KF7029 MSc Computer Science Assignment

MSc Computer Science and Digital Technologies Project, KF7029

Department of Computer & Information Sciences

Module Title:MSc Computer Science and Digital Technologies Project
Module Code:KF7029
Academic Year / Semester:2021-22 – all semesters
Module Tutor / Email (all queries):Becky Strachan Email: ***********************************
% Weighting (to overall module):100%
Assessment Title:MSc Computer Science and Digital Technologies Project Dissertation and Viva
Date of Handout to Students:At the start of the semester in which the students are commencing KF7029.

There are three start dates per year in September, February and June. You typically start your project after either completion of the Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) stage of your studies or the PgDip stage plus Advanced Practice element depending on your programme of study.
Mechanism for Handout:The assessment specification and criteria, together with other supporting resources are provided to you on your eLearning Portal (Blackboard) module site for KF7029.
Deadline for Attempt Submission by Students:There are three submission dates per year for the dissertation: Thursday 20th January 2022, Thursday 19th May 2022 and Thursday 15th September 2022. Your project viva should be scheduled to take place within two weeks of your dissertation submission and should be arranged by you with your supervisor and second marker.
Mechanism for Submission:Your final dissertation should be submitted online via Turnitin in your KF7029 module site. Any accompanying information should be signposted in an Appendix to the dissertation e.g. online resources, code, digital media. The viva takes place either face to face or virtually following the dissertation submission.
Submission Format / Word CountYou should upload your dissertation as either word or pdf format to the appropriate assessment area on the KF7029 eLearning portal module site. The length of your written dissertation should be typically in the range 10,000 – 12,000 words including the abstract but excluding the references and appendices. Further guidance on the format and layout of the dissertation is provided in the project guide. There is also a Word template for the Dissertation that is made available on the module site. Your project viva will usually last no more than 30 minutes with 10-15 minutes of presentation and 10-15 minutes of questions. The viva can also be used to demonstrate any practical products/applications/experiments that have formed part of the project.
Date by which Work, Feedback and Marks will be returned:Informal feedback is provided to you after the viva by your supervisor. Marks and feedback are formally confirmed once the award board has taken place in October, February and June each year, usually 4-6 weeks after submission of your dissertation.
Mechanism for return of Feedback and Marks:All feedback and marks are provided by your supervisor via face to face or online.


The learning outcomes (LOs) for this module are:

Knowledge & Understanding:

LO1. Apply in depth specialist technical and academic knowledge and critical understanding of research methodologies and project management in the context of an independent academic research project related to your programme of study and at the forefront of the computer science and digital technology field

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

LO2. Identify, plan and execute a substantial independent research project demonstrating originality, critical and innovative thinking and problem solving

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

LO3. Critically evaluate and address professional, ethical, legal and social issues in an appropriate manner within an academic research environment

LO4. Effectively communicate the outcomes of a significant individual research project in both written and oral forms

This assessment addresses all of these four learning outcomes LO1- LO4.

Assignment Specification:

MSc Computer Science and Digital Technologies Project, KF7029

The individual MSc Computer Science and Digital Technologies Project constitutes the final part of your MSc and is the culmination from your previous studies. You are required to undertake an in-depth and original research project, produce a dissertation based on this research work and present your findings in a viva.

You will experience the full life cycle of a research project from initial conception and development of a research proposal, through a critical review of the literature, planning, design, implementation and analysis of your main research project, to final evaluation, reflection and dissemination. Your research proposal will normally have been produced as part of an earlier module on research and project management but this should be reviewed again at the start of the project phase to ensure it is still valid and appropriate. Similarly you should have completed a form for ethical approval of your project as part of the earlier module but should now review it again to ensure it is still applicable.

You are expected to apply your expertise, project management and research/practical skills within your particular domain of computer science and digital technologies to demonstrate critical and innovative thinking and problem solving within a research environment. You are also expected to consider and address the professional, ethical, legal, security and social issues related to this academic research project.

This research project is a large undertaking, representing approximately 600 hours of work and equating to 60 credit points. If you are a full-time student, you should expect to work 40 hours per week across one semester (15 weeks), in addition to time put into the project to develop a proposal earlier in your programme of study. If you are a part time and distance learning student, you typically carry out the project over one year and need to dedicate 10-15 hours per week to it.

A supervisor and second marker is allocated to you before you start your project by the MSc project tutor. You are expected to meet regularly with your supervisor (either face to face for on campus students, and via online mechanisms for distance learning students) and complete a meeting log after each meeting, outlining your work and outputs to date and actions going forward. These meetings also provide the main mechanism for receiving informal feedback on your work and progress.

Further information on the research project, dissertation and viva are provided in the module guide, available to students on the eLearning Portal.

Assessment Criteria/Mark Scheme:

A: Top-Down Measures of Quality

In reaching a final mark for the project, dissertation and viva, a top down and bottom up approach will be adopted. The top down measures of quality are as follows:

0 – 39% Clear Fail: Attainment is consistently and clearly below Masters level. The reason(s) for this may include some or all of the following:

  • An inadequate survey of the available literature in the area of the study.
  • Failure to meet one or more of the objectives of the project.
  • Inadequate rigour in the application of techniques/tools.
  • Lack of a disciplined, ethical and professional approach to tackling the research project.
  • Failure to address a central computer science and digital technology issue in necessary depth.
  • The absence of a required section in the dissertation.
  • A partial or no demonstration/presentation was given, or the demonstration/presentation gave no useful information.
  • The student could not answer some questions during the viva in any meaningful way.

40 – 49% Marginal failure: Attainment generally below acceptable level, although there is potential for it to reach a pass standard. The dissertation and viva and their response to questions in the viva should show that higher achievement could be reached is more time was devoted to it or another approach had been taken.

