Carry out a critical in depth study of an area of knowledge relevant to the course: ROBOTICS Dissertation DMU, UK

Dec 11, 2023




The aim of the project is to enable the student to:

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  • carry out a critical, in-depth study; of an area of knowledge relevant to the course.
  • demonstrate the application of techniques, acquired from the taught component of the program to the solution of a product development problem.

The project will be a self-contained piece of work of greater depth than could be accommodated within the taught modules. Ideally, the project should encompass many aspects of the taught modules. The postgraduate nature of the project should be evident from the overall higher standard compared with an undergraduate project. This will be reflected in the depth of the analysis and critical review, the insight required, and the complexity of the task undertaken. The benchmark for determining the degree of success of a project will normally be whether or not the project and its report can form the basis for a publishable academic paper. Students will be expected to demonstrate project management and presentation skills throughout the period of the project.

3. Topic Selection and Supervision

Most students will have already selected and developed a topic through the Research Methods module (ENGT5214), and found a supervisor. For those who have not (or perhaps have changed their mind about their topic), there are the following options.

  1. Select a topic that has been set by the academics. These are posted in the Research Methods module on Blackboard. This is probably the easiest route to select an appropriate research topic. They are only ideas and can be tailored to your interests.
  2. Select a topic from the list of projects available in the individual project module. Contact the relevant supervisor and start your research.
  3. If you are working, it is a good idea to select a topic that has value to the organization you work for. This is a good route for part-time students. The topic needs to of appropriate scope and content for an MSc dissertation. Check that the organization gives permission and can provide support for the project. You must agree on the research question and research aim with your supervisor. It must not simply shadow or reproduce a work project; it must be separate and include an element of your own research, although it could certainly use materials from your work.
  4. Select an area of your own interest. It can take a significant amount of time for students to identify a suitable area of appropriate scope. It is best to choose an area you are already familiar with or is related to the work you do.
  5. If you are in any doubt, contact the Individual Project Module Leader / Programme Leader.

Finding a supervisor

If you have not found a supervisor, decide on a topic area and contact an academic you think can help. Staff profiles may be useful. If they are not the right person they can probably suggest someone who is. If you are completely stuck, contact the Individual Project module leader. If you are doing a work-based project, it may be useful to find someone at work – perhaps your manager or an experienced colleague – to act as an informal industrial supervisor/mentor. Places from supervisors are very limited; students have to take initiative to approach the supervisors of their choice. However, after the period of having the freedom to choose and approach the supervisors, students have to accept any allocated supervisor by the university instead of supervisor of the choice due to limited places and time constraint The students are also personally responsible and expected to seek help persistently to find a suitable supervisor and establish appropriate supervisory arrangements. Students are responsible to email the name of their supervisor and project title immediately after confirmation with the supervisor. Students will not be allowed to carry out their projects without a DMU supervisor. Students must have DMU supervisors within the first month of starting their projects at the latest; they must also inform the module leader via email about their project supervisors and project titles within the same timeframe. Failure to secure a supervisor and send a confirmation email could lead to premature failure of this module. No submission of a project report would be accepted without a university supervisor. Project report submitted without a DMU supervisor will not be marked and deem as a non-submission failure. Any change in the supervision and project arrangement must be completed within the first month of the project and students must seek prior agreement with the module leader and program leader.

4. Project Management and Supervision (Full Time Students)

An academic member of staff with knowledge of the subject area will supervise each project.  The Project Management Panel will comprise the Academic Supervisor, the “Individual Project” Module Leader, and, where appropriate, an Industrial Supervisor. The purpose of the Project Management Panel is to oversee the management and progress of the project.  Students will be expected to submit a written progress report at every meeting.  The outline project schedule (with appropriate dates for full-time students) is:

  • In discussion with the “Individual Project” Module Leader, students will select a project during the Research Methods module. The “Individual Project” Module Leader is the person charged with the responsibility of the day-to-day management of the project exercise for the whole cohort of students and to vet all project briefs to ensure uniformity of standard, suitability of the subject area, and appropriate intellectual challenge. The MSc Programme Leader will also check the suitability of all individual projects.
  • An academic supervisor with knowledge of the subject area will be appointed. The academic supervisor has prime responsibility for the progress of the project and to advise and guide the student through the project exercise from the start of the project period to the production of the dissertation and its oral presentation.
  • Where appropriate, an industrial supervisor will be appointed at the student’s place of work, to provide local support, expertise, and guidance for the student. The industrial supervisor will function in collaboration and consultation with the academic supervisor.
  • At the end of the first week of the project period, students will have produced a project specification and plan of work.
  • Students are expected to work out supervision plans with their supervisor’s project meetings and plan during the supervisor’s annual leave.
  • Students will work full time on their projects and follow the agreed plan of work.
  • During the project, students will be expected to meet the AcademicSupervisor normally once every two weeks (at least once every three weeks)if the project is University-based or at least once a month, if industry-based, in addition to any industrial supervision. In exceptional circumstances, such as overseas placement, alternative arrangements such as video conferencing will be used.
  • Students are advised to back up their work regularly. No excuses for damaged files or missing/stolen computing devices / USB drive will be entertained.
  • Students must check their emails regularly and respond to requests by supervisors and module leaders for information in relation to the project; to avoid missing key events such as presentation/viva and submission deadlines.
  • Written project reports should normally be handed in within the final two weeks of the project period, as specified by the module leader.
  • Formal presentations should normally take place at the project conference to be held at De Montfort University during the final week of the project period.

