McMaster University
Communication Skills

COMP SCI / SFWR ENG 3I03. Term II 2016/17

Assignments    Tutorial material    Class material   

Lectures and Tutorials

Lecture: Wednesday 9:30-10:20 in HSC/1A1

Tutorials are manditory (will start week of Jan. 9th).


Dr. J. Carette, ITB-168 , ext 26869, email: carette at mcmaster dot ca.

Office hours: by appointment (or catch me after class).

For all course related questions, a class forum has been set up on Avenue so that questions and their answers can be posted centrally. If someone were to set up Slack, that would be great.

Teaching Assistants

Dinushi Munasinghe
Sasha Soraine
George Petrovic
Theo Stone
Carson White

Tutorial Slots








2:30 – 4:20

JHE 210




8:30 – 10:20

ABB 165




2:30 – 4:20

JHE 210




8:30 – 10:20

JHE 210




8:30 – 10:20

JHE 210




8:30 – 10:20

T13 107



There is no required textbook for this course. Required reading material will be provided as needed.

Course Objectives

The calendar description says:

Oral and written presentation skills; types and structure of technical documents; software documentation for the user; formulating and presenting proposals.

The only real way to learn all of these skills is through practice, and so the course material will be largely covered in the tutorials rather than through lectures.

In more detail, the basic topics which will be covered are:

Course Information on Web, and Slides

The latest version of this outline and the most "up-to date" information as well as hand-outs can be found on the course web page. The assignments can be found there as well.

Learning Objectives

  1. Students should know and understand:
    1. Different forms of interviewing.
    2. Different types of public speaking styles.
    3. The elements of technical writing.
    4. Constructive versus destructive criticism.
    5. The sandwich method of giving criticism.
    6. How to analyse technical talks.
  2. Students should be able to:
    1. Give an effective presentation of technical material to lay people.
    2. Develop a comprehensive resume and cover letter highlighting achievements.
    3. Engage in technical job interview.
    4. Be able to write effective program documentation.
    5. Give a technical, comparative and teaching-style presentation to a classroom audience.
    6. Write a technical proposal, technical report, and executive summary.
    7. Provide constructive criticism to a peer.

Graduate Attribute Mapping

Knowledge Base Learning Objective(s)
Capable of selecting appropriate model and methods and identify assumptions and constraints. 2d, 2e, 2f
Demonstrates an ability to respond to technical and non-technical instructions and questions. 2a, 2e
Presents instructions and information clearly and concisely 2a-2g
Constructs effective written arguments 1c,2b,2d-f
Be able to critically evaluate and apply knowledge, methods and skills procured through self directed and self identified sources 1d,1e,1f,2a,2e,2f

Pre and Post Conditions

Pre-conditions: Be able to read and understand Java. Can read, write and speak English.




"The Faculty of Engineering is concerned with ensuring an environment that is free of all adverse discrimination. If there is a problem that cannot be resolved by discussion among the persons concerned individuals are reminded that they should contact their Chair, the Sexual Harassment Office or the Human Rights Consultant, as soon as possible."

Course modifications

The instructor and university reserve the right to modify elements of the course during the term. The university may change the dates and deadlines for any or all courses in extreme circumstances. If either type of modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. It is the responsibility of the student to check their McMaster email and course websites weekly during the term and to note any changes.

Academic Accommodation of Students With Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: ?Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty?), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy [].

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one?s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Individual assignments have to be solved by one person only, any outside source, this includes asking other people, or using any books or information found on the web has to be documented. In complience with the senate regulations on academic integrity I remind you that: People who let other people copy are as guilty as the ones who copy. You are allowed to consult outside sources, meaning textbooks or the web, but any use of an outside source must be documented. Similarly, group assignments must be solved by members of that group only, and the above policies apply as well.

In the case the instructor or a TA has the impression that an assignment is copied, the instructor can ask the corresponding students to explain exactly how the assignment was prepared and take appropriate actions.

Online Component

In this course we will be using Avenue to Learn. Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.

January 2017