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CSC8208 : Research Methods and Group Project in Security and Resilience

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Stephen Riddle
  • Lecturer: Dr Abolfazl Lavaei, Dr Saad Alateef, Dr Carlton Shepherd
  • Owning School: Computing
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


To prepare for working on individual research projects
To give experience of reading, discussing and interpreting the professional and research literature To provide an insight into current and future developments in computer systems
To reflect on the experience of applying the techniques taught in preceding modules to the safety, security and resilience analysis and development of a high integrity computing system
To gain experience of working in groups to complete a set of specified tasks in a timely manner which would involve literature review, software design, implementation, presentation of design and demonstration of the implemented system.

This module aims to provide students an opportunity to research the literature on a given safety/security/resilience topic in computing, to collaborate on a literature review and to design, build and analyse a high integrity computing system with security or safety implications. Students will have access to technical guidance from faculty members, but will essentially work as a small independent team under their own initiative. This provides an opportunity to practice the technical skills developed in other modules, to develop new skills of cooperative working and organization, and to develop research skills in preparation for their individual project and dissertation module.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module is structured in several phases:
- Lecture materials (delivered possibly online) on research methods:
•       Introduction to research projects and planning; identifying information need; assessing quality and reliability of sources of information
•       Role of peer review in research and system development
•       Critical evaluation of published material
•       How to present claims with supporting arguments
•       Academic report writing; standards in the discipline; use and citation of sources
•       Ethical issues
- Research topics are assigned and groups of 5-7 members are allocated by module leaders, mixing backgrounds, abilities and skills. Groups work together, forming reading circles to collaboratively produce a literature review.
- Groups begin work on the software development exercise. Choice of group organisation is left to the group. Development will involve research, requirements elicitation, modelling and safety analysis which may involve information flow modelling, protocol design, deductive or inductive fault analysis. Selection of development methods and tools will be done by each group.
- An online presentation is given by groups in week 6 together with group and individual report, which should include a risk assessment of the proposed solution.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials41:004:00Lecture materials on research methods, Asynchronous online materials
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion201:0020:00Literature review
Guided Independent StudyProject work601:0060:00Project coursework
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity601:0060:00Formal/informal meetings (not timetabled, scheduled by students in person or online as appropriate)
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity201:0020:00Reading circle (not timetabled, scheduled by students in person or online as appropriate)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery41:004:00Synchronous PiP sessions, if available. Else additional synchronous online sessions
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study201:0020:00Background reading
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study121:0012:00Lecture follow-up
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lecture materials and online sessions will be used to introduce the learning material and for demonstrating the key concepts by example. Students are expected to follow-up lectures within a few days by re-reading and annotating lecture notes to aid deep learning. Students aiming for 1st class marks are expected to widen their knowledge beyond the content of lecture notes through background reading.

Project meetings both formal and informal, will provide team members with the opportunity to follow progress and address team issues. These meetings can be held online or in person while respecting external restrictions.

Students gain knowledge in research skills from lecture materials and working together on the literature review and reading circle. Students gain experience in development of a significant software project from the student-led activities and project work.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report2M30Week 4, group literature review – max 20 pages
Report2M70End of module, group report – max 13 pages
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Prof skill assessmnt2MGroup presentation
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The literature review provides an opportunity to assess practical research, communication and collaboration skills in a realistic environment. Students will assess each other's contribution to the literature review.
The group work is used to award a mark to each group. The individual report is used to moderate individual weightings allocated by the group, to award a final mark to each group member.

Reading Lists