CS 3240 - Spring 2020 Syllabus

Basic Info

Spring 2020 Semester


Section 001 - Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:00 AM-12:15 PM - Clark 107
Section 002 - Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:00 PM-3:15 PM - Rice 130

Lab Sections

Lab 101 - Mondays, 2:00-3:15 PM - OLS 009
Lab 102 - Mondays, 3:30-4:45 PM - OLS 009
Lab 103 - Mondays, 5:00-6:15 PM - THN A121

Staff Information

Instructor: Prof. Mark Sherriff
Office: Rice 400
Office Hours: Wednesdays and Thursdays, 9:00-10:30 AM
Email: sherriff@virginia.edu
GitHub: https://github.com/marksherriff

In general:

  • For general course questions (course logistics, course material, etc.): post on Piazza or go to any office hours
  • For initial grading issues: post privately on Piazza or go to any TA office hours
  • For technical questions or help (python, Django, etc.): go to any TA office hours or post on Piazza (NOTE: If you post technical questions on Piazza, make sure to make the post private and to include a link to the GitHub repo in question)
  • For personal matters: go to your professor's office hours or email the professor directly

For the context of the project, you should consider the professors "upper management" and the TAs "senior developers / managers." Thus, high-level, requirements-based, or course-management sort of questions should go to the professors, while all technical and initial grading questions should to go the TAs. (Honestly, you're probably going to get a faster, better answer to a Django question if you go to the TAs... sure, Prof. Sherriff can answer it... eventually... after a lot of Googling... but you could also ask a TA who did the project last semester or has been a TA for several semesters...)

Teaching Assistants:

  • Lab 101 @ 2:00 PM - TAs: Joshua Arabit, Catherine Bradberry, Neha Chopra, Samuel McBroom, Zachery Morris, Kush Patel, Samuel Ting, Jared Tufts
  • Lab 102 @ 3:30 PM - TAs: Misran Dolan, Forrest Feaser, Jazlene Guevarra, Andrew Lewis, Kajal Sheth, Bryan Tran, Jui Tao Tsai, Annie Williams
  • Lab 103 @ 5:00 PM - TAs: Simmy Bhatia, Youssef Errami, Sanjana Hajela, Samantha Kostelni, Jihoon Park, Connor Roos, Peter Tran, Grace Wu

Message boards

Piazza @ https://piazza.com/class/k450gbc27496rg

Login to Piazza and use the threads for quick questions, assignments, and for discussion with other students and staff. You can also post private messages here that will only be seen by staff members. Regrades, however, will never be accepted on Piazza except for specific things that are not in Gradescope, such as lab attendance.

Also, please note that Piazza is not Reddit. I love a good meme as much as the next guy, but let's keep the posts on Piazza to class questions and discussion.

Office Hours

All office hour times are posted on the course calendar at the bottom of the Schedule page on the course website. TA office hours are held in the room listed on the calendar entry. Professor office hours are held in their offices (Rice 400). Note that we will update this calendar for any and all office hour changes due to the changing needs of the course. Students should refer to this calendar before going to any office hours.

Course Description

Analyzes modern software engineering practice for multi-person projects; methods for requirements specification, design, implementation, verification, and maintenance of large software systems; advanced software development techniques and large project management approaches; project planning, scheduling, resource management, accounting, configuration control, and documentation. Prerequisite: CS 2150 with a grade of C- or higher.

Course Objectives:
Upon completion of this course students will:

  • Develop an understanding of how to specify, design, and implement a complex software entity that involves many aspects of modern software systems.
  • Master a number of modern tools and a number of difficult technical fields.
  • Acquire experience of working on a large software system as a member of a team working on system development and as a member of a team that has to interact with other teams and customer representatives.

