Year 4 Project Handbook - School of Physics and Astronomy

Year 4 MPhys Project Overview
Page 2
Summary Report and Self Assessment
Page 4
Dissertation and Oral Presentations
Page 5
Gregynog Residential Course
Page 8
Submitting Reports to Turnitin
Page 9
Appendix 1: Format of the Cover Sheet
Page 10
Note: Any dates and deadlines shown in this document supersede any others shown elsewhere.
The web version of this document will always be the most current.
MO: B E Richardson
Updated September 2015
The project module extends over the Autumn and Spring semesters. It is worth 60 credits and might be
split evenly or unevenly between the semesters depending on your other module choices. Technical
support for projects is more readily available on Monday mornings and afternoons and Thursday
afternoons, but you will have to schedule considerably more time than this in order to complete your
project. You should allocate approximately seven hours per week per 10 credits. If you are using
facilities in research laboratories, you will have to schedule your work in conjunction with whoever is in
charge of the laboratory and other users of the laboratory or particular facilities.
The first week:
Make contact with your supervisor as soon as possible. You should be seeing your supervisor at least
once per week during the year. It is best if you arrange a regular, weekly meeting time with your
supervisor. At induction, you will be given Section A from your project assessment documentation and a
Project Safety Overview form. Read the latter carefully and take both forms to your supervisor in your
first meeting. It is your supervisor’s responsibility to complete both forms (in discussion with you) and
your supervisor should provide you with copies of both of them. Both forms should be completed and
returned by the end of Teaching Week 2. The Original Objectives agreed on Section A of the assessment
documentation form the outline “contract” for your project against which your assessment is based.
There are opportunities later to modify these if circumstances dictate.
The project assessment is broken down into four main components:
1. Supervisor’s Assessment
20 %
This mark is awarded by the supervisor based on your overall performance in the project and
takes into account the final outcomes of the project and your dissertation, your ability to
manage your time and effort, your general organisation, your general progress, your record
keeping, the quality of your results and your critical analysis of your observations or findings.
2. Oral Presentation
10 %
You are required to give a 25-minute conference-style presentation of your project to a small
group of staff and other students. These presentations will be organised in the Spring
assessment period (but avoiding conflicts with exams). Assessment criteria include clarity of
presentation as well as scientific content.
3. Dissertation and Viva
60 %
The project dissertation provides a written account of the theory involved in your project and a
critical analysis of your own findings. The report will be assessed as a piece of scientific
communication by two independent assessors, who will also conduct a viva voce examination.
Project reports are also seen by the External Examiners.
4. Gregynog Course Work:
10 %
This mark is derived from a variety of assessed work from group activities undertaken on the
Year 4 Gregynog residential course scheduled for early in the Spring semester. You will be
advised about the dates of this course at the start of the academic year. Attendance at this
course is a requirement. The course might include weekend work.
In addition, you are required to submit a four-page summary report just before Christmas detailing the
preliminary work you have undertaken, the overall aims and objectives of the project and a work plan for
the coming semester. You will also be asked to complete a self-assessment form.
Assessment Criteria:
The assessment criteria against which your project is marked are shown on line at:
You are reminded about the importance of avoiding Plagiarism. Please see Appendix 2 of the
Undergraduate Student Handbook:
You will be required to include a declaration with your project report that you have read and understood
the above material when you submit your report. If you are unsure about what constitutes plagiarism,
make sure you discuss this in detail with your project supervisor. You are required to submit an
electronic version of your final dissertation, which will be subjected to scrutiny by the plagiarismdetection software Turnitin.
Please note the following deadlines. For the dates of teaching weeks, please refer to the Calendar in the
current Module Catalogue:
Agreed objectives and risk assessment
When: Friday of Autumn Week 2
Where: Supervisor
Summary Report and Self-Assessment
When: 4.00 pm Friday of Autumn Week 11
Where: General Office
Dissertation (Electronic copy)
When: Midday Monday of Spring Week 13
Where: to Turnitin through Learning Central
Oral Presentation
When: Scheduled during Spring Exams
When: Scheduled during Spring Exams
Consult your supervisor
Deadlines are strict and late submission will not be accepted except where there are extenuating
circumstances, in which case documentary evidence will be required.
