CSE 3461 – User Interfaces

Fall 2013


Lectures Tues & Thurs, 14:30-16:00, CB115     
Instructor Scott MacKenzie
Office LAS 3045
Office hours      Tues & Thus 13:00-14:00

Announcements, Downloads, etc.

Last update: 13/11/2013

Changes in red.

Calendar Information

This course introduces user interfaces and the tools and mechanisms to create and prototype them. Students work in small groups and learn how to design user interfaces, how to realize them and how to evaluate the end result.


Required Text

None - but see "Weekly Readings" below.


Assignments are due by midnight on the specified date and are to be submitted electronically with the 'submit' command in Ariel (unless otherwise specified). The midterm will be held during class time.

Work Due    Weight   
Assignment 1 Friday, October 18 20%
Midterm exam (in class)      Tuesday, October 2 20%
Assignment 2 Friday, Dec. 6 30%
Final exam Saturday, Dec. 14, 14:00, TC Rexall      30%

Weekly Readings

Readings are assigned weekly. Four copies of each of the readings are available for 2-hour loan from the Stacie library. These books are not very expensive and are available from most bookstores (and online from chapters.ca) should you wish to purchase them instead. The readings will be discussed in class, and material from the readings will appear on exams. The readings are taken from the following:

Readings Schedule

Reading       Read by...      
The Design of Everyday Things, Chapter 1 Week 2
The Design of Everyday Things, Chapter 2 Week 3
The Design of Everyday Things, Chapter 3 Week 4
The Inmates are Running the Asylum, Chapter 1       Week 5
The Inmates are Running the Asylum, Chapter 2 Week 6
No reading this week, due to midterms Week 7
No reading this week, due to midterms Week 8
The Inmates are Running the Asylum, Chapter 3 Week 9
The Inmates are Running the Asylum, Chapter 4 Week 10
The Inmates are Running the Asylum, Chapter 5 Week 11

Other Resources

Important Dates

Event Date
Fall term classes begin Monday, September 9
First class of CSE3461 Tuesday, September 10     
Fall Reading Week Oct 30 Nov 3
Last date to drop course without penalty      Friday, November 8
Study day (no classes) Tuesday, December 3
Last class of CSE3461 Thursday, December 5
Fall term classes end Friday, December 6
Fall term exams begin Tuesday, December 10
Fall term exams end Monday, December 23

Course Policies

Course enrolment – Course enrolment is handled by the Computer Science Undergraduate Office. Instructors can not "sign students in" to this course.

Switching sections &dsash; CSE3461 is sometimes offered in two sections. Students are required to attend the lectures, submit the assignments, and write the midterm and final for the section in which they are enrolled. (Note that assignments and exams may differ between sections.) For questions pertaining to changing your enrolment status, please visit the Computer Science Undergraduate Office.

Attendance at lectures – Students are expected to attend the lectures. Although much of the course information will be posted on the web, additional information will be given during the lectures that is not posted on the web. Students who skip lectures do so at their own peril!

Group assignments – The assignments for this course are to be done in groups. Groups shall contain three students, and all students in a group must be enrolled in the same section. The grade for an assignment is recorded for each group member. It is up to the members of each group to ensure the equitable distribution of assignment work. Assignment submissions from groups with fewer or more students will not be marked. Students may reconfigure their groups throughout the term, but not in the 15 days before the assignment due date.

Software development platform – For the purpose of marking, programming assignments are required to compile and execute on Prism. Software developed on other platforms should be verified on Prism before submission.

Submission of assignments – Assignments are due by midnight on the specified date and are to be submitted electronically with the "submit" command in Ariel (unless otherwise specified). Late submissions will not be accepted (see 'Late assignments' below).

Grading – Assignment marking will use letter grades (see the explanation of the letter grades below).

Late assignments – Late assignments will not be accepted and will receive a zero grade unless arrangements have been made with the instructor prior to the due date. Exceptions to the late policy will be made only under very special circumstances (e.g. serious illness) and only with proper documentation (i.e., a letter from your doctor). Missed midterms will be handled in the same manner.

Requests for remarking – Once returned, marked assignments and exams should be reviewed by students, and any request for remarking should be submitted to the instructor within one week. Requests must be accompanied by a written description of the marking error. Only problems of mark addition, and serious marking errors will be considered - remarking requests of a frivolous nature may result in your mark being lowered.

Guide to the meaning of letter grades – The following is a guideline to the grading scale used. It is a copy of the York University official grading scheme. The first number within the parenthesis is the numeric equivalent of a grade. It is typically used in order to derive weighted averages of multiple letter grades. The range that follows the number is used to map a numeric grade (out of 9) to a letter grade.

A grade of C means doing what was asked for, a B means doing a good job on what was asked for, and an A means doing an excellent job and showing originality. Originality in the undergraduate environment means doing things that were not explicitly asked for but are useful additions or extensions of the work - doing things above and beyond the call of duty.