School of Engineering and Informatics (for staff and students)

MSc project

Finding a topic

It is the responsibility of the student to identify a suitable project topic.

This will require reading, investigating research areas in informatics, locating relevant research papers, and talking to people about your interests. You can also look at individual faculty members' project entries in the Master's project database.  You can make use of anyone's office hour and also meet with your degree programme convenor. You can also propose your own topic but need to find someone willing to supervise it.  Look up the web pages of individual research supervisors, to find out whether your interests match those of a someone who might be willing to supervise you.

You are positively encouraged to see a project with a commercial/industrial flavour.  If you can find an industrial sponsor or even host, that would be good, although you will still need an academic supervisor.  The University does not have any claim on intellectual property generated from a student's (sole) work, but you should talk with your academic supervisor if you have any queries about this.  You should also seek advice before entering into any formal agreement with a company.

If your project makes a contribution to research, you might be able to publish a paper based on it.  But in any case, do not be concerned with publishing or commercial exploitation until after your project is finished - your primary aim should be to produce an excellent dissertation.

ITBM students may also like to view the research interests of faculty members in SPRU, and SPRU research topics. However, you should only consider SPRU topics that are relevant to the modules you take on ITBM delivered by SPRU. These are modules focused around Technology, Innovation and Management. There will be a generic SPRU project listed on the Master's project database that points you to relevant SPRU faculty convened to supervise such projects.

Supervision

Finding a supervisor: During April you should find a supervisor. This is a matter of negotiation, since choice of supervisor depends on what topic you have identified. See above, and look at individual faculty members' project entries in the Master's project database. Note that each supervisor is allocated a number of students (load) to supervise. They may supervise more than this number of students - especially if they are interested in a project you propose - but do not have to. You are thus advised to contact several suitable supervisors to discuss possible supervision and potential topics as early as you can. You should also contact them after they have reached their load as they may be happy to supervise a project that interests them. Similarly, if faculty have a load of 0, it means they may be willing to supervise a project in a particular area of interest to them. As well as the database, it is also worthwhile visiting supervisors' web pages to find out more about their areas of research.

You should talk to multiple supervisors to keep your options open.  Supervisors will generally discuss topics with several students and then choose which to supervise.  Once you have selected suitable topics or supervisors, pick the topic through the database, or propose your own project.  However, also email supervisors to arrange to meet up to discuss your project (or to ask their advice on what topic to pick).

To provide inspiration on the range of topics available, the database contains projects proposed by past faculty.  If you find a topic through the search facility, please check that the supervisor is on the 'supervisor list'.  If they are not there, they are no longer supervisors.  Feel free to use these projects as inspiration to propose your own project but note that it might be too specific to the old faculty member.

If you are a first year part-time student, you still need to have a supervisor.  We give PT1 students supervisors so they can start thinking about their projects but the title is not set in stone, and can be changed at a later date (as can the supervisor if things don't work out), so if you don't have a clear idea of what to do, see who is working in an area of interest to you and discuss things with them.

Supervision time: Your supervisor is expected to devote around half an hour per fortnight to you (including reading drafts, etc).  It is up to you to arrange with them how you use this time.

Supervision schedule: You should view supervision as a kind of contract between you and your supervisor.  You are advised to draw up an agreement at the start of the process (which can be reviewed/modified as the project progresses) - and it is in your interest to make the agreement as formal as possible.  This of course puts pressure on you, too, but on the other hand you will have a better guarantee that you will get what you want.  It is dangerous to leave supervision as something informal, arranged on an 'ad hoc' basis.

Supervisor availability during the summer: Don't forget that after the end of July, faculty members are often away on holiday, at conferences, or at home working on their own research.  Find out when your supervisor is likely to be away and plan accordingly.  In any case, if you want your supervisor to give feedback on any drafts, allow them plenty of time.  The suggested dissertation timetable takes account of this.

Note that failure to seek adequate supervision is one of the main reasons for low grades on the dissertation. It is up to you to ensure that you make use of your share of your supervisor's time.

Suitability of the project

It is up to you and your supervisor to check the guidelines for dissertation content and marking criteria (see left-hand links), to ensure your proposed project is suitable for your course of study. If you are in any doubt, check with the convenor of your degree course.

Conducting ethical research

You should read the Research Governance Procedures on conducting ethical research and take steps to obtain approval from the Research Governance Committee where this is required.

Poster presentation event

Click here for the latest information about the PG Poster Presentation.

In mid-summer (usually in the first week of July), there is an Informatics Masters poster presentation event. All full-time Masters students and those in the second year of a part-time Masters are strongly encouraged to take part. This involves students producing a poster summarising their project goals and progress to date, and talking informally to attendees at the event about their work. All staff and students in Informatics are invited to the event, as well as members of the Informatics Industrial Advisory Board and selected other external people. There are monetary prizes for the best posters, presented on the day.

The dissertation

Read carefully the practical advice on dissertations, which includes requirements for binding, submission, and word length, as well as recommended format. For guidance on allocating time to your project work and dissertation writing, see the suggested dissertation timetable.

School of Engineering and Informatics (for staff and students)

School Office:
School of Engineering and Informatics, University of Sussex, Chichester 1 Room 002, Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9QJ
enquiries@enginf.sussex.ac.uk
T 01273 (67) 8195

School Office opening hours: Monday - Friday 09.00 - 17.00
School Office location [PDF 1.74MB]