The table below provides links to the supplementary regulations for each MSc degree and the name of the course coordinator. If in doubt about the requirements for the degree you are enrolled on, please direct your enquiries to the course coordinator.
|G507: MSc in Information Technology
|KR Selvaraj (email: kr.selvaraj)
|G565: MSc in the Management of Information Technology
|KR Selvaraj (email: kr.selvaraj)
As stated above if you have not found a supervisor by this date, you will be allocated a supervisor (depending on who has space left) by me. You will then be required to meet with your allocated supervisor, agree a topic and get signed up.
A PDF of your dissertation must also be submitted through the Faculty office in the form of a recorded media CD/DVD.
NB, If you fail to submit either your dissertation or project plan on time, you will begin to accrue a penalty, as per university regulations, of 5% of your dissertation and/or project plan mark, per working day that it is late (unless you submit a suitable ECF).
Information of seminars is available at the module convenor's website.
It is important not to lose sight of the fact that the degree is
a science degree, and therefore all dissertations must be
subject to scientific rigour. The writing must be objective, and
any claims that you make must be backed up by hard evidence (i.e. it
must not be subjective "opinions").
You should consider all of the modules that you have taken so far, and identify the modules and the specific parts of the modules that you found to be the most interesting. This should give you some ideas about likely subject areas. Look at the supervisors' ideas pages that are maintained by members of staff, and see what areas look interesting. Some staff post specific ideas for projects, others post more general areas that are fertile for research. You might decide to undertake a project which mirrors your interests or hobbies. For example, a football enthusiast might wish to implement a football pools predictor, or a keen musician could implement software to generate sound effects on input guitar signals. You might also want to consider whether a given topic will increase your job opportunities. You might want to make use of past experience in choosing a subject area - some students undertake projects based on specialist knowledge that they acquired whilst studying for their first degree.
It is an extremely good idea to find a project that interests you, because you will be spending a lot of time on it, and ultimately this will be an important item on your CV!
Remember - all good research is answering a research question! What is your research question going to be?
The IT project must be technology based. However, the idea is not to produce a copy of an existing piece of technology. Students who undertake a piece of technology for its own sake will not obtain a good grade. Writing a new website for a product/company using existing ideas will not work. You need to research what is limiting the effectiveness of current technology and try to produce a prototype of a solution.
Projects done within the School of Computer Science will therefore involve you in programming but this must be supported by background research on how the technology you are developing has been used before and what innovations are needed. An example would be the development of an educational computer game. Just to write a game, however good it was at teaching and as a game would not produce a dissertation that would get a high score. It would be necessary to research the background to computer games, to establish a clear goal that would be investigated. For example one could ask, is it possible to improve the time on task of a student learning basic mathematical concepts using a computer game? You would then have to research how such games had been used in the past, what it is necessary to teach, how the subjects are currently taught, what motivates and de-motivates children and how children differ. You would also need to try out your software so an important part is developing a good plan for assessing its effectiveness.
The MIT project largely falls into one of two areas it is either an IT project and directly involves the development of a computational technology (software-based or otherwise) or, the project is more of an information systems project which studies the design and / or application of computational technologies, often within industry.
Ways of choosing a good project:
A student who has good contact with a business or organization may wish to look at ways of improving the company's performance by an analysis of the company's current practice and determining a plan for how this can improved. In general, projects of this nature in the past have been student-driven. It is no good just suggesting generic answers. The project must be well researched and come up with a solution that answers specific needs in a reasonably novel way.
MIT projects should be well researched and focus on the technology rather than the management systems. They do not necessarily involve the development of technology but may do --- for example developing and evaluating a prototype alternative interface. Equally, it is possible to identify quite technical projects that would fit the project model for a Management of IT student - as long as the technology developed looks like it would have applications to solve some kind of specific industrial (or possibly consumer need). For example, students have in the past looked at solutions scheduling problems and other system-modelling tasks.
Dissertations that will not work are proposals to research a current application area (i.e. to conduct a state-of-the-art or literature review). Such proposals are generally a request to write an essay after looking through limited numbers of articles. Research in this area is quite difficult as it requires the sort of critical analysis that would be undertaken in the first year of a PhD in order to achieve a good grade for the MSc.
Most people are supervised by one of the lecturers listed in the supervisors section of this document above.
If you approach a potential supervisor other than one on this list then please remember that they are under no obligation whatsoever to agree to supervise you - so be polite, and accept a no gracefully! All supervisors on this list have a fixed quota of students - when any individual supervisor has signed up the required number of students to fill their quota they are not required to take on any more. If your first choice of supervisor has signed up their full quota you will have to find a different supervisor.
It is best to find a supervisor whose own interests are similar to the work involved in your dissertation - that way they will be best placed to advise you based on past experience. Of course this is not always possible, especially when a member of staff already has a full set of projects, but one of the other staff can supervise your project if necessary. Before you approach any supervisor make sure you are aware of their interests (check out their personal web site) and their list of suggested projects (if they have made one).
