Practical coursework is an important part of the learning process for your modules. Coursework gives you the chance to grasp theoretical concepts through practical exercises.
In the School of Computing, practical coursework can take several forms:
- exercises for private study or in practical/tutorial classes
- exercises in laboratories
- programming exercises and projects
- team and individual projects
The purpose of coursework
Coursework has a fundamental role to play in your learning process.
Even if a piece of coursework doesn't form part of the assessment, it is valuable.
It allows you to:
- put theory into practice
- discover parts of the lecture material that you need to work harder on
- investigate topics that are not covered in depth in lectures
- demonstrate and improve necessary practical skills eg programming
- practice and improve
Find out about deadlines, extensions, how to submit your coursework, and plagiarism on our Assessment and Feedback pages.
Marking criteriaMarking criteria
Some coursework is summative. This means the marks form part of the assessment for a module.
Other coursework is formative. This means it is set as a learning exercises in and of itself.
Individual coursework specifications will tell you what is expected in your submission. Marking of your coursework will be carried out using Faculty Marking Criteria (PDF: 26 KB).
Keep your courseworkKeep your coursework
It is your responsibility to keep your coursework after it has been marked and returned to you.
This is a requirement of the University Regulations. You are responsible for keeping your work, and for handing it back in if it is recalled.
You might be asked to hand your work in again to external examiners or for external quality audits of the School.
Keep all of your assessed coursework until you have graduated. You must keep all your work in an unaltered state.
If work is submitted electronically you must keep unaltered copies and any marking comments.
If your coursework needs to be recalled you will be notified by the School.
You'll have several pieces of assessed coursework to complete each semester.
We try to spread your coursework load evenly over the semester. For undergraduate programmes, this is organised by the Stage Co-ordinator. For postgraduate programmes, this is done by the Degree Programme Director.
We can't set coursework before the relevant material has been taught in lectures. Because of this, deadlines occur more frequently towards the end of a semester.
Get into the habit of doing coursework as soon as possible rather than leaving it until just before the deadline. or you will run out of time.
It is your responsibility to manage your workload. You can't get an extension because of a perceived high workload or close deadlines.
Writing an essayWriting an essay
When you write an essay, you first need to collect relevant pieces of information from available sources.
Then you need to evaluate their usefulness and consistency.
It's often a good idea to work with others to select and evaluate sources. You might not all agree about the material, but this can help you critically evaluate sources. When you come to write your essay by yourself, you'll be able to use your own thoughts and feed in new insights from others.
The actual essay-writing part must be all your own work. This is what you will be judged on:
- the organisation and expression of your ideas
- the structure of the essay
- your writing style
References and citationsReferences and citations
If you draw directly on the work of others, you must provide some acknowledgement of that. You'll need to provide a reference that would allow a reader to identify the original material.
If you copy a passage of text verbatim, make that clear. For example, surround the passage in quotation marks, and provide the reference to the source.
You have to apply some judgement here. Clearly, anything that is learnt from elsewhere could be referenced. You might use lecture material in an essay, and this is unlikely to need a reference.
Often information is regarded as 'common knowledge'. For this, the referencing rule can be relaxed.
If you have taken something substantial, provide a reference.
The University has more guidance on referencing on the Right-Cite website.
Working on your ownWorking on your own
Your degree is about learning and acquiring knowledge for yourself. But, mutual assistance and collaboration with other students can be valuable.
Peer-to-peer explanations give a student's eye view of the material. Some students find it useful to explain things to others, or hear an explanation from a student in their class.
Working with others is an employable skill. Team work is a fact of life in the computing industry. Working with others lets you share experiences, share results, and solve problems.
In the university environment, working with others may cause some problems. You'll be assessed on your individual ability.
For assessed individual coursework, you need to take more care. We suggest that you don't collaborate when:
- writing up something, or writing a program
- someone else is copying your work
- you ask someone else to do the coursework on your behalf (this includes websites offering essay-writing services)
The University has strict rules around copying. We use software tools to detect plagiarism. You could face disciplinary proceedings if you copy someone's work, or allow someone to copy yours.
If you are in doubt, ask a member of staff.
Writing a Program
Writing a program is a colloquial way of saying 'engineering a software solution to a problem'. Find out how to approach it, and what you need to be careful about.
You'll work in several stages:
- Study and clarify the problem to be solved.
- Identify how the problem is to be solved.
- A design stage where the solution begins to take shape.
- Translating your design into program-language statements (eg in Java).
Collaboration and assistance can be useful at the start.
When you're designing and writing a program you need to work on your own.
You need to follow the grammatical rules of the programming language.
In trying to get your program to an executable state, the computer may give you a set of error messages.
You are free to ask for help with understanding and fixing these error messages. You can ask your lecturer, or other students.
References and citations
An important aspect of software engineering in the real world is to avoid re-inventing the wheel. We re-use software if and when possible.
This has implications for assignments. To avoid plagiarism, you need to give a reference or source.
When you have to give a reference
You must acknowledge the source if you use a substantial piece of software.
When you don't have to
You don't have to acknowledge the source if it is just a minor detail (common knowledge).
You also don't have to if your lecturer gives you pieces of code to re-use, or the skeleton of a solution.
If in doubt, please ask for guidance.