A number of computer labs are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in the Jack Cole and John Honey buildings:

The labs are not designated for any particular class or year-group.

The lab PCs provide all of the software that is required for practical work on CS modules.

As far as possible, scheduled, booked activities are confined to the John Honey Teaching Lab; normally the Jack Cole Lab and Quiet Lab are free for student use. In some cases, though, it may be necessary to hold scheduled teaching events in these labs.

When scheduled teaching is taking place in a lab, students not involved in the class are expected to show courtesy and consideration by working silently and avoiding causing any distractions.

Please also note that our buildings and labs are solely for the use of students enrolled on a CS program or enrolled on a module run by the school. Access to the buildings is controlled by ID card and doors should not be opened for non-CS students to enter the buildings. Pressure on lab space is high and these restrictions are necessary in order to prioritise CS students in access to lab desks and social/study spaces.

The School’s computer systems and services are documented on the Systems Wiki.

The School’s teaching servers are remotely accessible via SSH, from the University networks. All CS users have a network home directory which is is backed-up. Network home directrories are accesible vie the lab PCs and teaching servers.

Demonstrator Support

Demonstrator support for sub-Honours modules is provided on certain weekday afternoons: see details.

Priorities and Behaviour

The principal uses of the computer labs are practical work and lectures. Labs may also be used for other purposes, with priority given as follows, in descending order:

  • students attending scheduled lectures or exercise classes
  • students working on School of Computer Science modules
  • staff or other students doing other academic work
  • non-academic activities

At all times, a relaxed and informal atmosphere is encouraged, so long as it remains conducive to work. Music should not be played in the labs (headphones are fine), and loud conversations should be taken elsewhere to avoid disturbing those working. The Quiet Lab should be used in the same way as the library study areas, i.e. making no significant noise.

Students are encouraged to make use of lab facilities and other School services for personal computing-related projects, but priority is always given to those engaged in academic work.

Snacks and drinks are allowed in the labs on the condition that desks are left completley clear of food, packaing and empty containers. Hot food should be consumed in the social area in the Jack Cole building and not at lab desks.

Lab desks must be left clear at the end of each day. Personal items should not be left unattended on lab desks overnight.

Conditions of Use

Students are bound by the Policies and Conditions of Use of University ICT facilities. It is the responsibility of students to familiarise themselves with these conditions of use.

The software available on lab computer systems is copyrighted, and is available to students for their own use only, on the machines allocated for their work. Except where explicitly permitted, students are forbidden to:

  • make copies of any software or documentation provided for use in laboratories
  • download copyrighted materials such as, but not limited to, images, music, films and books

Room Availability

If you are searching for room availability (e.g. for running a meeting or experiment) you can access the Web Timetables (including rooms such 0.30, 1.33a etc.)

Do I need my own personal computer

The School provides all the compute facilities required for completing our degree programmes. Our computing laboratories are accessible 24/7 and provide workstations with dual displays while our compute servers are accessible remotely. However, many students find it convenient to work on their own computer at least some of the time.

We advise that anyone buying a personal computer (laptop or desktop) to support their studies, aim for a device that allows programming locally in several languages, such as Java, JavaScript, Python and C. We recommend a system with at least a quad-core CPU, 8GB of memory and a 128 GB SSD running Windows 11 (Home or Pro), macOS or Linux.

The School’s primary teaching platform is Linux but it is not necessary for students to run this as a daily-use operating system on their personal computer. Most of our students have personal computers running either Windows 11 or macOS.

Note that this minimum recommended specification is tailored to support programming locally and for accessing the School’s services remotely. The suggested minimum specification does not cover all the requirements of our degree programme. In many cases it will be necessary to use the School’s systems to run computations, test code, and to develop and host services.

There is benefit in a personal computer that is above our minimum recommended specification. For instance, a system with 16GB of memory and a 512GB SSD may have a longer useful lifetime and will be more suited to running a virtual machine and running more applications in parallel. This can be helpful for project work or developing more complex applications locally.

Many computer brands, such as Lenovo, Dell, Microsoft and Apple offer educational discounts, but we do not endorse any particular brand. The PC and laptop market offers a huge range of choice, and the best value will depend on your individual requirements and budget. Often refurbished enterprise equipment can represent good value. In many countries there are multiple equipment recycling companies selling refurbished enterprise equipment through their own web store and platforms such as eBay and Amazon.

Note that iPads, Chromebooks, and Android devices impose restrictions on the software that can be run and are typically not suitable for programming locally.

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Last Published: 14 Jun 2024.