When you approach a potential supervisor you should either have a clear idea of what project that you want to do, or else you should be willing to take on a project in their research area that they suggest. There is little point in going to someone with a vague idea like "I want to look at e-commerce", because if it is outside their personal area of expertise they probably won't have the in-depth knowledge of the subject area that is needed to refine your idea into a workable project.
If you really can't think of a solid project, then go and talk to a potential supervisor who is expert in an area that you are interested in and ask him or her if they have any specific ideas, but do bear in mind that supervisors will be much happier to talk to you if you're bringing something to the conversation, i.e. at least some ideas of areas your interested in, or technologies you'd like to work with, or research methods you'd like to employ.
When you have found a supervisor and they have agreed to take you on, you must get your supervisor to sign you up with the form provided. If staff seem unsure about this process direct them to Dr. Siang Yew Chong for further instructions.
If you wish to use school equipment (hardware or software, e.g., those available at CSIT lab) then you must request the equipment through your supervisor.
If you wish to use your own equipment, then you can do so providing that you are independent of the School. School staff cannot support your own personal equipment, and hardware or software purchased for a project can not usually be used outside of the school (there are both good pragmatic and legal reasons for this). For reasons of Health and Safety regulations, as well as security and support, your own equipment can only be connected to school facilities under limited circumstances (e.g. laptop points in the terminal room). Therefore, if you use your own equipment for development work then you must make arrangements to demonstrate it to your supervisor (e.g. either on a laptop, or by installing it on a School machine).
Production of the Dissertation
Students are required, by University regulations to submit TWO hard copies of their dissertation (and one soft [PDF] copy).
The title page of the dissertation must have the following layout, and each copy should be signed and dated where indicated:
Submitted September 2012, in partial fulfilment of
the conditions of the award of the degree [ name of degree ]
School of Computer Science
University of Nottingham
I hereby declare that this dissertation is all my own work, except as indicated in the text:
I hereby declare that I have all necessary rights and consents to publicly distribute this dissertation via the University of Nottingham's e-dissertation archive.*
Public access to this dissertation is restricted until: DAY / MONTH / YEAR**
*Only include this sentence if you do have all necessary rights and consents. For example, if you have including photographs or images from the web or from other papers or documents then you need to obtain explicit consent from the original copyright owner. If in doubt, delete this sentence. See Copyright Information for more details.
**Only include this sentence if there is some reason why your dissertation should not be accessible for some period of time, for example if it contains information which is commercially sensitive or might compromise an Intellectual Property claim. If included, fill in the date from which access should be allowed.
This is followed by a one page Abstract which should summarise the contents of the Dissertation.
Beneath the abstract you should list any keywords you think would help someone trying to find your dissertation (e.g. in a web search). Please be careful to enter specific keywords relevant to your dissertation, and don't be too general. We recommend that you include the full version of any acronyms in your title or abstract and also include synonyms or alternate spellings. Seperate words or phrases with commas, e.g. Keywords: MRI, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, resonant tunnelling, resonant tunnelingThe next page is a Table of Contents for the dissertation. Include page numbers throughout the dissertation.
References are collected at the end of the Dissertation and given in a standard journal format as described in the Information Services publication IS2010 - "How to Cite References". Dissertations must be typeset and printed on a publication-quality printer.
There is a recommended dissertation structure in the Your Dissertation section below.
The work is usually assessed using criteria such as: amount of effort, diligence, initiative and enthusiasm shown; difficulties experienced and extent to which overcome; the extent of self-organization and ability demonstrated by the students; the effectiveness, quality, and quantity of work produced and the extent to which the objectives of the work were met. The organization and structure of the work; quality of referencing, appendices, figures, programs and any other supporting documentation where relevant Originality, novelty and innovation displayed in the work and reflected in the dissertation. The quality of the dissertation as a source of clear, concise and interesting information.
The following are general characteristics of grades awarded to dissertations by the University. Your dissertation is worth 60 credits, and you are not allowed to compensate more than 40 credits, therefore you must pass the dissertation to get your MSc. As with all other MSc level courses, the minimum pass mark is 50%, anything less is a fail.
NB, If you fail, like any other module, you are entitled to resit.
Before writing your dissertation, be sure to read the section below on copying of other work.
It is important to realise that you cannot perform excellent practical work and then follow it up with a poor write-up and expect to do well. You must remember that others will be involved in the assessment of the dissertation who you have not had weekly meetings with and who do not have access to knowledge not presented in the dissertation. Indeed, in the case of the External Examiner, they will not even know who you are! Thus all they have at their disposal to grade you is the written dissertation.
Given this crucial observation you should not leave the writing of your dissertation just to the last few weeks of your project timetable. Also bear in mind that many others will be rushing to produce documentation towards the end of the second semester and that the printing facilities will be at full stretch during the last two or three weeks. The failure of printers, computers and the absence of paper at weekends, overnight or indeed at any time during this period will not be a valid excuse for the late delivery of your dissertation. All these occurrences can be guaranteed to occur so you must plan accordingly.
