• Congratulations :)

    Posted by Hayden Smith πŸŽ‰ Saturday 22 May 2021, 11:23:48 AM.

    Hi team!

    Great job on finishing COMP1531 for T1! I want to first congratulate our top 5 achieving students. In order, they are: Miloris Xu, Lachlan Scott, Kyle Phabmixay, Carl Buchanan, Nikki Fang. Congratulations!!

    For those who have emailed me in the last 24 hours, I will get back to you in the next day or two. If I don't get back to you by Sunday night then I have accidentally lost an email. But I will get back to you :) There are just a few things I have to do in order to get back to you.

    Thanks so much for the positive and less-positive feedback that people shared. Some of you really put a huge smile on your tutors' face when they read it. And for the improvement feedback, it's really good to understand you all and how you felt about the course.

    I wanted to take a moment to share some information on things that we are going to be taking onboard (because I want you to know we're both listening and always trying to improve), and then I just want to address some feedback that is maybe more complicated to address, and just give some background on it.

    One thing I wanted to address first is a piece of feedback "Learning python in this course is too much work" . Now I firstly want to say that I generally agree with you and have made that clear. In fact, the people who lead education in CSE also agree with me, and we've both agreed that the school would benefit from another course that actually teaches something like Python + a lot more. I wish we didn't teach python in COMP1531, however, even if it feels a little burdensome, without an extra course, COMP1531 is the most efficient place to teach it. We also work around this by making things like the project & labs much less hard than they would be in a course where we assume you know Python. So is it ideal? Maybe not. Is it manageable? Absolutely. And we'll be going forward for the short term future focusing not on "cutting things out", but rather by asking the question "How can we help you more?". Some of the points below address this - because the tutors & I have a huge interest in making things easier for you, without removing what is really quite a lot of core content we wouldn't want to skip over!

    Some of the things below are direct quotes, others are paraphrased.

    1. Improvements for the future

    • "Better individual assessment, less dependence on group" - Yes, agreed. We were actually talking about this last week. The tentative solution (which one student coincidentally suggested) is to do individual/scale marks in each iteration. This manages expectations earlier, it can provide comfort sooner, and it might actually motivate poorer group members to kick into gear earlier on. Any further ideas just share
    • "More content on slides" - Yes, agreed. All of my focus for 21T1 was improving labs + project. I thought the slides were "okay enough" and kicked that down the road. Lecture enhancements are my main goal for 21T3. I like the structure, I like the content, I just think it could be denser in some slides for the handful of students who would like it.
    • "Less emphasis on labs, particularly later in the course. More time in lab for help." - Yes, agreed. We've already tentatively committed to cutting the worth of labs down a lot - e.g. by half. This will allow us to either have you do half the lab work every week, or to reduce the expectations in latter weeks. This was the most common feedback and we've wanted to fix this since about week 4 (but you can't make major changes to a course mid-way). So we're on the same page
    • "Emphasise to more capable students that they can't just bulldoze others" - Yes, I think we can make sure this is etter communicated.
    • "Make python 3.8" - Sure :)
    • "Have labs due a week after each tutorial." - I can probably extend them to an hour~ before the first tutorial, but to push it back later puts pressure on students wanting early feedback and would also mean first feedback wouldn't come until week 3 :(
    • "Project check-ins could be more driven by tutor" - Probably! There is definitely some structure that we can add here.
    • "Questionnaire for students at the start to form groups" - Yeah, I love this idea. Usually I just ask "What grade do you want to get" (a slightly helpful question, though not super useful , 80% of students say HD, but it helps distinguish a bit). If anyone has any good question suggestions let me know.
    • "More links to learning python" - Yes! Definitely. Some students ask that we teach them more python... but this isn't COMP1511 anymore, for the rest of your degree, and your life, courses will mostly expect you to self-learn languages with the course teaching some basics (and sometimes they won't even do that). But that's just saying we aren't expecting ourselves to spend lecture time on it. We do want to provide more resources so that when you want to keep learning you feel like you have somewhere to go!
    • "Make sure everything in the tute/lab is relevant" - I mean, I think it is, but we'll do a standard end-of-term sweep to review.
    • "Review the participation marking structure" - Similar thing, we always look at this and review it :)
    • "Dryruns for automarking" - Two people suggested this. Good news! This was one of the key things on the agenda for next term. We want to provide a very BASIC test to students that will help them make sure they dont get 0 for automarking.
    • "Raise the project mark, it's a lot of work" - I want to, but the average project mark is nearly an HD. AVERAGE. That's insanely high. We can't increase it too much more than it is until we stop marking so generously for the project. And I know to some of you you might scoff at that idea - but trust me - the project in the grand scheme of things is marked extremely generously. Even our automarking scripts were not that thorough and internally scaled marks. Once we get our project marking more fair in futuree, I definitely want to raise that mark.

