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MSc Research Specialism - Overview and Approach

Research Question in Specialism

This Assignment assesses the following module Learning Outcomes (from Definitive Module Document):

Knowledge and understanding:

LO1 Have a conceptual understanding of how established techniques of research are used to create and extend existing knowledge in computer science.

LO2 Be able to identify a research problem from synthesizing problem definitions from relevant literature.

LO3 Demonstrate originality in proposing alternative solutions within a chosen area.

Skills and attributes

LO4 Critically evaluate research literature and identify research problems to solve

LO5 Demonstrate ability to propose alternative approaches for future work in a chosen area.

LO6 Communicate research knowledge effectively in scholarly manner.

Aim: To provide exposure to research areas in Computer Science drawn from the Department’s research profile in order to provide preparatory ground for students to pursue a deeper investigation of a research topic as part of their Master’s project.

Assignment Brief:

In order to conduct independent research in computer science you must fully understand the research area. You must have a grasp of the current open questions in this area, as well as any common techniques used to solve problems.

In this assignment you must provide an overview of your MSc Research specialism (AI / Networking / Cyber Security / Software Engineering / Data Science). Students without a specialism may choose any one of these specialisms.

You must discuss the research question presented within the relevant specialist lecture for this specialism, propose some research approaches to investigate this question and identify further work you might undertake which builds on this. You must also explore your personal strengths in this area.

You are required to submit a Word document containing your report via Studynet.  Your report must not exceed 1400 words (+ / - 10%).

You must include a title page showing the module code, your name student number, MSc route and the words “Research Specialism Coursework”.

Your task

As part of this assignment you are required to produce an overview of your chosen research specialism and discuss the specific open research question within this specialism that was presented in the relevant specialist lecture.

You will be expected to draw on the principles of research writing, literature review and research communication as introduced in the lectures.

You must also use your knowledge and understanding of the topic as supplemented by:

  • the module reading materials;
  • secondary research

Please use the Harvard Referencing System (see to reference your sources. 

Your report must include sections as described below. The word lengths are provided as guidance only, and no marks will be deducted specifically on the grounds of word length of each section.

  1. Introduction of research specialism (approx. 150 words)

Provide a brief description of your chosen research specialism area. This should be accessible to someone with a broad knowledge of computer science, but without any specific knowledge of this specialism area.

  1. Open research question (approx. 300 words)

Identify the research question discussed in the relevant subject specialist paper for this specialism. Describe this research question or problem in detail. Ensure that you describe why this question is scientifically interesting and / or applicable to a real-world problem.

  1. Existing and related work (approx. 400 words)

Provide a brief literature review of existing other work– i.e. not this paper – that has been done on this problem and on similar problems. Why does this existing other work not fully answer or solve these problems? What are some related open problems? You must make reference to existing work beyond that presented in the paper discussed by the subject specialist.

  1. Research approach (approx. 400 words)

Describe the research methods which have been used in this paper to investigate this question. Evaluate the effectiveness of this research, considering both its advantages and disadvantages. Describe an approach you might take to build on this research to answer related open questions. Remember to draw on the principles of experimental design and theoretical / practical research as introduced in the lectures.

  1. Personal investment (approx. 150 words)

Identify why you are interested in this specific research question, and why your personal strengths and experiences would fit you to carry out the research you have described.

  1. References

You will need to include at least 10 references (the lecture material may count as one of these). You should use Harvard-style referencing, and your references do not count towards your word count.

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