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Current postgraduate taught students

COMP60992: Research Skills and Professional Issues (2007-2008)

This is an archived syllabus from 2007-2008

Research Skills and Professional Issues
Level: 6
Credit rating: 30
Pre-requisites: No Pre-requisites
Co-requisites: No Co-requisites
Duration: Second Semester
Course lecturer: not assignedAdditional staff: view all staff
Sem 2 w19-23,25,29-32 Lecture 1.1 Wed 13:00 - 17:00 -
Assessment Breakdown
Exam: 0%
Coursework: 100%
Lab: 0%


Part of the course unit provides training in research skills, an orientation towards the practice of research, and preliminary work on the Research Project. The other part provides an introduction to a range of professional skills and the expectations and conduct in an industrial and business environment.

The course unit is presented by a range of staff both internal and external, including Research Leaders and research groups, the Careers Service, Industrial and Professional Consultants, and representatives from Professional Societies.

A key part of the course is the preliminary work on the Research Project throughout the Second Semester under the guidance of the project supervisor, together with a written Project Background Report.

For more details of this course unit, including timetables, slides etc, see the course unit webpage.


This course unit has two aims:

(1) The course unit offers a grounding in various aspects of research and project management, from the most theoretical (philosophy of science), through the subject-specific (how to choose, refine and develop a research topic), to practical advice on undertaking research, including how to contribute to research, manage research projects, cope with the day-to-day research activity, etc. It covers material and advice on technical writing for the dissertation. This is taught through a series of presentations and also through the initial work on the Research Project.

(2) The course unit also covers various aspects of Professional Skills as required in the IT industry and in Research and Development. There is a presentation on professional ethics and workplace conduct given by a representative of the British Computer Society. The skills necessary in the IT industry are taught through the Careers Service and external consultants from the IT industry. The skills may include team-work skills, industrial problem-solving, leadership skills, communication skills, presentation skills and preparation for job application and interview skills.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course unit the student will:

be prepared to complete the Research Project, having been introduced to the skills and knowledge necessary to undertake the project, and having undertaken initial work on the Project (B and C),

have prepared a Project Background Report to a professional standard (D)

have been prepared for some of the demands of, and skills required for, work in IT and IT-related industries (A).

Assessment of Learning outcomes

This course unit is assessed through a Project Background Report.

The precise content of the report depends upon the nature of the Research Project, but typically will include (1) Description of the project and its context and aims, (2) Survey of relevant literature, (3) Study of relevant research methods, design methodology, and implementation tools, (4) Requirements and specification, (5) Criteria of success, and (6) Project plan for overall project.

The report will be assessed according to the standards expected of the Masters Dissertation with respect to substance, soundness of contents, and quality of presentation. The report is assessed in the same way the that Dissertation is assessed internally, with independent assessments by the supervisor and a second marker.

The report contributes 30 credits to the MSc. The report is assessed and, in order to be allowed to complete the Research Project and gain an MSc the report must pass at the 50% level. If the report receives marks of 40% or above, but below 50%, and marks on the taught part of the programme are sufficient, the student exits the programme with a Postgraduate Diploma.

Contribution to Programme Learning Outcomes

A1,2,3: Knowledge and understanding of professional issues.
Understanding leading-edge technologies
Knowledge and understanding of research methodologies and practice

B1,3: Introduction to developing original ideas in a research context.
Introduction to problem solving skills in an academic and industrial context.

C2: Training in organising a scientific or industrial research project.

D3,4: Introduction to the preparation of theses and reports to a professional standard.
Introduction to time-management for research projects.


1. Research Skills and Research Project Management

Introduction to research in science

Research methods and creative thinking

Management of the MSc project, including managing the academic year,
relationship with supervisor and interaction with research groups.

Requirements of an MSc research project

Requirements of a good dissertation

Technical and scientific writing skills

2. Professional Skills

Professional ethics and requirements for workplace conduct

Professional skills, including some of the following: teamwork skills, industrial
problem-solving, leadership skills and communication and presentation skills.
Job applications, careers advice and interview skills.

Reading List

Reading list and supporting material

Lecture notes will be provided and guidance on suitable literature. Project supervisors will advise on literature for the Research Project itself.