Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2018-2019 (archived)


Department: Computer Science


Type Open Level 4 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2018/19 Module Cap None.
Tied to


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • This module is to enable the student to tackle the main design project, equipped with the appropriate skills and technical knowledge. To do this, the student must be familiar with the background of the project, and must also be confident of undertaking this using appropriate research methods and practices. Further, the student must approach the writing up in a professional manner.


  • Intensive background research, literature survey and on-line search to understand in depth the subject of the dissertation
  • The research process
  • How to plan, manage and write up the dissertation, including literature search and citation
  • Professional issues concerned with the project
  • How to establish criteria for success by which the project can be evaluated
  • Determining the requirements of the project, and the appropriate evaluation approach
  • Techniques for evaluation

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Specialist knowledge: personal research, software analysis
  • Management: planning a project within a professional and ethical framework
  • Engineering of software systems: requirements analysis and documentation
  • Professional skills: technical writing and empirical evaluation techniques
Subject-specific Skills:
  • To learn how to perform a literature search using appropriate sources and search strategies
  • To acquire an ability to complete a structured literature survey using a correct method of citation.
  • To learn to design an effective research plan.
Key Skills:
  • To develop technical writing skills.
  • To learn a variety of evaluation techniques and their drawbacks (threats to validity).

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The module comprises 25 days of lectures, tutorials, and reading, and undertaking a major literature survey. The overall workload conforms to the standard SLAT requirement of 200 hours equivalent to 20 credits. The assignment report will consist of the dissertation project specification and a literature survey on the dissertation topic.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 6 In weeks 1 and 2 2 hours 12
Tutorials 4 In weeks 3 and 4 2 hour 8
Preparation and Reading 180
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written Assignment - Project Overview maximum 4 pages of A4 35%
Written Assignment - State-of-the-Art Report maximum 10 pages of A4 65%

Formative Assessment:

Written drafts of chapters with oral and written feedback.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University