MSc Project Handbook

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MSc Project Handbook
Department of Computer Science
Authored by Dr Olga Angelopoulou
Table of Contents
1. Introduction 5
1.1 Useful information on the module 5
1.1.1 Recommended reading 5
1.1.2 Canvas 5
1.2 Supervision 6
2. The Process 7
2.1 Getting started on your project and how it is assessed 7
2.1.1 Investigative project 7
2.1.2 Development project 8
2.2 Ethics approval 9
2.3 Project management 9
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2.3.1 Further guidance 10
2.3.2 Project Journey 10
3. The Project 11
3.1 Instructions on the Detailed Project Proposal (DPP) 11
3.1.1 Detailed Project Proposal (DPP) presentation 11
3.2 Instructions on the Interim Progress Report (IPR) 11
3.2.1 Section 1: Introduction and overview 12
3.2.2 Section 2: Progress to date 12
3.2.3 Section 3: Planned work 12
3.2.4 Bibliography 12
3.2.5 Appendices 12
3.2.6 IPR report presentation 13
3.3 Instructions on the Final Project Report (FPR) 13
3.3.1 FPR report presentation 13
3.3.2 Assessment process 14
3.3.3 Marking process 14
3.3.4 Plagiarism checking 14
3.3.5 Project Demonstration 14
3.3.6 Late submissions 15
3.4 Final project report supporting structure 15
3.4.1 Title Page 15
3.4.2 Abstract 15
3.4.3 Acknowledgements (if any) 15
3.4.4 Contents page 15
3.4.5 Chapter 1: Introduction to the project 16
3.4.6 Collection of main chapters 16
3.4.7 Chapter X: Discussion and evaluation chapter 16
3.4.8 Bibliography and referencing 17
3.4.9 Appendices 17
3.5 Issues for the assessors and characteristics of each grade 17
3.5.1 For a numeric grade of 80 or above 18
3.5.2 For a numeric grade between 70 and 79 18
3.5.3 For a numeric grade between 60 and 69 18
3.5.4 For a numeric grade between 50 and 59 18
Appendix A: Detailed Project Proposal (DPP) Template 21
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Appendix B: Sample Title Page 22
Appendix C: Sample – MSc Interim Progress Report (IPR): feedback and Scores 23
Appendix D: Sample – Final Project Report (FPR) Marking Sheet26
Appendix E: MSc Project Journey Template 26
MSc Project Journey 28
1. Meeting objective 28
2. Preparation (reading material, completed work etc.) 28
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3. Action Items for next meeting 28
5. Planned next meeting 28
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1. Introduction
The purpose of the handbook is to accompany you during the preparation of your project for
the completion of your Master’s programme in the Department of Computer Science at the
University of Hertfordshire. The successful completion of your MSc Project, your final
project report and demonstration is worth 60 credits.
It is necessary for the award of a Master’s level qualification to demonstrate your ability to
bring together a variety of skills, experience and knowledge derived from different sources.
The main purpose of the Master’s project is to allow students to extend the principles and
concepts they have learnt during study of advanced modules, and apply that knowledge in the
context of a substantial piece of independent work.
You are expected to work on a practical investigative or development project. You should be
trying to answer some research questions. There needs to be an appropriate balance between
research and development and you should demonstrate you have acquired the skills to apply
the knowledge gained from your research to your practical work.
The project is a showpiece opportunity for you to demonstrate what you know about current
research and practices in your field of study and show off your skills in selecting and using
appropriate techniques and tools employed in these areas to conduct a practical investigation
into a particular problem. It is a self-directed piece of work, conducted with minimum
supervision that demonstrates your ability to plan and manage a substantial piece of work,
and steer your own efforts. You are expected to be thorough in your work, and particularly,
identify and tackle any difficult or challenging aspects of the problems they are trying to
solve. It is not just the quantity, or even the quality of work that is considered when grading
the project, but the level of difficulty and the scope of the problem being addressed.
The aims of the MSc Project are to enable the students to
1. Select and use appropriate tools and techniques in order to conduct a practical
investigation or solve a problem, and critically evaluate their own work.
2. Demonstrate that they can work independently with minimum supervision, plan their
work effectively, and present the outcome of their work in written and oral form.
3. Draw on what they already know about the subject area to identify further areas of
study, and extend their knowledge by making critical use of the technical and
scientific literature and other materials, and conceive original ideas of their own.
1.1 Useful information on the module
1.1.1 Recommended reading
• “Projects in Computing and Information Systems: A Student’s Guide”, any Edition,
Christian W Dawson, Addison Wesley.
• “Thesis Projects: A Guide for Students in Computer Science and Information
Systems”, any Edition, Mikael Berndtsson, Jörgen Hansson, Björn Olsson and Björn
Lundell, Springer.
1.1.2 Canvas
Where possible, distributed materials for this module will be put onto Canvas in the module
area for 7COM1039 Advanced Computer Science Masters Project. All the other masters’
project modules are slaved to this site, so those students registered on other project modules
will be redirected automatically to this site.
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1.2 Supervision
You must advise the module leader if you’ve agreed supervision with a staff member.
