Category Archives: News

First Goldsmiths computing phd student passes their viva online

Dr Fatima Sabiu Maikore is the first Goldsmiths Computing PhD student to complete a successful online Viva. Alongside her studies Fatima works full time as a lecturer at Baze University, Abuja and is based in Nigeria.  

Dr Fatima Sabiu Maikore is a researcher whose work has very clear real-life applications. She used her time as a PhD student to address challenges that clinical labs face when developing and using standard operating procedures (SOPs). These SOPs are guidance for workers to safely and correctly complete their work when running tests in the lab.  

Fatima’s research developed a framework which includes a formal data model, a natural language processing tool to convert existing SOPs into machine readable format, and a mobile application for use within the clinical labs. Her mobile app is already being used by clinical lab practitioners to allow them to quickly and easily access the information they need to safely complete tests in the lab.  

As her PhD research came to an end, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Since Fatima is based in Nigeria, she had to cancel her trip to London for her Viva. She was initially nervous to be the first PhD student to complete an online Viva in the Department of Computing. A trial meeting to test the signal had not gone so well and she feared poor signal could throw her off or cut off the call completely.  

However, on the day of the viva, the call went extremely well and by the time it was halfway through, she forgot she wasn’t in the same room with her examiners. Knowing that her supervisor was logged into the call, even though her camera and mic were off as she wasn’t allowed to contribute, gave her an added strength and confidence.  

Fatima’s journey to her doctorate has been varied,  she completed her undergraduate studies at the American University Nigeria and her Masters at the University of Manchester. She knew she was passionate about academia, but also knew she wanted to move back home to Nigeria after her Masters to get married and settle into her life before pursuing a PhD, so she did just that.  

After a few years she was ready to pursue her PhD, she started at Brunel working with Dr Larisa Soldatova. She enjoyed her studies and found Dr Soldatova to be a great mentor however the move to London was hard and as she was now balancing her studies with two young children. Eventually she opted to take her studies part time and move back to Nigeria. During this time Dr Soldatova left Brunel and joined the team at Goldsmiths, Department of Computing and Fatima made the decision to come with her.  

Since then, she worked remotely to finish her PhD. Once her minor amendments are completed, she hopes to work at a prestigious university where she can broaden her research experience and eventually bring her skills back to Nigeria to contribute to the national research environment there.  

CareerHack – the traditional careers fair reinvented

This week we ran our second CareerHack event in partnership with Hacksmiths.

What is CareerHack?

CareerHack is a career & developer event where attendees spend 4 hours competing challenges in teams, showing off their skills to potential employers.

Challenges tested technical skills, with things like building an interactive game, as well as employability skills, like writing a personal profile and skills section for your CV to get students to think about the resources they need when heading into the working world. Employers are there to let the students know more about working at their organisations.

It’s a collaboration between the Department of Computing, Hacksmiths (our student-led tech society), our Careers Department and employers.

Our employer partners, Goodboy Digital; Lewisham Homes; Richmond & Wandsworth Council; and Scored provided challenges to the hack and were judges, working their way around the 8 teams of students and awarding points.

We wanted to look at new ways of employers and students interacting and piloted the event last year to great success, including one student getting a placement and another applying successfully for a full time position on graduation.

Employer feedback from last year’s event:

“much more useful than a “traditional” careers fair.” 

“being able to watch your students do actual engineering as opposed to just talking about it was really helpful (I was able to flag a number of final year students to our recruitment team as people whose applications should be expedited, if they choose to apply).”

We’re now pulling together feedback from the CareerHack this week and will start planning for next year! Well done to the winning team.

If you’re interested in working with our students on other innovative events, talks, placements and lots more, please contact Eilidh Macdonald.

Goldsmiths undergraduate projects presented at CHI Play

Dr Sarah Wiseman, programme leader for BSc Games Programming, reports on two student projects which were presented at the Chi Play conference in Barcelona this October.

In their last year at Goldsmiths, our undergraduate students design and deliver their final year project, which runs through the course of two terms. This is a fantastic opportunity for students to learn new skills and explore in depth the areas of computing that are of particular interest to them.

Often these project result in games or software being produced, but sometimes the students are able to conduct research in conjunction with that development.

In our graduating class of 2019, two such students produced work that was of such high quality that it was recognised at an international academic conference. As a result, the work of Kevin Lewis (BSc Creative Computing) and Rees Morris (BSc Games Programming) was presented at CHI Play conference in Barcelona last week.

