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Department of Computer Science and Technology

A new Head of Department takes up his post here this week as the University’s academic year gets underway.

Alastair Beresford is Professor of Computer Security here. He has just taken over as Head of Department from his predecessor, Professor Ann Copestake, who has stepped down after completing her five-year term of office.

At a recent Department event, Alastair paid tribute to Ann on behalf of the whole Department for her work. "Professor Copestake steered the department through a myriad of challenges, most notably the pandemic," he said. 

"The Department benefited greatly from her leadership, wisdom and formidable knowledge of the workings of the University.  As Deputy Head, I saw first hand how hard-working and dedicated she was and I would like extend our enormous gratitude to her."

As a former Deputy Head, Alastair has leadership experience in the Department and takes a keen interest in teaching and research.

His research work focuses on the security and privacy of large-scale distributed computer systems. Within this area, he is interested in the security and privacy of networked mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops.

Alastair is also keenly interested in the development of computing education. He is a co-founder of the Raspberry Pi Computing Education Research Centre, which is based here in the Department and investigates how to engage all young people in computing, computer science, and associated subjects.

Over the last 15 years he has worked with colleagues to improve the way computer science is taught both here in the University and in schools. In 2008, he and his colleague, Professor Andy Rice, changed the way programming was taught to our undergraduates. They turned lectures into videos with interactive in-built quizzes, while lecture slots became interactive sessions where the lecturers and the students worked through problems together. Alastair and Andy both subsequently received the University’s Pilkington Prize for excellence in teaching.

Alastair and Andy continued developing innovative, interactive online platforms to support the teaching of STEM subjects, including Physics with the Isaac Physics platform, a collaboration with our colleagues in the University’s Department of Physics.

Most recently, Alastair has been involved in the development of Ada Computer Science, a free online platform to support teachers and high-school students learning computer science around the world. The platform was launched in March this year and was developed in collaboration with the Raspberry Pi Foundation.


Published by Rachel Gardner on Tuesday 3rd October 2023