MSc Dissertation Handbook (IT and MIT Degrees)[v 9.0]

Summer, 2009.

Contents


Introduction

All MSc students are required to successfully complete a research or development project as a part of their course, and write this up as a dissertation.  This is a major component of your degree, being worth 60 credits.  The dissertation is a Summer module, but some components do need to be carried out within the Spring term.  Briefly, you should have fixed the topic of your project and found a supervisor by the end of the first week of the Summer term, and the project should be completed early in September.

N.B. This document contains general information relevant to all MSc degrees run by the School of Computer Science. Consult the Supplementary Regulations for specific details about the degree that you are enrolled on. If you require further information specific to your degree, you should consult the relevant course director, your tutor or the supervisor of your project (once appointed).


Course Director and Supplementary Regulations

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.

Degree

Course Director

G403: MSc Advanced Computing Science (ACS) Roland Backhouse (email: rcb)
GH57: MSc in Interactive Systems Design (ISD) Chris Greenhalgh (email: cmg)
G507: MSc in Information Technology (IT) Peter Blanchfield (email: pxb)
G565: MSc in the Management of Information Technology (MIT) Peter Blanchfield (email: pxb)
G402: MSc in Computer Science and Entrepreneurship (CSE) Peter Blanchfield (email: pxb)

 



Module Components

  1. Question and Answer Sessions
    There is a timetable slot for the module on WEDNESDAYS at 11am The module convenor will be available to answer questions at this time during the Spring semester. Occasionally a lecture may be organised; if so, the lecture will be announced in advance by e-mail and will take place in LT2.  
  2. Selecting a Topic
    You should choose a topic for your research, find a supervisor and have an initial supervision meeting shortly after the Easter vacation, at the latest.  Advice on choosing a topic and finding a supervisor is provided below.  You will be required to complete a form detailing the project title, a short description of the proposed work, and the name of your supervisor. You and your supervisor should sign the form and then you should hand it in at the School Office for approval by your course coordinator.The form is available here.
     
  3. Interim Report
    For some degrees, an Interim Report is to be submitted in mid July. (Consult the supplementary regulations above to see whether this applies to your degree.)   This is likely to consist of a draft of early chapters, but its exact nature should be determined by discussion with the supervisor.  This will be marked, and feedback will be provided to identify any problems that have come to light (eg with writing style and/or English).
     
  4. Supervision Meetings
    You should have regular meetings with your supervisor during the summer period.  Attendance at these meetings is mandatory, and non-attendance is liable to be penalized.
     
  5. Presentations
    For some degrees, you will give a formal presentation about your work at the end of the summer period, after the submission of your dissertation.  More information about presentations is provided below.
     
  6. Dissertation
    You should produce a dissertation that comprises the major assessed component of this module. See the Supplementary Regulations for your degree for the permitted length of the dissertation.   More (general) information about the dissertation is provided below.
     
  7. Electronic Submissions
    You are required to submit an electronic version of both your interim report and dissertation (as well as the hard copies), on the appropriate submission deadline.  These should  be in PDF format, and submitted using the School's online submission system.

Deliverables & Dates

Deliverables should be submitted to the School office at the latest by 4pm on the date shown below, unless noted otherwise.  
You must have chosen your dissertation and found a supervisor by this date at the latest.  You should have had an initial supervision meeting, and the dissertation proposal form must be submitted.  NB this form must be signed by your supervisor - unsigned forms will not be accepted!  Where appropriate, these forms should be accompanied by a formal project proposal.

If you have not found a supervisor by this date, you will be allocated a supervisor from the list below. You will then be required to meet with your allocated supervisor, agree a topic and submit a supervision form by Friday 7th May, 2009.

 


Dissertation Requirements

One of the most commonly asked questions is what type of dissertation is acceptable?  The answer to this depends upon your degree stream. It is, however, a requirement of the dissertation that it is relevant to your degree. This is why it is important to agree in advance the topic of your dissertation with your supervisor and what it will entail (for example, whether you will have to develop a large amount of software).  

Choosing a Topic For Your Dissertation

It is your responsibility to make every effort to find a suitable topic and a supervisor of the project. This is a major element of your postgraduate study, and you must achieve a pass grade in order to be awarded a degree. It is the supervisor's responsibility to approve the topic and the plan of work.  It is most important that you choose an area you are happy to work in, and in which you are confident of your abilities. However, there are no hard and fast criteria for choosing a project.

Ideally, we would like you to come up with the basic idea, though it is likely to be modified after discussion with a member of staff.  Once you have done so, you should approach a potential supervisor to discuss the details and ask them if they would be willing to supervise it.   Many students find it hard to identify suitable projects, but the following thoughts might help you.

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!

Specific Guidelines for Management of IT

The MIT project is supposed to look at some area of °»technology transfer°… however this is interpreted quite broadly. 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. One area of major concern to companies is that of their user interface. Projects that look at user interfaces would evaluate a company°«s current interface and determine how that interface was affecting the impact of that interface from a commercial perspective. The background of how the interface was working and should work would be analyzed and alternatives investigated and proposed. MIT projects should be well researched and focus on the technology rather than management systems. They do not necessarily involve the development of technology but may do --- for example developing a prototype alternative interface. It is possible to identify quite technical projects that would fit the general requirement of a potential technology-transfer project. 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. 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.

Specific Guidelines for IT

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.


Supervisors

The following members of staff will be supervising  M.Sc. dissertations.  The five rightmost columns show which type of project the supervisors are able to supervise. To find out what their interests and areas of expertise are then you should look at their home pages.   Many of them will have ideas for specific topics - links to their Ideas pages will be posted here as they become available.


      ACS CSE IT MIT ISD
Natasha Alechina nza@cs.nott.ac.uk Ideas X   X X  
Thorsten Altenkirch txa@cs.nott.ac.uk Ideas X   X    
Roland Backhouse rcb@cs.nott.ac.uk Ideas X   X    
Steve Bagley srb@cs.nott.ac.uk Ideas X   X    
Bai Li bai@cs.nott.ac.uk Ideas       X X
Peter Blanchfield pxb@cs.nott.ac.uk Ideas   X      
Vananzio Capretta vxc@cs.nott.ac.uk Ideas     X X  
Andrew Crabtree axc@cs.nott.ac.uk Ideas       X X
Jonathan Garibaldi jmg@cs.nott.ac.uk Ideas     X X  
Chris Greenhalgh cmg@cs.nott.ac.uk Ideas       X X
Julie Greensmith jqg@cs.nott.ac.uk Ideas X     X  
Colin Higgins cah@cs.nott.ac.uk Ideas     X X  
David Kirk dsk@cs.nott.ac.uk Ideas       X  
Natalio Krasnogor nxk@cs.nott.ac.uk Ideas X   X    
Dario Landa-Silva jds@cs.nott.ac.uk Ideas X   X X  
Brian Logan bsl@cs.nott.ac.uk Ideas     X X  
Henrik Nilsson nhn@cs.nott.ac.uk Ideas X   X X  
Andrew Parkes ajp@cs.nott.ac.uk Ideas X   X X  
Guoping Qiu qiu@cs.nott.ac.uk Ideas X   X X  
Rong Qu rxq@cs.nott.ac.uk Ideas     X X  
Milena V Radenkovic mvr@cs.nott.ac.uk Ideas     X X  

Finding a Supervisor

Most people are supervised by one of the lecturers listed in the supervisors section of this document.  However, you are not restricted to these people - if they are agreeable then, with the agreement of your course coordinatory, any member of academic staff in the University can supervise you. 

If you approach a potential supervisor other than one on this list then please remember that they are under no obligation to agree to supervise you - so be polite, and accept a no gracefully!  All supervisors on this list have a quota of students - when any individual supervisor has agreed to that quota then you will have to go elsewhere.

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 then make sure you are aware of their interests (check out their personal web site).

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.

When you have found a supervisor you must fill out a dissertation form to "sign on".  These forms consist of two parts - one of which is kept by your supervisor, and the other of which is returned to the School office.  The form must be signed by both of you before it is returned, and a member of staff will not be your supervisor until this process has been completed. A copy of the form can be found here.


Project Equipment

If you wish to use school equipment (hardware or software) then you must request the equipment that you will require in advance from TSG using the project equipment request form (which must be signed by yourself and your supervisor).  You can find more  information, together with lists of available hardware and software on the TSG support site.

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 - refer to TSG for specific guidance). Therefore, if you use your own equipment for development work then you must make arrangements to demonstrate it to your supervisor (eg either on a laptop, or by installing it on a School machine).


Dissertation Overview

This section outlines the structure of a dissertation. 
  1. A dissertation must be completed by all students following the MSc degree courses, although there is no dissertation requirement for the diploma course.
  2. Dissertation projects will be performed individually (with one student and generally one supervisor, although joint supervision might be allowed under certain circumstances).
  3. The dissertation will run for the latter half of Semester 2 and the summer period (i.e. from March  to September).