    2. Improvement comments that I can provide information on

    • "If we complete challenge labs, can we get bonus marks" - Yes, that's exactly what happened! It's just that the bonus marks flowed into other labs and to tutorials (overall class mark).To have bonus marks flow into other assessment would kind of undermine some integrity in education, as it would imply you can meet certain learning outcomes more by doing unrelated work.
    • "There is way too much content to cover in a short span of time." - See comments in section 1!
    • "Automarking was punishing for a few minor typos" - If you had any severe penalty more than 2-3% of the iteration for a few minor typos, then PLEASE email me as that shouldn't have happened. We were extremely forgiving for minor typos.
    • "It's pretty easy to get destroyed by automarking just for not naming a key the right thing." - Same as above, if you were getting "destroyed" by the wrong name on a key, you need to email me ASAP because that sounds like a tutor made a mistake.
    • "CSE Servers suck" - Yes, they certainly can! I wish I had more control. I am sorry about the pain.
    • "Do not let a group of two attempt to complete an assessment intended for five people." - If you were a group of 2, something went very wrong, and you can email me.
    • "Personally, I'd rather tuts to be on blackboard collaborate so I can re–watch the tut" - Zoom can record fine, its not a tooling thing. We just don't record tutorials because we want to encourage participation and recording puts pressure on some people. I know it's a pain, and I'm sorry.
    • "I don't like that all the girls were put together" . So, this wasn't the plan at all. Sounds like a miss communication at the teaching staff level. Certainly not course policy at all - and I'm sorry if that gave you grief. I'll take responsibility for it though. If you want to chat more about it just email me anytime (always happy to learn & be led on this).
    • "It would have been good if we were given guidelines on what tute–lab 'participation' entailed," - It's in the course outline
    • "PLEASE TEACH CLASS DATA TYPE PROPERLY" - Yeah... I get you. Though the coures doesn't have much space, and I'd get yelled at by students if we added more. Classes are nice, SQL is nice, MyPy is nice, and all of these things require time to teach that will make the major project more elegant and interesting to work with. But they are also fundamentally NOT critical to achieving the learning outcomes of the course. And we just have to draw a line somewhere. That being said, we will clean up some of those lab questions that "expect" you to understand even the basics of python.
    • "The marking was very unclear for assignment milestones and we never really got feedback on how to improve our marks" - I am sorry to hear that. That isn't what should have happened.
    • "Late submission penalties would be alright" - Hear me out here. We cannot make assignments due later than they are. The only thing I can is make them due a few days EARLIER and then had a late penalty toward the current due date. So you would have no more time to complete it, but penalties would arrive sooner. So rather than make things due on Friday and taper late penalties to Monday (the latest submission we can accept), I actually just make it due on Monday without late penalty. So ironically I'm actually going a step FURTHER. Naturally though, I understand basic psychology and that reactions like this are expected, but I hope this clarifies things :)

    3. Things I want to learn more about

    I''m not really sure what you're referring to here, so please feel free to email me to explain :)

    • "Development was repetitive in iteration 2"
    • "Communication was a bit confusing and overall structure could be more cohesive."
    • "Some of the lectures seemed a bit rambly, which at times is nice like teamwork tuesdays, but other times felt a little bit messy"
    • "More centralisation of course communication and materials"

    Overall it was such a pleasure to have you all this term. I really can't describe the excitement and fun that I experience watching you all go from programmers to the beginning of software engineers - and seeing all the skills that people collect along the way.

    Go find me and add me on LinkedIn so we can stay in touch :) Genuinely, I always miss each cohort of this course - and all of you will be no exception!

    I'll see you all around.


  • Release of Marks

    Posted by Hayden Smith πŸŽ‰ Friday 30 April 2021, 02:49:14 PM.

    Hi everyone!

    Today we have released a number of marks, including your overall class mark, your final participation mark, your iteration 3 marks, and your overall project mark.

    These are in your grades section :

    • class_mark (/20) : The sum of all of your lab marks + participation mark, capped at 20
    • project (/100) : This is all your iteration marks (including your bonus marks) capped at 100
    • iteration3_bonus (/10) : The amount of bonus marks you received for iteration 3 (as part of the bonus section)
    • iteration3_manual (/50) : The non-automarking and non-bonus component of your iteration 3 work
    • iteration3 (/100) : The sum of your iteration 3 manual + automarking. NOTE: This does NOT include your bonus marks. We only added bonus marks to the overall project mark (it makes the maths easier)

    If there has been a mistake with your lab marks , please email your lab assistant.

    If there has been a mistake with your iteration3, project, or participation marks , please email your tutor.

    Other things:

    • For solutions to the practice exam questions (the short answer only), they will be posted on a "solution" branch by 4pm today (Friday 30th April).
    • Some groups marks aren't finalised (about 5%). In these cases your tutor will have already emailed you confirming that your marks are not yet final.
    • If you're one of a few groups that are still waiting on me RE: an automarking rerun, then I will get back to you tonight/tomorrow. Don't worry about it being too late or anything like that.

  • 🐑 Mid-week 10 Update - Iter3 Automarks

    Posted by Hayden Smith πŸŽ‰ Wednesday 21 April 2021, 11:53:44 PM.

    Hi everyone!

    Some updates for you mid-week 10 :) Short story is that people overall did really well in iteration 3 automarking.


    33% of people have completed MyExperience for COMP1531 already! That's amazing - you've done better than any cohort I've ever taught. But there are still two thirds of people who haven't filled it out. Please fill it out sometime in this next week! :)

    Peer Review

    Please complete your final peer review on Moodle now. Once you log into Moodle and go to COMP1531, click on End-of term Peer Review (COMPULSORY). This must be completed by Monday 26th of April at 12pm. Failure to complete the peer review may result in penalties to your marks.

    It should only take ~5 minutes :)

    Iteration 3 Automarking - Released

    Iteration 3 automarking is complete, and we've released the marks! YOU CAN FIND MORE INFORMATION HERE .

    Please note that for fixes to improve your iteration 3 automark, we will generally be less lenient, and fixes are to be sent to instead of your tutor (more instructions in the link above).

    Overall the marks were genuinely quite impressive - a tonne of groups improved between iteration 2 and iteration 3 and I think many of you should be absolutely proud of yourselves. Great work.

    Iteration 3 Manual Marking

    Your tutors are obviously marking iteration 3 right now, and will need a week to consolidate marks. You will get an update at the end of week 11 (another notice) with info about the iteration 3 manual marks as well as your final and overall project mark.

    Exam Information

    Exam information can be found on this page , and more discussion on the exam can be found in lecture 10.3.

    Lab10 - Due Sunday

    Please note that Lab10 is due on SUNDAY 5PM THIS WEEK . This is earlier than the usual time. UNSW does not like things being due in week 11. In fact, technically I shouldn't be allowed to make it due after this Friday. However, I'm sure most of you would appreciate the extra two days. But just be cautious that it's due on Sunday @ 5pm .

  • 🐸 End of week 9 updates

    Posted by Hayden Smith πŸŽ‰ Friday 16 April 2021, 07:25:36 PM.

    Hi everyone!

    Please take the time to read this. If you read it to the bottom you'll find two extensions.

    What a week! Feels like we're hitting the business end of term and everyone is certainly under the pump. Not long to go until your major COMP1531 assessments are all finished and complete. Myself & some tutors will support you through the next days to get everything together.

    While things have overall run pretty smoothly the last couple of weeks, I'd also like to thank everyone for being patient amidst the odd little hiccup that some of you have encountered. Whenever we run into little issues we do our best to compensate for things wherever possible :) And honestly, having an engaged and mature group of students like yourself helps a tonne.

    CSE Account Issues

    If you've checked your Inbox, you will have seen an email from Andrew Taylor about some account issues. A very small number of CSE students experienced a large issue in the last 24 hours where their account files went missing on VLAB. In some of these cases, they can be restored, and in some rare cases, they haven't been.

    From Andrew:
    If you have lost all your files, you can try restoring them following these instructions.
    If this doesn't work, or you need help, please email

    If you experience any major file losses you can always email AFTER you've completed the steps above. Remember that I cannot fix any of your file issues!! (I wish I could).

    Because of this there are some minor extensions (keep reading) . Sadly, we can't extend anything any later than Tuesday 1pm in week 10 because that's when your classes are! :( But that's OK, the impacts were quite small and because many of you work in groups if you have some file losses in one afternoon your group can help make up the difference :)

    MyExperience is open

    MyExperience is now ready to be completed! I will send you a couple of reminders over the next week or two :) Some comments I'll make are: Please distinguish between myself & the course when providing feedback. Don't be negative about the course if your issue is with my teaching style, and don't be negative about my teaching style if your issue is with the course. I really do read the comments and feedback so don't feel it's wasted effort!

