Module Details

CE902-7-FY-CO: Professional Practice And Research Methodology

Year: 2017/18
Department: Computer Science and Electronic Engineering
Essex credit: 15
ECTS credit: 7.5
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: No
Full Year Module Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students for a Single Term: No
Outside Option: No

Supervisor: Dr Michael Gardner (AU Term, SP Term),
Teaching Staff: Dr Michael Gardner (AU)
Contact details: School Office, email: csee-schooloffice (non-Essex users should add to create full e-mail address), Telephone 01206 872770

Module is taught during the following terms
Autumn Spring Summer

Module Description

Learning Outcomes

This module aims to prepare students for conducting an independent research project leading to a dissertation and to provide them with an appreciation of research and business skills relating to their professional career, including literature searching and evaluation, technical report writing, and an introduction to business enterprise, financial and management accounting and investment appraisal. As a precursor to their project students individually select an area of Computer Science, or Electronic Engineering, or Computational Finance and perform the necessary background research to define a topic and prepare a project proposal under the guidance of a supervisor.

After completing this module, students will be expected to be able to:

1. Demonstrate an understanding of professional, business and ethical issues that affect the work of the computing and electronics professional
2. Conduct an academic literature search, and report conclusions and proposals from this making appropriate use of summarising, paraphrasing, citations and references.
3. Understanding the structure of businesses in the UK and world-wide, ranging from multi-nationals down to SME's (small and medium enterprises), and be aware of how to prepare and submit an effective job application to them.
4. Understand the basics of setting up a new business enterprise or reviewing and existing business by constructing or evaluating a business plan and financial and management accounts.
5. Demonstrate an understanding of how scientific research is conducted, reported, reasoned about, and evaluated, and how it is distinguished from pseudoscience
6. Demonstrate an understanding of the principles and elements of scientific experiments
7. Write a formal project proposal which contains an outline solution to the problem, and which clearly defines the scope of the MSc project, its goals, the methodology to be undertaken, and the criteria of its evaluation

Outline Syllabus

Project Proposals
. Identifying a research topic
. Finding and reading related work
. Report writing, citations and references
. Using [digital] library services and search tools
. Planning and managing a research project
. Plagiarism

Career planning
. Elements in the job application process
. Business planning, financial and enterprise skills
. Effective time and project management

Businesses and Enterprise
. Types of commercial organisation and their business and financial structures
. Financing companies, business plans and cost headings
. Budgeting, cash flow and investments appraisal
. New Present Value and Discounted Cash Flow calculations
. Business viability evaluation

Research Methodology
. Principles of the scientific method
. Scientific theories: predictive power, falsifiability, empirical validation, and economy of account
. Scientific and controlled experiments: bias, placebos, double-blind methods, variables
. Inductive vs. deductive inference
. Common logical fallacies
. Dissemination and peer review

Learning and Teaching Methods

Lectures and computer laboratory coursework sessions, with some homework.

Academic Writing and Language Supportsmall-group classes tailored specifically to the needs of CSEE postgraduate students are provided in parallel with the formal lectures and coursework, at al levels from minimum IELTS acceptance level (6.5) through to native English speakers.


70 per cent Coursework Mark, 30 per cent Exam Mark


There will be a University English Language Test worth 2% taken in week 2. Literature Search coursework assignment worth 2% in week 6. Job Application Exercise worth 2% to be submitted to FASER in week 8. Science Fiction Prototype worth 2% to be submitted to FASER wk 10. Business Ethics Essay worth 8% to be submitted to FASER in week 11. Progress Test 1 worth 7% to be taken in week 11. Progress Test 2 worth 7% to be taken in week 21. Project proposal worth 40% will be submitted to FASER in week 25.

Exam Duration and Period

2:00 during Summer Examination period.

Other information



  • Bibliography
  • Highly Recommended Reading
  • DAWSON, C. W. Projects in Computing and Information Systems: A Student's Guide. Addison-Wesley, 2005
  • BOTT, F. Professional Issues in Information Technology. British Computer Society, 2005
  • WARBURTON, N. The Basics of Essay Writing. Routledge, 2006
  • Biggam, J. Succeeding with your Master's Dissertation: A Step-by-step Guide. McGraw-Hill, 2008.
  • Horn, R. Researching and Writing Dissertations: A complete guide for business students. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 2012.
  • Recommended Reading
  • HANSSON, Sven Ove, "Science and Pseudo-Science", The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
  • AYRES, R. The Essence of Professional Issues in Computing. Prentice Hall, 1999
  • CORNFORD, T. & SMITHSON, S. Project Research in Information Systems: A Student's Guide (2nd ed.) Palgrave, 2006
  • LLOYD, I. Legal Aspects of the Information Society. Butterworths, 2000
  • POLONSKY, M. & WALLER, D. Designing and Managing a Research Project. Sage, 2005
  • REED, C. & ANGEL, J. Computer Law (5th ed.). Oxford University Press, 2003
  • Fisher, C. M. Researching and Writing a Dissertation : An Essential Guide for Business Students, Harlow, Financial Times/Prentice Hall, 2010.