The University of Sheffield
Department of Computer Science

COM3500 Individual Research Project

Summary In the individual research project, you will complete a major original piece of software design, experimental investigation or theoretical proof. This work will be reported formally in a research dissertation and also presented at a poster session, to which industrial representatives, students and academics are invited. The work will include an Interim report that consists of an initial survey and literature review. You will be engaged in a major piece of software development, or the design and execution of an empirical experiment, or the elaboration and practical verification of a theory. You will have regular meetings with your supervisor, who will advise on any problems you encounter. You will prepare a dissertation of between 6000-12000 words in length, which includes the material from the interim report, but also contains a complete design, implementation and evaluation of the results of your project. This may be assessed by oral examination.
Session Academic Year 2021/22
Credits 30

Please note that it is expected that the underlying work for the project will be split evenly between the semesters. In particular, work is expected to continue at the end of the Autumn semester, after the interim report is submitted.

The total amount of work, which will be reflected in the content of the final dissertation, is expected to be around three quarters of that done by students taking COM3610.

  • Description, due at the beginning of the first semester
  • Survey and analysis between 2500 and 5000 words, due towards the end of the first semester.
  • Final dissertation and project presentation. The main assessment of the module is by a dissertation that is produced towards the end of the second semester, complemented by a poster presentation at a session where the work done is to be demonstrated and questions answered. If considered appropriate by the examiners an oral examination may be held on this dissertation and project presentation.
Resources Unconfirmed practical marks when available
Aims The aims of this module are to:
  • integrate further the material learned throughout the degree course, by applying it to a substantial open-ended problem;
  • give the student the opportunity of bringing an individual piece of work, in a topic area of their own choosing, to completion;
  • promote design and problem-solving skills, especially the ability to translate a theoretical approach into practice, overcoming any unexpected obstacles;
  • promote academic presentation skills, especially those of technical report writing, visual and oral presentation and question handling;
  • give the student the further opportunity to demonstrate and improve their personal skills, particularly those of time and work management.
Objectives By the end of this course the students should:
  • have increased their understanding of practical, experimental or theoretical approaches to tackling the research problem under investigation;
  • have demonstrated an ability to evaluate critically and select from the different design solutions relevant to the research problem under investigation;
  • have completed a major original piece of work in a systems design, experimental or theoretical area, based on the relevant background research literature;
  • have prepared a poster and a research dissertation giving a survey of the literature, an analysis of the topic area, a detailed design and an evaluation of the project's results;
  • have demonstrated an ability to manage their own time effectively, undertake work on their own initiative and develop plans to progress the work further.
Content The content of the project is typically selected by the student from a range of topics proposed by staff or industrial partners of the department. Students are also encouraged to propose their own topic, provided they can find a supervisor willing to supervise it and with the agreement of the Projects Officer.
Restrictions Only available to COMU109, COMU118.
Teaching Method The student is expected to meet the supervisor regularly for 30-60 minutes, in order to discuss progress with the work and obtain advice on it. The rest of the work they are expected to plan and carry out independently.
Feedback Students will receive formative feedback on their interim report in a meeting with their supervisor, as well as during their regular meetings.
Recommended Reading The reading appropriate to each project topic will be identified in the proposal for that topic.
IP Exemption This module is exempt from the University's Regulations relating to Intellectual Property which can be found at: