Negotiate and execute a realistic plan to deliver to agreed project outcomes, including structured approaches to planning, investigation and research, with due regard to the constraints of time, budget and available resources.

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Independent Project (Civil Engineering) Module Code 6TE500

Module Title


Module Code




Date of Approval

September  2016/17

Module Level


Credit value


Total Number of Learning Hours


Key Words


project, independent, research, investigative study, practical project, proposal, report.

Module Delivery


Blended/Face to face

Work-based learning





Module Description


The Independent Engineering Project is a major element of accredited engineering or technical degree. It provides the necessary evidence that you are technically competent and capable of entering the world of work as a professional engineer or technologist.

The aim is to develop your ability to work independently, in a chosen topic, using relevant technical research and design concepts, and analytical, test, measurement and evaluation techniques, in order to produce a finished artefact or product.

You will be expected not merely to collect, analyse and apply information, but also to exhibit other skills such as the ability to plan, manage and produce a significant technical piece of work.                             


Module Learning Outcomes


On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  1. Negotiate and execute a realistic plan to deliver to agreed project outcomes, including structured approaches to planning, investigation and research, with due regard to the constraints of time, budget and available resources.
  2. Maintain an ongoing record, and write a substantial final analytical technical report containing an extensive critical evaluation of the methods adopted and the final outcome of the project. 
  3. Present and discuss in a viva voce setting your technical project in depth, clearly communicating the critical issues and key features of the project and be prepared to answer detailed questions.


Module Content


Project Management

Definition of a project, project life cycle phases, project planning tools, risk analysis, resource management, managing project delivery.

Design Methods

Applying structured design methods: clarification of need, conceptual design, embodiment design, detail design. Design for civil engineering, manufacture and sustainability.

Project Execution

You will be expected to identify a technical project related to your final year studies. The project could originate from a list provided by the Module Leader or from a relevant personal interest of yours. All projects originating from you must be approved by the Module Leader prior to commencement and be sufficiently technically demanding to justify inclusion in the final stages of an accredited degree. 

The project supervisor, allocated after submission of the proposal, is primarily responsible for monitoring your conduct and involvement as well as providing some guidance when deemed necessary.  A second supervisor is chosen to complement the expertise of the project supervisor and to provide internal moderation. You are expected to meet your project supervisors on a regular basis, ideally at least once a fortnight, throughout the year for guidance in strategy, implementation and report writing.

The project proposal, (Learning outcome 1) is based on a preliminary survey of the problem area. It includes an outline of the scope and objectives of the study such as expected project outcomes, a plan of work, an assessment of the resources required for completion and an evaluation of safety and ethical implications (the former expressed as a formal risk assessment).  

The project supervisor may ask for revisions to the project proposal and must finally agree to it, within three weeks of it being submitted.  The proposal will form an important part of the subsequent management of the project and will contribute to establishing the criteria for the assessment of the project. 

A project logbook should be maintained on a continuous basis by you. This forms the agenda for the regular meetings between the project supervisor and you, and may be an e-log or a more traditional record.  During the course of the project, you will meet your supervisor regularly to discuss progress, as evidenced verbally and by the logbook. This allows problems to be dealt with at a retrievable point in the course of the project. It is the responsibility of you to ensure that these meetings occur. Practical work must be conducted in University premises, unless explicitly agreed otherwise by the project supervisor. Any practical work, whether on University or other premises, must not begin before the risk assessment and ethical clearance has been agreed.

The final technical report and project logbook evidence will depend on the nature of the particular project.

Projects may be classified as one of two types:

• An “investigative study” will include experiments or tests on equipment or systems already available. The main item of assessment is the analytical report of the investigation. The prescribed word count is not more than 7000 words (not including appendices or programme listings).

• A “practical project” where the main assessment weighting is for a hardware, software (or hardware/software) artefact, and a technical evaluative report where the conclusion/recommendation should be substantial and analytical.  The report word count is less than that for the ‘investigative study’ and should be no more than 6000 words (not including appendices or program listings).

Negotiate and execute a realistic plan to deliver to agreed project outcomes, including structured approaches to planning, investigation and research, with due regard to the constraints of time, budget and available resources.

NOTE: Purely discursive projects ARE NOT allowed as this module forms part of an IET accredited programme and as such any project undertaken must contain significant practical or technical investigative work as the basis of the written report.