Project Documentation
The remainder of this handbook gives further details of the format of your dissertation and oral
presentation. You may like to refer to the Year 3 Project Handbook as well for more-general advice on
writing and organising your dissertation (this is available on Learning Central).
The deadline for submitting your Summary Report and Self Assessment is 4.00 p.m. on the last Friday
(Week 11) of the Autumn semester. The summary report must be typed using either the Word
document template or the Latex template available on Learning Central and you are restricted to four
pages maximum. This sort of exercise is good preparation for producing conference proceedings or
grant applications (or their equivalent outside academia) where the format is set and the space limited;
it is also good practice at effective, succinct writing. Print your report and complete the self-assessment
form and return to the General Office, where you should sign to say that they have been handed in.
Please remember that the Office is closed between 12.30-1.30 p.m. Although the summary report is not
marked, it is required, and you will not pass the module unless this assignment is completed.
Please see the document template for further details of the report. Two sections only are reproduced
Some advice about content
It is very advisable to have some sort of introductory section setting out the aims and objectives of your
project (an abstract is not required). This might, if appropriate, lead on to some discussion of theory or
background work appropriate to setting the scene for your own work. Where appropriate, the report
should introduce some preliminary results or some statement of progress, and, most importantly, it
should include reasonably detailed plans for the work in the Spring semester to ensure that you will
complete the project in good time.
It is difficult to advise you on what sections to include because each project is so individual.
Experimental projects might include discussions of apparatus and theoretical projects might include
some maths or details of computer programs/simulations. You should discuss the content with your
The length of the report
Your entire document should not exceed FOUR PAGES. If you find yourself exceeding this limit, cut
down your text or figures (or reduce the size of the figures). Do not modify the sizes of the text areas nor
the basic size of the text nor any other of the formatting.
Dissertations must be submitted electronically through Learning Central no later than midday on
the Monday of Teaching Week 13 in the Spring semester. Submission in a pdf or Word format
are preferred.
Deadlines are final. Dissertations will not be accepted if they are received after the stated
deadline unless there are clear extenuating circumstances that are supported by written
evidence e.g. a medical certificate.
Oral presentations are held towards the end of your studies, usually in the Spring assessment
period (but avoiding conflicts with exams).
You will required to undertake a viva voce examination with two independent assessors. This
will be scheduled some time in the Spring assessment period. The primary assessor named on
your documentation will make the arrangements in consultation with you.
Oral Presentations:
You are required to give a 25 minute oral presentation on your project work (20 minutes for the talk and
5 minutes for questions) to a group comprising other students and two or three academic staff. These
talks will normally be scheduled in the Spring assessment period.
Overhead projectors, computer projectors and white boards will be available in the lecture rooms, but if
you require any other demonstration equipment, please discuss your requirements with Mr Steve Baker
(Year 2 Lab Technician) as soon as possible. Please avoid using your own laptop; bring your presentation
on a memory stick, and ensure that sound files and videos are appropriately linked.
You should consult your supervisor about the form and content of your dissertation. This should assume
that the reader has knowledge of physics at university degree level but not necessarily a detailed
knowledge of the topics involved in your project. It is very important to select introductory material
which explains the context of your work and underpins theoretically the actual work which you have
undertaken, and this should be written in a form understandable to a non-specialist. The dissertation
might typically be about 9000 words in total, but it must be no more than 12000 words. As a guide,
including figures, data tables, computer printouts etc. at 250 words per page, that is roughly 50 pages
maximum. The report must be expressed in your own words or if you quote the words of others these
must be fully referenced (see your Undergraduate Student Handbook for advice on the avoidance of
Vivas are held with the two independent assessors once they have had the opportunity to read your
dissertation. It is the responsibility of the primary assessor named on your documentation to arrange a
suitable time for this interview that is convenient for you and takes into account the times of any
examinations that you are sitting. The viva is an important part of the assessment process and it enables
the examiners to assess your understanding beyond that which you have demonstrated in your writing.
Format of the Report:
You can format the bulk of your report as you like, but you should include an Abstract and it is good
practice to include a contents page. You are also advised to use a “standard” type face and point size.
Remember that your report is a formal document, so use appropriate language, grammar and layout.
