Masters Project

Unit code: COMP66090
Credit Rating: 90
Unit level: Level 6
Teaching period(s): Full year
Offered by School of Computer Science
Available as a free choice unit?: N




  1. Understand how to organize your project
  2. Develop an appreciation of ethical principles and practices
  3. Appreciate the professional responsibilities of a computer scientist
  4. Understand what constitutes acceptable technical and scientific writing
  5. To learn how to systematically source relevant literature and conduct literature review
  6. Understand methods used for the empirical evaluation of the research outcomes.


In this course unit you will learn about the dissertation project process, how to plan the project and how to write the dissertation.

Learning outcomes

On completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1.  Understand the key considerations in project planning and identify technical milestones
  2. Appreciate the roles and responsibilities within in the systems life cycle. Understand de Marco’s 4 Ps of professionalism. Be able to consider the evaluation of computing as legal, decent, moral, honest, ethical, and truthful. Be aware of the difference between doing the right thing and doing things right.
  3. Understand what constitutes good prose/style for technical writing, correct use of figures and tables, together with proper use and formatting of references
  4. Be able to follow a systematic literature review process to identify and select relevant literature, and conduct and present literature review.
  5. Understand quantitative and qualitative methods for evaluating research outcomes. Know how to represent and critically analyse evaluation results. Be familiar with basic methods for testing and profiling.

Employability skills

  • Project management
  • Research
  • Written communication
  • Other

Assessment methods

  • Written assignment (inc essay) - 10%
  • Dissertation - 90%


The lectures and study will cover the following topics:

  • Project planning / Research methods (3 hours supervised study – 17 hours private study)

Introduction to the project and project planning. Define what constitutes a good plan and the important considerations. Understand how to define technical goals and milestones. Appreciate the importance of monitoring progress and adapting the project objectives as in light of progress made and learning gained including risk and contingency planning.


  • Ethics (3 hours supervised study – 17 hours private study)

Students will be introduced to ethical frameworks. These frameworks will be useful in order to judge a number of ethical issues featured in media about AI, autonomous vehicles, software engineering, computer science and social networks. Coursework will involve assessing the ethical issues of a current computer science ethical dilemma using the ethical framework implemented by the School of Computer Science Ethics online tool.


  • Professional issues (3 hours supervised study – 17 hours private study)

What should a CS professional know?

Great software failures

How should a professional talk?

Purchasers, users, developers

Right’ Decisions Repertoire

Designing in non-functional requirements


  • Research writing (3 hours supervised study – 17 hours private study)

Communicate ideas simply and unambiguously. Getting comments of others on written work. Correctly structuring a report or paper. Use of proper archival references and correct formatting of references. Good use of figures/tables and informative captions. Proper use and formatting of mathematical objects (equations).


  • Systematic literature review (3 hours supervised study – 17 hours private study)

Defining research questions

Developing a review protocol

Identifying relevant literature

Selecting studies

Extracting required data

Reporting the review


  • Evaluation (& testing) (3 hours supervised study – 17 hours private study)

Methods for empirical evaluation, analysis of evaluation data, testing and profiling.


Recommended reading

Recommended texts

  • Frank Bott, Professional Issues in Information Technology, 2nd edition, BCS, 2014, (ISBN 9781780171807)
  • B. Kitchenham et. al. Guidelines for performing systematic literature reviews in software engineering, School of Computer Science and Mathematics, Keele University, 2007.


Supplementary reading

·Association for Computing Machinery Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct;

·The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Code of Ethics;

  • H. Zhang, and M. A. Babar, and P. Tell, Identifying relevant studies in software engineering. Information and Software Technology, 53(6), pp.625-637, 2011.
  • Ian F. Alexander, A Taxonomy of Stakeholders: Human Roles in System Development, Issues and Trends in Technology and Human Interaction, Editor(s): Bernd, Carsten, Stahl (De Montfort University, UK) IRM Press. 25-71 pp., 2007
  • M. J. Carr, S. L. Konda, Taxonomy-Based Risk Identification, Software 2003
  • Michael Cavanagh, Second Order Project Management, Routledge, 2012 (ISBN 9781409410942)


Feedback methods

Feedback is provided on both pieces of submitted work which are the assessment for this unit (i) the Project Overview and Plan and (ii) Dissertation. The feedback takes the form of comments provided by the report markers.

Study hours

  • Lectures - 18 hours
  • Independent study hours - 882 hours

Teaching staff

Thomas Thomson - Unit coordinator

▲ Up to the top