Kevin’s work looked at how technology can affect the way that social deduction games are played.

Kevin Lewis shows his thumbs

If you’ve ever played the games Werewolf or Mafia, you’ll know that social deduction games involve you needing to determine who amongst your fellow players are lying, and who you can trust.

In Kevin’s game, an app provided players with facts about how the players were playing – who had lied, who was being more trustworthy – and explored whether players trusted the app or their own instincts more. Instincts won.

Rees’s work focused on Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas (MOBAs).

Rees was unable to attend the conference, so his supervisor Dr Sarah Wiseman took his place

MOBAs are incredibly popular, and the eSports scene around them is worth a massive amount of money. MOBAs are interesting from a games perspective as often players will dedicate time to online one game in the genre because of the amount of time required to become expert and acquire the in-game items.

As part of Rees’s final project, not only did he create a MOBA, but he also conducted a comprehensive survey of MOBA players to find out why they chose the particular MOBA they were interested in. Surprisingly, players didn’t often cite the game play itself, but more commonly chose the game based upon social connections, wanting to play with their friends.

Well done to Kevin and Rees!

The papers can be found here:

Tea & Testing ☕️🎮

On Monday 14 October, games students from across the department came together for our very first ‘Tea & Testing’ session.

Created by games lecturer Alan Zucconi, the event is an opportunity for students in different years and on different courses to test out their games, and explore the games that are being made by their fellow students. What’s more, there’s tea and biscuits, an important part of the testing process.

As a bonus addition to the first session, a guest visitor was invited.
Award-winning game developer Alan Hazelden came along to get some feedback on a new game he is developing. The room was buzzing and many different weird and wonderful games were played, and plenty of chatting and mingling alongside.

The event highlighted that alcohol isn’t a necessary ingredient for testing sessions. Alan Zucconi said “Most social events that give students an opportunity to playtest their games tend to revolve around pubs, which are rarely accessible and not always promoters of an inclusive environment.

“The people who don’t feel comfortable in those environments are the ones we need to hear the most. The idea to switch to tea instead is to provide students with a safer and more inclusive space.”

If you’re interested in attending the next session – either because you have a game you would like to playtest, or because you want to play some games – the next sessions are….

  • Goldsmiths library, 3pm-6pm Friday 8 November
  • Room 219, Whitehead Building, 5pm-7pm Monday 25 November

Hacksmiths: Ethics in modern AI

Goldsmiths’ student-run tech society, Hacksmiths are running a day of talks about the ways in which ethics are considered and ignored in modern applications of Artificial Intelligence.

When: 11am-2pm, Saturday 12 October 2019
Where: St James Hatcham Building, Goldsmiths. Map
Tickets: Free on eventbrite

Technology is ingrained in most of our lives. So why is it that only a small fraction of us understand how our everyday choices are being steered by others, and the systems they create?

Whether it’s who Facebook is telling you to vote for, or what Amazon is telling you to buy, democracy and freedom are being tested. Academic experts give us their insight on why we should be embedding ethics into Artificial Intelligence in 2019.

11.30am: Professor Stuart Russell
Stuart’s research on the history and future of Artificial Intelligence and its relation to humanity includes machine learning, probabilistic reasoning, knowledge representation, real-time decision making, multitarget tracking, computer vision, inverse reinforcement learning, and the movement to ban the manufacture and use of autonomous weapons.

Prof Stuart Russell

Stuart was born in Portsmouth, England. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree with first-class honours in Physics from the University of Oxford where he was an undergraduate student at Wadham College in 1982, and his PhD in Computer Science from Stanford University in 1986.

12.30pm: Dr Dan McQuillan on Post-austerity AI
This talk will not focus on the long term future of AI but on the political and social damage that will flow from the AI we already have. It will describe the way its concrete operations of optimisation and prediction lead to thoughtlessness, epistemic injustice and segregation, and how that resonates with the wider politics of austerity and the rise of the far right. The talk will propose a route to an alternative AI based on feminist technology studies and forms of direct democracy such as people’s councils. It will call for an approach to AI in the here and now that puts matters of care at its core, and that recomposes the very idea of AI as computation in the service of togetherness.

Dr Dan McQuillan

Dan is a Lecturer in Creative and Social Computing at Goldsmiths, University of London. After a PhD in Experimental Particle Physics, he worked with people with learning disabilities and mental health problems, and was Digital Director for Amnesty International.