    Production of the Dissertation

    Students are required, by University regulations to submit TWO copies of their dissertation. 

    The title page of the dissertation must  have the following layout, and each copy should be signed and dated where indicated:

    [Dissertation Title]

     Submitted September 2009, in partial fulfilment of
    the conditions of the award of the degree [ name of degree ]

     [Student Name]

    School of Computer Science 
    University of Nottingham

     

     I hereby declare that this dissertation is all my own work, except as indicated in the text:

     

     Signature ______________________

    Date _____/_____/_____

     

    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 tunneling

    The 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.

  4. The Interim Report, if required, is a progress report. It should represent a statement of the problem being tackled, the approach that is being adopted detailing progress so far and proposed future work. It should also represent a preliminary design document for any software or hardware systems that are to be built as part of the work. The scope and content of the report should be determined in consultation with your supervisor, and generally should  comprise a draft of early chapters, an outline of the final dissertation, and a plan of work for completion. 
  5. The Presentations (where applicable) will be scheduled during September 2009, and  will consist of a ten-minute talk (followed by an approximately five-minute discussion) to which all members of the school (staff and students) are invited.  You are expected to not only give your own presentation, but to attend all of the project presentations in your own session (you may attend others if you wish).  Participation is compulsory, and attendance records will be kept. 
  6. Late submission of the dissertation, the interim report or failure to give a presentation will be considered as non-submission. Non-submitted work will be awarded zero.
  7. Failure to attend your assigned presentation session shall be considered as non-submission. Non-submitted work will be awarded zero.
  8. The supervisor will arrange a demonstration of any software or hardware systems that have been developed as a part of the research.
  9. Examiners may if they wish require an internal viva-voce examination.
  10. All marks shall be subject to the final moderation/approval of the Board of Examiners.

Assessment Criteria and Grades

In the following the term work refers to the total effort of the student from the start of the proposed area of study to the final submission of the dissertation. The grading of the work is based upon the dissertation. It will not, however be acceptable for high grades to be awarded to good work which is not reflected in a good dissertation without such special circumstances. The term dissertation refers to the final written report of the student; this document will be the primary source of assessment.

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.

To give a better indication of how your work will be marked, copies of the marking sheets that will be given to the assessors can be found below.

  1. Interim Report Mark Sheet
  2. Presentation Mark Sheet
  3. Dissertation Mark Sheet

Grades

The following are general characteristics of grades awarded to dissertations by the University.  Due to the fact that your dissertations are 60 credits, and you are not allowed to compensate more than 40 credits - the minimum pass mark is 50%, anything less is a fail.

  1. Exceptional (90-100%) The work and dissertation should exhibit all the characteristics of an Excellent grade. Additionally the dissertation should be publishable without significant reworking or alteration. Any software and supporting documentation should be of the highest possible quality. The work should display complete and comprehensive originality. In short the work should be reflected in a dissertation of stunning and universally accepted quality!
  2. Outstanding (80-89%) The work and dissertation should exhibit all the characteristics of an Excellent grade. Additionally the results should be publishable in a suitably modified form. The work should exhibit a large degree of independent thought and originality. Technical assistance from the supervisor would have been minimal and the student would have exhibited high levels of self motivation. Any software and supporting documentation should be of the highest possible quality.
  3. Excellent (70-79%) The work should display a complete and thorough understanding of the conceptual and practical issues surrounding the chosen topic. There should be evidence of independent thought in the form of some degree of originality in the presentation and discussions of the material. The dissertation should be well structured with a clear line of argument and the quality of the analysis should be excellent. Any software should be completed in all respects and exhibit very high quality; there should be evidence of a high degree of testing. Supporting documentation should be complete and approaching the standard of high quality professional documentation.
  4. Good (60-69%) The work should show a good understanding of the conceptual and practical issues surrounding the chosen topic; the arguments should be clearly structured, but there is no specific requirement for any degree of original work. The quality of the analysis and the writing of the dissertation should be good. Software should be competently designed using a recognized design method; evidence of testing should be presented. The software should be a complete and usable package which not only illustrates the principles of the work but also exhibits good levels of quality. Supporting documentation should be excellent for all purposes; it should be complete, well written, well presented and generally exhibit high quality.
  5. Average (50-59%) The work would be expected to display an adequate understanding of the key conceptual and practical issues, although weakness may be present in some areas. There should be evidence of some attempt to construct an argument around the information available. The analytical content should be average. Software should be adequate to illustrate principles; it may display weakness in areas not central to the work and lack comprehensive testing. Supporting documentation would be well presented yet lack completeness; the quality of the documentation should be very good.
  6. Probable Fail (40-49%) The work would display an incomplete understanding of the central issues relating to the chosen topic. The dissertation would lack a clear structure and strong argument and the quality of analysis would be below average. The writing would be mediocre. Software would be poorly designed, incomplete, poorly commented and difficult to understand; it would exhibit poor levels of quality. Supporting documentation would be adequate.
  7. Definite Fail (below 40%) The work would display a very poor understanding of the chosen area; there would be no clear structure and the analysis may be weak or incomplete. The dissertation would be poorly written and presented. Software would be limited n capability, and difficult to use. Supporting documentation would be inadequate for most purposes.

