The University of Sheffield
Department of Computer Science

Dissertation Project: Final Dissertation

The final stages of the project are worth 100% of your final mark, much of which rides on the quality of the final dissertation. Submitting drafts of your work to your supervisor well in advance of final deadlines can be rewarding.


Material from your earlier survey and analysis stage report should be organically integrated into the final dissertation. Modifications will be made to it based on feedback from your supervisor, but also, the deeper understanding you will have developed through your own developments and analysis of your results means that you will be able to produce a better-analysed literature survey (or other type of survey). Likewise, the analysis and requirements chapter will reflect your greater understanding.

The contents of the dissertation (excluding references and appendices etc., with the font size being 11 or 12 pt) must be between 7000 and 14000 words in length for COM3610 and between 6000 and 12000 words for COM3500.Marks could be reduced by excessively breaching the word limit.

Dissertations come in a variety of types so it is difficult to generalize but the following pages: 

should help you get started. Please remember that if you are unsure what to do you should discuss the problem with your supervisor. In particular you are advised to discuss the project title and the abstract with your supervisor.

Be very careful to submit your work on time. If you do not, standard lateness penalties will apply which could have a significant impact on your work.

You must include the declaration in your work.


The dissertation will be examined by both supervisor and second examiner and, in some cases, by a third examiner. The supervisor and second examiner will mark the final dissertation independently but only your supervisor marks your performance on the project. Exceptionally you may be called to attend a viva for the project which will be held before the end of semester 2. This could be for a number of reasons, e.g. the Department wishes to sample the cross-section of projects, there is a problem with the project, the examiners need to question certain things about the dissertation, etc.

The categories listed below are included on the assessment form that each examiner will complete. Also included below is a table that gives an indication of what is being looked for in the overall work - note however that this is only a guide.

  • Quality of products: This covers the results of the work, whether these be software or hardware systems, models of systems, mathematical theorems and conjectures, etc. Judgements will be made on the basis of the complexity or difficulty of the task and the degree of success achieved.
  • Quality of processes: This covers the processes involved in the development of the project work and can include the initial analysis of the problem with its theoretical foundations. It will also cover design and testing processes, and how you handled relevant legal, social or ethical issues. The use of the literature, and of available tools and methodologies will also be assessed here.
  • Amount of work completed: somewhat self-descriptive. This category includes (i) the background learning you had to do which is distinct from the final products that were produced or the processes that were undertaken in producing the products, and (ii) the amount of work done in relation to what could be reasonably expected to be done on the particular project, given its level of difficulty and the time available.
  • Quality of evaluation: This concerns your own evaluation of the project in terms of how well the objectives were satisfied, how appropriate the processes turned out to be, the possible further directions of study and the relationships with other people's work.
  • Presentation of dissertation: The readability of the dissertation and the precision of its language will be judged here, along with the overall presentation: sensible notation, diagrams, layout, headings, references, etc.
  • Presentation Session: See the Presentation Session page
The following list gives an indication of what is being looked for in the overall work. Note however that this is only a guide.
70-100 Sensible subdivision of material into chapters and sections to produce a coherent and well-balanced report. Good introduction chapter that puts the case for the project and its aims. Review is well researched. Thorough understanding of subject. Focussed on topic. Factually correct. Addresses issues critically. Analysis of problem area is in-depth and requirements of project are clear. Project evaluation is addressed with insight and testing is properly covered. Design is precise, methodical and shows some flair. Implementation and testing is thorough and and pertinent points are discussed. Results are presented in a logical order with perceptive and critical discussion and evaluation. Discussion of further work is appropriate to the evaluation of work done. Conclusions are correct and show ability to summarise with acumen. Diagrams/maths/tables should be relevant and clearly presented. Unambiguous and grammatically correct English. Perfection is not essential. Some originality or innovation.
  • 80-89: indicates that the work has some originality and with some further work could be of publishable quality.
  • 90-100: indicates originality and work of publishable quality.
60-69 Well-organised with a sensible subdivision of material into chapters and sections. Decent introduction that generally makes the project aims clear. Review shows some evidence of research. Good understanding of subject. Predominantly focussed on topic. Largely factually accurate. May contain some irrelevant material. Analysis is generally good and project requirements are clear. Decent attempt at addressing issues of testing and evaluation. Design generally shows clarity. Implementation and testing covers the main points, but may not be particularly thorough. Main results are presented, although some irrelevant material may be included. Discussion shows some critical abilities. Further work is perhaps a little over general. Conclusions are competently covered. Diagrams/maths/tables should be relevant and clearly presented. Predominantly unambiguous and grammatically correct English.
50-59 Logical structure with sensible subdivision into chapters and sections. Introduction chapter is generally OK. Review is competent but generally exhibits a basic understanding of the subject. Largely focussed on topic. Largely factually correct, but may contain some irrelevant material or miss some important points. Analysis and requirements are adequate. Evaluation and testing is covered. Design lacks depth. Implementation and testing cover general points. Results and discussion are generally competent but do not demonstrate real depth in thinking. Further work is perhaps over general or not particularly insightful. Conclusions may ramble in parts. Some use of diagrams/maths/tables, but may be poorly organised. Clearly written overall, but may be ambiguous in places and show lapses of grammar.
40-49 Subdivided into chapters and sections, but not particularly logical in flow of material within chapters. Introduction chapter is unclear. Review, analysis and requirements show an incomplete understanding of subject. Poorly focussed with either irrelevant material or a failure to appreciate important points. Some material may be incorrect. Analysis and requirements are rather general. Design, implementation and testing are unclear in places or miss important points or are incomplete. Results, discussion and conclusions generally show poor focus and lack of depth. Poor or little use of diagrams/tables/maths. Style and grammar poor.
0-39 Some attempt, but unfocussed with high content of irrelevant material. Some material may be incorrect. Poorly organised with major omissions and/or major errors. Inadequate style and/or grammar.