Course Syllabus


Dr. Anita Sarma (KEC 2130)

Class time: TR: 2:00-3:50PM
Class location:
KEC 1003

Office Hours: TBA


Use CS 419/519 in the subject for a response.

Class Overview

Security is a critical aspect of any system we build. However, regardless of how well you design the security of your system, failure to consider how humans will actually use the system can lead to disaster in practice. In this course, we will examine how to design for security and privacy from a user-centered perspective by combining insights from computer systems and human-computer interaction (HCI). You will learn about core security and privacy technologies, as well as HCI techniques for conducting robust user studies. We will cover topics including usable authentication, user-centered web security, anonymity software, privacy notices, security warnings, and data-driven privacy tools in domains ranging from social media to the Internet of Things. You will complete weekly problem sets, as well as conduct novel research in a group capstone project. No prior experience in security, privacy, or HCI is required.

Readings and Textbooks

There is no required textbook for the course. Instead, all course readings will be (open access) articles linked from the schedule page. If you are interested in learning more about HCI methods, you can use Research Methods in Human-Computer Interaction by Jonathan Lazar, Jinjuan Heidi Feng, Harry Hochheiser.

Course Requirements and Grading

This is the grading curve that will be used for this class:

A+ : 101 + A: 93-100 A-: 90-92
B+: 87-89 B: 83-86 B-: 80-82
C+: 77-79 C: 73-76 C-: 70-72
D+: 67-69 D: 63-66 D-: 60-62 F: 0-59

A minimum grade of C is required to get a Pass in the course (A grade ‘C-‘ does NOT get you a pass).

This is the grade point distribution (in percentages):

Group project 40%
Problem sets 25%
Midterm Exams (2) 20%
Discussions 15%

Note that this class will have no final exam. Instead, final project presentations will be held on the last day of class.

CS 419 vs. CS 519

CS 519 is a subset of CS 419. In addition to meeting all requirements of CS 419, students enrolled in CS 519 will be assigned an average of one additional (more technical) reading each week. In addition, one problem set will require additional implementation exercises. Finally, a student enrolled in CS 519 must contribute non-trivial implementation of a system or software tool for their group project. 

Graduate students must enroll in CS519 and undergraduates in CS 419. The only prerequisite for either version of the course is experience with computer programming at the level of the introductory programming (e.g., 161-162) or equivalent.

Problem Sets

All problem sets are due in printed form as well as through Canvas at 2:00 PM on the due date, unless specified otherwise on the schedule. Problem sets may not be submitted after 2:05 pm, and we do not accept late problem sets. Your single lowest problem set grade will be dropped from your problem set average.

CS 519 students will be asked to submit a short summary (3-7 sentences) and a "highlight" for particular readings specified in each homework assignment. The highlight may be something you found particularly interesting or noteworthy, a question you would like to discuss in class, a point you disagree with, etc.

Readings and Discussions

Students are expected to complete the assigned reading prior to class so that they can participate fully in class discussions. To verify that students have completed the assigned reading, each class will include a discussion prompt. Students will need to bring a printed copy of the discussion post to class. The discussion question will cover major points of the readings, including methodological techniques, findings, high-level takeaways, and major recommendations the authors made. One lowest discussion grade will be dropped. Because your lowest discussion grade will be dropped, you will not be excused from writing the discussion posts if you miss class due to travel (including interviews or conferences). If you have exceptional circumstances that will cause you to miss class more than twice, please discuss this with your instructor in advance.

As discussed above, CS 519 students will be assigned additional readings each week. In some cases, we will specify which extra reading(s) to do. Students are encouraged, but not required, to review any of the optional readings that they find interesting.


Students will work on term projects in groups of two. The project idea will be student driven. As part of the project students will:

  • Provide a project idea (<1 page) and their team member name: Tue of Week 2
  • Submit a brief project proposal (2 to 3 pages) by Tuesday, Week 3. The proposal should state your research questions; hypotheses (if any); general type of study (lab, online, interview, survey, etc.); overview of the types of questions and/or tasks, scenarios, etc. that will be included; quantitative metrics and/or qualitative analysis approach; number and type of study participants you plan to recruit and how you will recruit them; study design (between subjects, within subjects); equipment, software, other resources, and/or payments needed and preliminary budget.
  • Complete an ethics application with all necessary attachments if you plan to use the term project for publication.
  • Design all questionnaires, scripts, scenarios, interview protocols, etc. necessary to carry out the user study.
  • Develop any prototypes and software necessary to carry out the user study.
  • Pilot test the user study protocol on at least two people (can be members of the class from other project groups) and refine it based on these tests.
  • Submit a written progress report by Tuesday, Week 6. Your written progress report and presentation should describe your progress to date and any problems you have run into that you would like some advice on. Your written report should include your research questions and any hypotheses, draft related work section, study methodology, results and lessons learned from your initial pilot study (or any other data collection that you have done already), unresolved issues or challenges, and complete survey or interview questions, scripts, etc.
  • Give a brief (7-10 minutes) progress report presentation on Tuesday, Week 6 or Thursday, Week 6. Note that all groups must be prepared to present on Tuesday (week 6), and the order of presentations will be assigned at that time.
  • Conduct a study using the revised protocol with at least 6 participants (or more if this is not a lab study). Optionally, you can conduct a larger study that would be likely to lead to publishable results. If your study has only 6 participants, most likely this will be useful mostly as a pilot study and should be positioned as such in your paper.
  • Give a 15-minute final project presentation in class on Thursday, Week 10.
  • Write a paper including an abstract, introduction (including research questions), related work, methodology, results, discussion (or lessons learned), references, etc. and submit it by 11:59 PM on Thursday (Finals Week) in electronic form. Your ethics application, survey forms, etc. should be included as appendices to the report.

Your final report should be written in a style suitable for publication at a conference or workshop. The conference papers in the readings provide good examples of what a conference paper looks like and the style in which they are written. Papers should follow the SOUPS 2019 technical papers formatting instructions. However, your report for the class need not adhere to the SOUPS page limits and should not be a blind submission; please include the names of the authors for the purposes of the class project.

Gadget Policy

No cell phones, iPads, or Laptops allowed in class unless needed for class. Failure to follow will lead to penalty

Academic Misconduct

All homework assignments, quizzes, exams, etc. must be your own work. No direct collaboration with fellow students, past or current, is allowed unless otherwise stated. Please refer to COE Academic Misconduct guidelines here.

Special Needs

Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact the instructor for a confidential discussion of your individual needs for academic accommodation. 

Accommodations for students with disabilities are determined and approved by Disability Access Services (DAS). If you, as a student, believe you are eligible for accommodations but have not obtained approval please contact DAS immediately at 541-737-4098 or at DAS notifies students and faculty members of approved academic accommodations and coordinates implementation of those accommodations. While not required, students and faculty members are encouraged to discuss details of the implementation of individual accommodations.

Establishing a Positive Community

Every student should feel safe and welcome to contribute in this course. As the instructor, I will try to establish this tone whenever possible, but ultimately the responsibility for cultivating a safe and welcoming community belongs to the students—that means you! This page talks more about this very important part of our education process.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due