All practical work must be completed by the agreed deadline. The project report and project logbook will be submitted on the specified deadline. You are required to submit two bound, word-processed copies of a report of your work, and a version in electronic format.

Before the report has been submitted, you will be required to attend a viva voce session to present and discuss the project in depth, and clearly communicate its critical issues and key features.

Module Learning and Teaching Methods

The opening lectures will cover (i) project planning and management, (ii) investigation and research methods, and (iii) design methods, and will review University resources and how to use them. There will also be occasional lectures during the course of the project period to provide further input as appropriate, for example on writing the final report.

To encourage an early start, a seminar for all students progressing to Level 6 will be provided towards the end of Level 5. Project guidance will also be provided during the University Induction Week, which is held at the beginning of the Academic Year. 

You will be allocated a supervisor appropriate to your chosen area(s) of study after proposal submission.  As the project should relate to final year studies, there should not be a problem in allocating a supervisor with appropriate expertise. In the rare cases where this is not possible, for example in highly specialised areas, special arrangements will need to be made. Exceptionally, you may be advised to choose another topic.

You will be largely self‑directed but will be expected to see your project supervisor on a regular basis over the two semesters, with a formal progress meeting in each semester.


Scheduled learning and teaching activities:            10%

Guided independent study:                                       90%

Module Assessment                                         



Assessment Weighting:       100% Coursework

The assessment is to be conducted through a project proposal, project logbook, final report, and a viva voce session. Guidance will be given on expected report format. Evidence of a literature survey, sound working practices (e.g. adoption of a structured design method), and application of relevant theory is expected.

You will be required to present your work to an assessment panel of two or more academic staff including the project supervisor and may include the external examiner. 


You must negotiate your project with your allocated project supervisor by presenting a written project proposal. This will include a literature review, budget outline, risk assessment, and ethical statement (where necessary). You will be given detailed formative feedback on your project proposal. You are then expected to see your project supervisor on a regular basis, at least once a fortnight over the two semesters, during which you will be given spoken and written feedback.

CW1: 80% Learning Outcomes 1 & 2

This coursework formally assesses all written elements of the project, including proposal, report and logbook, with marks distributed 10:80:10 respectively. The written technical report incorporates evidence of literature survey, relevant theory, design and project management methods applied application of professional working practices, construction, testing and evaluation. The length of this report will be dependent on the project type (see above).  The student will maintain a continuous record in the form of a logbook detailing the research, construction, analysis, calculations, methodology of work conducted throughout the year and submit this along with the report. Negotiate and execute a realistic plan to deliver to agreed project outcomes, including structured approaches to planning, investigation and research, with due regard to the constraints of time, budget and available resources.

CW2:  20% Learning Outcome 3

This assessment consists of a project viva voce giving an opportunity for you to discuss the critical issues and key features of the project.  This will take the form of a 15 minute presentation and a 15 minute period for questioning of the student in terms of their involvement with the project. Due consideration will be given to any hardware or software produced by you during the project; this will have been demonstrated to the supervisor prior to the viva voce.


Reading list

  1. The Circuit Designer’s Companion. Wilson, Peter, Williams, Tim. Newnes. , 2012.
  2. The Project Manager’s Pocket Book. Posner, Keith, Applegarth, Michael, Hailstone, Phil. Management Pocketbooks. 2008
  3. Doing Your Research Project Judith Bell and Stephen Waters (2018) earlier editions without Stephen Waters are probably available second hand,.

Independent Project (Civil Engineering) Module

Code 6TE500


You are advised to meet your project tutor at least once every two weeks, even if it is only for a brief update of progress. It is your responsibility to contact your tutor and arrange these meetings. Your progress meetings should always consider, amongst others, the following:

  • The aims of the project, and any modifications that may be needed.
  • Progress made to date, both in terms of research and practical work, and how this compares to the original project plan.
  • Current utilisation of resources (monies, laboratory, software, etc.) and future projections of utilisation.
  • Key issues and challenges fundamental to the progress of your project (i.e. circuit designs, theoretical models, availability of resources, etc.).
  • Assessment deadlines and progress towards meeting these.

Additionally, information on the following issues will be available throughout the year; this may be given in Lecture/Web or Paper form:

      • Project Induction - Selecting and Planning a Project
      • Introduction to Project Facilities
      • Writing a Project Proposal
      • Writing the Interim Report
      • Preparing for the VIVA EXAMINATION…

Note that exact dates and times for these sessions will be posted on the Blackboard course resources notice board for this module.


The limit to project expenditure is £75 total cost.

Expenditure above these limits can only be approved after submission of a Revision of Project Expenditure Limit form, which must be agreed by the Project Tutor and Head of Subject. Only one application to revise the project expenditure limit may be made by each student. A copy of this form is available as Appendix C.



Planning is one of the most important aspects in undertaking a project. It is important that you think carefully about the aims of the project, the path you need to take to achieve those aims and the resources you will need. You should develop a work plan that sets realistic, manageable targets in a time frame that accounts for all the demands on your time. The plan must be achievable in the time you have and you should have a number of aims that represent achievements on the path to a completed project. Structure your project carefully. State what information you will need to seek during the course of the project and how you will achieve its retrieval. Outline the design methodology you will use and the resources required to support it. Describe how you will execute each stage of the project, including methods of evaluation and testing, to ensure that each stage supports the overall objectives. Clearly lay out your plan in chronological order, using a Gantt or similar. Identify potential problems and make contingency plans as necessary. Negotiate and execute a realistic plan to deliver to agreed project outcomes, including structured approaches to planning, investigation and research, with due regard to the constraints of time, budget and available resources. Consider financial aspects of the project at all stages of planning. It is also advisable to plan the formal writing of your report from the start of the project. Your report should be a complete record of your activities and achievements throughout every stage of your project. 

One of the most common and most serious errors is not to leave enough time for writing up.

You will be allocated an academic project tutor and you should make full use of them in planning your project. You should regularly discuss your project plan with your supervisor and start discussing the report well before the time to start writing. Ideally, you should seek comments on the draft of each section that you write.

You should consider the number of hours allocated to you each week for your project (total hours for the year are 240 hours), and make a decision regarding when you are going to meet this commitment. You should remember that the project deadline is a few weeks earlier than the end of the summer semester and hence a commitment of about ten hours per week for the project may be typical.

Some useful tips include:

  • Before sitting down to work on your project, plan what you are going to do and make sure you have what you need available to you.
  • If you are not achieving your targets, put an alternative plan in place. Do not think that any problems will just go away.
  • Arrange meetings with your project tutor in advance and make time to prepare for these meetings.
  • Set yourself realistic targets to be completed by fixed times and dates.
  • Make a log of your work in a notebook used only for project work.
  • Keep records of all reference material that you may eventually use in your report, ideally using the same format.
  • Write the final report in parallel with the main project activity, and start as early as possible. This will leave you with plenty of opportunities to fine-tune the content.


The project proposal should be no more than 4 sides of A4 type written using 12point Times New Roman Justified text. It should consist of the following sections, with the following numbering scheme:

1. Project Title

2. Name and Programme of Study

3. Aims of the Project

4. Problem Definition

5. Plan of Work

6. Resources

7. Appendices: Risk Assessment (Form available on the UDo module site)

8. Consideration of Need for Ethics approval (Form available on the UDo module site)

       Project Title

Ideally this is a brief title describing the main project theme.

e.g. Design of a Domestic Security System.

       Name and Programme of Study

Clearly identify your name, the programme of study.

       Aims of the Project 

Between 3 and 6 aims (more does not necessarily mean better) of the form shown below as an example.

1. To review the current market requirements for domestic security systems.

2. To design a domestic security system for a component cost under £25.

3. To build and test a security system in a domestic environment.

These aims will provide a benchmark against which the success/failure of the project can be judged. It is important to be concise and clear in terms of what you are hoping to achieve.

Project Definition

This section describes the facts, figures, technical background and any other information that is needed to define the project being undertaken. The aims of the project should be justified in terms of their relevance in a technical/commercial/social context, given the financial and time constraints placed on the project. Previous work in the area should be described, along with an explanation of how the proposed project builds on this work. Any special features of the project should be identified (e.g. industrial involvement, commercial potential, novel applications, intellectual property rights) and described in detail.

Plan of Work

This should include a timetable of events with brief explanatory notes. A critical path should be identified, if it exists. Each activity should include an estimate of the time needed to complete the element. It is vitally important to ensure you plan for lead times on items that require purchasing or manufacture. Your plan should clearly identify the progress you expect to have made at the time of the interim report. A planning chart (Gantt chart), of the type shown below, may be useful to help you identify when different tasks will need to take place

Negotiate and execute a realistic plan to deliver to agreed project outcomes, including structured approaches to planning, investigation and research, with due regard to the constraints of time, budget and available resources.

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