Otherwise the module team will assign you to a supervisor.
A typical meeting with your supervisor should approximately last 15 minutes each week for
one-semester (full-time) projects and every fortnight for double-semester (part-time) projects.
However, there are variances that depend on your needs. Your supervisor may take some
annual leave during your project. Supervision meetings could be scheduled with individuals
or as a group.
Your individual project supervisor will advise and support you on the project. However, they
will not tell you what to do, nor will take responsibility for your mistakes. The supervisor’s
role is not to contribute to any part of the project for you. The individual project supervisor is
a valuable resource and you should use them wisely since the resource is limited. Therefore,
you should make sure you meet with them every week (or every two weeks for part-time
students) for during term time, at a time that is mutually convenient for both of you. For these
meetings to be beneficial, you will need to do some work every week, or else you won’t have
anything to discuss with your supervisor.
It is a general observation that students who do not meet with their supervisors regularly do
not achieve good results in their projects.
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2. The Process
2.1 Getting started on your project and how it is
assessed
The project is an individual, rigorous, critical and complex piece of work. It is not an
assignment set by a tutor, where you mainly provide information that is coming from
someone else’s research with your personal critical thinking. It is not just a piece of software
development. You are expected to study what other people have done, and more importantly
generate information yourself and develop expertise in your area of study.
Depending on your study mode, the MSc Project is carried out over an extended period and
you should dedicate approximately 600 hours over one or two semesters — the equivalent of
43 hours a week for one-semester (full-time) projects; for double-semester (part-time)
projects, the equivalent of 21.5 hours per week on your project work. It is very important to
plan ahead your work and not leave it to the last few weeks. Your participation is imperative.
You should never forget to be working full time on your project. Please avoid taking leave in
general. If you are absent, then plan with your supervisor and adjust your schedule.
Always keep in touch and keep up!
There are eight different project modules, but only TWO really different kinds of project,
investigative or development. You must do the type of project specified by the award you
seek.
Learning outcomes for ALL students
1. be able to plan and manage a substantial body of work, identify any risks inherent in
their chosen approach, and work independently with minimum supervision;
2. be able to both critically evaluate and discuss the outcome of their project work in
written and oral form
3. be able to articulate the broader contexts of their work in relation to legal, social,
ethical, and professional issues, and assess the economic impact of their project.
2.1.1 Investigative project
This type of project requires you to work on an investigative and practical project. It applies
to those of you who study Software Engineering, AI with Robotics, Networking, Cyber
Security, Data Science with Analytics or Advanced Computer Science.
“This type of project involves a thorough investigation of a particular area; improving your
understanding of that area, identifying strengths and weaknesses within the field, discussing
how the field has evolved, and acknowledging areas suitable for further development and
investigation. This kind of project will involve some form of literature search and review. A
research-based project may well have to do more than establish the field of study.” (Dawson,
2009)
You need to have a research question or hypothesis to investigate.
Investigative project learning outcomes
• be able to critically evaluate advanced literature in topics relevant to their chosen
project.
• be able to refer to the findings of other academic writers to justify their chosen approach to
the development of a solution, and to evaluate the outcomes of their project work;
• be able to combine their knowledge of the subject, their reading of research papers
and the outcome of their own investigations to conceive original ideas of their own.
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AI with/and Robotics project (7COM1036/86)
• be able to undertake a practical piece of work that demonstrates that they can apply
their knowledge and skills to the design and development of computerised solutions to
a particular problem within the domain of computer science.
Computer Networking Principles and Practice project (7COM1037)
• be able to select and use appropriate techniques and tools employed in computer
networking, distributed systems, and system security in order to conduct a practical
investigation into a particular distributed systems or system security problem.
Software Engineering project (7COM1038)
• be able to select and use appropriate software engineering models, methodologies,
measures and tools in order to conduct a practical investigation or solve a particular
software engineering problem.
Advanced CS project (7COM1039)
• be able to select and use appropriate techniques and tools employed in computer
science in order to conduct a practical investigation of a particular advanced
computer science problem.
Cyber Security project (7COM1070)
• be able to select and use appropriate techniques and tools employed in cyber security
in order to conduct a practical investigation into a particular cyber security problem.
Data Science and Analytics Masters Project (7COM1075)
• be able to select and use appropriate techniques and tools employed in data science
and analytics in order to conduct a practical investigation into a particular data
science and analytics problem.
Computer Networks and Systems Security Project (7COM1077)
• be able to select and use appropriate techniques and tools employed in computer
networking, distributed systems, and system security in order to conduct a practical
investigation into a particular distributed systems or system security problem.
2.1.2 Development project
If you are on the “crossover” award, the requirements are significantly different.
The development project “includes the development of, not only software and hardware
systems, but also of process models, methods, algorithms, theories, designs, requirement
specifications, and other interim documents. Examples of software development projects
include database systems, multimedia systems, information systems, and web-based systems.
For some developments (notably software) you will be required to include requirements
documentation, designs, analyses, and fully documented test results along with user manuals
or guides. Depending on the nature of your course, the focus for a development project may
vary.
