School of Engineering and Informatics (for staff and students)

Information for supervisors

Students taking degrees run by Informatics carry out a large individual project in their final year. The nature of these projects will depend on the student's degree course. For Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence based courses it is expected that the student will undertake a substantial programming project. For Digital Media based courses the remit is wider and may include the development of a technical digital media system using facilities in the Media Technology Laboratory. These projects are supervised and assessed via written reports and oral presentations.

Introduction

If you are convened as a supervisor of final-year projects then you will need to interact with the projects database. The database will allow you to

  • List the topics you would be interested in supervising
  • Suggest a number of possible projects
  • Accept/Decline student requests for supervision
  • View your target and current supervision loads

Please list your interests and suggest at least three projects before the end of July. This is important as the project suggestions that faculty make will help to set the standard and inform the students' own suggestions. A strong show of project ideas will ultimately encourage a better pool of projects. It is immensely beneficial for students to have examples of project ideas to look at.

Some students may ask you advice on suitable projects before they complete their second year of study. Even if you are not yet convened to supervise, please try to be as encouraging and helpful as possible. It is in your interests to do so if you do end up being convened.

The information for students page gives detailed information on how to conduct the project and you should recommend that they read it.

Supervision procedure

Supervisors make their own arrangements for supervision meetings. Our current guideline is that you should see each of your students for approximately 30 mins per fortnight, but obviously actual meeting times will vary depending on the current state of the project. Some supervisors prefer to see 3 or 4 students at a time for one hour meetings. You should not feel that it is your responsibility to 'nanny' the student along. If a student does not wish to access you as a resource then that is their problem rather than yours. However, in keeping with the policy of monitoring attendance, if any of your students fail to respond to your emails and do not attend then please report this to the School Director of Student Experience. For this reason, it is recommended that you keep your own personal record of whatever arrangements for meetings with students have been made and what has happened at these meetings. As meetings are arranged in a variety of ways they are not recorded in Sussex Direct.

Initially, as a supervisor, you should be advising your students on the project topic. The specific topics undertaken come from a variety of sources, including students' own suggestions. The major concern at this point is whether the project is appropriate and sufficiently ambitious in nature. The latter is a nebulous concept and requires your judgement. Encourage students to be as ambitious as possible as well as to formulate contigency plans in case of difficulties. The former of these is slightly easier to determine: final year projects are intended to showcase a range of skills which the students have acquired during their degree. Be aware of what degree course your students are following and make sure that their project suggestion relates to their own degree. If you are unsure about a particular project's suitability then please contact the Final Year Project coordinator before, or soon after the project proposal is made. For instance, Computer Science based students ought to be demonstrating programming ability and we would expect a final year project with a large programming component in them. On the other hand, for Digital Media based students the emphasis is on creation of innovative digital media systems using state-of-the-art technologies, and programming need not play a large role.

Students should have considered ethical issues relating to their project by the time they submit their Interim Report. This report should contain a section 'Professional considerations' that describes ethical issues they will need to take account of. This section should include an explicit discussion of the need for ethical approval (or otherwise) which the student should discuss with you, referring to our Research Ethics Guidance for Student Projects [PDF 103.95KB] and Ethical Compliance Form for UG and PGT Projects [DOCX 41.71KB].

Most supervisees will want you to comment on a draft, possibly of their Interim Report, but certainly of their Final Report. The guideline here is that supervisors must read at least one complete draft of the Final Report provided that it is submitted in good time. For the Interim Report, this is at your discretion, and you should negotiate with your students whether, and at what point, they should submit a draft to you. For the Final Report, students have been told that providing they submit a draft by the end of Week 8 in the Spring term then their supervisor is obliged to read it. This deadline may be extended at your own discretion. But in any case, make sure the student has at least a week to act on your comments before the submission date.

The information for students page indicates to students what information they should include in each report. You should refer to this when commenting on draft reports to check that their reports contain everything that is being asked for.

Marking procedure

Interim reports

Students submit their Interim Reports through the e-submission system in Canvas. Information about which candidates are to be marked by whom are distributed to faculty by the School Office. Markers enter their feedback via Grademark. Both markers then meet to agree a final mark and the supervisor enters the final mark in the corresponding box in Grademark. No individual marks should be entered. Both markers are expected to enter feedback under the headings supplied.

Please remind students to include their proposal document as an appendix. The report should contain a professional considerations section, which should include an explicit discussion of the need for ethical approval (or otherwise) of the project work; supervisors should offer guidance on this.

Markers should refer to the Interim Report marking criteria when marking the reports.

Final reports

All final-year project dissertations are blind double marked. The first examiner of a project is the project supervisor. The second examiner is a supervisor of another project. After the submission date the projects will be distributed to the examiners along with official marking instructions. Reports should be given a percentage mark using the guidelines given in the Final Report marking criteria. Examiners are required to summarise the strengths and weaknesses of the report in each section of the marking form. Remind students that they need to hand in two identical copies of their report.

The first examiner will get one copy of the report to mark. The second examiner will get the the second copy of the report. The examiners mark the report independently. After that, they should meet and agree marks. The first examiner must add a detailed joint report to his or her form in cases where there is any significant disagreement in marks, or in cases where the two marks straddle the First Class or fail borderline (as indicated on the marking forms).

Once marks have been agreed, the first examiner should return the marksheets and the reports to the School Office.

Project presentations

The project presentation takes the form of: a poster which the student shows at a School-wide poster event; and a short talk to the examiners of the project. The poster event takes place towards the end of the Spring Term. Details of the required poster format, submission procedure, and assessment criteria are on the project presentation page.

The schedule for short talks is circulated at the end of the Spring Term, and they are held in the first weeks of the summer assessment period. If you are convened to supervise final year projects you may find that you have to assess presentations in this period. Please bear this in mind when scheduling absences.

For their short talk, rather than a formal conference style talk about their project, students are encouraged to include a demonstration of their software or system. Both examiners have to attend and assess the student's talk, which is held in a computer laboratory. Students are expected to present their work verbally, with the aid of a demonstration or multimedia presentation, and then take questions from the examiners. The mark awarded should follow the Informatics assessment criteria and should primarily reflect the quality of the presentation rather than the quality of the project. This will incorporate aspects of how effective the media used (including software demonstrations) to present the project were, and how well the student responded to questions on the project topic.

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]