    You can complete it here!

    Week 9 Labs - Updates & Extension

    Due to the CSE account issues people were facing, I am extending the due date of all lab09 activities from Monday @ 10am to Tuesday @ 1pm (27 hour extension).

    This has been reflected on the lab page .

    A reminder that:

    • The history lab had issues - so we're basically skipping that lab.
    • If you had any issues with merge requests, these have been resolved now so check for any open merge requests :) Particularly for deploy and decorator

    Project - Iteration 2 Manual Marking

    Your iteration2_manual mark (/50) is now available on the grades page .

    If you want to discuss this with your tutor, chat about it with them in your last project check-in next week (though in general, most of you should have already gotten feedback from them!).

    If your mark is ~0, it's likely an input error from the tutor so just email them :)

    Project - Iteration 2 Auto Marking

    By 10am tomorrow we will have re-run the grouptest_courseserver and coursetest_groupserver tests for your iteration 2. When we release these I will update the text at the top of this page to specify when the latest update was .

    Largely speaking, the iteration 2 course server & course tests were fairly accurate. However, students have pointed out a couple of issues with our testing and our server (pertaining to owner permissions, stats calls, logout returns). We've fixed some tests/features and removed some others.

    If your NEW mark is LOWER (for god knows what reason) than your current mark, we will not reduce your mark. In most cases student's marks will stay in the same, and in some cases this may improve it. It will only improve if your marks were.

    Another key update: For students that made the mistake of NOT using `request.args.get()` for GET requests, we have established a course wide penalty of only 10% of the automarks (rather than 33%!)

    Project - Iteration 3 Updates & Extension

    Because of the CSE issues, we are extending the iteration 3 due date back 3 hours so that the new due date is Tuesday April 20th @ 1pm .

    Iteration 3 has had very few changes to the spec (woohoo!), however, there is one subtle and critical change we had to push yesterday - please check out your merge requests.

    "16/04: Removed duplicates of user and messages data type. To be clear, in iteration 2 user has had properties reacts and is_pinned added to it, and messages has had properties profile_img_url added to it."

    I am confident that many of you noticed this duplication in the data types table and didn't have any issue - though for those that didn't or are confused, you will want to make the small and necessary changes to add those extra elements.

    See you next week :)

  • πŸ¦™ End of week 8 updates

    Posted by Hayden Smith πŸŽ‰ Saturday 10 April 2021, 05:36:55 PM.

    Hi everyone!

    Congrats to people for making it through iteration 2 last week! Only 2 more weeks to go! And in less than 2 weeks you'll have basically finished 70% of your coursework. COMP1531 can feel a little bit heavy at times, but thankfully that makes the tail end of the course a little bit lighter.

    Iteration 2 Frontend

    There appears to have been some confusion about whether getting your backend working with the frontend was required for iteration 2. The simple truth is - we originally planned to have it required for iteration 2, but it wasn't communicated well enough to you in the specification and in lectures.

    For this reason, whether or not you got it working for iteration 2 will have no impact on your iteration 2 mark.

    For those who did invest the time getting it working, don't fret! That's just less time you'll have to spend on it now :)

    Iteration 2 Marking Update

    • Iteration 2 auto-marking will be released on Monday night of week 9. For more information, check back later here .
      • We won't post a separate announcement, just check back on Monday night (or Tuesday morning).
      • You will be able to discuss this with your tutor during your week 9 project check-in, as the same iteration 1 remarking the auto-ark policies will apply to iteration 1.
    • Iteration 2 manual marking will be released on Saturday morning on the 17th of April (1 week from today)
      • Yes, it's a week from now. However! Most of the time we need is to finalise. Within a couple of days virtually all of your tutors will at least have draft-marked your work, and therefore during your week 9 project check-in you can ask them for feedback on iteration 2. While you might not get a hard mark yet, the areas you've lost marks will be more than available to you through discussion with them.

    Bonus Lecture Rescheduled (and not compulsory)

    The original front-end bonus lecture was meant to happen on Tuesday afternoon in week 8 - but only 2 people turned up! So I have instead reschedule the lecture to be for the hour before the Monday lecture. The new bonus lecture time is:

    • Monday 11am-12pm, 12th April (Week 9)

    See you on Monday!!