Course Topics:
The topics to be covered in the course include:

  • Software quality, including testing and inspections
  • Project management, scheduling, planning, with an emphasis on the Scrum agile method
  • Requirements elicitation, analysis and specification
  • Architecture and design principles
  • Security in the development of software applications
  • Programming and team-based development practices
  • Professional ethics

Course Requirements

You should meet the following requirements to take this class:

  1. Prerequisite: CS 2150 with a grade of C- or higher. Students that do not meet this prerequisite may be dropped at any point from the class. It is the student's responsibility to check this prerequisite and/or speak with the instructor ASAP. We’ll assume you have mastered the material in the courses leading up to CS 2150 also, which includes software developments skills in Java and C++.
  2. Can attend class and lab regularly (attendance will be taken in lab each week and occasionally in lecture through Guided Practice activities)
  3. You will be expected to learn programming languages and platforms on your own in this class! If you don’t feel comfortable with this, please talk to the staff as soon as possible!

Assessment and Grading

Assessment in this course is different than most courses. As the purpose of this class is for you to gain experience as a software developer working in a team on a larger-scale project, your grade in this course will be based on experience points (XP). Every student begins the course with 0 XP. As you complete assessments, attend labs, and complete Guided Practice activities, you will earn XP. Some assessments will have a way to retake or resubmit to earn some of the XP that was not earned on the first attempt. Please see individual assessments for more information regarding how this mechanic works.

Experience Point (XP) System

The class will be divided into 20 levels. For each level, students must attain a certain amount of XP. As students level up, the amount of XP required to go to the next level also increases.

Our XP table is based (loosely) on the XP table for World of Warcraft .

LevelXP Needed to Level UpTotal XP Required for Level
10 (NC)750045000
11 (NC)1000055000
12 (NC)1000065000
13 (NC)1500080000
14 (NC)1500095000
15 (NC)15000110000
16 (D- / GC)15000125000
16 (D / GC)5000130000
16 (D+ / GC)5000135000
17 (C / CR)5000140000
17 (C+ / CR)15000155000
18 (B- / CR)10000165000
18 (B / CR)5000170000
18 (B+ / CR)5000175000
19 (A- / CR)7500182500
19 (A / CR)7500190000
20 (A+ / CR)10000200000

Earning Experience Points (XP)

Information about the XP available for each of the assessments can be found on each assessment's page on the website. A summary table of all XP for the course can be found below.

UPDATE: New XP table after going online is available here: CS 3240 - S20 - Assessment and Grading

Class Management


  • Sherriff: I have a neat sign on my door that will tell you my status and I do my best to update my status throughout the day. I often keep my door closed because my office is next to the kitchen, so it can get kinda loud. If it says I'm here and not busy with something, then feel free to knock.
  • If you email the staff, please put 3240 somewhere in the subject. Failure to do so makes it much harder to keep up with your email and reduces the chance of a timely reply.
  • Please don’t hesitate to contact the staff if you have any problems, concerns, questions, or issues regarding the course, material, or anything else in the class.

Project Groups

You are expected to work as a member of your group in this course and cooperate with your colleagues. Cooperation means attending group meetings, completing your assignments properly and on time, letting your group know if you will be out of town, responding to e-mail from your group, and so on. If there is a lack of cooperation by any group member, it must be brought to the attention of the instructor as soon as it happens. If the lack of cooperation is serious, the offending group member’s semester grade will be lowered.


  • Attendance in lecture is vital to learning the material and making a good grade in this class.
  • There will be specific, announced class days in which attendance will be taken through Guided Practice activities. These activities cannot be made up if you miss them, regardless of the reason.
  • Attendance will be taken in lab each week. Lab attendance cannot be made up, regardless of the reason. We allow a limited number of skips for lab to accommodate anything that could keep you away (e.g. interview, illness, trip, etc.). This works 99% of the time without any problem. For that 1%, we can discuss at the end of the semester.

This Syllabus

This syllabus is to be considered a reference document that can and will be adjusted through the course of the semester to address changing needs. This syllabus can be changed at any time without notification. It is up to the student to monitor this page for any changes. Final authority on any decision in this course rests with the professor, not with this document.


