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MSC8001 Research Project Methodology

Semester 1, 2013 On-campus Toowoomba
Units : 2
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Sciences
School or Department : Maths and Computing
Version produced : 21 July 2014

Contents on this page


Examiner: Richard Watson
Moderator: Stijn Dekeyser


Pre-requisite: Students must be enrolled in one of the following Programs: MCOP or MCTE or BSCH or MSCN or have the approval of their program coordinator


An in-depth project and dissertation on a specialised research topic are necessary to prepare graduates for further research, applications and responsible jobs in Applied Computer Science, Mathematics, Statistics or Science. This course, in conjunction with MSC8002, enables students to develop and use research capability and an advanced level of Bioinformatics, Computer Science, Mathematics, Statistics or Science skills.


This course forms the first part of the research component of the Honours and Masters programs in the Faculty, developed further in MSC8002. It develops the foundation for ultimately completing a selected project in Computing Science, Mathematics, Statistics or Science with the supervision of appropriate staff from the Faculty. The project will consist of review, research into and reporting of a well defined area and its application. In this course, information and ideas for the project will be gathered, organised and a preliminary analysis made in a critical and evaluative manner. The topic of the project will be selected in consultation with the appropriate staff of the Faculty.


On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. conduct a research literature survey in Applied Computer Science, Mathematics, Statistics or Science;
  2. plan an investigation of a suitable and approved research topic;
  3. develop advanced Applied Computer Science, Mathematics, Statistics or Science skills which include the analysis, synthesis and evaluation of factors involved in the project.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Initiate a research project: Consult with appropriate staff of the Faculty; Research methodology in Computer Science, Mathematics, Statistics or Science; Research proposal and plan; Preliminary analysis and seminar. 100.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Chambers JM, Becker RA, et al 1983, Graphical methods for data analysis, Wadsworth, Belmont, Ca.
  • Highham NJ 1998, Handbook of writing for the mathematical sciences, 2nd edn, Siam, Philadelphia.
  • Jaeger RM 1990, Statistics: A spectator sport, 2nd edn, Sage, Newbury Park, Ca.
  • Strunk W (Jr) 1918, The elements of Style, WP Humphrey,
  • Tufte ER 2001, The visual display of quantitative information, 2nd edn, Graphics Press, Cheshire, Conn.
  • Zobel J 2004, Writing for computer science, 2nd edn, Springer, London.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Consultation 15.00
Private Study 310.00
Workshops 10.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
MSC8001 LITERATURE SURVEY 10 5 16 Mar 2013 (see note 1)
MSC8001 PRELIMINARY PROPOSAL 10 5 16 Mar 2013 (see note 2)
MSC8001 PRELIMINARY SEMINAR 10 5 16 Mar 2013 (see note 3)
MSC8002 SEMINAR 10 10 16 Mar 2013 (see note 4)
MSC8002 DISSERTATION 100 75 21 Jun 2013 (see note 5)

  1. These items submitted during enrolment in MSC8001. Due dates to be advised by the examiner.
  2. These items submitted during enrolment in MSC8001. Due dates to be advised by the examiner.
  3. These items submitted during enrolment in MSC8001. Due dates to be advised by the examiner.
  4. These items submitted during enrolment in MSC8002. Due dates to be advised by the examiner.
  5. These items submitted during enrolment in MSC8002. Due dates to be advised by the examiner.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    It is the student's responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities (such as lectures, tutorials, laboratories and practical work) scheduled for them, and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them, to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course, and to be informed of course-related activities and administration. It is the student's responsibility to maintain regular contact with their supervisor according to a mutually agreed schedule.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item, a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    If students submit assignments after the due date without (prior) approval of the examiner then a penalty of 1% of the total marks gained by the student for the assignment will apply for each working day late.