Your Dissertation

Since all projects are different it is very difficult to make comparisons between the various dissertations. Thus to assess the projects, a set of guidelines has been developed which should help to guide you in the production of your final dissertation.

Before writing your dissertation, be sure to read the section below on copying of other work.

Your dissertation is important!

Your dissertation is a key element of your degree - it is by far the most important deliverable by which you will be judged! You may include a copy of working software on a CD or floppy disk, but no matter how good that is, the dissertation is what will primarily be judged. Remember also that the external examiner may not have the time to look at your working software and they will only be able to judge your project from the dissertation.

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.

Writing your dissertation

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: 

  1. Title page: with a signed declaration that the dissertation is your own work
  2. Abstract: giving a short (1 page) overview of the work in your project
  3. Acknowledgements: thanking anyone who has helped you in any way
  4. Table of contents: giving page numbers for all major section headings
  5. Introduction: set the scenes, explain why you are doing this work and what is the problem being solved.  Most importantly you should clearly explain what the aims and objectives of your work are.
  6. Related work: explain what is the current state of the art in your area.  What work have other people done (published or commercial) that is relevant to yours.
  7. Methodology:  explain what tools and technologies have you used.  If you have collected data then explain how it is collected and analysed.
  8. Description of the work: explain what exactly have you done.  If this is a software project, describe your software in detail.  If it is a data-based project, present and explain your data in detail.
  9. Discussion: explain what your work means.  In a software project you should evaluate the functionality of your software. In a research project you should interpret your experimental results.  In all cases you should evaluate what you have achieved against the aims and objectives you outlined in the introduction.  The discussion should always end with a Conclusions section - in which you should briefly explain what conclusions you have come to as a result of doing this work.
  10. References: provide a list of papers, books and other publications that are explicitly referred to in the text.  These should be  in a standard journal format as described in the Information Services publication IS2010 - "How to Cite References". 
  11. Appendices: Supplementary material should be included in appendices - these are optional, but they might contain:

Where the appendices are long (e.g. code listings) do not print them out, rather provide them on a CD.

Dissertation size

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. However, 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.

Copying - quoting or plagiarism?

One thing that is absolutely not allowable is copying of text or code from any source at all and passing it off as your own work. This is called plagiarism and will, at the minimum, result in your being awarded zero marks for that component of the work, and may result in expulsion from the University without a degree being awarded.

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.


Archival and Publication

In the past dissertations gaining a distinction mark have been lodged in the library for reference. We are now making such dissertations available publicly through the University of Nottingham's e-dissertation archive. This can only be done if you have all necessary rights and consents to make your dissertation publicly available. For example, if you have included photographs or images from the web or from other papers or documents that are subject to copyright (and most are) then you need to obtain explicit consent from the original copyright owner. See Copyright Information for more details. If you have included such material in your dissertation without specific consent under an expectation of "educational fair use" or similar then your dissertation cannot be considered for the archive. In this case please do NOT include the declaration about consents in your dissertation cover page. Similarly, 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 then please include the corresponding declaration on the dissertation cover page - we can then ensure that it is not released on the e-dissertation archive until after that date. Please also note that we will not be able to consider your dissertation for the archive if the PDF that you submit is corrupt or incomplete. You should make every effort to ensure that this is not the case, as some supervisors may be intending to mark the electronic version of your dissertation!

The Presentation

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!  

It will also be necessary for you to attend and grade the presentations of students in the same session as yours. You will be asked to give grades for the presentations of other students. These grades will be taken into consideration when making up the final mark for the project. Your attendance at these other presentations to grade other students will also be taken into consideration when making up the final grade for your project.

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.

Some helpful notes on giving presentations are given in Presentation Guide for third-year individual projects - this is also highly relevant to M.Sc. students.


Original document by Tim Brailsford. Last update February, 2009.   Roland Backhouse.