In this course, there will be a focus on working well together and learning about the development process. A large portion of that process involves interpersonal skills and conflict management. Students and staff are all expected to treat each other with respect. This includes, but certainly is not limited to:

  • Excessive web browsing during class
  • Disrespectful language or actions to course staff or other students
  • Promptness for all deadlines and class meetings
  • Quality work
  • Not working well with your partners
  • Collaborating with other teams

The number one problem with professionalism in class is the overuse of laptops and mobile devices. Taking notes on a laptop and following along with the slides is welcome and encouraged. Doing work for other classes, watching videos, chatting, or anything else that distracts from your ability to learn and follow along (or anyone around you), will result in a professionalism penalty.

If you need to do work for another class during our class meeting, do so somewhere else and listen to the podcast, rather than disrupt the class itself.

Students can and will be penalized for unprofessional behavior.

Academic Integrity


  • Know the honor code
  • Work with your team, but not any other team
  • Using code from other students (from any semester) is an honor violation
  • Using publically-available example code and libraries is fine, but you must cite your resources
  • More information on what is allowed will be included with each assignment if necessary
  • It never hurts to ask the staff what is allowed or not allowed!

The School of Engineering and Applied Science relies upon and cherishes its community of trust. We firmly endorse, uphold, and embrace the University’s Honor principle that students will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor shall they tolerate those who do. We recognize that even one honor infraction can destroy an exemplary reputation that has taken years to build. Acting in a manner consistent with the principles of honor will benefit every member of the community both while enrolled in the Engineering School and in the future.

Students are expected to be familiar with the university honor code, including the section on academic fraud http://honor.virginia.edu/academic-fraud . Assessments will describe allowed collaborations, and deviations from these will be considered Honor violations. If you have questions on what is allowable, ask! Unless otherwise noted, all assessments will be considered pledged that you have neither given nor received help. (Among other things, this means that you are not allowed to describe problems on an exam, assignment, or project to a student who has not taken it yet. You are not allowed to show exam papers to another student or view another student’s exam papers while working on an exam.) Sending, receiving, or otherwise copying or describing the contents of electronic files that are part of course assignments are not allowed collaborations (except for those explicitly allowed in assignment instructions).

Assignments or exams where honor infractions or prohibited collaborations occur will receive a zero grade for that entire assignment or exam. Such infractions will also be submitted to the Honor Committee if that is appropriate. Students who have had prohibited collaborations may not be allowed to work with partners on remaining homeworks.

For CS3240, using code developed by previous students in the course or code written for your use by someone outside the course is not allowed and will likely be an honor violation. This does not apply to the use of publicly available frameworks and libraries, unless indicated in the assessment instructions.

In general, we expect that you will be using code, examples, and ideas from many different websites and resources for your projects. This is allowed within reason. Wholesale copying of an entire project or any major feature from any source (the web, another student, etc.) is definitely not allowed. Using code snippts that you find to round out a feature is allowed. If you ever have a question about what is or is not appropriate, ask first!

In ALL cases, you need to cite all sources at the top of the file where the code or algorithm was used AND you should note all sources in your documentation. Failure to properly attribute your sources will result in a 50% penalty for the project at a minimum.

How to Cite Code

Use the following format for citing code you use. Order by title of the software package. Use the appropriate commenting format for the programming language of your source code.

*  Title: <title of program/source code>
*  Author: <author(s) names>
*  Date: <date>
*  Code version: <code version>
*  URL: <where it's located>
*  Software License: <license software is released under>
*  Title: ....

Inclement Weather Policy

If there is the possibility of inclement weather that could affect class, it is your responsibility to stay informed. Information about how to sign up for email and/or text alerts from UVA Emergency Management, along with the current University status, can be found at https://uvaemergency.virginia.edu/.