Make sure you reference any quotations and diagrams/figure/photographs which you use from another
source. You should try to minimise references to Web sources (other than for figures); Web references
are notoriously “flaky” and can often be rather transient and of unknown provenance. Reports should
formatted such that they could be printed on A4 paper and the pages should be numbered. We require
that you include a cover page of fixed format (see below).
The Cover Page:
The required cover page includes a declaration that the work is your own and that the whole or part of
the work has not been submitted previously for assessment. For the purposes of electronic submission
this carries the same weight as your signature on a formal document. The cover page is available
electronically on Learning Central and a specimen copy is shown in Appendix 1. You may also include
your own title page following the cover page. The format of your own title page and any ensuing
material is entirely at your own discretion, but you are advised to keep the format and fonts “simple”.
The avoidance of “Self Plagiarism”:
If you wish to refer to any work which you have previously “published” or submitted for assessment, you
should reference that in exactly the same way that you reference the work of others. Importantly, this
applies to any work submitted for your Year 3 Project. If your Year 4 project is an extension of work
done in the previous year, you cannot re-use sections from previous reports unless it is correctly
referenced in the same way which you would reference independent work (we allowed you to re-use
work in your Interim Report last year in your Final Report, but you should not be doing that again here).
Getting Help from your Supervisor:
You should discuss the planning and organisation of your dissertation with your project supervisor well in
advance of the submission date. It is a good idea to draft a one- or two-page outline identifying the main
sections of the dissertation with key words and then flesh this out over several weeks in consultation
with your supervisor to the point where you have a rough draft of the whole dissertation. The draft will
undoubtedly need quite a bit of editing (English, formatting, references and ensuring consistency) but
when nearing completion it is perfectly reasonable to ask (and expect) your supervisor to read and
comment on the work as a whole, as long as this draft is submitted in good time (staff have other
commitments, meaning that they will not necessarily be able to devote sufficient time to this task if left
too late). Supervisors will comment upon and offer advice on the scientific content, the inclusiveness of
any introductory theory, your findings and conclusions. They will also offer advice on the quality of the
writing. However, you should not expect supervisors to proof-read your dissertation and the final
submission is, of course, entirely your responsibility.
Supervisors should also be expected to discuss the preparation of your oral presentation.
What are the Assessors looking for?
The dissertation and viva count for 60% of your project mark and the oral presentation a further 10%.
The examiners’ criteria for assessing your dissertation and oral presentation are shown below.
Final dissertation:
General writing style and presentation:
Formatting – the choice of appropriate sections and subsections.
Organisation – appropriate organisation of material to “tell the story”.
Quality of writing – good English and punctuation.
Writing style – logical flow with a concise and focused account.
Abstract – a clearly-written, stand-alone concise summary of the whole project.
Figures and tables – clear illustrations, graphs or tables with good captions.
Referencing – consistent reference style used throughout.
General matters – contents listing, reference section, risk assessment.
Scientific Content:
Background material – appropriate choice of background theory to “set the scene”.
Theory – appropriate choice of mathematical theory to underpin the data and analysis.
Description of equipment/analysis tools – sufficient detail of procedures.
Data – quality of data and clear presentation of data.
Analysis – critical analysis of data, including error analysis.
Discussion – critical assessment of the overall outcomes of the work and potential for future work.
As a guide, approximately equal weight should be given to the two sections.
Oral presentation:
Introduction, logical flow, clarity, pace and scientific content (as for report).
Clarity and quality of visual aids.
Ability to answer questions.
The dates for the Gregynog residential course for 2015-2016 are Thursday 28th January to Monday 1st
February 2016 inclusive; you are required to attend this course. In some years it runs in conjunction with
physics departments from other universities. The course has several aims:
To make you aware of the issues and planning involved in preparing a fully-costed proposal by
practical experience.
To give experience of the problems and opportunities of working in groups.
To develop critical ability in evaluating proposals.
To improve communication skills.
For the main activity, you will work in groups of four or five on the preparation and presentation (both
printed and oral) of a fully-costed proposal, including a convincing scientific case for support. To help
with this there will be talks on proposal preparation and group exercises, including practice at
presentation. You will also act as the judging panels for proposals, guided by staff with experience of
Research Councils and industry. Group work on the course is assessed and contributes 10% to your
project mark.