Whichever kind of development project you tackle, it is unlikely that the development of a
product would be acceptable on its own. In addition, you would normally be expected to
include a critical evaluation of the product as well as the development process used. Critical
evaluation emphasises the distinction between the academic qualities of your work from
technical ability alone.” (Dawson, 2009)
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Development project learning outcomes
1. be able to demonstrate a deep understanding of different approaches to modelling,
design and programming;
2. show how these approaches might affect the nature of solutions to computational
problems and critically evaluate their deployment in appropriate contexts.
3. be able to refer to the findings of other academic writers to justify their chosen
approach to the development of a solution, and to evaluate the outcomes of their
project work.
4. be able to undertake a practical piece of work that demonstrates that they can apply
their knowledge and skills to the design and development of complex computerised
solutions to a particular problem within the domain of computer science.
2.2 Ethics approval
If you are planning to use other people in your project, you MUST apply for an ethics
approval. You will need to get Ethics Approval before running a survey, conducting
interviews, or getting people to evaluate your system. However, if the questions you propose
to ask are noncontroversial, and you promise to keep the responses anonymous, this should
be a formality, but not trivial.
To get approval, you need to complete some forms, write a statement that explains in detail
what kind of questions you will ask (– it would be better if you could provide the actual
questions). You should email all the documents to your supervisor to check before submitting
for the Ethics Approval.
Your application will be reviewed by the Ethics Committee. The Ethics Committee have
many forms to look at, so you need to give them enough information to decide quickly. You
should apply at least three weeks in advance. For example, do not just say “conduct a survey”
or “interview some clients”, because you haven’t told them enough to let them judge whether
there might be a problem with what you propose to do. You should explain the purpose(s) of
the survey/interviews (e.g. to determine functional requirements, or to obtain feedback on the
quality of the user interface) and say what the questions will be about.
Read the Ethics notes on Canvas for further guidance and find the relevant links for your
application. Breaching ethics rules can result in failure.
2.3 Project management
You should always have in mind that this is your project and you set the agenda for it. You
should expect to learn new things while working on your MSc Project and not just complete
something you could have done as an undergraduate. You are responsible for your work and
management and you need to manage the time you spend on your project including the time
you spend with your supervisor.
After all your time management is very important for the outcome of your work. You need to
concentrate on your aim, define appropriate deadlines, and also plan on what you are working
on and reading each day. It is important not to be over optimistic and have a simple plan. You
can divide the time you have available into weeks and keep a note of whether you are on
schedule or not. You should expect parallel processes in your project plan and also allow
enough time for writing up your report, instead of planning to write up everything at the end.
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You could try planning forward at the end of each day, so that you have a diary for the
following day. Often you may need to re-plan and re-organise in order to take account of the
actual state of your project. However, there is no need to submit revised plans since you
should use this for the organisation and management of your own project.
It is a wise idea to consider preparing and maintaining weekly progress reports. A weekly
progress report will help you to get the most out of your meeting with your supervisor as
well. This might include what you have done, learnt, trouble shouted, planned for next week.
It will also help your project supervisor to focus on important issues on your next meeting,
while it will force you to be clear about what you have achieved, and to be honest about any
problems you are having. When the problems are fixed, they can be described under what
have been done and learnt as one of your achievements.
It is a good practise to keep it short, so that it fits on one A4 sized page. Small tasks are best
and you should keep it measurable, e.g. I wrote 6 lines of code or I read 270 pages of “C++ in
21 days”. Examples of non-reasonable achievements are: reading about VPNs, learning VB,
thinking about the design, or started on implementation.
Be aware of the Serious Adverse Circumstances (SAC) rules and procedures, as you cannot
get extra time to finish (without SACs), nor a better mark than the work deserves (even with
SACs). If you are applying for a SAC, do it as soon as possible.
2.3.1 Further guidance
• If your project involves building a system, make sure you leave time for evaluation.
• Planning helps
• Also, writing a weekly progress report really helps.
• To reach your goal, you do something (a task”), and at the end have something to
show (a deliverable”) that demonstrates you have met your objective.
• ALWAYS maintain back-up copies of the most recent version of your work in more
than ONE location.
2.3.2 Project Journey
As part of your project management you are required to maintain a project journey that acts
as a journal for your project. A journal that records the details of every meeting you have
with your supervisor, outlines your actions for your next meeting and identifies the work you
have undertaken form your previous meeting aims to provide structure in the way you
manage your work. Your project journey also acts as a measuring item to demonstrate your
engagement on the project. Therefore, you are recommended to share it with the supervisor
on a regular basis. Your supervisor could use it to monitor your progress in your project
work.
You can find a template for the project journey in Appendix E.
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3. The Project
3.1 Instructions on the Detailed Project Proposal (DPP)
You should select a topic you are REALLY interested in and is relevant to your programme.
Don’t forget you will need to dedicate 600 hours on this project. You can find some project
ideas on the module site, but you may also propose your own. You could search for ideas in
past dissertations, journal articles, research reports, books, media, discussions with academics
and experts in the field. You are strongly encouraged to discuss your idea with (potential)
supervisors. Your proposal can, and maybe should, change after submission. However, the
more detailed the better, even if it is guesswork.
You should arrange to meet your supervisor as soon as possible and discuss your proposal
with them. It is acceptable to be wrong about a few things during this stage.
The project proposal has no marks allocation. However, you are strongly encouraged to
invest quality time in the preparation of your proposal. A complete project proposal will give
you a structured plan on how to work on your project.
The preparation of your proposal should comprise of extensive reading on your chosen topic
that will allow you to develop plans for a literature review. Some questions that will help
answering while working on your proposal are the following:
• Does your project rely on data, information or code that will be difficult to access?
• Are you planning to do something that will not help your grade?
• Are you expecting the supervisor to tell you what to do for your project?
• Is it realistic in terms of time?
• Is it the right kind of project?
• Does your proposal include some kind of investigation/ development?
• What will you learn?
• What is your contribution?
• What question are you answering?
The project proposal also forms a plan to your work. You should be able to tell from your
lists of tasks what you will do on your project, e.g. “I will investigate…”. It should also
include what this will involve, and it should lead you to your Project Plan. A template for
your project proposal can be found in Appendix A.
You should make sure you start the work on your project immediately after you submit the
proposal and always consult your supervisor about major changes to your plans.
3.1.1 Detailed Project Proposal (DPP) presentation
• The same font should be used throughout. We would prefer you to use 12-point
Times, though any reasonable alternative (such as Arial) will be accepted.
• Lines should be single-spaced, with between 1/2 a line and a whole line of extra space
after each paragraph.
• Margins: at least 20mm left and right; 25mm top and bottom.
• No more than three pages in length, excluding the cover sheet, contents list,
bibliography and any appendices.
3.2 Instructions on the Interim Progress Report (IPR)
You should have done about 260 hours work on your project by the time you submit your
Interim Progress Report (IPR). In other words, you are nearly half way through your project.
We expect you will have made significant inroads into your practical investigation, as well
as carrying out background research. You should prepare a written report on the progress you
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have made. This report should not be aimed at your supervisor (who should already know
what you are doing), but at a technically competent reader who knows nothing about your
project, such as the independent marker. Say how far you have got: tell us what you have
completed, why you have done it. Discuss problemss should be numbered in one continuous
sequence.
The Interim Progress Report (IPR) weights 5% of your overall grade and you will receive
marks based on the quality of the project, the quality and amount of the practical work, your
report structure and the presentation of your report.
The submission is via Canvas ONLY. You will receive feedback from your supervisor.
The IPR should include the following sections:
3.2.1 Section 1: Introduction and overview
It is suggested that this section should be about 2-3 pages long in total, and you may add any
appropriate section or sub-section headings you wish to this list. You may reuse parts of your
project proposal if appropriate [and in turn you may re-use parts of the Interim Progress
Report (IPR) in your final report]. Describe the research question your project sets out to
address and the practical investigation you have planned to address that question. Describe
any technical work that you are undertaking as part of that investigation, such as the
construction of data sets or software apparatus. Say what tools and techniques you are using
for your investigation, experimentation, and evaluation of your work. You should list the
specific deliverables you intend to produce during your project: design, documents,
programs, questionnaires, databases, test plans, experimental designs, results, etc.
3.2.2 Section 2: Progress to date
Again, it is suggested that you write about 2-3 pages and add an appropriate section heading
and any necessary sub-headings. Describe the progress you have made so far i.e. what you
have done. Be specific. Problems encountered or anticipated and steps taken/to be taken to
solve them. Explain the supporting evidence you can provide for the work you have done, the
documents that demonstrate your achievements, and include these documents as appendices.
3.2.3 Section 3: Planned work
This section is expected to be about half to 1 page in length. Again, add an appropriate
section heading and any necessary sub-headings. List the major tasks that need to be
completed for the project to be a success, from start to finish (including any you have already
completed) with target completion dates. Explain what each task means and what
deliverables it will produce. Say how you will judge the quality of your project work and how
you intend to evaluate the process you have gone through. Don’t forget to include writing up
the final report and preparing for the demonstration/presentation after submission.
3.2.4 Bibliography
List any sources that you cite in your report. You should also list any sources that you have
used, even if not cited directly. Use the Harvard system for your in-text citations, and for
your references, producing one list, ordered by author surname (whether the material is
drawn from books, journals, web pages, forums or blogs, or is a piece of software).
3.2.5 Appendices
Include supporting evidence as appendices to your report. These should be numbered
(Appendix 1, Appendix 2 etc.) and each should start on a new page and be given a title. Your
tutor is not required to read the appendices but may refer to them for evidence to back up
your claims.
Typically, appendices will include evidence of design, investigative or practical work (e.g.
ERMs, formal specifications, code, questionnaires, and so on). At this stage, it will mostly be
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work-in-progress, and it is fine for this to be handwritten. You may scan documents and
include them with your submission if you wish; but you may not wish not to spend too much
time on tasks like scanning handwriting notes. Instead, you could take the materials to your
next project meeting to assure the supervisor about the progress you made.
3.2.6 IPR report presentation
The report should be prepared as follows:
• The same font should be used throughout. We would prefer you to use 12-point
Times, though any reasonable alternative (such as Arial) will be accepted.
