In this course, you’ll receive information through two channels: your student email account (i.e. uXXXXXXX@anu.edu.au), and the COMP1720 forum. You are expected to check them regularly—“I didn’t see the email/forum post” is never a valid excuse.

This course uses the COMP1720 forum for forum-style discussions. You can post any question you like, and you can answer questions there and just shoot the breeze as well. Participating with other students is super-important in this course, so you shouldn’t just treat the forum as a place to get answers from Ben or the tutors. It’s a place to share your work, discuss artists & ideas that you’re inspired by, and generally make the most of your time in this course.

Be courteous and help one another out—there will be consequences for anyone who engages in trolling or disrespectful behaviour (see the code of conduct below).

If you need to get in touch with me (Ben) directly, you can send me an email. As you can imagine, I get a lot of email and I can’t make promises about how fast I’ll respond (although I’ll try and get back to you within two working days). I also don’t check emails/the COMP1720 forum after hours or on weekends, so if you really do need to get in touch make sure you don’t leave it till the last minute.

There are also student reps for the course (you’ll elect them in week 1), so you can talk to them and they’ll pass your (anonymous) feedback on to me.

Lab attendance

I strongly recommend that you attend all the lab sessions. In the lab sessions you’ll get hands-on help in applying the concepts we’re covering in the lectures. They’re also a chance to get to know your tutor and get feedback on in-progress assignment submissions, etc. (your tutor will be the one who marks your assignments).

Every lab has various “exercises” which you should do on your machine and push up to GitLab. These lab submissions don’t contribute to your final grade, however you are expected to push your work to GitLab so that the tutors can see your progress and give you feedback. If you don’t engage with the lab material by submitting the lab exercises, then you seriously weaken your case if you want last-minute help with assignments, etc.


In COMP1720 you will be assessed through the following deliverables:

  1. a visual diary visual diary assessed every week in your lab session (10 marks total)
  2. three assignments due in week 4, in the mid-semester break, and week 8 (10 marks each)
  3. a major project due at the end of week 12 (40 marks)
  4. a final exam (20 marks)

Visual diary (1 mark per week, 10 marks total) assessed during your lab session from weeks 2 to 11 inclusive

A visual diary is a way for artists to keep track of ideas and notes for use in future projects. Traditionally, a visual diary was a paper book with scraps of images taped in and notes scribbled around the gaps. These days, it’s common for artists to use a blogs or forums for this purpose, allowing them to borrow and share ideas. Artists as diverse as Leonardo da Vinci, Frida Kahlo, and Kurt Cobain all kept visual diaries.

As part of this course, every week you’ll be required to take a bit of time out of class to write about either your work or the work of other artists who inspire you and post this to the class forum.

Assignments (10 marks each) due in week 4, in the mid-semester break, and week 8

Each assignment will involve creating a p5 code sketch and writing an artist statement. The skills you’ll need for the assignments will be taught in the lectures and especially in the labs.

The “skeleton” files for the assignments will be released on the deliverables page and you will submit them through GitLab. You can find the late/extension policies further down this page.

Your assignment submission will be run through plagiarism-detection software, so if you use any code from somewhere else make sure you reference it in your statement of originality (see academic misconduct).

Major project (40 marks)

Your major project in this course is to produce a piece of interactive art for an online gallery exhibition. This is a chance to use all the skills you learn in the course to create something you’re proud of. This is a significant part of the course, so it’s worth half of the total mark.

Each year, we choose a “theme” for the COMP1720/6720 major project. This is to help you get started, although you can interpret the theme however you like. The theme will be announced in week 1.

Final exam (20 marks)

The final exam will be held the Semester 2 exam period.

Final marks and grades

To pass the course, you must score at least 50 overall.

Your final mark will be the total of your marks on the individual assessment items with the additional caveat that your mark may be scaled by the examiners’ conference to provide your overall course mark and grade.

If your final mark is less than 50 but greater than or equal to 45 then you will receive a PX grade and be eligible for supplementary assessment to try and pass the course.

If your final mark is less than 45 you will fail this course with a grade of N

If you enrol, but don’t participate in the course at all you will fail with a final grade of NCN, which means a failure due to non-completion.


Marks and feedback for all assignments will be released through GitLab. Marks for the major project and final exam will be released as part of your final grade when your grades for all courses come out at the end of the semester. Marks and feedback for these items are available upon request after the semester has finished.

Late penalties

Late submission of all assessment items (and non-attendance at exams) will result in a mark of zero for the assessment item. You need to hear this loud and clear, there’s no wiggle room on this—we won’t accept “it’s only a few minutes late” excuses. The reason is that that’s not fair to the other students who handed something in by the deadline (they probably would have loved to have another few minutes as well).

This means you must plan ahead—don’t leave your submission to the last minute. It’s much better to get something done early and then refine it from there (especially with the GitLab submission process). We won’t accept last-minute excuses for lost work, etc. so make sure you’re aware of all the submission deadlines and plan accordingly. Also, make note of the communication policy above—if you need help/assistance from a lecturer or tutor you can’t get it after hours/at the last minute.


Postponing assessment deadlines is possible with good reasons & appropriate documentation (e.g. a medical certificate). For example, if you feel sick on the day of an exam, do not sit the exam. See a doctor instead and provide a medical certificate. If you can see ahead of time that a specific assessment date or deadline will be a problem for you, then contact Ben at least two weeks in advance and we will work something out for you. In the interest of fairness we obviously will always require good reasons—but we want to listen to you and give you the opportunity to make your case.

Deferred assessments will not necessarily take the exact same form as the original assessment item, e.g. they may be oral examinations.


From the date that your marks for any assessment item are released electronically you have a period of two weeks in which to appeal your mark. After this period your mark will be locked in.

If you’re unhappy with your mark for any assessment item, then here’s the relevant ANU Policy (see section 61):

The University recognises the right of students to seek a review of, and to appeal against, a result for an assessment task within a course, or their final result in a course. Appeals against a result for an individual assessment task are considered as a component of the final grade, after the final grade is released. Appeals against assessment outcomes are conducted according to the Assessment Rules.

What this means is that you can lodge an appeal against your grade for an assessment item, which will be considered after the final course marks are released.

This is not simply an opportunity to ask for a better mark if you’re not happy—it’s a formal request (which requires supporting evidence) which will be considered at the end of semester. This may involve getting a new, independent opinion on your submitted assessment item (i.e. a re-mark). The outcome of any appeal may be that you get a higher mark, or it may be that you get the same mark, or it may be that you get a lower mark (if the independent re-mark assigns a lower grade than you received before).

As with any ANU course, you are able to apply for special assessment consideration.

One final thing—the marks for the major project and the final exam are generally released too late for this process to happen before final marks/grades are released. Don’t panic—you can still get in touch with the convenor (i.e. Ben) as usual, and changes to marks/grades can be made after the fact if necessary, although (as usual) only if there’s been significant errors in the marking process. Thanks for your patience.

Supplementary assessment

If you receive a PX grade you are eligible for supplementary assessment. The assessment item may be an assignment, a written exam, an in-lab test, or an oral exam. If you pass this supplementary assessment item you will receive a PS grade and a mark of 50. If you fail, you will receive a grade of N and a mark of 44.

Supplementary assessment will happen early in Semester 2—we’ll be in touch via email to let you know the details.

Academic integrity

At the ANU we take academic integrity seriously. There are several different aspects to academic integrity, and several different types of academic misconduct. In COMP1720/6720 all the ANU academic integrity rules apply.

  • All your submitted work is assumed to be entirely your own work. Besides forbidding any direct copies, this also means that no part of your submission is inspired by, based on or a re-formulation of work by somebody else. Re-formulating the work of somebody else is actually worse, because (in addition to plagiarism) it shows a clear intent to deceive.

  • If your work has been inspired by something else (e.g. a classmate, or something you found on the web) you must indicate this in the statement of originality which you’ll submit alongside every assignment (including the major project). This gives you a place to clearly indicate your sources. Obviously you will not receive the highest mark if all of your work comes from somewhere else, but by indicating all sources clearly you won’t be guilty of academic misconduct. Failure to indicate any of your inspirations, sources, or collaboration partners will be regarded as an intent to deceive.

