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CSC3094 : Major Project and Dissertation in Computer Science

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • 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 technical and research skills and knowledge developed in the earlier parts of the degree. It develops your independence, your ability to research a relevant field of knowledge, plan and manage your own work. 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. The project culminates in a substantial report which can form part of your portfolio for potential employers.

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 deepen through practice the knowledge and skills acquired in the rest of the programme.
• To develop an understanding of the character, processes and methods of research.
• To build confidence in approaching, using and appraising the Computer Science and related literature.
• To enhance skills required to define, propose, plan and execute a substantial individual project.
• To grow awareness of the ethical and professional issues that arise in project work.

Outline Of Syllabus

Students will either select a project from a list offered by potential supervisors or propose and refine a project proposal with a 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 skills developed in the first
part of the module using library and online resources. The supervisor will advise on the quality of sources
and standards in the topic area.

2. Development and Analytic Skills: The core of the project will involve defining and carrying out a 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 and
evaluation of results and suggestions for further work. Guidance on the style and content of the report 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
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00Lectures (in person)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1301:00130:00Development of full project proposal, including ethics review; preparing scorecard; designing poster; writing dissertation
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading441:0044:00Pre-lecture and post-lecture reading
Guided Independent StudySkills practice601:0060:00Project planning: research literature search, review and appraisal
Guided Independent StudyProject work3251:00325:00Project Technical work (requirements elicitation and analysis; design, implementation; testing/evaluation)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery81:008:00Surgeries in person or online with module leaders
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision111:0011:00Supervision - online or in person depending on preference of student and supervisory team
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will be scheduled towards the beginning of the module to support the development of research, project planning and communications skills, preparing students for the planning, background research, critical reading, project execution and write- up. Classes designed to help with specific deliverables will be held closer to deliverable dates.

In private study, students will apply knowledge and skills to a substantial piece of individual work, with guidance offered in practical sessions with supervisors from the student’s chosen project theme.

Regular drop-in classes are provided throughout for students to discuss any concerns with the module team.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Research proposal2M20Project proposal (3500 words) covering rationale, literature review, aims and objectives and project plan.
Poster2M10Poster and Demonstration. Demonstrate skills in presenting information for a general CS audience, and consolidating project work; poster and 10-minute demonstration plus questions: opportunity to discuss project with examiners and show completed artefacts
Report2M70Final report on project outcomes. Word limit 15,000.
Zero Weighted Pass/Fail Assessments
Description When Set Comment
Prof skill assessmntMStandard ethics form: opportunity to identify and if necessary re-cast project aims and methods to minimize risks.
Prof skill assessmntMProforma summarizing progress mid-project, risks and adjustments to plan.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The project proposal allows students to demonstrate ability to understand project motivation and context, access the relevant background literature, formulate aims and objectives, outline a resourced plan, and identify risks, as well as providing an opportunity to assess technical communication skills. The ethics form provides an opportunity to assess project ethical issues. The intermediate professional skills assessment provides an opportunity to assess students’ ability to review risks, assess progress an (re-)plan as necessary. The poster enables students to demonstrate their skills in presenting information and consolidating project work for a non-specialist audience. The report is a consolidation of the skills outcomes.

The demonstration allows the markers to see the final artefact being reported on.

Reading Lists