The University of Sheffield
Department of Computer Science

COM4520 Darwin Project

Summary The Darwin research project provides the opportunity for students to engage in a substantial piece of research work. It is undertaken in groups.

Unlike the individual project, it is not primarily concerned with software development, although software development may be involved as part of the process of carrying out the research, for instance to construct the 'experimental apparatus' required for it.

Projects are suggested and supervised by Department of Computer Science staff. Students form groups and choose a project which interests them (subject to numbers of students registered), then refine the scope of the research by conducting a thorough analysis of the topic area and formulating a solution also with the help of their supervisor. The project is developed under strong supervision and appropriate interim reports are produced and presented.

The project culminates with the production of a publication of the research finding and a full report of the work carried out, as well as a final conference style presentation.
Session Academic Year 2021/22
Credits 30
Assessment Coursework
Lecturer(s) Dr Anton Ragni
Aims The aim of the Darwin project is to give students at advanced undergraduate and masters level insight into the research process. The objective of the module is for students to learn how to apply scientific research methodology to a small group research project.
Objectives By the end of the unit, a candidate will ...
  • have a very good understanding of the process of conducting research;
  • be able to conduct a complete and concise literature review of the topic area;
  • be able to form a research proposal and attempt to solve it based on a thorough understanding of a topic area;
  • be able to write a journal quality scientific paper;
  • be able to present research orally;
  • understand the process of working within a team.
Content The content is determined by the research projects. Students have to research the relevant literature, plan the research work, implement and experiment, write reports, papers and give presentations to experience a complete research cycle.
Teaching Method
  • The course begins with a number of lectures/lab sessions outlining how research projects are conducted and the resources available to students. The latter include: Linux, the Emacs text editor, LaTeX, MATLAB, scripting languages and collaborative tools (wikis, SVN, git, blogs).
  • Group Meetings. From week 6, each group will meet the project supervisor for a full hour every week. These meetings are for the group to report to the project supervisor on progress so far, and to allow the supervisor to provide feedback on progress. These meetings should be minuted and those minutes should be available through PATS. Project milestones and interim deliverables will also be discussed or modified. Bi-weekly reports will be submitted at every other meeting and reviewed by the supervisor. These reports will reflect individual contributions to the main project and any particular sub-tasks an individual may have carried out.
Feedback The students will receive immediate feedback during lab sessions and in presentations. Project supervisors will give detailed feedback in weekly supervision and on submitted reports.
Recommended Reading Dependent on research projects.
IP Exemption This module is exempt from the University's Regulations relating to Intellectual Property which can be found at: