COSC460-14W (C) Whole Year 2014

Research Project

60 points

Start Date: Monday, 24 February 2014
End Date: Sunday, 16 November 2014
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Friday, 7 March 2014
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 5 September 2014


This course gives students in-depth research experience by completing a comprehensive computer science research project. A research topic will be chosen in discussion with a possible staff supervisor, a proposal developed and approved, and a written research report completed. In addition to working on their project, students will attend a series of lectures on research and writing skills required to successfully perform high-quality computer science research. Various milestones are included through the year including proposal development, written and oral progress reports, and final project presentations. At the end of the course, students will have studied and practiced essential techniques and skills required to successfully complete a computer science research project.

As an Honours student, you need to choose, carry out and document a research project, largely without assistance, but under the supervision of a CSSE staff member. Sometimes projects are suggested from industry or other UC departments, and if you are interested in one of these you need to find a CSSE staff member willing to support it and act as the primary supervisor, in conjunction with an industry supervisor or a non-CSSE academic.

The project requires the solution of a substantial problem. Typically this involves the following stages.
1. Formulate a detailed problem statement and derive a set of objectives.
2. Search the literature for background material and methods of solution.
3. Choose a method of solution and justify your choice.
4. Implement the solution.
5. Evaluate the solution and compare it to alternative solutions when appropriate.
6. Document the results in a final report, including a critical discussion of alternatives, and justify your choice of method.

The lecture component of the course will be delivered in two sets of lectures, held in the first and second semester of each year. The lectures will teach basic research and writing skills. The goal of these lectures is to complement the supervision provided by CSSE academic staff. Lectures will help students master the tools needed to successfully complete the research project. In addition to introducing material required for conducting successful research, lectures will also be used to present research projects to other course participants, including a formal final presentation.

Lectures will cover the following topics:
‐ Introduction to departmental computing facilities
‐ Obtaining information I (general overview of obtaining information in the digital age)
‐ Technical writing
‐ Time management
‐ Obtaining information II (focus on computer science and specific tools)
‐ Report and thesis presentation (overview of how to present research work)
‐ Stress management
‐ Visual display of quantitative information
‐ How to give good oral presentations
‐ Presentation of research (students present their research to other BSc (Hons) and post‐graduate students)

Learning Outcomes

  • In this course students will learn how to conduct complex research. This includes the identification of a research problem, its analysis, the implementation of a solution to the problem, and the evaluation of the solution. The successful student will demonstrate research and problem‐solving qualities and abilities of an advanced computer science graduate. In detail, after completing the course, students will be able to:

  •  outline, explain and compare current research work in computer science / CSSE department
  •  name, recognize and identify relevant information sources for computer science research
  •  identify research and computing facilities, evaluate / use tools needed for computer science research
  •  name, explain and apply methods for effective writing, data visualization and time management
  •  write and compile a scientific report in a format appropriate for the computer science discipline
  •  identify and mitigate risks involved when addressing a computer science research problem
  •  take appropriate steps to ensure that a research project can be completed within time / resource constraints

    Through practical experience (largely without assistance, but under supervision of a senior researcher), the course will develop essential and advanced research and professional skills. The successful student will be able to:
  • choose, carry out and document a research project in various forms (research proposals, progress reports, etc.),
  • describe and defend a research idea in a precise and concise research proposal,
  • formulate a detailed problem statement and derive a set of objectives for advanced non-trivial research,
  • identify, select and interpret background literature and other relevant information,
  • identify, apply and communicate a (potentially complex) research method to solve the problem,
  • critically appraise solution alternatives to a computer science research problem and justify the methods chosen,
  • obtain, analyse and present original computer science research data,
  • critically appraise own and other research data,
  • explain the relationship of their findings to other work in computer science,
  • demonstrate effective scientific communication, writing and presentation skills,
  • analyse and utilise feedback from advisers to improve own work,
  • respond to questions on own work in a way that shows mastery of the content and other related knowledge,
  • apply research skills needed to participate in individual and group research.

    The key personal attributes that will be developed include problem-solving ability, practical research skills, ability to work effectively on an unexplored topic with others (and in particular with an experienced senior researcher), but also individually, and written and oral communication skills. Students will also develop their ability to apply creative and critical thinking to the solving of research challenges. Furthermore, after completing this course, students will be able to better cope with stress and project pressure, and feel more comfortable speaking to a public audience.


Subject to approval of the Head of Department

Course Coordinator

For further information see Computer Science and Software Engineering Head of Department

Course links

COSC460 Information

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $3,525.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Computer Science and Software Engineering .

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