Code of Practice on Computer Use

All students doing a Computer Science course make considerable use of departmental and university computing facilities. We aim to provide students with good facilities, in terms of appropriate equipment, responsive systems, sufficient computers and physical access to them. In addition, users of our systems should not be subject to harassment from other users.

The systems that we run are reasonably open, however, and are therefore vulnerable to abuse (although the vast majority of students use our systems in a reasonable fashion). For this reason we need to have a departmental code of practice for computer use.

This code of practice supplements the UC computer regulations given in:

Please be aware that ICTS Policies contains links to all four documents and governs the use of all UC computing accounts. Each account is for the sole use of the person it is assigned to.

The UC Computer Use Policy document refers to relevant documents, including related policies such as privacy.

Policy on Use of Equipment

  1. Departmental equipment is for use only by Computer Science students doing Computer Science class work for which use of that equipment has been authorised.
  2. Scheduled laboratory classes have absolute priority.
    Other users should promptly vacate facilities if requested to do so by a tutor. The fact that the class is not actually using the equipment at that moment will not constitute a defence.
  3. Actions intended to prejudice the security of the systems, or to discommode or discomfit other users, or, whatever the intention, actions that might reasonably be expected to be capable of producing such results, will be viewed extremely seriously.
    Note that the University Harassment Policy applies to interactions between people that occur via computer systems.
  4. Actions which may involve the Department in unauthorised expenditure are prohibited.
  5. For reasons of electrical safety, all electrical appliances (including privately owned ones) must be tested and certified before use within the University. If you cannot find a certificate (usually a small sticker saying "Complies with AS3760...") on the equipment, or the "retest by" date has expired, then do not use the equipment and report the problem to the duty programmer (ext. 8251).

Rules on Use of CSSE Labs

The CSSE computer labs are teaching spaces. To ensure that the labs work well as teaching spaces, some rules exist about conduct in the labs.

A range of penalties, including suspension of user privileges, may be imposed for breaches of these rules.

  • Students must obey the normal university rules including those relating to UC computing facilities.
  • If you are in the lab after hours you must have a valid Canterbury Card that gives admission to the lab you are in.
  • You must not allow any other person to use your Canterbury Card to gain access to the Erskine building or to any CSSE lab. Neither should you allow or assist any other person who does not have a valid Canterbury Card to gain entry to the building or labs.
  • Only students enrolled in CSSE courses are permitted to be in the labs.
  • Departmental equipment is to be used solely for doing Computer Science course work for which use of that equipment has been authorised. In particular, departmental equipment is not to be used by students for business purposes.
  • No modifications to hardware or software will be made to the installed computers without prior consent of the CSSE Facilities committee.
  • Our labs are not intended as a place for eating and drinking, but rather than having a complete ban on food and drink, our policy is the same as that of the library (which includes allowing drinks in spill-proof containers and clean, non-smelly food).

    The main point is to avoid the risk of damage to computers by spills, and more significantly, having the area become unpleasant due to the remains of food and drink (including spills, crumbs and smelly rubbish) being left in the lab. We are happy to operate a liberal policy as long as such unpleasantness doesn't happen.

    Note that:

    • alcoholic drinks are not allowed, even in sipper bottles;
    • most takeaways and instant hot meals count as smelly food, and should not be taken into the lab;
    • the atrium area outside the lab is a great place to take a break if you are eating a meal.
  • During scheduled labs, only those students allocated to that lab session AND working on CSSE course work are entitled to be in the room and use the equipment. The tutor of the scheduled lab has the authority to allow other course-related use of the lab at their discretion. However, tutors have a responsibility to ensure that there are no disruptions or distractions to students working and can, and will, ask offenders to leave the room.
  • Outside scheduled lab sessions, the labs are available for CSSE students to engage in CSSE course work such as assignments and revision.
  • CSSE computer labs are teaching and learning spaces, and for them to be effective in that role students need a reasonably quiet environment to work in. Students wanting to socialise noisily should have a break and go out of the lab.
  • Locking the display of a workstation is permitted, and is a good idea, if you need to leave the machine unattended for a few minutes while you collect something from the printer or answer a call of nature. However, you must not attempt to reserve a machine by leaving it locked for longer periods, such as lecture or lunch breaks. This is regarded as extremely antisocial, particularly when other people are wanting to use the computers.

Problems can be reported to the tutor (during scheduled labs), to the lab supervisor, or to the Duty Programmer.

If you feel threatened or concerned by the actions of any person in the building or labs after hours then you should telephone Campus Security, extension 6111.

Charges and Allowances

Various computer charges exist. The main ones relate to printing and web browsing. All computer charges are billed to a student's ICTS account. If the ICTS account balance becomes negative, then access to some resources is lost; for example, a student whose ICTS account balance is negative cannot print to a CSSE printer.

Postgraduate students are provided with a thesis allowance currently, by the university. Undergraduate students are responsible for meeting the costs of all chargeable activity on their accounts.

Policy on Copyright and Licensed Software

Users must respect copyright and software licensing. In particular, this means that:

  1. Users must not install software onto any CSSE computer unless the appropriate licenses have been purchased and copyright is not being broken. A record is maintained of software licenses for each of the CSSE department's computers.
  2. Users must not copy software from any CSSE system if copying is prohibited by copyright or licence agreements (invariably it is illegal to copy commercial software installed on departmental systems).
  3. Users must not store any other files on CSSE systems that they don't own, such as movies, sound files, etc.

Policy for Assigning Accounts

An account is any access, via desktop computer, X-terminal, the internet, communications server or other means, to CSSE-administered computers, which requires a username and/or password to be given. Examples at the time of writing include access to our Windows/Linux labs, workrooms, offices and CSSE servers.

Usually, but not always, an account has associated rights of file browsing and creation and use of programs on the system so accessed. The CSSE Department will attempt to provide a reasonable amount of file storage for use with an account, but no guarantee is made in respect of the amount of storage made available or for the maintenance of this storage. Students are expected to pay costs associated with using their account when these costs exceed any quotas set by the Department. For undergraduates, printing and internet charges are the main costs to be aware of.

Accounts are assigned with the expectation that they will be used for Computer Science related research and/or course work assigned by the Department.

At all times accounts must be used in accordance with the law, Departmental policy and University regulations.

The Chair of the Facilities Committee, in consultation with the Head of Department, is the final arbiter for deciding who should have an account and for how long. The following categories of people would normally be given an account:

  • All staff members.
  • All enrolled postgraduates.
  • All enrolled undergraduates and honours students.
  • Other people who are "sponsored" by a staff member, such as visiting researchers or students of other universities.

Undergraduate accounts are left open over the summer, and accounts of students who do not return for further Computer Science study are removed in March.


In all cases the privacy of the person to whom an account is assigned shall be respected as far as is possible. The Chair of the Facilities Committee consults with the University Privacy Officer and other responsible University bodies on matters of privacy. General principles are set out below.

The system administrators are the persons assigned by the Chair of the Facilities Committee to control the CSSE Departmental computer systems. Occasionally, technical reasons and time pressure may dictate that system administrators, in particular, examine files or other information associated with any account arbitrarily. Such access shall always be used with utmost discretion and respect for the privacy of the person involved. The system administrators should, if possible, confer with the Chair of the Facilities Committee if they believe files containing personal information may need to be examined.

Accounts are assigned to enrolled students on the understanding that the Head of Department, Chair of the Facilities Committee, system administrators, supervising lecturers or other university staff authorised by the Head of Department or Chair of the Facilities Committee have unrestricted access to the files or any other information associated with those accounts.

The said access would normally only be used when there is a good reason for examining a student's files. A good reason includes, but is not limited to:

  • Technical assistance for the student (to recover accidentally deleted files, for example).
  • Excessive computer resource usage by the student.
  • A threat to the security of other user's account or files.

Breach of the Law or Regulations

The Head of Department or Chair of the Facilities Committee may examine any file on the computers administered by CSSE, if they are investigating a suspected breach of the law or University Regulations or Departmental Policy. System administrators may be required to assist with this.