The assessment of a project will take into account a range of factors including the student’s approach as evidenced by a performance at Programme Management Panel’s, quality of literature search and critical review, the effectiveness of proposed or implemented solutions, the quality of the project report, and the standard of presentation.

Module delivery variations (January Starters)

Students who join their MSc courses in January each year (January Starters) are entitled to complete their projects earlier in Semester X (June – Sept) of the same year or, by default, in Semester 2 (Feb-May) of the subsequent year. They can only do so by bypassing all four taught modules (gaining 60 credits) prior to their individual project which includes the ENGT5214 Research Methods module. To register for their projects to run in Semester X (June – Sept), students will need to inform the module leader, supervisor, and program leader by email. The email will be forwarded to the Faculty Office for recording and enrolment into the ENGT5301 Individual Project Semester X Blackboard Shell. Students will also need to complete the registration by 16 of April or another date specified by the module leader. The registration for the project is binding and students must complete their projects on time or deem as a non-submission failure. No trial run and halfway withdrawal from the process will be acceptable. Students who started the projects but did not gain 60 credits from the previous four taught modules will be automatically withdrawn from the project process; they will then be enrolled in semester 2 (Feb-May) of the subsequent year. At this stage, students must have gained 60 credits from the total eight taught modules to be eligible for continuing and completion of the individual projects.

Other project rules

Any work to be carried out outside DMU or with external help must be approved by the supervisor before the start of the project. The project work must be well documented with the necessary evidence to prove that what was presented was indeed a student’s work. Students are advised to keep a properly and regularly completed logbook. Students are also required to submit three to four brief progress reports via Turnitin as requested by the module leader, to help reflection, to demonstrate regular contact with the supervisor, and real progress in the project work. In the case of international students, the submission of regular progress reports also aims to meet the requirements of the UKVI). Students who want to make travel arrangements during the project must seek written approval (via email) from their supervisor and module leader. The presentation/viva component is essential which must be attempted in order to obtain any marks for the overall project as it is used to verify the student’s work. Project report submitted without a presentation will not be marked and deem as an anon-submission failure. If any of the assessors could not establish satisfaction from the student’s presentation that what was presented was the student’s own work, the student will be invited back for a viva following the presentation. In this case, the student must also be able to demonstrate their work and present any relevant evidence to the assessors. Marks adjustment will likely be made following the viva outcome.

5. Projects (part-time students)

Projects for part-time students will be normally related to the student’s employment, which would be carried out as part of the student’s normal duties, i.e. a task or tasks which would have been carried out anyway but which can now be improved using the new skills and knowledge and augmented by setting it in its research context, appropriate for an advanced Master’s project. Some students may have difficulty finding suitable projects due to their working environment or their current workload. In such circumstances, flexibility will be shown when selecting a project. In the last resort, a project can be carried out in the student’s own time.

6. Research Integrity

There are a number of important things to consider in order to ensure the research is done in a proper manner and does not adversely affect others, or compromise the project. While there is no universal definition of research integrity, most of it is common sense and includes:

  • Excellence – in carrying out research to a high standard
  • Honesty – with results, with other people involved
  • Integrity – comply with all legal and ethical requirements
  • Safety – dignity, rights, safety, and wellbeing of all involved in research

Learning Outcomes

The students should be able to:

  1. Apply the knowledge gained from the modules already studied to identify an area of suitable research within the field. [Q1, Q2, B1]
  2. Conduct appropriate self-directed research and obtain a deeper and broader knowledge of the chosen research. Demonstrate autonomy in planning and executing the project. [Q3, Q6, C1]
  3. Demonstrate a critical awareness of current problems in the specific field of the project and how established research and interpretive techniques are used, applying these to typical project scenarios for decision making in light of poor or incomplete information. [Q3, Q4, Q5, Q6, A2]
  4. Critically evaluate the effectiveness of the application of research methods in producing an engineering solution to a design brief (thus applying relevant design, analysis, implementation, and evaluation skills and techniques). [Q4, Q7, Q8, Q9, Q10, B2, B3, C2]
  1. Present the work in written and oral form and be subject to a critical review. [Q5]

UK-SPEC threshold statements of competence and commitment:
A1 – Maintain and extend a sound theoretical approach in enabling the introduction and exploitation of new and advancing technology.
A2 – Engage in the creative and innovative development of engineering technology and continuous improvement systems
B1 – Identify potential projects and opportunities
B2 – Conduct appropriate research, and undertake design and development of engineering solutions
B3 – Manage implementation of design solutions, and evaluate their effectiveness.
C1 – Plan for effective project implementation
C2- Plan, budget, organize, direct and control tasks, people, and resources

3.Learning and Teaching Strategies

Student-centered learning via applied research, in-depth study, presentation of findings, and report writing. The guidance was provided by the project supervisor.

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