You are expected to be able to explain and defend any submitted assessment item. The course convener can conduct or initiate an additional interview about any submitted assessment item for any student. If there is a significant discrepancy between the two forms of assessment (e.g. if you clearly don’t understand the code that you submitted) it will be automatically treated as a case of suspected academic misconduct.

These rules are not at odds with being resourceful and working collaboratively—you should discuss your work in this course with others taking the class. However, you must never misrepresent the work of others as your own.

If you break any of these rules, it’s very likely you’ll get caught—we’re pretty good at finding this stuff out. The consequences of plagiarism are much worse than a bad mark on an assignment and we (the lecturers and tutors) don’t enjoy being a part of it any more than you do. Please help to make this a course which focuses entirely on the learning process and not on policing academic misconduct issues.

For more information, I’ve included a section on academic integrity in the FAQ.

Software: the “own machine” policy

If you’re going to work on your own laptop e.g. for submitting assignments, make sure you read this section carefully.

Like most other courses at ANU, this course is designed on the assumption that you will use the ANU lab environment (i.e. the software which runs in the CSIT and Peter Karmel labs computer labs). This lab environment is supported by ANU technical staff and we do our best to ensure that everything works nicely and reliably. If things aren’t working in the lab, inform your tutor and/or the technical staff (located on the ground floor of the CSIT building in N117).

For your convenience, we also try hard to make sure the software required for this course can be used on your own machine (e.g. your laptop or home desktop). All the software is free (as in speech and free as in beer) and runs on Windows, macOS and Linux.

However, we can’t guarantee that things will always work on your own machine. The huge ecosystem of javascript libraries (and differences between web browsers) makes things tricky when it comes to marking the assessment items for this course. If you choose to work on your own machine (which we have no control over), there’s always a risk that things which run fine on your own laptop will not work in the ANU software environment (which is where all your work will be assessed). So, if you choose to run the course software on your machine, then making sure it works is your responsibility.

We could deal with this by forbidding all external libraries (i.e. only allowing you to use p5, but nothing else), but this imposes limits on your creativity, and we don’t want to do that. Instead, you can use whatever libraries/browser features you like, as long as your sketch works in Chrome/Chromium on the lab machines when accessed as part of the test URL for that assessment item.

All assessment submissions will be marked by visiting the test URL in Chrome on the lab machines. We’ll give you plenty of training on how to build and test that your software works reliably, but it’s ultimately your responsibility to make sure it works in that environment. “But it works on my machine” is never an acceptable excuse—if it’s broken on the lab machines, we’ll mark it as broken (and you’ll get something close to zero). We also can’t spend time debugging your submission—if it’s broken, or if it doesn’t do what it says, then you’ll be marked accordingly (no after-the fact “if you just change this one line it works fine” excuses will be accepted). If there are any disputes, the course convenor’s decision is final.

If you wish to install and use the tools on your own machine, here’s the process:

  1. re-read the own machine policy and make sure you’re willing to accept the risks

  2. follow the instructions to identify & install the appropriate tools

  3. complete all the lab 1 exercises (if you can’t do this, then you’re definitely going to have trouble later in the course)

  4. if you get stuck, seek help early:

    • use the COMP1720 forum to seek help from others in the class
    • seek help from your tutor during your scheduled lab time (although the tutors can’t spend the whole lab helping you debug your software issues—they’ve got other students to look after as well)
    • seek help from the Computer Science Student’s Association (CSSA), who are really keen to help students with things like setting up computers

Code of conduct

tl;dr: be excellent to each other

...and party on, dudes!

During this course you’ll make interactive art. While it’s true that making art sometimes requires pushing boundaries, this is a university course, and the usual rules about not publishing offensive material & respecting your fellow students apply. If you have an idea and you’re not sure if it’s acceptable, talk to your tutor or the course convenor. If you publish offensive material or are disrespectful or abusive towards your fellow students, the usual ANU penalties apply.

This goes for all the interactions you have in the class—forums, in your labs, chatting outside the lecture theatre, etc. Treat one another with respect, be positive and encouraging (we’re all at different stages in our learning journey) and let’s work hard to make sure COMP1720 is super awesome this year.

Updated:  04 Nov 2018/ Responsible Officer:  Head of School/ Page Contact:  Ben Swift /Licence:  CC BY-NC-SA 4.0