Research Seminar Course - "Applied Computer Science" - home page

Lecturers: Herbert Wiklicky  , Uli Harder and Paul Kelly (but we don’t do the lecturing on this course)


Intro presentation (powerpoint) (pdf)
Submission web page ("CATE")
Schedule of paper presentations

Shortlist of papers for presentation

Guidance notes on presenting a paper
Pointers for critical reading of research literature

Collected downloaded copies of some of the papers



The Research Seminar Course is intended to provide students planning a research career in Computer Science with the opportunity to develop the skill of critically reading and evaluating research papers.   The course is open to first-year PhD students, and is a required component of MRes programme.   The course will consist of a weekly timetabled session in which students will read, present and discuss influential research papers across a broad range of subject areas.

For the academic year 2009-10 the working title for the seminar course is "Impactful Computer Science".

This allows very broad scope for exploring different areas in which the fruits of computer science research have been, or could be, have an impact --- to the Internet, the World-Wide Web, ubiquitous computing, entertainment, science, medicine, whatever.  The scope is very broad, and necessarily will involve material a long way from your chosen field of research; we hope there is something for everybody here.  However the real purpose is to study the reading and writing of research in computer science.

Students participate in three ways:

  1. Short summaries: Each week, choose one of the 2-3 papers being presented, and write a short summary of the paper.  This should be submitted electronically before the first class of the week takes place (if you have problems submitting, please email Paul Kelly (   Try to include:
    1. What is the problem, why do the authors find it interesting?
    2. What specific claims does the paper make?
    3. What evidence is offered to support them?
    4. What questions do you have?
    5. Your opinion of the quality of the writing

Important: for these short summaries, you are invited to collaborate with one other student, so you produce a single summary between you.  However, you should both register the summary submission electronically using CATE.  Please make sure your summary includes both your names, at the top of the page.

  1. Presentations: Everyone in the class will present one paper.  This is basically a PowerPoint version of the evaluation above, which you present orally.  Starting from this you should initiate a discussion of the paper (so it's a good idea to conclude your slide presentation with a selection of points to consider and discuss).  See the guidance notes on presenting a paper.
  2. Review: After you have presented your paper, you write up your presentation as review of the work (5-6 pages), identifying the main issues which were identified during the discussion and reviewing scope for further research.  The objectives are essentially the same as for the presentation - again, see guidance notes on presenting a paper.  This should be submitted electronically within two weeks of your presentation.  This should be your own work.

Assignment of papers to present

The schedule of paper presentations can be found here: Schedule of paper presentations.  Please check this right away to ensure:

1.       that you are available for the presentation slot you have been assigned

2.       that you are happy with the paper you have been assigned

You are welcome to swap assignments with fellow students (MAC students must present within two weeks of the end of term so that you can submit the review before the vacation).  You can also swap your assignment with a paper from the shortlist, available here: Shortlist of papers for presentation. 

Preparation of presentations

You should make an appointment with your "mentor" (whose name is listed on the timetable web page) a few days before your presentation so we can discuss your slides and talk about opportunities for making the class more lively. 

Summary - the mission

Our goal is

  1. Find the best examples of research papers in theoretical computer science which have influenced the development of the Internet and the World Wide Web
  2. Identify the most promising recent research papers, likely to find application in the future
  3. Learn how best to present contributions in computer science, how to present evidence for claims made, and how to evaluate them critically
  4. Choose a thesis topic which will change the world


There are two assessed components (see Submission instructions), of roughly equal weight:

  1. The collected set of your short summaries of each paper (excluding the paper you present yourself).   Half- to one page each.
  2. Your review of the paper you presented, based on your presentation and the discussion which followed.  Around 5 pages. See Guidance notes on presenting a paper for further information.




If you use material written by someone else, make sure you acknowledge the source.  Making effective use of sources is encouraged (provided copyright is respected).  However, if you appear to be trying to pass someone else’s work off as your own, we, and the University, are likely to conclude that you are behaving fraudulently.  If you have any doubts about this policy, please ask.


Paul Kelly


Collected related links, secondary papers, similar courses