• Lines should be single-spaced, with between 1/2 a line and a whole line of extra space
after each paragraph.
• Margins: at least 20mm left and right; 25mm top and bottom.
• The whole report is expected to be no more than eight pages in length, excluding the
cover sheet, contents list, bibliography and any appendices.
3.3 Instructions on the Final Project Report (FPR)
After your IPR report submission, you should have done another 340 hours of work on your
project, amounting to about 600 hours of effort by the time you submit your project report.
The final project report is worth 95% of the overall assessment for the module; Please allow
plenty of the time to the collation, writing, editing and formatting of the report and supporting
documents, and the preparation and time given to a demonstration and face to face (or online)
discussion of your work with your assessors.
You should be aware from the outset that the report and your explanation of your work is the
primary evidence used in the assessment, and it is the assessment of your abilities to conduct
and deliver a project that is key. Assume that your audience has the level of knowledge of a
good Masters student who has taken the same modules as you. Keep this in mind when
writing about background technical information and do not present large amounts of material
that such a reader would already know or that could be read in a standard textbook. Reference
the textbook in your bibliography and keep the information you present specific to your own
work.
Any software product or model or artefact that you may have produced during your project is
not the focus of the assessment. In an extreme case, a student that submits a well-crafted
piece of work, but fails to submit a report into how it was produced, will fail. The project
module is about assessing your abilities as a student in your discipline area.
Do not underestimate the time it takes to produce your report, considering that you may want
to get your supervisor to read part of it to comment on your style at least a week before you
submit, and you may have to redraft it several times. Internet/computing facilities may also
become unavailable at short notice at critical times, so allow plenty of time and have backup
plans.
3.3.1 FPR report presentation
The report should be prepared as follows:
• Approximately 10,000 words in length
• The bibliography and appendices are not included in the word length.
• Do not use the cover sheet (So NO assignment briefing sheet).
• The same font should be used throughout. We would prefer you to use 12-point
Times, though any reasonable alternative (such as Arial) will be accepted.
• Lines should be single-spaced, with between 1/2 a line and a whole line of extra space
after each paragraph.
• Margins: at least 20mm left and right; 25mm top and bottom.
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• Pages should be numbered in one continuous sequence.
3.3.2 Assessment process
The submission of the final project report is ONLY through Canvas.
3.3.3 Marking process
The two markers will independently assess your work.
• If the grades they award differ by 10 the most, the grades will be averaged, combined
with the grade for the Interim Progress Report (IPR), and presented to the Board of
Examiners for approval.
• Where the markers differ 11 or more marks, the standard School procedure will be
followed to resolve the difference.
3.3.4 Plagiarism checking
This assignment must be completed individually. You must be aware of the University’s
policies on plagiarism and collusion: these are severe offences with severe penalties.
Regulations governing assessment offences including Plagiarism and Collusion are available
from:
Structure and Assessment Regulations – Undergraduate and Taught
Postgraduate Programmes (AS14) – Apx 3 – Academic Integrity and Academic
Misconduct
Direct URL: https://www.herts.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/237625/AS14-Apx3-Academic-Misconduct.pdf
The Turnitin facility is enabled on Canvas for you to check the similarity of your report with
other resources. A ‘mock’ submission point will be set up to allow you to upload and check
the similarity report on Turnitin before your (real) final submission. Any ‘mock’ submissions
are not stored in a repository and you may re-submit multiple times.
3.3.5 Project Demonstration
You must give a live demonstration of your work to your supervisor and second marker who
will ask questions about your work. This demonstration is part of the formal assessment
process and counts 20% of your final project mark. It is your responsibility to agree a time
and date for this with your supervisor (who would contact the 2nd marker on your behalf). It
should normally take place after both markers have assessed the report and you must turn up
on time and be prepared for your demonstration.
Please consider the following project demonstration guide:
1. All students are required to give a demonstration or other presentation of the work
they have produced for their project. You will have 10 minutes to show your work.
If you go on longer than 10 minutes you may be interrupted. Then there will be 10
minutes for answering questions. The time is very short so you will need to plan and
should discuss how best to present your work with your project supervisor. Please do
not attempt to do a PowerPoint presentation telling us about what you did: you need
to show us the actual work. Suppose, for example, that the main deliverable from
your project consists of an extensive set of test results and analysis of those results.
We would not want to be told what you did, we would want you to present the actual
results, and talk us through them.
2. The assessment will be carried out by your supervisor and the second marker for your
project, who will both attend your demonstration.
3. You may use one of the university computers (please make sure the lab is going to be
free at the arranged time for your presentation beforehand) or your own laptop.
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4. We cannot provide networking facilities for your laptop machine beyond what is
normally available in the area where your demonstration takes place. But in general,
it is perfectly acceptable to demonstrate a networking, client-server or web-based
project using the loopback address 127.0.0.1 (localhost). If one or two features (such
as automated email to another machine) cannot be demonstrated for sound technical
reasons that is unlikely to be a problem unless they are at the core of your system.
