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CSC3094 : Major Project and Dissertation in Computer Science

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Professor John Fitzgerald
  • Lecturer: Dr Simon Bowen, Dr Stephen Riddle
  • Owning School: Computing
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 60
ECTS Credits: 30.0
European Credit Transfer System


The individual project is a substantial piece of independent work involving the technical and research skills developed in the taught part of the degree. Research skills are at the foundation of innovative projects in computing, whether in professional practice or in the Research & Development lab. Graduate computer scientists, in addition to their core technical competencies, should be able to access and appreciate research results. You will have the opportunity to contribute directly to research or development activities, develop your own specialist expertise in the project topic, and further improve your planning and communication skills. You will work closely with a member of staff from one of the School's research groups, and you may also be working with an industrial partner (possibly in an industry laboratory). The project culminates in a report.

• To develop an understanding of the character, processes and methods of research.
• To build confidence in approaching, using and appraising the research literature.
• To enhance skills required to define, propose and plan a substantial individual project.
• To grow awareness of the ethical and professional issues that arise in research.
• To deepen the knowledge and skills acquired in the rest of the programme through practice.
• To develop an awareness of the range and limitations of technologies available for the analysis and
development of secure or resilient or distributed systems.
• To enhance research skills and awareness of the professional literature.
• To develop an awareness of open problems in the subject.

Outline Of Syllabus

Students will either select a project from a list offered by potential supervisors or propose and refine a project proposal with an academic supervisor. In every project there will be a research component and a design, programming and/or analytic element.

1. Research: Background research will be undertaken in the selected topic using the skills developed in earlier
modules with access to library and online resources. The supervisor will advise on quality of sources and
standards in the topic area.
2. Development and Analytic Skills: The core of the project will involve carrying out the project plan largely
independently, but with guidance from the supervisor.
3. Report: A report will be prepared, describing the technical background, the work undertaken, the analysis of
results and directions for further work. Guidance on the style and content of an academic dissertation will
be provided by means of examples and through the supervisor.

The taught components support students with the following:
• What is Research? Principles of originality, knowledge (including fallibility) and gain. Relating research,
innovation and impact.
• Scientific method and intellectual discovery. Reasoning techniques (deductive, abductive, inductive).
Presentation of claims with supporting arguments: comparing and evaluating sources, critical evaluation of
published material. Types of research activity in Computer Science, from theoretical studies to development
or application studies.
• The Computer Science Knowledge Base: the peer review process; understanding, searching and appraising
literature including technical reports, conference proceedings, journals of record, identifying information
need, locating and accessing information.
• Project Proposal and Planning: the elements of a project proposal; identifying aims and objectives, project
definition, planning and risk management; ethical and professional context and considerations.
• Conducting a Project: review of process models; practical guidance on monitoring and management.
• Communicating findings: elements of scholarship including citation, referencing, the structure and style of
research reports and papers, oral presentations and posters.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion361:0036:00Development of full project proposal
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture241:0024:00Lectures (in person)
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials71:007:00Short videos and ‘bites’ of content covering research skills. One off session Q&A available online
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion161:0016:00Development and delivery of a project summary presentation (study and guidance PIP)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion622:00124:00Writing dissertation
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading551:0055:00Pre-lecture and post-lecture reading
Guided Independent StudySkills practice481:0048:00Research literature search, review and appraisal
Guided Independent StudyProject work2401:00240:00Undertaking project
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery61:006:00PiP surgeries by appointment if possible or phone call/live chat with module leader
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision161:0016:00Supervisor meetings - available online or PiP depending on preference of student and supervisor
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision241:0024:00Guidance with supervisors, preparation of project ethics review (min 50% in person)
Guided Independent StudyOnline Discussion41:004:00Informal peer review of project summary presentation
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

In private study students will apply the material to a substantial piece of work on their own, with guidance in practical sessions with supervisors from the student’s chosen project theme. The lectures will be scheduled towards the beginning of the module to support each of the main areas of the syllabus, preparing students for the execution and write up of the project and dissertation. Employability sessions will help prepare students for work and will include invited talks from industry.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Examination2M10Recorded video and oral presentation (500 words) covering project background, aims, objectives and outline plan
Research proposal2M20Project proposal (3500 words) covering rationale, literature review, refined aims and objectives and project plan
Poster2M5demonstrate skills in presenting information and consolidating project work
Report2M65Word limit 15,000
Zero Weighted Pass/Fail Assessments
Description When Set Comment
Design/Creative projM10 minute demonstration plus questions.
Prof skill assessmntMEthics form- must be completed
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The recorded presentation allows students to demonstrate a grasp of research motivation and context, and particularly communication of project aims, objectives and outline planning. The written project proposal allows the assessment of formal academic skills by covering research project formulation and literature review, the selection and justification of research methods, as well as technical writing and scholarship. The poster enables a student to demonstrate their skills in presenting information and consolidating project work. The report is a final consolidation of the skills outcomes.

The demonstration allows the markers to see the final artefact being reported on. The ethics form and demonstration must be completed but do not carry a mark.

Reading Lists