50 – 59% Basic Pass: Close to the minimum acceptable standard for a pass. Work in this mark range may fail to fulfil one of the major objectives of the project yet must exhibit a reasonable understanding of the fundamentals of computer science and digital technologies relevant to their chosen project and adequate use of technical communication skills, problem solving, independent study, knowledge of the literature and a disciplined, ethical and professional approach to tackling a substantial research project. The viva demonstrated an acceptable level of understanding.

60 – 69% Good Pass: Attainment which is overall better than acceptable but is not outstanding. There is evidence from the dissertation and viva of a sound understanding of the major computer science and digital technologies relevant to their chosen project together with a reasonable attempt to tackle more advanced topics and issues. There should be a convincing demonstration of technical communication skills, problem solving, independent study, knowledge and application of the literature and a disciplined, ethical and professional approach to tackling a substantial project.

70 – 85% Distinctive: The dissertation and viva clearly demonstrate a high degree of quality and originality in the application of standard techniques, and indicate an excellent professional endeavour. The work includes novelty and invention that goes beyond the accurate, appropriate and validated use of standard methods and tools, demonstrating strong technical communication skills, problem solving, independent study, knowledge and application of the literature and a disciplined, ethical and professional approach to tackling a substantial project. The dissertation is fluent, coherent and of an excellent academic standard. The viva clearly outlined the research approach, its implementation and the key findings and outcomes and demonstrated a deep understanding.

86-100% Distinctive and Outstanding: In addition to the distinction category, here the research work exhibits a high level of complexity and professional quality, evidence of an excellent understanding of the academic context of the work, a capacity for analytic thought, an ability to penetrate a complex application domain and a high quality of self appraisal. The standards of proof and the quality of writing shown in the dissertation should be equivalent to that of publication in a good quality journal. The viva provided valuable and thoughtful insight into innovative research and its outcomes.

B: Bottom Up Marks Breakdown

The following provides a breakdown by the four different elements that are assessed and should be used in conjunction with the top down measures of quality outlined above.

Abstract, Introduction and Literature Review (25 marks): The abstract should make clear the main question/aim addressed, the broad methodology used and the main findings. The introduction should include a discussion of the context and potential benefits of the work, an explanation of the main aims, a list of the objectives and a breakdown of the structure of the report. If you have changed or added any objectives since the research proposal review, these changes should be made clear. You are expected to consider and outline here the main professional, ethical, legal and social issues related to this academic research project. The literature review should assess your presentation of a suitable range of literature relevant to the research. This section is a review, not a survey. This means that you should discuss the literature, explaining the range of validity, relevance to the project, strength of the findings, etc. rather than simply paraphrasing. You can be given credit for a clear explanation of difficult concepts. You should discuss the relevance and applicability of the literature to your own work. You should demonstrate the ability to critically evaluate the research of others and to assess the strength of the evidence/discussion presented.

Description of Practical Research Work Undertaken (25 marks): This section should assess the discussion of the practical work you have done, such as requirements analysis, design, construction, installation, experimental work. Your testing and/or data collection approach should be included in this section although the results from this form part of the next section. You should make it clear what you have done, and should also include rationales for the approaches and techniques used, including how you have addressed any ethical, social and legal issues in your approach. You should also include a discussion of any ideas that have been rejected.

Results and Analysis (25 marks): This section should assess your results/findings and your analyses of these. Examples of techniques you may use include reasoned evaluation, thorough product testing, scientific testing, data analysis, internal and external validation and statistical survey. You would normally make use of more than one technique, and your use of the techniques should reflect the postgraduate nature of the research. You should also justify your choice of techniques and ensure that they are applied in an ethical and professional manner, including any data protection issues.

Critical Evaluation, Conclusions and Recommendations (25 marks): Your critical evaluation should assess your own research outcomes and how your findings contribute to the wider academic body of knowledge, including any comparison of your results/findings/hypotheses with those of others. You should assess the strength of the key findings, the limits of their applicability and their probable usefulness. You should discuss the extent to which the main aim has been achieved and which objectives have been satisfactorily met. There should also be a critical assessment and evaluation of your own work and your professional approach to this research project, including an appraisal of how you have addressed any ethical, legal and social issues. In the conclusions and recommendations, you should assess the strength and presentation of the findings and the recommendations. You should present your answer to the original research aim/question and should discuss how well the original problem has been solved. This should include reference to the results obtained by you. You should also discuss any interesting additional discoveries that have been made. Recommendations may include suggestions for further research, suggestions for improved practice based on your findings and suggestions for practical application of any new concepts that have been investigated.

Referencing Style

There is no set referencing style for your dissertation but you should consult with your supervisor on the most appropriate style for your programme of study and follow a recognised standard system such as Harvard or British Standard.

Assignment weighting

One overall mark will be agreed for the combination of the dissertation and viva. This assessment is worth 100% of the overall mark for this module.

Additional Important Information

AcademicIntegrityStatement: You must adhere to the university regulations on academic conduct. Formal inquiry proceedings will be instigated if there is any suspicion of plagiarism or any other form of misconduct in your work. Refer to the University’s Academic Regulations for Taught Awards if you are unclear as to the meaning of these terms. The latest copy is available on the University website.


Failure to submit: The University requires all students to submit assessed coursework by the deadline stated in the assessment brief. Where coursework is submitted without approval after the published hand-in deadline, penalties will be applied as defined in the University Policy on the Late Submission of Work and Extension Requests, available on the University website also at https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/about-us/university-services/academic-registry/quality-and-teaching-excellence/assessment/guidance-for-students/

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