  • πŸ₯š End of week 7 updates

    Posted by Hayden Smith πŸŽ‰ Sunday 04 April 2021, 12:11:33 AM.

    Hi everyone!

    Very straightforward updates this week! The main one is good luck with your iteration 2 due on Tuesday morning . It's due right before the lecture, so looking forward to seeing your tired faces :)

    I know that some of you might be feeling stressed around this time of term, but rest assured whichever way the dice roles for you in the coming weeks you'll figure things out. You'd be amazed how many times in your life the feeling of impending doom are just feelings that fade away after a few months.

    A big thanks to your tutors for always being so caring and supportive of you. I genuinely think we have great staff in this course.

    Monday Lecture Rescheduled (and not compulsory)

    Because of the public holiday, the Monday lecture will now be done at Tuesday 4pm-6pm (Week 8) . This lecture will be a bonus (non-compulsory) lecture on the very basics of front-end web development. This content will have NO bearing on the course, so you should feel absolutely free to skip it. We include it in the course because students request wanting to learn the content :)

    To confirm, that means on Tuesday there will be two live streams for week 8:

    • Tuesday 10am-12pm (as usual)
    • Tuesday 4pm-5:30pm (Bonus non-compulsory lecture)

    It is absolutely going to be recorded, so the majority of you will just end up watching the recording.

    Happy Easter. I know you have an iteration due on Tuesday, though I do hope if nothing else you've managed to spend a short moment with people you care about and take a breath. Always look after yourselves.

    See you on Tuesday!!

  • 🦐 End of week 6 updates

    Posted by Hayden Smith πŸŽ‰ Sunday 28 March 2021, 10:59:28 PM, last modified Sunday 28 March 2021, 10:59:59 PM.

    Hi everyone!

    Really short notice this week, since the last week was flex week! I hope you all had at least one day to recharge. And for those who've had a horrible week, the teaching staff & myself will do our best to help make these last 4 weeks of term as manageable as possible.

    Try and work hard on your project this week!! We've made iteration 2 due a week later than previous terms, which while mostly good, will have the downside this term of being due immediately after a long weekend. The more work you get done this week, the less you'll have to do on the weekend. Not to mention, it can be very hard to coordinate people over a long weekend.

    Class in week 7

    To take the load off in week 7, remember that this week:

    • There is no 1 hour tutorial this week.
    • There is still your 2 hour project check in.
      • For those with class on Good Friday, your tutor should have already reached out organising an alternative time for your project check-in (not compulsory)
    • There is no 2 hour lab marking this week.
      • I.E. There is no week 7 lab to complete (yay)
      • I.E. There is no lab to be marked off this week (yay), as week 5 lab is marked off in week 8

    This teaching structure is a strategy to give everyone an extended chance to catch their breath and manage their workloads.

    Help out another UNSW course

    COMP1010 is running an experiment to see if people can distinguish genuine between Elon Musk tweets and naively generated fake tweets. See if you can tell the difference.

    Also, subscribe to my youtube channel if you want to be notified ASAP when new lectures are uploaded.

    I'll see you tomorrow!

  • πŸ‰ End of week 5 updates

    Posted by Hayden Smith πŸŽ‰ Saturday 20 March 2021, 02:20:16 AM, last modified Sunday 21 March 2021, 02:44:26 AM.

    Hi everyone!

    I hope you have an amazing flex week. Whether you're doubling down on university, or kicking back and enjoying some down-time, I wish you well! I have a fun flex week suggestion for you: Sleep!

    Also, I believe CSE is undergoing some software maintenance from Fri 26th March (evening) to Sat 27th March (evening). So be aware you may not have access to a large number of CSE systems during that time - and plan around that. It will not be grounds for special consideration.

    Content Release

    • Week 7 Tutorials & Labs will be released on Monday
    • Week 5 tutorial solutions will be released this weekend
    • Week 4 lab solutions will be released this weekend

    Iteration 1 Marks

    Also, subscribe to my youtube channel if you want to be notified ASAP when new lectures are uploaded.

    I'll see you in week 7!

  • πŸ¦” End of week 4 updates

    Posted by Hayden Smith πŸŽ‰ Saturday 13 March 2021, 05:10:42 PM, last modified Saturday 13 March 2021, 05:23:57 PM.

    Hi everyone!

    Content Release

    • Week 3 labs solutions (in a "solution" branch on your lab repos)
    • Week 4 tutorial solutions

    Mid-term peer assessment (due Tuesday lunch-time W5)

    • We'd like to you complete a short peer-assessment on Noodle before Tuesday 16th March @ 2pm.
    • To complete it: Log into Moodle , navigate to COMP1531 21T1, and select " Mid-term Peer Review (COMPULSORY) "
    • It will take you 5 minutes to complete, with fairly short questions, and will help your tutor make sure your group is functioning most effectively at this point in term. We want you to complete it soon so that we can make the most use of project check-ins in week 5 prior to flex week.
    • Your responses in the peer assessment will not be shared with other students in the course, and are only accessible to your tutor.

    Mid-term participation mark

    • Your mid term participation mark is available on the grades page . This mark is labelled " participation_weeks_1_to_4 ".
    • This mark is out of 4, because we've done half the tutorials for the course. At the end of the course you will get your final mark out of 8.
    • If you believe there has been a clerical error (e.g. you attended all class with webcam on but received 0.5/4, so your tutor might have made a typo) then please email your tutor asking them to double check your mark.
    • Remember that even with only a 50% participation mark, you can still get full marks in the class mark by completing labs.

    Iteration 1 Marks

    • Your Iteration 1 marks will be released at the end of next week (about 6 days from now) . We may release them early if things go well. Your marks will be accessible on the grades page (like above). More detail will come at the end of next week :)
    • While your marks are still being finalised, you can ask for iteration 1 feedback from your tutor during your week 5 project check-in to learn more about how you performed in iteration 1. The next chance you will get will be in week 7.

    This week

    • In week 5 we will tie off some of the last topics surrounding iteration 2, as well as learn more about python & gitlab.
    • I'll see you on Monday in the lecture!

  • 🐯 End of week 3 updates

    Posted by Hayden Smith πŸŽ‰ Sunday 07 March 2021, 01:52:08 AM, last modified Monday 08 March 2021, 12:01:45 PM.

    Come ask me anything on Wednesday 6pm-8pm week 4

    Hi everyone!

    Content Release

    We have released:

    • Week 5 lectures
    • Week 5 lab exercises
    • Week 5 tutorial exercises
    • Week 2 labs solutions (in a "solution" branch on your lab repos)
    • Week 3 tutorial solutions

    General Updates

    • You're probably feeling overwhelmed at this point! COMP1531 starts to feel less overwhelming from about week 5~ onward, so stick in there, you've all been so impressive :)
    • Whether it's labs or the project, please don't forget to check intermittently for any merge requests we have pushed to your repository.
    • If you have any feedback on the course so far remember you're always welcome to email me and share your thoughts! I'm always happy to have conversations with students about their experiences.
    • I've had some students asking me how to setup Sublime Text in VLAB. I made a video here .

    Labs & Marking

    Many classes struggled with the time constraints during the marking of lab02 questions. We've made two adjustments going forward from lab05 (as others have been released) that will help:

    • Lab assists will only mark off the questions that are needed to get you 2/2. E.G. If you did 6 questions, but only need 4 to get 2/2, they'll only mark 4 (it helps save time).
    • We will remove some lab questions each week (and reduce point threshold) to reduce the number of different questions tutors spend time marking. We will still give you these lab questions though, they will just be "optional" (self-study), will not be marked, and are worth no points.

    Yes, marking might feel a bit time constrained in COMP1531 compared to other courses. We could always remove project check-ins and have the tutor marking too - though we genuinely feel (and have seen from experience) that using time to mentor students about their projects leads to better overall learning outcomes then putting more time into marking a series of small lab activities.

    Also, your tutors keep telling me how great you all are!


    • Good luck in your last 24 hours before it's due! Please remember we have a hard deadline on Monday morning, we will not take late submissions, so ensure that you are organised and not trying to make pushes last minute. I've seen some incredible work people have done so far, and I'm already very proud of so many groups.
    • During week 4 you will demonstrate your work in your project check-in time. Think of it like a Q&A where the tutor will ask you questions about iteration 1 in preparation for awarding you a mark. If you have any questions, ask your tutor during your tutorial this week.
    • Remember that iteration 1 is about learning - some of you will mistakes, but that's totally OK - in fact it's why you're here! :)
    • Iteration 2 will be pushed to your repository late on Monday night.


    • While it's not good to leave things until the last day, I'll be floating around the forum tomorrow for any major issues :)
    • Thanks to Tam & Nick for volunteering so much of their time to help you out on the forum this last fortnight - we're all lucky to have them
    • After iteration 1 is due I will unpin many of the pinned posts, and start pinning key ones again for iteration 2.s

    This week

    • In week 4 we will get started with iteration 2 - which means a bit focus of this week will be on web servers!
    • I'll see you on Monday in the lecture!

