Course Brief

This course is designed to provide the student with the opportunity to carry out an individual piece of supervised work which reflects their programme area and is at, or informed by, the forefront of their academic discipline. Business, industry and commercial enterprise, as prospective employers also require that MSc graduates have a range of transferable skills. Such skills include being able to work independently, solve complex problems, organise their learning and work, and undertake and successfully complete projects running over several months. All of these activities should be performed by a student in an autonomous fashion, with some direction but minimal direct help from her/his supervisor(s), and must be completed to a specified deadline. Employers also expect MSc holders to be able to evaluate their own work in the context of other related work, and draw and present their conclusions both orally and in the form of a cogent, well-written and well-presented report. Additionally, a Masters course should equip students to pursue a research programme, such as M.Phil. Or PhD which requires that an applicant be able to select a research topic, read and evaluate relevant literature, select appropriate research methods/tools, conduct the research and present their findings supported by rigorous discussion in a thesis. The project may include the design and development of a software or hardware product (or artefact) or involve an in depth investigation of a relevant technical issue in the right subject area with clearly defined questions, metrics and solution criteria using appropriate tools and techniques.

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At the end of the course the student should be able to:

A. Generic learning outcomes
B. manage a substantial individual project relevant to their programme of study, including the planning, documentation and control of a systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of the specialist academic discipline
C. apply competently and effectively key subject specific knowledge and technical skills involving tools, techniques and methodologies to a real or realistic industrial or research problem in the programme specialist area.
D. specify and scope a project at the forefront of their specialist knowledge appropriately
E. carry out an in-depth investigation of context, literature and related work (or products) in the field focused on the research questions and or project aims and requirements.
F. analyse, interpret, integrate and synthesise the findings of the investigation.
G. evaluate the relevance of current legislation, examine the role of the professional and professional bodies, and reflect upon the social and ethical implications from the client, employer and personal perspective.
H. write a project report to a given standard which should include a critical appraisal of the project.
I. For projects with a product/model building
J. provide a clear and critical description of the stages of the life cycle undertaken and evaluate its effectiveness including a description of how testing was applied at these stages
K. provide a clear and critical appraisal of software/hardware architectural choices, modelling techniques and technologies used
L. describe and evaluate the use of tools and methodologies to support the development process
M. produce a quality product and be able to explain and demonstrate how it works
N. critically evaluate or contrast the quality of the final product(s) relating this to key project choices made.
O. For projects by research
P. formulate the research hypotheses or questions clearly and precisely.
Q. select appropriate metrics, formalisms, tools and techniques for the investigation
R. plan and carry out the investigation by defining suitable research objectives and designing and conducting experiments to evaluate possible outcomes or answers to (was answer) the questions (was question)
S. take an informed, critical appraisal of what they have learned as well as their own work
T. Discuss their findings in the context of other related work in the field and in terms of the industrial and/or research relevance impact and contribution of their findings.
U. demonstrate an in-depth knowledge and skills in the chosen project area and relevant technologies, tools and techniques.

Students will select a topic from either a published list suggested by lecturers or suggest one (possibly relating to their work or employer). If the student suggests the topic, it must be agreed as suitable by the supervisor.
The project proposal must be uploaded and the layout should conform to the model outlined in lectures and published on the web page for this course. An appropriate member of the academic staff will be assigned as a supervisor for the student.
The student will examine different codes of practice and codes of ethics applicable to the computer professional; explore teleological, deontological and rights based reasoning plus conflicts of value and investigate the role of the law and how it applies to their project.

Students undertaking this course will be supported by:

A supervisor who will give advice and guidance. Students are expected to meet regularly with their supervisor throughout the year. Supervisors are not expected nor required to provide specific technical support for a project. Staff supervising projects will normally be assigned to projects that fall within their area of teaching, research or general interest, and will therefore be in a position to ensure that a student’s project conforms to the project requirements.
A series of lectures will outline the project process, assessment processes and support mechanisms
A course which will cover critical thinking, problem solving and research methods
An interactive project web site
Online conferences covering both technical and academic issues.

It is expected that the project work will require approximately 600 hours of work. This is equivalent to four 15 credit courses.

Continuous – 100% (15000 max words).
The project will be equally assessed by two members of the academic staff, one of whom will normally be the supervisor and they will take into account all of the relevant information available to make an informed judgement. This information will normally come from four key sources:

The project report;
The demonstration and student?s oral presentation to both markers;
All supporting work (e.g. product) submitted for examination by the student ;
The student?s diary of work carried out throughout the project life span as recorded in the student blog.

The aims of the course are to

A. Provide the student with the opportunity to demonstrate a good understanding and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of the specialist programme area
B. enable the student to develop a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship
C. create an environment where the student can develop originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline
D. let the student demonstrate that they can ?deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences
E. Give the opportunity for the student to demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level
F. develop the student’s ability to appraise critically, by producing an academic report of their project (explaining the problem, aims and objectives, methods/approach and techniques used, their literature review and critical evaluation of it, a body of their project work and their findings, conclusions together with references and citations).
G. provide an opportunity for the student to build on their knowledge from one or more of their taught courses, of which it must include either one 30 credit core course or two 15 credit core courses, as well as extend such knowledge into new areas with her/his own independent yet planned learning
H. apply competently and professionally some key elements of their domain knowledge and skills acquired in the programme of study to a realistic problem of real industrial or research relevance.