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    Students will be awarded the grade of IIP (Incomplete - in progress) at the end of this course provided they have gained at least 50% of the marks available for the Preliminary Proposal, Preliminary Seminar, and Literature Review. This grade will be changed to a final grade when the course MSC8002 is completed.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks/grades obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination in this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    As there are no examinations in this course, there will be no deferred or supplementary examinations.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch the assignment to the USQ. The onus is on the student to provide proof of the despatch date, if requested by the Examiner.

  2. Students may be required to provide a copy of assignments submitted for assessment purposes. Such copies should be dispatched to the USQ within 24 hours of receipt of a request to do so.

  3. In accordance with University policy, the Examiner may grant an extension of the due date of an assessment item in extenuating circumstances.

  4. A grade of IIP (Incomplete, In Progress) will be temporarily awarded for this course when the student has completed the first three assessment items satisfactorily. A final grade for the course will be assigned upon completion and assessment of MSC8002 Research Project Dissertation. The grade calculated from all the assessment items completed in both MSC8001 and MSC8002 will be awarded to both MSC8001 and MSC8002.

  5. In exceptional circumstances and only with the prior approval of the Examiner, a student may be awarded a passing grade in this course upon Satisfactory completion of the first four assessment items and the submission of a project dissertation of a satisfactory standard appropriate for two units.

  6. The referencing system to be used in this course is supported by the Department. Information on this referencing system and advice on how to use it can be found in the course materials.

Other requirements

  1. Students will require access to e-mail and have internet access to UConnect for this course.

  2. It is the student's responsibility to firstly approach staff members and discuss possible projects, and secondly to negotiate a mutually agreed project topic with a staff member who will then become the student's Supervisor for the research project in MSC8001 and MSC8002. Enrolment can only be confirmed when a student has found an appropriate project supervisor

  3. Normally a student's work in a project, their seminar and dissertation is expected to be open to public scrutiny. However, a project may generate intellectual property which a student wishes to remain confidential. If this is the case, the student, Supervisor and Examiner will meet or confer to negotiate appropriate work practices consistent with University policies.

  4. Normally, a student and the Supervisor will meet or confer for one hour each week. The Supervisor will: guide direction; provide formative feedback; suggest possibilities; teach methods; advise on balance and emphasis; remind the timelines; recommend marks to the Examiner for the Preliminary proposal, Proposal, Preliminary seminar, and Literature survey; suggest dissertation Markers to the Examiner; coordinate with the Examiner, especially for the seminars; and meet as required with other supervisors.

  5. General Faculty Inductions for All Honours/Masters Students (a) All Masters students must complete the Faculty of Sciences General Staff/Student Safety Induction before commencing work or within the first week of commencing work in the Faculty. (b) All Faculty of Sciences General Staff/Student Safety Inductions must be completed by the Faculty Safety Co-Ordinator, the Faculty Safety Assistant or their delegate. (c) All Faculty of Sciences General Staff/Student Safety Induction paperwork is to be signed and dated by the inductor and inductee. (d) Completed General Safety Staff/Student Induction paperwork must then be forwarded to the relevant supervisor for signature. The supervisor must keep a copy of this induction form for their own records. (e) Once completed by the supervisor, all Faculty of Sciences General Staff/Student Safety Induction paperwork is to be forwarded to the Faculty Safety Office for filing and the inductions recorded on the appropriate computer database.

  6. Inductions for Restricted Access Areas (a) All Masters students expected to work in restricted access areas must complete the relevant safety induction for that location before commencing duties. (b) The student's supervisor (or nominated delegate) is to complete all inductions for restricted access areas. (c) Induction paperwork is to be kept in the office of the relative Laboratory Manager or Faculty Administration Manger. Academic Supervisors are again encouraged to keep copies of this paperwork for their own records.

  7. Commencing Work Before All Inductions are Completed: Any Academic Supervisor who wishes their Honours/Masters student(s) to begin work before all inductions have been completed, may do so only if they provide direct supervision of the student in question until the induction(s) is completed.