5. If you need to use specialist software that is not installed in the general laboratory
area then you could consider to approach Library and Computing Services Helpdesk
about getting the software installed on one of the UH machines. THIS NEEDS TO BE
DONE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Please be aware, however, that we cannot permit
the installation of software for which neither we, nor you, have a valid license (if the
software is being installed under your license you will be asked to prove that you have
one).
6. If you miss the demonstration this is like missing an examination. If there is a good
reason for missing the appointment for your demonstration, there may be an
opportunity to reschedule the demo, but if this happens you will need valid and
documented serious adverse circumstances (SAC) presented to the Board of
Examiners in the usual way.
3.3.6 Late submissions
Standard penalties will apply to late submissions.
If you submit your report late, the standard lateness penalty will be applied. If you submit
more than five days late you will get zero for your final submission.
If you do not give a demonstration you will be treated as having failed to submit evidence to
back up the claims made in your report. If you wish to put forward serious adverse
circumstances (SAC) in mitigation of late submission, or failure to attend the demonstration,
then you must complete the Serious Adverse Circumstances (SAC) form with documentary
evidence of the circumstances. This should be done as soon as possible, and in any case before
the meeting of the Board of Examiners who will consider the matter.
Even if your serious adverse circumstances (SAC) are accepted, your project cannot be
marked according to the schedule described here unless it is received on time; if it is
submitted substantially later than the due date, demonstrations and assessments may be
deferred to the assessment period at the end of the next semester.
3.4 Final project report supporting structure
3.4.1 Title Page
Please use the template provided (see Appendix B).
3.4.2 Abstract
The abstract should be a statement up to half a page in length describing the subject matter of
the project report and the main findings and conclusions presented in the report. A reader
should be able to decide what the report is about by reading this alone.
3.4.3 Acknowledgements (if any)
3.4.4 Contents page
The table of contents must show the chapters of the report, with the title of each and the page
number on which each chapter begins. If your chapters are organised in sections, with a title
for each, show these sections on the contents page as well. Do not go to greater detail than
sections, as the table of contents should fit on a single page.
MSc Project Handbook
16
3.4.5 Chapter 1: Introduction to the project
This chapter should introduce the project. Say what the project was about, such as what are
the research questions you were attempting to address, give some brief background
information (sufficient to ‘set the scene’) and list the objectives you were trying to achieve by
doing the project. These should be based on what you said in your project plan, but they may
have changed since the plan was submitted; any changes should be explained later in the
report, probably in the overall evaluation of the work.
This chapter should also introduce the report. Give a very brief statement of how your report
is structured, including what is in each chapter (and the most important appendices), just to
help the reader gain an idea of how you have presented your work.
3.4.6 Collection of main chapters
How to present these will depend largely on the subject of the project, but here are a few
points of advice:
(a) You may assume that your readership has the level of knowledge of a good Masters
student who has taken the same modules as you. Bear this in mind when writing about
background technical information and do not present large amounts of material that such a
reader would already know or that could be read in a standard textbook. Simply reference the
textbook in your bibliography and keep the information you present specific to your own
work. Explain how any background material you present has been used in your project.
(b) The main chapters of your report are where you describe your achievements. Instead of
just listing the tasks that you carried out diary-style, in the order you did them, it is better to
organize the chapters around topics.
(c) In these chapters, you should tell the reader what you have done, why you did it, what
results you obtained, what you think you have achieved (including the problems you have
overcome), how you calculated the commercial risk for your project and how you managed it,
and how you went about evaluating your work (criteria applied, tests performed, and so on).
Be sure to present the results of your project work properly.
(d) It is important to present in the written report information about your work that will not
be conveyed at the demonstration. As an example, depending on the nature of your project
and the way you approached your work, this might include:
• Discussion of methods that were considered and the reasons for choosing one method
over another;
• Use of software tools (what inputs you supplied, how you configured them, what
outputs were produced);
• Presentation and discussion of intermediate results, for instance of a program which
was progressively refined or extended;
3.4.7 Chapter X: Discussion and evaluation chapter
The extent to which you demonstrate the ability to reflect upon your work is very important.
In this chapter, you should summarise your main findings/results and evaluate what you have
achieved and how you went about it. You may find it more convenient to include an
evaluation of your work in the chapters where it is presented and summarise that evaluation
here. What is crucial is to have a critical self-evaluation of the extent to which you have
achieved the things you set out to do. Assess the extent to which you met your objectives.
You will not be penalised for acknowledging that you failed to achieve everything you set out
to do, and especially not the more advanced things, but you certainly would be criticised if
you gave the impression of not having noticed that you had failed to meet an objective.
You should have a short section on management of the project (usually one to two pages),
including how you planned to allocate time at the start of the year and how it worked out in
MSc Project Handbook
17
practice. Additionally, you should demonstrate you have considered the commercial and
economic context of your project.
