Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Title Research Methods in Computer Science
Code CSCK508
Coordinator Dr S Thomason
Computer Science
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2020-21 Level 7 FHEQ Whole Session 15


1. To provide a deep and systematic knowledge of the nature of strategic computing projects that harness recent development within the domain of computer science.
2. To equip students with the ability to undertake independent research with a view to specifying a strategic IT project; including problem and solution definition, and the ability to compare and analyse competing solutions.
3. To furnish an ability to manage, conduct and monitor strategic IT projects using a range of tools and techniques.
4. To provide an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the information security issues related to the management, conduct and monitoring of IT projects, including the associated risk management.
5. To highlight the Legal, Social, Ethical and Professional (LSEP) issues applicable to computing projects and the relevant codes of ethics and practices.
6. To enhance and develop transferable skills in the context of the presentation and communication of technical material to a range of audiences.

Learning Outcomes

(M1) An ability to investigate and define a problem in terms of recent innovations and the current technological state of the art; and in terms of end-user (customer) needs and cost drivers.

(M2) An ability to critically review current literature concerning key developments in a particular domain, and identify limitations and avenues with a view to further development and entrepreneurship.

(M3) An ability to define and evaluate a computing solution to a recognised problem taking into consideration technical constraints, risks and safety aspects; and the Legal, Social, Ethical and Professional Issues (LSEPI), including information security requirements.

(M4) An ability to manage the design, specification and implementation of a computing solution to a recognised problem using appropriate tools and practices.

(M5) An ability to critically evaluate a proposed computing solution to a recognised problem.

(S1) Experience of working in development teams and the leadership of such teams.

(S2) Communication skills in electronic as well as written and oral form to a range of audiences both technical and non-technical.

(S3) Self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems within the domain of Computer Science, and an ability act autonomously in planning and implementing solutions in a professional manner.

(S4) Digital literacy in the context of an ability to search for information using digital systems and then synthesise the information found.



Week 1: Overview of Research Methods
Introduction to Research Methods in Computer Science. Overview of cutting-edge computer science projects, the challenges and risks involved. The commercial computing project life cycle. Commercial and economic considerations in computing research and the computing industry. The inter-disciplinary nature of research in computer science.

Week 2: Legal, Social, Ethical and Professional Issues (LSEPI)
Review of the Legal, Social, Ethical and Professional Issues (LSEPI) associated with the conduct of computing projects, including: the relevant codes ethics and practices, data protection and standards.

Week 3: Literature Review.
Information gathering, Literature review and the Reading and understanding research papers. Systematic literature review methodologies.

Week 4: Research Project Specification.
Specifying a project proposal, aims and objectives, criteria for success.

Week 5: Project Management
Project planning, scheduling, management and monitoring, and tools and techniques available to support this.

Week 6: Project Conduct
Project conduct, time management, risk management, team working and team dynamics.

Week 7: Project Evaluation
Project evaluation, basic statistics for the qualitative analysis of data, significance testing. Quantitative analysis. Presenting numeric and nonenumeric data. Evaluating the technical, societal and management dimensions of computer systems.

Week 8: Technical Writing
Technical writing, referencing, bibliographies and the presentation of results to both technical and non-technical audiences; best practice and structured approaches.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

The mode of delivery is by online learning, facilitated by a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). This mode of study enables students to pursue modules via home study while continuing in employment. Module delivery involves the establishment of a virtual classroom in which a relatively small group of students (usually 10-25) work under the direction of a faculty member. Module delivery proceeds via a series of eight one-week online sessions, each of which comprises an online lecture, supported by other eLearning activities, posted electronically to a public folder in the virtual classroom. The eLearning activities will include lecture casts, live seminar sessions, self-assessment activities, reading materials and other multimedia resources. Communication within the virtual classroom is asynchronous, preserving the requirement that students are able to pursue the course in their own time, within the weekly time-frame of each seminar. An important element of the module provision is act ive learning through collaborative, cohort-based, learning using discussion fora where the students engage in assessed discussions facilitated by the faculty member responsible for the module. This in turn encourages both confidence and global citizenship (given the international nature of the online student body).

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours 24


Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 86


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Presentation: The motivation, rational, benefits, programme of work and planned management of a selected computer science research project as might be presented to members of a senior management team.  30 minutes    30       
Essay: Literature review concerning the state-of-the-art with respect to a current topic at the “cutting-edge” of the discipline of computer science.  2000-2500 words    30       
Discussion question 2: Actively participate in online discussion concerning a specific topic related to research methods in computer science, demonstrating an understanding of the key issues and showi  1000-1500 words    20       
Discussion Question 1: Participate actively in an online discussion to critically discuss experiences and opinions within the cohort relating to research methods in computer science.  1000-1500 words    20       

Recommended Texts

Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.