  • If the University cancels classes on a Monday, teams will meet sometime later during the week and submit a Team Meeting Report to earn the XP from lab that week. More information will be provided if this occurs. If this is a Sprint Check week, the check will include information in their Team Meeting Report regarding thier progress, along with the link to their GitHub repo for the TAs to grade.
  • If the University cancels classes on a Tuesday or Thursday, the course schedule for the rest of the semester may change to compensate. Please watch for email and check the course schedule page.
  • If the University only cancels for part of the day on a Tuesday or Thursday so that one of the two sections meets, the other section should listen to the podcast from the section that met to catch up.
  • If the University does not cancel when there is inclement weather, it is possible that Prof. Sherriff will still cancel if he cannot safely make it to UVA. He will email the class as soon as possible if this is the case.

SDAC and Other Special Circumstances

The University of Virginia strives to provide accessibility to all students. If you require an accommodation to fully access this course, please contact the Student Disability Access Center (SDAC) at 434-243-5180 or sdac@virginia.edu . If you are unsure if you require an accommodation, or to learn more about their services, you may contact the SDAC at the number above or by visiting their website at http://studenthealth.virginia.edu/student-disability-access-center/faculty-staff .

If you have been identified as an SDAC student, please let the SDAC know you are taking this class. We happily and discretely provide the recommended accommodations for those students identified by the SDAC. Please contact us one week before an exam so we can make accommodations.

If you have other special circumstances (athletics, other university-related activities, etc.), please contact the instructor as soon as you know these may affect you in class.

Religious Accommodations

It is the University's long-standing policy and practice to reasonably accommodate students so that they do not experience an adverse academic consequence when sincerely held religious beliefs or observances conflict with academic requirements. Students who wish to request academic accommodation for a religious observance should submit their request in writing directly to me by email as far in advance as possible. Students and instructors who have questions or concerns about academic accommodations for religious observance or religious beliefs may contact the University’s Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights (EOCR) at UVAEOCR@virginia.edu or 434-924-3200.

Accommodations do not relieve you of the responsibility for completion of any part of the coursework missed as the result of a religious observance.

Statement on Violence

The University of Virginia is dedicated to providing a safe and equitable learning environment for all students. To that end, it is vital that you know two values that I and the University hold as critically important:

  1. Power-based personal violence will not be tolerated.
  2. Everyone has a responsibility to do their part to maintain a safe community on Grounds.

If you or someone you know has been affected by power-based personal violence, more information can be found on the UVA Sexual Violence website that describes reporting options and resources available - www.virginia.edu/sexualviolence .

As your professor and as a person, know that I care about you and your well-being and stand ready to provide support and resources as I can. As a faculty member, I am a responsible employee, which means that I am required by University policy and federal law to report what you tell me to the University's Title IX Coordinator. The Title IX Coordinator's job is to ensure that the reporting student receives the resources and support that they need, while also reviewing the information presented to determine whether further action is necessary to ensure survivor safety and the safety of the University community. If you would rather keep this information confidential, there are Confidential Employees you can talk to on Grounds (See http://www.virginia.edu/justreportit/confidential_resources.pdf ). The worst possible situation would be for you or your friend to remain silent when there are so many here willing and able to help.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I get off the waitlist?
A: Here is how we are going to pull people (or not pull people) off the wait list:

  • We will be working from the SIS waitlist primarily, but there can be special circumstances. If there are circumstances we need to know about, please fill out this form: https://forms.gle/fWYAsrhGQoFEMvm56
  • No course action forms will be signed.

Q: Can we pick our own teams?
A: No. Simply put, you're not going to get to pick your teams in industry, so why should you here? :-)

Q: Are you adding more labs or slots to the current labs?
A: No, sorry. This is as many folks as we can handle.

Q: Then why are there more lecture slots than lab slots?
A: Labs are our limiting factor (and team sizes). But we don't want to force everyone to have to take a particular lecture section just because that's where the openings are. We have the seats in the rooms, so we open them all up.

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