The best dissertations and reports, whether for a third year-project, a PhD thesis or even in some commercial applications, usually all follow much the same structure, as described here.
The exact layout of dissertations tends to vary depending upon the nature of the material and the style of the author. It is recommended that you discuss this in detail with your supervisor. However the following might be considered to be a typical layout:
- Code listings - a listing of the code you have written for the project. You should NOT include code listings for code you have not written!! If your project involves modifying code previously written by others, then you may include this other code as long as you indicate clearly in the code listing what parts have been written by you.
- User manuals
- Technical documentation
- Raw data - if your dissertation involved data collection then this should usually be included in appendices. This should provide supporting evidence for claims made in the main part of the dissertation (eg copies of a user evaluation questionnaire and some sample responses).
- Examples of test data.
- Electronic material on a recorded media CD/DVD taped inside the back cover. This might contain executable software, source code, graphics, slides used for your presentation, etc.
Where the appendices are long (e.g. code listings) do not print them out, rather provide them on a CD/DVD.
Maximum length is 20,000 words.The only requirement is that the dissertation should not exceed the prescribed number of words. The reason for this is to stop the presentation of unstructured and verbose dissertations which are generally repetitive. If you can present all your work clearly in 5,000 words or less then that is fine (but be aware that it is very rare for somebody to be able to express the work of their thesis quite so succinctly). Think carefully about the examiners who have never met you and might not know the application area you are describing. You may know your work backwards, and perhaps your supervisor might have a good idea about what the project involved, but what about some other reader? It is all too easy to assume that everyone else knows what you did whereas in fact they have no idea at all! Poor dissertations are generally notable for what is omitted rather than what has been included.
One final question concerns the inclusion of Appendices. Appendices are excluded from the total word count. It is unlikely that an Appendix will be read in detail by an examiner. The aim of an Appendix is to act as a supporting reference to the main body of the dissertation. Thus you might state in the main dissertation that "A complete and detailed User Manual was produced (see Appendix E)". Appendix E would contain the User Manual. This allows any casual reader to access the User Manual easily to verify the truth of the statement.
A commonly used definition of plagiarism is "passing off someone else's work, whether intentionally or unintentionally, as your own for your own benefit". This means that it is not plagiarism if you make use of someone else's work and acknowledge it properly and fully. It is therefore legitimate to, for example, include text in your dissertation by quoting someone who has written or said something relevant to your work. However, you must indicate very clearly which part of the text is copied, the name of the author(s) and where it comes from, and you must italicize the quoted text and delimit it with quotation marks. Under no circumstances should quotations comprise more than a small fraction of the submitted work.
You should also be aware of copyright law - it is illegal to duplicate substantial amounts of text (with or without indication) unless you have the explicit permission of the copyright owner.
Exactly the same goes for copying code or images - you can easily breach both copyright law and University regulations on plagiarism.
Staff can easily detect copied work because usually there are changes in the quality of the work, the written expression, syntax and so on all make it obvious that some parts of the work are not by the claimed student author.
In summary - do not copy text, code or anything else and attempt to pass it off as your own work. For example, never succumb to the temptation to cut & paste text or images from the web into your dissertation without proper reference. This is plagiarism, it is ILLEGAL as it breaches copyright, and it is CHEATING as it breaches University regulations. It is regarded as a very serious offence and is punishable when caught, and an especially dim view of plagiarism is taken when it occurs in dissertations.
For a tutorial on plagiarism see here.
As an integral part of your project you will be required to give a presentation. This will take place in a seminar room or lecture theatre, and you will have access to a data projector and a PC with MS Office installed. You are strongly advised to use MS PowerPoint for your presentations, although an overhead projector, whiteboard and VCR will also be available should you want to make use of them. You may use your own self-powered laptops, providing that it has a VGA output to connect to the VGA input of the data project and provided that you know how to force the laptop to send a signal to this output! This is usually a proprietary keystroke, and you cannot expect School staff to spend time working out what this is!
The mark for your presentation will be determined by the scores given to you by the panel of markers at your presentation day. The marking panel will be made up from a selection of members of faculty and research staff within the school. Your mark will be determined from an average of their scores.
Plan to speak for ten minutes and allow five minutes for questions. The chair of the session will impose strict timekeeping. Do not go over the ten-minute time limit.
Absolutely ensure that your arrive punctually for your presentation (this will be arranged in blocks of time). You must arrive and stay for the entire presentation block to which you are assigned. Make sure you arrive at the beginning of the session to check your slides and any technical equipment you will use - laptops etc.
Some helpful notes on giving presentations are given in "Preparing and giving presentations"
a guide on study skills, and a part of the University's Pathways program - this is highly relevant to MSc students.