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Unit information: Individual Research Project in 2018/19

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Unit name Individual Research Project
Unit code MENG35000
Credit points 40
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Pavier
Open unit status Not open
Pre-requisites

None

Co-requisites

None

School/department Department of Mechanical Engineering
Faculty Faculty of Engineering

Description

The aim of the individual research project is for students to develop the skills required to solve real, open-ended problems, to plan and organise work, and effectively communicate results. In addition, the study will allow students to focus on a particular area and implement some of the knowledge gained on the course. The projects are wide-ranging and often multidisciplinary. Projects may be scientific and involve the study of certain phenomena, or perhaps technology or product-orientated with a design emphasis, or maybe on a topic related to systems and management.

Aims:

The aim of the project is to enable the student to develop the skills necessary to tackle substantial, extended problems. The objectives are that the student should be able to:

  • apply the knowledge and skills that they have acquired over their course;
  • demonstrate that they are capable of developing their knowledge and skills when tackling a new problem;
  • develop the means (e.g. new apparatus or computer code) by which a problem may be tackled;
  • make substantial progress when faced with a technical challenge within the resources available to them;
  • plan and organise their work and co-ordinate it with that of other members of the University;
  • plan and pace their work and manage their time effectively;
  • present their work clearly in written and oral forms.
  • Understand aspects of professional practice related to their work, including health and safety, risk, environmental issues, commercial economic and social context.

Intended learning outcomes

  • Learn how to plan and execute a project and work to a budget (LO1a).
  • Learn how to synthesise, interpret and apply research literature and experimental data (LO1b).
  • Learn to write a detailed and structured technical report (LO2).
  • Advance knowledge in the subject area of the project (LO3).
  • Develop research, technical and practical skills in an area relevant to the project (LO4).
  • Learn to communicate technical results via presentation (LO5).
  • Carry out assessments relating to health, safety and environmental risk (LO6).
  • Describe and explain the commercial, economic and social context of engineering processes (LO7).

Teaching details

Each student is allocated an academic supervisor at the beginning of the year. He or she is responsible for advising the student on how they might progress with the project. The content and methods of the project are negotiated between the student and the supervisor. A project specification that will be a broad outline of aim, objectives, methods of the project should be completed within the first three weeks. This form must be signed by both the supervisor and the student. Over the course of the year it is recommended that the student and his or her supervisor should meet regularly to assess progress and plan future work. Toward the end of semester 1 there will be a formal progress meeting between the student and supervisor and a further form will be completed that will summarise the main discussion points/requirements/ problems/change of work plan with respect to the project. This review document must be signed by the student. Part way through the second semester there will be a mid-project review and feedback session between the student and one of their assessors. This is also an opportunity for the student to prepare and give a short presentation. The aim of this session is to provide further feedback and assistance to the student. These documents will be required for the end of project assessment. It is expected that a draft copy of the technical report be produced before Easter so that the supervisor can give detailed feedback on its content.

Projects are usually paired so that two students will be studying different aspects of the same problem. Students are encouraged to support one another, but they will be assessed individually and they must ensure that they produce distinct bodies of work at the end of the project. Supervisors will advise students on this.

In addition to meetings with supervisors, a supportive lecture programme is also given in the first semester. This covers using library resources, project management, health and safety, team working, rapid prototyping, report writing and presentation skills.

Assessment Details

Assessment of each project will be made by two assessors whose marks account for 75% of the final mark. The remaining 25% is assessed by the supervisor who considers student performance throughout the unit. In making their assessment the assessors will agree a mark based on the following:

  • completed project specification (LO1a)
  • report from the mid-session progress review in semester 1, typically week 10 or 11(LO1a, LO1b, LO3, LO4);
  • report from the mid-project review and feedback session with one of the assessors, typically in weeks 14-16 of semester 2 (LO1a, LO1b, LO3, LO4);
  • end of project report on the student by the supervisor (LO1a, LO1b, LO3, LO4);
  • technical report written by the student and submitted after Easter, typically week 22 (LO1a, LO1b, LO2, LO3, LO4);
  • poster or web site produced by the student and submitted shortly after submission of the technical report (LO1b, LO3, LO4);
  • 10-15 minute presentation by the student to their assessors followed by up to fifteen minutes of questions (viva voce) (LO1a, LO1b, LO3, LO4, LO5).
  • In the mid-sessional review (week 10) students provide an updated project plan and risk assessment. Students will discuss and reflect with their supervisor their approach to project so far including management of time and work. (LO6).
  • Students should devote 1-2 slides of their mid-project review to the wider societal, economic and managerial context of their work, and discuss this in their mid-project interview. The wider context should feature in the final dissertation (typically one-page), and will be considered by the dissertation examiners (LO7).

The important points for students to note are:

  • the project specification, the mid-session progress report, and the review and feedback session will be used for assessment;
  • a technical report must be produced by the end of the Easter Vacation, typically week 22;
  • a web site or a poster must be produced and submitted with or shortly after the technical report;
  • a presentation must be prepared and a viva vice exam will take place immediately after it.

Guidance on the preparation of the technical report and the web site or poster will be given in supporting lectures.

Reading and References

Specified by project supervisor

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