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Wales Study Group

Cardiff University
Director Spring 2016: Professor Joel Sommers, Associate Professor of Computer Science


As in the past, the study group will be based at Cardiff University, which, with its student body of twenty-eight thousand students, is the preeminent research university of Wales. Colgate students will register as non-matriculated students of the University of Cardiff and have access to all of the University’s academic and athletic facilities, including libraries, gymnasiums, and student union.

Wales is part of the United Kingdom and only in 1998 formed its own National Assembly. Its people consider Wales to be a separate and distinct nation; they are passionately conscious of their cultural heritage. While the dominant language of southern Wales is English, Wales is a bilingual nation. The Welsh language, a Celtic tongue, is alive and well as a second language and is strongly promoted in the Welsh educational system. Cardiff is an ideal locale for exploring this fascinating culture, serving as a center for the renaissance of Welsh language, literature, and national pride.

The city of Cardiff, the capital of Wales, has a population of approximately 330,000. The Welsh are justifiably proud of their artistic and cultural accomplishments, as exemplified by city theaters for opera, drama and ballet — the Welsh National Opera and the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra are located in Cardiff — and by the Welsh National Museum. In addition, Cardiff University, which is located near the center of Cardiff in Cathays Park, maintains a number of musical and drama theaters. The principal sport of Wales is rugby, and Millennium Park, an internationally known rugby ground, is within walking distance of the University’s campus.


Students pose as prisoners in fake stockadesAll students will enroll in two elective courses (at least one normally must be in the student’s concentration) and in two required courses, which are designed specifically to reflect the study group’s unique location.

Welsh Culture (required Cardiff course)
This course examines Welsh literature, language, and culture, and in so doing, augments the cross-cultural experience that is an integral part of any study abroad program. The specific course content varies with the instructors, all of who are Cardiff University faculty. Before the semester begins, a member of the Welsh Department provides an introduction to the Welsh language. This course has a number of required field trips, including excursions to the Welsh Folk Museum, Dylan Thomas home site, and National Assembly.

Computer Science 1XX: Developing Web Applications (Professor Sommers)
Since its introduction in the early 1990's, the worldwide web has grown to be one of the most important inventions of our time.  The web and related technologies drive and mediate news, social interaction, commerce, financial transactions, and various forms of entertainment.

This course will investigate how modern web applications are designed, developed, and deployed.  Through lecture, discussion, programming assignments and other activities we will cover topics such as programming constructs in Python such as variables and types, control flow, data structures, and classes; web front-end technologies such as HTML and CSS; and the Python-based Django web application framework.  As part of our international experience, we will pay special attention to how to design web applications that are sensitive to culture and locale, including character sets, colors, and layout.   We will also consider topics such as security and privacy on the web and environmental impacts of the internet.  No prior experience in computer science or programming is required for this course.

Elective Courses
Of the two elective courses, at least one must be in the student’s concentration. Students must have satisfied the pre-requisites for the courses in Wales before departure. Students will consult with their academic departments and the Registrar’s Office to ensure that the courses taken in Cardiff will be approved as Colgate credit.

University of Cardiff course pre-approval form

Field Trips

Students along the shores of a lake

Students are required to participate in all of the study group trips. Tentatively planned are several day trips for the Welsh Culture course, a one- day trip to Bletchley Park in England (a site that figures heavily in cryptography and computing history), a three-day trip to western Wales and the Pembrokeshire National Park region, and a three-day trip to the Snowdonia region and the culturally distinct north of Wales.


For details of student expenses on this study group, please see the Student Cost Estimate Sheets.


The deadline for applications to the Spring 2016 Wales Study Group is Friday, November 7, 2014.  Applications are on the Off-Campus Study/International Programs study groups’ websites and are submitted online. Only finalists in the selection process will be interviewed. Interviews will take place after that date and will be arranged by e-mail. Student notification of selections will take place late December 2014. 

Passports and Visas

Two students play with local children

You must confirm that your passport is valid through December 2016. All students participating on the Spring 2016 Wales Study

Group will be required to obtain a U.K. student visa. With participation on this study group comes the responsibility of understanding and complying with U.K. visa requirements. If you will not be traveling on a U.S. passport it is imperative that you contact an adviser in Off-Campus Study/International Programs, 101 Lathrop, and International Student Services, 103C Lathrop, to learn as much as you can about the visa requirements. For some students there are significant requirements to be met that take time, advance planning, and incur extra costs.

Program Dates

Wales Study Group program tentative dates: January 25— June 12, 2016

Informational Sessions

  • Thursday, October 23, 2014 at 4 p.m. and
  • Monday, October 27, 2014 at 4 p.m.
Both informational sessions will be held in 329 McGregory

More Information

For more information, contact Professor Sommers,

Helpful Links

Sponsored by the Natural Science Division

General Information

Course-Related Materials

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