The University of Southampton

FEEG6012 MSc Research Project

Module Overview

Within the context of your programme of study, students will undertake independent, original and critical research on a relevant topic. Students will then communicate the research objectives, methodology, analysis, results and conclusions effectively both orally and through the production of a Dissertation. Industrial placement or collaboration is strongly encouraged and facilitated. The subject matter of the research based dissertation is provided in the Faculty of engineering and the Environment (FEE) project specification list offered by academic staff. Alternatively, students may initiate their own project in accordance with local arrangements within the different MSc programmes. Whatever the topic, the background literature must be researched and critically reviewed so that analysis (mathematical or numerical) methods and/or experimental procedures may be identified and justified as appropriate to the challenges of the project specification. A pure subject review without either analysis or experimental investigation is deemed inappropriate for an MSc dissertation. A research project from a discipline that is different to the MSc programme being followed may be undertaken where the invitation to participate is sufficiently open and the student has the necessary background knowledge and competence to permit meeting the project challenges in the timescale available.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The module enables students to put their discipline specific skills, knowledge, and understanding into practice via a significant individual research project and written dissertation. It is a learning experience that provides an opportunity to pursue extended research into an interesting, potentially unfamiliar and challenging topic. This will help you to gain a comprehensive understanding of the context of that topic, building on previously learnt knowledge and skills from the taught modules and other prior learning. Topics are at the forefront of knowledge within the academic field, and you will use cutting edge methods in carrying out the research. You will develop critical faculties for evaluating research, gain an understanding of project management, research principles and develop the ability to apply them to study challenging scientific questions.

Learning Outcomes

Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Effectively organise time to deliver on the dissertation's aims within the limited time available
  • Effectively manage tasks and solve problems
  • Apply critical analysis and judgement.
  • Develop scientific writing skills including clear documentation of results and accurate referencing.
  • Reflect on your performance and identify areas for self development.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Appraise risks and hazards associated with the data collection element of the dissertation, considering issues of ethics and sustainability where appropriate. Appraise the risks for the project as a whole.
  • Develop and apply appropriate data collection processes
  • Critically apply appropriate analysis methods to research data
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Critically appraise existing literature on your dissertation subject, explain concepts where relevant and synthesise information from a range of sources in order to define a research question and/or scientific hypotheses that can be tested.
  • Design an appropriate methodology (such as an experiment or simulation) that will answer the research question. Provide justification for the approach adopted considering possible sources of bias or error in the methods used.
  • Define aims and objectives. Partition the project into a manageable sequence of tasks with clearly defined deliverables and milestones that can be achieved in realistic timescales.
  • Provide (where appropriate) an analysis (for example using statistics) to define the degree of or uncertainty in the results and their possible implications.
  • Effectively communicate the results and conclusions of the research both orally and in writing. Use a scientific writing style with clear referencing and documentation of results.
  • Critically evaluate the quality of the project (for example strengths and weaknesses of the study), discuss findings in the context of previous literature and make suggestions for future follow-on research
  • Produce overall conclusions that are supported by the data and summarise the project in an abstract.


Key stages in the process Fixed Stages- Semester 1 - Week 6 – 8 Call for Projects by MSc Coordinators - Week 10 students are informed of available project choices, provided with project selection sheet and MSc assessment guidance (dates and weightings of constituent parts) given. Semester 2 - At the start of Semester 2 students submit their project choices. - Week 4 students given confirmation of Project Assignment - End of Week 10 of Semester 2 Interim reports submitted preferably indicating that Risk assessments have been completed or are being proposed. Note Interim reports represent an investment of 60 hours of study. - Feedback on Interim reports is usually within three working weeks of receipt of the Interim Report. - June/July according to local agreement, students will undertake background reading and prepare clear objectives, methodology and a project plan for an assessed oral presentation of their project to date. Important Additional Task Where ethical approval is required this should be undertaken and completed by 1 st July or as such as not to prevent project specification being achieved Progress Related Stages: After publication of second semester examination results and subject to passing the taught element of the programme, students will continue with independent research, under supervision. Full-time students are required to produce a full draft of your Dissertation by August 31 st (with an oral presentation shortly afterwards if not already undertaken) and submit your final Dissertation by the agreed September deadline. Supervision meetings: Whilst there are no fixed timetabled teaching sessions these meetings are very important and need to be agreed early on in the project process at times mutually convenient to both supervisor and student. Preferably at the same time on the same day each week to avoid confusion. Students have responsibility for taking the initiative in planning and managing these meetings and should maintain regular contact with their supervisor. It is good practice to produce agenda lists and any questions you wish to ask before supervisor meetings and send these to the supervisor before the meeting. After the meeting, produce notes on topics discussed, all actions agreed and any target dates for completion of tasks.

Special Features

May include laboratory work (including off campus laboratories and field work) and off campus placements or site visits and meetings as appropriate to each project

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching activities include the tutorials with your project supervisor and lectures on risk assessment and writing dissertations as well as a seminar on research skills in the library. Learning activities, as private study, include the literature review and all aspects of the research and production of the Dissertation, for which you will be given Guidelines. Teaching consisting of: Supervision: From February to June mentoring should occur sufficiently frequent to ensure both the Interim Report & Presentation can be untaken to the required standard. Thereafter, on average, meetings should be at least one (1) per week. Lectures on: Project Aims and Objectives, academic integrity. Risk assessment. Library Information Skills. Writing dissertations coupled with workshops and English language support. Computer packages familiarisation. Laboratory training. Presentation assessment. Semester 2 to the end of September in current Academic Year. Continues over summer provided successful completion of Part 1 of taught modules or resits permit. Students who are on PT Programmes may take this module in a similar timescale, whereas those studying for MSc in Coastal & Marine Engineering Management* undertake the project as their personal programme defines. An equivalent experience in terms of lecturing and tutoring will be provided for students on the Coastal & Marine Engineering & Management programme or part-time programmes where the timing of the project does not coincide with the standard.

Independent Study560
Total study time600


Assessment Strategy

A candidate failing to achieve the Pass Mark in this module may submit a revised dissertation on one occasion only. Further experimental work, where relevant, is not normally permitted. The mark for a resubmitted dissertation will be combined with the previously achieved marks for the oral presentation according to the weightings above. The Module mark so achieved will be Capped at the Module Pass Mark to determine any degree classification. 1 x 90%.


MethodPercentage contribution
Individual dissertation report 90%
Oral presentation 10%


MethodPercentage contribution
Individual dissertation report 90%
Oral presentation 10%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Printing and Photocopying Costs

Students are expected to cover the costs associated with the printing and binding of reports, including any drawings and graphic presentations. Two copies will need to be submitted. Depending on the quality of printing and binding chosen students can expect to pay approximately £25-30 per copy, totalling approximately £50-60 for both copies. (printing-andcopying)

Travel Costs for placements

Reasonable expenses for travel and materials of up to £300 may be reclaimed through the Faculty Student Office. For project costs in excess of £300 students should discuss possible sources of funding with their supervisor and should not proceed with any expenditure until a further funding source has been agreed. (equipment)

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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