Skip to main content

Unit information: Engineering by Investigation in 2022/23

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing, student choice and timetabling constraints.

Unit name Engineering by Investigation
Unit code MENG10005
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Ross
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Mechanical Engineering
Faculty Faculty of Engineering


This unit introduces students to:

  • the fundamentals of experimental practice and computing through to the appropriate reporting of findings;
  • different forms of basic instrumentation and measurement devices;
  • development of basic coding practice and structure;
  • basic electronics required to acquire signals through a data acquisition device;
  • how errors can be identified and quantified;
  • academic / technical report writing professional practice, including the presentation of data and the identification of health and safety requirements.

Using a number of different laboratory experiments and supporting lecture / seminar content, the aims of the unit are to enable students to:

  • identify and utilise appropriate measurement tools;
  • utilise a given instrumentation chain to record data of an appropriate sample rate and quality;
  • quantify sources of error;
  • utilise computer programming to analyse and present data;
  • develop representative computational models of underpinning theoretical science;
  • communicate findings through a report concisely;
  • evaluate differences in theory and practice;
  • engage with the health and safety process and the role of risk assessments;
  • critically evaluate written work through a peer and self-assessment structure.
  • Engage in reflective practice

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of this unit student will be able to:

1. Prepare: Undertake basic hazard identification and engage with laboratory risk assessments

2. Develop: Formulate algorithmic solutions and use computer programming to solve engineering problems

3. Apply: Select and interface appropriate sensors and actuators within engineering applications

4. Apply: Use electronic principles to process signals

5. Analyse: Identify and quantify sources of error, recognising the impact on choice of measurement tool

6. Analyse: Evaluate results against computational theoretical models

7. Communicate: Structure a written report, including appropriate use of tables and figures, to present a coherent story.

Teaching details

The unit will be delivered using:

  • Videos outlining key investigation methods, knowledge and key skills
  • Regular online worksheets covering the key methods and knowledge
  • Seminars for discussion of new material, demonstrations of techniques and examples of context and application
  • Student-led teaching sessions incorporating problem-based learning, focussing on investigation techniques and problems
  • Practical lab-based activity classes in small groups
  • Regular structured peer feedback activities.

This unit builds student experience and development of experimentation, computational and report writing skills through a set of formative assessments which hold zero credit weighting but are designed to support the learning required to complete the final written report. The formative assessments are structured in a scaffold to move the learner from novice to expert in the targeted skills. The formative work forms a portfolio for future reference when undertaking written and experimental work. Each piece of formative work will receive peer feedback designed to be fed-forward to help the student improve their future assessments. Students will be encouraged to become more self-regulated and reflective learners by engaging with the feedback process through peer review, self-assessment, and other evidence-based activities.

Assessment Details

In addition to achieving a pass in the final written report students must complete at least 75% of the formative lab assessments and must pass all the health and safety stage gates in order to be awarded credit points. This is a pass/fail unit.

Reading and References

  • General advice on writing style: Strunk, W. and White, E.B. (1918) The elements of style. Available online at (but be aware that the advice on using the active voice is outdated - formal reports should use the passive voice).
  • Advice on writing scientific reports: Day, R.A. (1998) How to write and publish a scientific paper, 5th ed, Onyx Press. Available in the Queen’s Building library (T11 DAY).
  • Guide to the Harvard referencing system: Anglia Ruskin University Library (2016) Harvard System. [online] Available at
  • Advice on error analysis and propagation: Taylor, J.R. (1997) An Introduction to error analysis: the study of uncertainties in physical measurements, 2nd ed, University Science Books. Available in the Queen’s Building library (QC39 TAY).