The topic for the proposals will not be announced until the beginning of the course, but will simply
require a solid basis in the application of physics. No preparation is required for the course. Past
experience shows that participants have found it a very rewarding and eye-opening experience – very
different from the usual coursework! The skills you will develop should be very useful in a wide range of
future employment. Gregynog itself is a very pleasant environment, and this is also an opportunity to
meet and work with students from another local university.
Travel and Accommodation:
Travel arrangements (check closer to the start date in case of alterations):
The coach will leave the department at 9.15 am on the day of departure. It will arrive in Gregynog at 12.15
pm, when lunch will be available.
The coach leaves Gregynog at 4.00 pm on the last day and will arrive back in Cardiff around 7.00 pm.
Accommodation (including bedding and towels) and food is provided by Gregynog and paid for by the
respective departments.
Although rooms have been provisionally allocated, there may be some flexibility about who shares with
What to Take:
You will need clothes and toiletries for the week.
Some cash for the bar (not included in the paid accommodation!). Note, there are no cash machines on
site, and the nearest is a few miles away.
A small number of laptops will be available, but you should take your own if you possible.
Gregynog is in a bit of a mobile-phone black spot, so you should not expect to get any signal on a mobile.
There are pay phones at Gregynog for anyone who needs to make a call, or a walk up the hill should
provide some reception.
You are required to submit your dissertation electronically to the relevant assignment in the project
module in Learning Central. This provides an automatic check for plagiarism. Please note that Turnitin
reports will be used only to identify possible cases of plagiarism; the decision on whether unfair practice
has taken place would be taken by the School after closer inspection of the report.
How to submit a document to Learning Central:
There is an excellent introduction available on the web regarding submitting your report to Learning
Central and you are strongly advised to read that before submitting your work:
In brief, your project module 15/16-PX4310 PROJECT\\ has an Assignments tag on the left-hand menu
and when you left-mouse-click on that you will be presented with a “Project Report” assignment in the
main window. Left-mouse-click on the View/Complete link under the Assignment name. The Submit
button should now be displayed along with additional assignment information. Click Submit to go the
file submission screen. The submission screen requires you to complete two final steps. First enter the
title (or short title) of your project in the submission title box and then click Browse and locate your work
on your PC. Click Upload to submit your work. Learning Central will add your name to the submission.
A confirmation screen will be displayed. Double check the text to make sure you have uploaded the
correct file (don’t worry that this preview version of your work will be formatted in a different way to
your original document: your formatting is preserved in the version that we will see). Click Submit to
complete the submission process. You will receive an acknowledgement that this has been completed
successfully. You are advised to retain a copy of this “digital receipt”.
Also Note
There are several things you should note:
You will only be allowed to submit your report once so make sure it is the same as the paper copy you
submit to the School.
You cannot submit your work after the submission deadline specified in the Project Handbook.
There is a 20MB limit to the size of file submitted to Learning Central. If this causes a problem please
contact the Module Organiser.
Learning Central only accepts files in Word, WordPerfect, PostScript, PDF, HTML, RTF and plain text
format. If your original is in another format please convert it to one of these before submission.
You can submit files either from your Linux account or University Novell account.
Turnitin and Learning Central only identifies possible cases of plagiarism. Any reports that are tagged as
containing a large percentage of matching text will be assessed individually by your project supervisor.
The final decision regarding plagiarism will be made by the School, not by Learning Central.
Note that the cover sheet is available electronically on Learning Central. You should use the data from
the Section A Assessment form to complete the cover sheet (the fictitious details in red).
SESSION 2015-2016
John Smith
Student Number:
Degree Programme:
MPhys Physics
Project Title:
Example of a project title – print what appears on your assessment
Dr B E Richardson
Primary Assessor:
Dr D I Westwood
Second Assessor:
Dr A Cartwright
I have read and understand Appendix 2 in the Student Handbook: “Some advice on the avoidance of plagiarism”.
I hereby declare that the attached dissertation is exclusively my own work, that no part of the work has previously been
submitted for assessment, and that I have not knowingly allowed it to be copied by another person.