  • πŸ¦‰ End of week 2 updates

    Posted by Hayden Smith πŸŽ‰ Sunday 28 February 2021, 06:47:55 PM.

    Hi everyone!

    Content Release

    We have released:

    • Week 4 lectures
    • Week 4 lab exercises
    • Week 4 tutorial exercises
    • Week 1 labs solutions (in a "solution" branch on your lab repos)
    • Week 2 tutorial solutions

    Help Sessions

    Help sessions started in week 2 and will continue in week 3.

    There was some miss-communication between myself and tutors that meant that Hopper (queue manager) wasn't used in some help sessions in week 2, which meant some students weren't sure when they were going to get help. This has been fixed up for week 3, so help sessions should run more smoothly for some of you.

    Some students have messaged me saying that they want more tutors per help session. We can do that, though it means that there would be fewer help sessions overall, and my experience is students would prefer better distributed help sessions.

    Labs & Marking

    There were some students confused about the lab marking this week, so I thought I would just re-iterate how the system works.

    Every week, you have a handful of lab exercises (separate repositories) that you can complete. Each exercise is worth some X number of points .

    For any given week, there is a specified number of points (in the lab that you need to reach (from completing specific exercises) to get the full 2/2 marks for a given week of labs. What this means is that you don't have to complete every exercise to get the full 2/2 in a given week.

    This system is setup to give YOU a choice about what activities or exercises you think are best to spend your time on.


    Congrats to everyone for making a big effort on iteration 1 this week. With a bit over 1 week until the first iteration is due, try and make the most of this week. I know that some of you are going to be feeling slightly confused or overwhelmed by some aspects. That's OK! It's designed to have a bit of a steep learning curve - so use your project check-ins and other team members to work through problems this week. Your tutors are here to help!

    I will pass on a few critical hints, though:

    1. Remember that your tests are black-box tests. We will refresh your knowledge on that a bit in this week's lecture, though generally this means that your tests should not accessing your underlying data object, but instead be calling interface functions to test things. Unsure if you're doing this right? Chat to your tutor in the project check in.
    2. It's a really important idea to call the clear_v1() function at the top of every single test function, and therefore in each test you should be doing any setup (e.g. registering users, creating channels) that you need to do at the top (hint: use fixtures!)

    Don't stress if you don't get everything perfect - the point of these assignments is to make mistakes and learn from them :)

    This week

    • In week 3 we will continue to learn about python, testing, and other critical elements you will need for the rest of the course. Thankfully, a lot of what we learn in week 3 is not required to be applied to your iteration 1 - so no need to worry about that!
    • I'll see you tomorrow for the lecture!

  • πŸ¦’ End of week 1 updates

    Posted by Hayden Smith πŸŽ‰ Saturday 20 February 2021, 02:19:41 AM, last modified Saturday 20 February 2021, 02:20:24 AM.

    Hi everyone!

    I hope you've had a great week meeting your tutors and classmates. I've been talking to so many of your tutors and they've all been thrilled to have the chance to get to chat to you this week. It was also great to meet 200~ of you in the lectures on Monday/Tuesday. Here are some updates!

    Getting Started

    This week, some students felt a little bit overwhelmed by the tools or environments they had to familiarise themselves with. For this struggling with this even at the end of the first week, we've added a guide that should help put information people need about getting started in one place . It is also linked in the sidebar.

    Project Groups

    This week your tutors confirmed your project groups with you in your tutorials. After some further adjustments and late enrollments from me this evening, the groups seem relatively stable at the moment.

    As of Saturday morning, our systems should have added everyone to their correct gitlab group repositories. You can find your group repository (if you haven't already) on the homepage of Your MS teams chats should be mostly fine, though your tutor will help stabilise that between now and the end of your class in week 2.

    If you are uncertain what group you are in as of Saturday morning (today), you are able to check on THIS spreadsheet . If anything seems wildly wrong to you please email me on

    Please note: There may continue to be slight changes over the coming weeks as students continue to drop the course before census date, but this usually has any material impact on less than 5% of groups. Your tutors will always support you.

    Tutorials & Labs

    • Lab01 is due on Monday 22nd February at 10am . There are no late submissions or late penalties, just a hard deadline. We opted for a later submission time than other courses, and therefore we can't really allow for late submissions.
    • Lab 2 has been released.
    • Tutorial 1 Solutions have been released.
    • Lab 3 will be released on Monday.
    • Tutorial 3 will be released on Monday.
    • LAB SCHEDULE: During your two hour lab next week, you will stay with your project group in the same breakout room, and the tutor / lab assist will come and spend time with your group during that two hour session.