12.50pm: Dr Kate Devlin
Kate is Senior Lecturer in Social and Cultural Artificial Intelligence at King’s College London, where she researches how society reacts to technological change.

Dr Kate Devlin

Her book, Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots (Bloomsbury, 2018) has received wide acclaim.

She campaigns for gender equality in tech, and has recently been elected as a Director of the Open Rights Group. She tweets far too often as @drkatedevlin.

1.10pm: Q&A
1.50pm: Stuart’s book signing for Human Compatible: AI and the Problem of Control

World’s smallest escape room induces claustrophobia and dread

METRO newspaper reported this week on Goldsmiths Computing student George Larkwright’s coffin-like escape room, which exhibited at the MA Playable Experiences degree show. We reproduce it here…

Why spend your weekend watching TV or drinking in a pub when you could be locked in a small box, trying desperately to escape?

We live in a time when ‘fun’ includes pretending to be in prison, smashing TVs, and choosing to go into horribly stressful situations, and so it makes total sense that someone has created the world’s smallest escape room, measuring 120cm by 70cm by 50cm.

Just like any other escape room, the idea behind The Subject (that’s the official name of the room) is to work hard and figure out clues in order to break free. Unlike your average escape room, there are no padlocked doors and dark corridors. Instead, there’s just a box.

The Subject is the creation of Goldsmiths student George Larkwright, 24, who wanted to create a truly disturbing escape room experience to induce claustrophobia, desperation and dread. Sounds delightful.


One player is shut inside and needs to figure out the clues on the box’s walls

Fed up of seeing escape rooms used for corporate team bonding and smug selfies, George designed a challenge to make players leave ‘haggered and almost aged by the experience’.

The room, which is basically just a big coffin, is designed for two players. Player one is locked inside the box, while player two has to help them escape.

Inside the box is a pencil, paper and a torch. The trapped player has to decode a load of cryptic messages and clues written across the box’s interiors. The player outside the box has to look through a load of documents and figure out a code in order to piece information together, solve the puzzle, and unlock the box, freeing their pal.

The theme has some pretty dark sources of inspiration. George first thought of the idea after watching Kill Bill 2, which includes a scene in which a bride is trapped in a coffin. He then drew inspiration from the horrifying histories of wartime human experimentation and the American security services mind control programmes during the Cold War.

George has a load of experience writing for theatre, so was able to pull together these ideas into a tricky narrative that sounds more than a little bit stressful.

The contestant in the box is a prisoner of war locked up in a laboratory, while player two is a secret services operative tasked with freeing them, all under a 30 minute time limit.

As we said, this is supposed to be fun.

George said: ‘I want participants to emerge haggard, almost aged by the experience, but also triumphant, proud of navigating a game that is both physically and mentally taxing.’

The Subject was part of the Experiments in Play exhibition, for students at Goldsmiths at the weekend. The quickest escape thus far took 17 minutes. George now plans to take the box on tour, so keep an eye out for dates if you fancy giving the challenge a go.



Welcome Week 2019

The new academic year begins on Monday 23 September, and we’re looking forward to welcoming all our new and returning undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Monday 23 September

Wednesday 25 September

11am – 1pm: Undergraduate induction events

  • FOUNDATION YEAR, Room LG01, Professor Stuart Hall Building
  • COMPUTER SCIENCE, Room LG02, Professor Stuart Hall Building
  • BUSINESS COMPUTING, Room 306A, Richard Hoggart Building
  • GAMES PROGRAMMING, Room 306A, Richard Hoggart Building
  • CREATIVE COMPUTING, Room 219, Whitehead Building
  • DIGITAL ARTS COMPUTING, Room 208, Whitehead Building

Thursday 26 September

All students are welcome to meet Hacksmiths, our student-run tech society. They’re running an exhibition of games and other tech creations they have made in the past year or so.

  • 11am – 3pm: Meet Hacksmiths, Weston Atrium, Professor Stuart Hall Building
  • 3pm – 6pm: Undergraduate social event at New Cross House

Friday 27 September

Postgraduate induction event

  • 1pm – 2pm: Tea and cake social, Whitehead Building foyer
  • 2pm – 3.30pm: Welcome to the Department of Computing, Ian Gulland Lecture Theatre, Whitehead Building
  • 3.30pm – 4.30pm: About your degree programme
  • 4.30pm – 7pm: Postgraduate social event at New Cross House