UMIST Department of Computation Archive

Scope and Content

Extant archive of UMIST Department of Computation, dating from the late 1980s until 2004. The contents of the archive are predominantly minutes of the Department's main committees including the Departmental Academic Board (DCO/1), the Executive meeting of Professors (DCO/2), the Research Committee (DCO/4), Academic Development and Teaching Management Committees (DCO/5-6), boards of studies, and the Finance (Policy) Committee (DCO/10). The archive also includes course handbooks and syllabi for the period 1997-2004.

Administrative / Biographical History

UMIST's Department of Computation was established in 1968, originally as a sub-department of Mathematics. Computation was defined by the department as the study of the interactions between people, software and data/information. The Department's teaching and research deliberately concentrated on the application and use of computing, rather than the technology-focussed approaches of mainstream computer science departments.

The Department offered a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses, initially a undergraduate honours and postgraduate masters degrees in computation. Computation proved a very popular subject and by the late 1970s it was claimed as the most popular single honours degree at UMIST. In the 1980s and 1990s, new degrees (B.Eng.) in computer systems engineering and software engineering were introduced, taught jointly with the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, as well as undergraduate degrees in information systems and artificial intelligence. Joint degrees of computation and management (with Manchester School of Management), and computation and geography (with the University of Manchester's department of geography) were also offered, and a masters degree in neuroscience was devised with the Department of Bimolecular Science. Most of the Department's undergraduate degrees offered the opportunity for year-long industrial placements.

The Department originally relied on external mainframe computers, especially the Ferranti machines at West Gorton, Manchester, and the Manchester Regional Computer Centre. However, the Department was able to purchases a PDP8/I minicomputer for its own work, and a later a CTL modular ONE computer. In its early years the Department had responsibility for providing IT training for other UMIST Departments (some of which were delivered as video instructions).

The Department had a good track record of attracting funds from the public and private sector for its work, and it worked closely with other UMIST departments, especially Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Mathematics, Control Systems and Linguistics. The Department undertook a range of innovative research projects in areas such as medical computing, distributed systems for microprocessors, image processing, speech recognition technologies, computer aided design, and online information scheduling and retrieval systems. By the 1990s a number of distinct research groups had emerged including computer technology, information engineering, information systems, medical informatics, software engineering and software management.

By 2004 Computation was one of the largest departments in UMIST with over 250 undergraduates and 150 masters students. For nearly the duration of its existence, it was located in the Maths and Social Sciences tower at the south-eastern end of the UMIST campus. With the creation of the new University of Manchester, the Department became the School of Informatics; this School was dissolved in 2007, and staff were transferred to other Schools.


Arranged by series:

  • DCO/1 - Departmental Academic Board
  • DCO/2 - Executive Committee of Professors
  • DCO/3 - Staff Meetings
  • DCO/4 -Research Committee
  • DCO/5 - Academic Studies Committee
  • DCO/6 - Teaching Management Committee
  • DCO/7 - Board of Postgraduate Studies
  • DCO/8 - Board of Undergraduate Studies
  • DCO/9 - Staff/Student Meetings
  • DCO/10 - Finance/ Policy and Finance Committee
  • DCO/11 - Academic Staff Development Committee
  • DCO/12 - Support Staff Development Committee
  • DCO/13 - Board of Studies for Systems Engineering
  • DCO/14 - Board of Studies for Computing and Geography
  • DCO/15 - Interim Leadership Team
  • DCO/16 - Undergraduate degrees review meetings
  • DCO/17 - Departmental Advisory Group
  • DCO/18 - Course handbooks

Access Information

Access conditions apply to a number of record series in this archive; some material is currently closed to public inspection. Restricted material may only accessible following review by Special Collections staff.

The archive contains personal data about living individuals, and readers are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 2018 in their use of the material. This finding aid also contains personal data about living individuals. Under this Act, The University of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process such personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the JRUL to process sensitive personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, the UML has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately, according to the Data Protection Principles.

Acquisition Information

Transferred to the University Archives by the School of Informatics prior to the School's closure in 2007.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Appraisal Information

Minimal appraisal undertaken.


Further accruals possible.

Related Material

The University Archives has custody of the small archive of the Department's successor, the School of Informatics, 2004-2007. The archive is wanting minutes of the Departmental Academic board for the period 1968-1987; these can be found for the period up to 1984 in TGB/2/4.

Geographical Names