You can propose your own project for your final year project or take on a project proposed by staff. Here we discuss how to write and submit your own project proposal. The process is the same for students and members of staff, and both kinds of proposal should provide the information outlined here.
Please see the Project Supervision entry for how to find a supervisor for your own proposal or agree supervision of a staff proposal. Deadlines for the selection will be announced by e-mail and are also visible in the PATS Tasks section.
The purpose of the project is, in the context of the degree you are studying, to integrate various aspects of the taught material and to demonstrate your (academic) research skills and your (professional) analysis, design and implementation skills. It gives you the opportunity to conduct in-depth work on a substantial problem to show individual creativity and originality, to apply where appropriate knowledge, skills and techniques taught throughout the degree programme to further oral and written communication skills, and to practise investigative, problem-solving, management and other transferable skills. The management and execution of the project is your responsibility, but you should seek and take advantage of advice from your supervisor.
As a general guideline a good project aims to solve a problem related to your field of study. You can pick a general area you are interested in and try to find a specific problem you could be working on. Instead of solving a complete project you can also work on a partial solution or some specific aspect of a larger problem, possibly simplified to make it feasible for a final year project. If you are not sure on the specifics you can also discuss a rough initial idea for a project with a member of staff to find something suitable, that can be executed in the context of a final year project. Out of such discussions often very interesting project ideas can arise.
When you choose a project, you should do so carefully, to reflect the focus of the degree programme you are enrolled in, your personal interests (the project needs to keep you interested for the duration of the project) and the ability of the academic staff to support you throughout your project. Projects vary widely in the problem they address and the products they deliver at the end. While the main product of some projects is a piece of software or hardware, other projects produce a systems model or design, and yet others may address some research hypothesis using a theoretical or experimental approach. This means not every project produces a piece of software. In brief, the better defined the problem that your project addresses, the further through the systems lifecycle you should expect to progress in the course of your project. If instead you are addressing a research hypothesis, your main product may be the evaluation of some experiments or a theoretical result.
So, for example, a project that seeks to develop a logistics planning system for a small business or voluntary organisation would be expected to provide a fully operational, fully tested program that meets all the identified needs of the client. However, a project that aims to validate a government policy in a particular area might only achieve the development of a model to confidently simulate the main factors influencing that policy, and identify the research agenda in terms of specifying precisely the data requirements to allow a full investigation of the relevant factors. A scientifically oriented project may focus on the practical or theoretical evaluation of a new rendering approach and compare it with existing approaches, which may involve some implementation, but does not require fully functional software.
To submit a new project proposal, log into your PATS account. On the left navigation bar you will see a “My proposals” link which takes you to a section listing your own proposals. There you can add new proposals, edit or delete existing proposals and make them available for selection.
To create a new proposal go to the “New Proposal” tab and enter a proposal title and description. If you are a student the proposal will automatically be assigned your degree scheme (Please check in your profile that your degree scheme there is correct and contact the project coordinator if this needs to be amended). Staff should select the degree schemes for which their proposal is suitable from the list provided.
When choosing a title for your proposal make sure it refers to the core topic of your project. Do not make the title too general (like “A Computer Game”, instead of the specific type of game you wish to write) or provide too much details (“A System to Manage the Selection, Allocation, Deliverable Submission and Marking of Final Year Projects”, instead of “Final Year Project Management”).
In the description of your project briefly give the general context of your project and then describe what you intend to do for the project in detail. Outline the main issues you wish to address with the project and what you intent to produce by the end of the project. Also describe any special resources you need, e.g. non-standard hardware, special software, etc. Staff may also wish to discuss the skills needed to execute the project and the skills that must be acquired during the project.
You may also wish to discuss ideas for projects with staff members who may be interested in supervising this. This can especially be helpful to refine your idea.
In the initial phase of project selection you will only be able to propose projects, but not select projects. This will become available at a later time and will be announced by e-mail. Then student and staff proposals are available for viewing, expressing interest and arranging supervision (see Project Supervision). Only projects marked as available can be viewed by others during this phase. You can change the availability status of a proposal on PATS at any time. Note that proposals selected for supervision will automatically become unavailable. (Members of staff are able to make proposals available again if they think more than one student can in principle work on the project, but the work students dp at the same time must still be sufficiently different to qualify as separate project).
You can submit more than one project proposal, but please keep the number of proposals reasonable and rather make sure you write one or two really good proposals. This will make it much more likely that you find a member of staff to supervise your project. Of course you can only do one project and once supervision with a member of staff is agreed via PATS (only staff can choose to supervise a project), this can only be changed in very exceptional cases.
There is no guarantee that there will definitely be a member of staff who will supervise any of the projects you have proposed. This will depend on the quality of your proposal and staff's interest and expertise. Alternatively you can select a staff proposal instead or even despite having made a good proposal, if you are more interested in this.
To a somewhat lesser degree this equally applies to staff proposals - there is no guarantee to find a student who can or wants to do a staff project, nor do members of staff have to supervise all their own proposals. However, a student who does not select a proposal will be assigned a random member of staff as supervisor.