3.4.8 Bibliography and referencing
After the final chapter, and before any appendices, list any sources (books, journals, web
pages etc.) that you cite in your report. You should also list any sources that you have used,
even if not cited directly. Use the Harvard system for your in-text citations, and for your
references, producing one list, ordered by author surname (whether the material is drawn
from books, journals, forums or blogs, or is a piece of software). A guide to the Harvard
referencing system is provided on line at
http://www.studynet.herts.ac.uk/ptl/common/LIS.nsf/lis/busharvard
The University provides an online “Library SkillUP” tutorial on citing sources and referencing that you
should work through. It is available at
http://www.studynet.herts.ac.uk/ptl/common/LIS.nsf/lis/citing_menu
3.4.9 Appendices
The appendices to your report provide supporting evidence of the quality and quantity of the
work you have done. Your appendices should contain any, specifications, design documents,
survey forms and results, screen shots, and other documentation produced as part of your
project. Without this supporting evidence, it is possible that the markers will take the view
that you have not done everything you claim to have done.
However, the appendices are only there to back up the claims made in your report. Markers
can only be expected to look at those parts of the appendices you draw their attention to in the
main body of the report. They are not obliged to read the appendices in detail, though they
may do so. If you think it is important to draw the markers’ attention to a document, or a part
of a document, tell them where to find (don’t just say “the code for this is in appendix 3”, give
a page number, and/or other information that makes it clear how to find it; better still, include
the relevant fragment of the code in the body of your report).
Any program code written by you must be presented in the appendices. But do not
include code that is machine generated, or that comes from a different author, unless it is
necessary for the reader to understand the work you have done. If you do include code that
you did not write yourself, it is your responsibility to make clear which parts of the program
are your own and which parts are not. If you present automatically generated code, or the
code of another programmer, as if it were your own, you may be accused of plagiarism.
Do not include copies of any web pages that you have referred to, unless it is necessary for
the reader to see them to make your point: just put the citation details in your bibliography.
Samples of the work that is presented in the appendices may (and probably should) be
included in the body of your report to illuminate a point or for discussion purposes.
3.5 Issues for the assessors and characteristics of each
grade
The following factors will be considered in marking projects:
• The size and complexity of the task;
• Critical appraisal of your own work: the clarity of your explanation of the work you
have completed; the evaluation of the extent of your achievement; the evaluation of
your management of the project including the use you made of the project plan(s);
your assessment of the success of the project overall and your identification of
possible remaining or future tasks;
• Communication skills: structure of the report; coherence; quality of writing; quality of
presentation.
MSc Project Handbook
18
• Background reading and the results of text-based research;
• Problem definition;
• Quality of solution: design and implementation; experimental work;
• Quality of approach: suitability of method, choice of tools and skill in using them;
• Testing; analysis and evaluation of end-product(s) and results.
The first three factors are important in any project; the remaining ones may vary in relevance.
We expect all students to be able to explain their work and show an appropriate level of
understanding of any technical material they have used or developed. Such explanations and
demonstrations of understanding should be evident in the written report and during the
presentation and demonstration: a body of work that is not backed up by evidence of
understanding is likely to achieve a poor grade.
3.5.1 For a numeric grade of 80 or above
We expect the work to be truly outstanding.
3.5.2 For a numeric grade between 70 and 79
We expect the work to be of an excellent standard. We expect to see evidence that you
understand how the concepts and principles underpinning the subject area of your degree are
relevant to your project work, that you have made well-reasoned choices of appropriate tools
and techniques and applied them in a thoughtful manner.
There should be evidence of substantial achievement of very high quality, and your report
should demonstrate that you can explain and critique what you have done, why you did it,
what you achieved by doing it, and how your work might be improved or extended.
We expect all major issues, including the really hard and perhaps un-resolvable ones, to be
properly evaluated and commented upon in the project report. We are not looking for an
original contribution to knowledge, but we expect you to have unearthed and addressed all
the complexities of the problem, and not to have avoided any difficulties. We expect the
report to be well-structured, coherent, well-written and free of significant grammatical errors.
3.5.3 For a numeric grade between 60 and 69
We expect the work to be of a very good standard.
We expect to see a broad-ranging and thorough investigation of the project topic, with a
methodical presentation of all the main issues. There should be evidence of a substantial
quantity of work of a high standard, in which you have brought to bear relevant principles
and practices and chosen and applied appropriate tools and techniques.
We expect to see evidence that you appreciate how your project work is related to your other
studies.
We expect you to evaluate properly all the main points arising in the work. We also expect
you to show that you are aware of the limitations of the work, and to recognise and comment
on aspects of it that would merit further study. We would expect your report to be wellstructured, coherent, and largely free of grammatical errors.
3.5.4 For a numeric grade between 50 and 59
We expect the work to be of a good or at least satisfactory standard.
We expect to see evidence that you have taken a methodical approach to the work, and that
you have undertaken practical work of reasonable scale and at least to an average standard.
We also expect you to demonstrate an understanding of the principal issues in your project
work, and to show that you can describe what you have achieved, and that you can explain
the things you have done and why you have done them. We expect your report to be
coherent and largely free of grammatical errors.