    Next Week

    • Make sure you attend your tutorial and lab next week! Week 2 is a critical week to making sure you stay on top of iteration 1.
    • Help Sessions start running next week.
    • I'll see you on Monday for the lecture!

    Have a great weekend everyone, I hope you have at least one fun adventure. Sometimes on Sundays I like to find any random green-looking space on a map of Sydney (that I haven't been to) and just go work there for a couple of hours. Never stop exploring!

  • Welcome to COMP1531 21T1

    Posted by Hayden Smith πŸŽ‰ Saturday 13 February 2021, 11:32:40 AM.

    Hi everyone!

    Welcome to COMP1531 21T1 :) The fundamental aim of COMP1531 is help you on your transition from being a solo programmer into being a collaborative software engineer . We have a teaching staff team of about 36 (including myself) and we're all super excited to get to know you. The term will be over in a flash but we're here to help you through it.

    Key Points

    If you don't lack the time or attention span right now, let me give you the most important things:

    1. First lecture is Monday 15th Feb, 12pm-2pm, streamed on Youtube - link will be ON THIS PAGE .
    2. Join our Forum (on EdStem) if you haven't already joined it. Introduce yourself, and ask any questions you have.
    3. Pay attention to your tutorial time and location . In-person ones have real classrooms, online ones use zoom calls. Some zoom call links are still being processed - don't be alarmed.

    About the course

    I would encourage you all to take a moment to read the COURSE OUTLINE , because it highlights virtually everything. I will also go through this a little bit on Monday.

    In terms of assessment, the course has 3 major components:

    • 50% major project (9 week assignment in groups of 4-5)
    • 20% class mark (made up about two thirds of your lab marks, one third of your tutorial attendance/participation)
    • 30% exam (mostly practical, some theoretical)

    Major Project Groups

    A reminder that preferences for major project groups will close at 5pm today. You can fill out THIS FORM to preference to be in groups with other people. If you'd like to get to know other students in the course (either generally, or to find like-minded people in your tutorial), you can join the CSESoc Discord Server via this link .

    Later tonight I'll be finalising the groups, and then early next week you'll have a Microsoft Teams group created for your team (we will talk more about this in week 1). So if you haven't already, would suggest downloading or logging in to Microsoft Teams so that when your group is created you can say to your group members and

    For other questions about your group, we will talk about this in lectures and tutorials this week.

    Please remember - it's extremely normal to be slotted into groups with people you don't know, and things have a very high chance of going fine. And for those that inevitably have some difficulties with groupwork, we've spent a lot of time structuring and designing 1531 to be both supportive and fair.

    See you soon!

    To those studying remotely or trapped overseas, our aim is to make sure you feel no less connected and involved with things.

    I'll see you all on Monday :)

  • Group Preferences for Major Project

    Posted by Hayden Smith πŸŽ‰ Monday 08 February 2021, 08:10:32 PM.

    Hi everyone!

    I will spare you my more formal welcome and information for later in the week - for now I am hoping to leave you mostly alone to enjoy your last week of holidays :)

    We do need to talk about one thing early, though...

    As specified in the course outline , COMP1531 has a major project component that is a 4-5 person 9 week group project that constitutes 50% of the course.

    It's a requirement that your group will consist of only people enrolled in your tute-lab (yes, as in you are all enrolled in the same class on MyUNSW).

    Because we understand many people do this course with friends or colleagues they know, we want to give you an opportunity to preference who you want to be in a group with.

    To do that, please fill out this form for each person you want to preference . You must make the preference by Saturday 13th February @ 5pm . We sadly aren't in a position to accept late preferences. Preferences are not guarantees that you will be in a group with those people.

    Click here to fill out the form.

    If you don't have anyone to preference, don't even worry! That's very normal. You'll hear murmurs in the CSE community that you're going to end up with a "horror group" for COMP1531. I can assure you that while groups that struggle do exist, they only make up between 5-15% of groups from what we've seen. If you can function effectively with a group of strangers, that's actually relatively normal . We have structured the course very intentionally to have processes in place to ensure that if you work hard and follow the rules that your input should reflect your mark even if you end up with a struggling group.

    I'll email you all later in the week :) You can also pop on the forum and say hi too, if you want. Until then, enjoy your week!

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