended to guide you through the course, and to give you a handy reference to many of the things that will be unfamiliar about the way we run things here. Inevitably then it concentrates on syllabuses and examinations, on lectures and computing facilities, and the other resources which you will be able to draw on.

During your study at Oxford we all hope to share with you some of the understanding which we have gained, both by our research into basic theory and by industrial collaboration. We hope too that you will be able to share with us - and with each other - our enthusiasm for the subject, and will enjoy developing your talents in this field.

Gavin Lowe
Chairman, Faculty of Computer Science


  1. Sources of information
    1.1 The Grey Book
    1.2 Lecture synopses
    1.3 Timetables
    1.4 Proctors' and Assessor's memorandum

  2. Finding your way around
    2.1 The Staff
    2.2 The Computing Laboratory
    2.3 Other departments
    2.4 Libraries

  3. Studying, learning and teaching
    3.1 Degrees
    3.2 Lectures
    3.3 Tutorials
    3.4 Practicals
    3.5 Project
    3.6 Further work
    3.7 Assessment and examination
    3.8 Feedback
    3.9 Responsibility

  4. Courses
    4.1 Aims
    4.2 Synopses for Moderations
    4.3 Synopses for Undergraduates in their Third Year in 2006-2007
    4.4 Synopses for Undergraduates in their Second Year in 2006-2007
    4.5 Fourth Year

  5. Practicals
    5.1 Writing practical reports
    5.2 Late practicals
    5.3 Practical marks

  6. Projects
    6.1 Amount of work
    6.2 Choosing a project
    6.3 Proposing a project
    6.4 Reporting

  7. Examinations
    7.1 Preparation
    7.2 Entering
    7.3 Procedure for written examinations
    7.4 Composition of Mods papers
    7.5 Composition of Finals papers
    7.6 Composition of fourth year papers
    7.7 Marking and Classification

  8. The University and you
    8.1 The Faculty of Computer Science
    8.2 The Proctors

  9. What next?
    9.1 Higher degrees
    9.2 Careers

[A] Safety Information
A.1 Action in case of emergency
A.2 First Aid
A.3 Fire
A.4 Escape routes
A.5 Smoking
A.6 Electricity
A.7 Equipment rooms
A.8 Lighting
A.9 Other Safety information

[B] People
B.1 Undergraduate representatives 2006-2007
B.2 Academic staff of the Computing Laboratory
B.3 Teaching Assistants
B.4 Support staff of the Computing Laboratory

[C] Applying for Computer Resources
C.1 The Data Protection Act
C.2 Other Notes
C.3 Returning the application form
C.4 Declaration

[D] University Policy on Intellectual Property

[E] University Policy on Data Protection and Computer Misuse
E.1 Data Protection Policy
E.2 Computer Use and Misuse
E.3 Use of Computing Laboratory Equipment and Premises
E.4 Rules and Regulations Concerning use of Department of Engineering Science Premises

[F] Equal Opportunities Statement for Students

[G] Plagiarism
[H] Map

[Oxford Spires]

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