MSc Project Handbook
19
MSc Project Handbook
20
Appendices
All appendices are also separately uploaded on Canvas under the relevant sections
MSc Project Handbook
21
Appendix A: Detailed Project Proposal (DPP) Template
Detailed Project Proposal (DPP)
Working Title of the Dissertation
1. Hypothesis
2. The Problem / Short description of your idea
3. The project aim(s)
4. The project objectives
5. How you plan to conduct your research
6. Project plan
7. References/ Bibliography
Student Number: Student Name:
Course:
Supervised by: (if known)
Type of Proposal:
MSc Project Handbook
22
Appendix B: Sample Title Page
UNIVERSITY OF HERTFORDSHIRE
Department of Computer Science
MSc Title
Module Code and Title
Date
PROJECT TITLE
Name
Student ID
Supervisor: Supervisor’s name
MSc Project Handbook
23
Appendix C: Sample – MSc Interim Progress Report
(IPR): feedback and Scores
Student name
Student registration number
Module code-instance
MSc Project Award
Marker name
1. Background research (maximum 15)

4
8
12
15
Score
Little or no
evidence of
literature review
Limited review,
overview of few
relevant papers
with no critical
appraisal
Satisfactory
review, concise
review of
relevant
papers, limited
critical
appraisal
Good, concise
review of
relevant
papers, some
critical
appraisal, set
into context of
project
Excellent
review, concise
critical review,
set into context
of project
2. Summary of progress to date (maximum 15)

4
8
12
15
Score
Little or no
evidence of
progress
Inconsistent,
some evidence
of progress but
lacking
continuity
Satisfactory
summary of
progress, little
implementation
work
Good summary
of progress,
some
implementation
of work
Excellent
summary of
progress,
substantial
implementation
work
3. Consideration of ethical/legal/professional and social issues (maximum 20)

5
10
15
20
Score
None
submitted,
or
irrelevant
Naïve/superficial
consideration of
ethical/ legal
/professional/social
issues
Most but not all ethical/
legal/professional/social
issues considered
Very good
consideration
of legal/
professional/
social issues.
Some
awareness of
University
procedures in
relation to
ethics
approval
demonstrated
Excellent
consideration of
legal/
professional/social
issues, and
knowledge of
University
procedures in
relation to ethics
approval
demonstrated
MSc Project Handbook
24
4. Project plan (maximum 10)

2
5
8
10
Score
Little or no
evidence of
project planning
Some evidence
of project
planning but too
vague
Satisfactory,
concise and
coherent
project planning
with some
defined tasks
and timelines
Good, concise
and coherent
project plan.
Clearly defined
tasks and
timelines with
minor errors
Excellent,
concise and
coherent
project plan
with clearly
defined tasks
and timelines
5. Appendices (maximum 10)

2
5
8
10
Score
No appendices
Appendices
provide little
evidence of
progress
Appendices
provide some
evidence of
progress
Appendices
provide good
evidence of
progress e.g.
record of
supervisory
meetings,
source code,
screenshots
Appendices
provide
excellent
evidence of
progress e.g.
record of
supervisory
meetings,
source code,
screenshots,
version control,
test plans
6. Referencing (maximum 10)

2
5
8
10
Score
Little or no
coherent
referencing and
use of technical
terms
Incomplete
referencing and
use of technical
terms, frequent
mistakes
Satisfactory
referencing and
use of technical
terms, minor
mistakes
Good use of
referencing and
technical terms,
occasional
mistakes
Excellent
referencing and
use of technical
terms,
7. Report structure and coherence (maximum 10)

2
5
8
10
Score
No discernible
structure. No
presentation of
ideas
Lacking
structure, Few
clear ideas
presented
Writing is
mainly clear
with some
structural
issues. Ideas
presented with
some issues in
clarity
Fluently written
with very few
errors. Very
minor structural
errors. Ideas
presented with
excellent clarity
Lucid
presentation
high clarity. No
structural
errors. Ideas
presented with
exceptional
clarity
8. Readability, grammar and spelling (maximum 10)

2
5
8
10
Score
Very difficult to
follow. Many
grammar/
spelling errors.
Argument
difficult to
follow. Patchy
presentation,
frequent errors
Satisfactory
presentation,
minor errors in
spelling/
grammar and
High standard of
production,
infrequent
production
errors, clear and
Outstanding
standard of
production,
report set out in
clear and
MSc Project Handbook
25
in formatting
compromising
meaning and
readability.
Poor spelling
and grammar.
formatting, but
text conveys
meaning.
labelled
diagrams. Very
minor
grammar/spelling
errors.
attractive
format. No
grammar/
spelling l
errors.
TOTAL SCORE
Please note, the Interim Progress Report is worth 5% of the overall assessment for the module.
Marker’s comments
MSc Project Handbook
26
Appendix D: Sample – Final Project Report (FPR) Marking Sheet
MSc Project Handbook
27
Appendix E: MSc Project Journey Template
Department of Computer Science
Don’t forget to upload your project journey on Canvas after your meeting!
MSc Project Journey
Project title:
Student’s name:
Date of Meeting:
(MM/DD/YYYY)
Supervisor’s name
Location:
(on campus/ online)
1. Meeting objective
2. Preparation (reading material, completed work etc.)
Description
3. Action Items for next meeting
Action
Due Date
5. Planned next meeting
Date:
(MM/DD/YYYY)
Time:
Location:

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