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2P99/3P99/4F90 Guidelines

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COSC 2P99 / 3P99 / 4F90 Project Guidelines

This page offers the guidelines for the computer science project courses - COSC 2P99, 3P99 and 4F90. The intent of these courses, is to help prepare you for future large scale projects; both in terms of workplace as well as those considering a Masters degree.

1. Schedule

1.1. Use of Library

Students are urged to attend one of the courses given by the Library on the effective use of the library's research tools and services. These courses are usually available in September.

1.2. Penalties and Changes in Deadlines

The following tables for COSC 2P99/3P99 (6 month course) and 4F90 (12 month course) provide recommended due dates for all submissions. Changes will only be considered on written request to the supervisor. Note that convocation deadlines may influence the due date for the final submission and presentation.

1.3. COSC 2P99/3P99 Project Schedule:

Documents to Submit             Submission Deadlines
 to the Supervisor              for registration in:
                        Fall            Winter          Spring
Registration            September       January         April
Research Plan/          Late Sept.      Late Jan.       Late Apr.
Problem Specification
Literature Search       October         February        Early May
Final Submission        March           July            October

1.4. COSC 4F90 Project Schedule:

Documents to Submit             Submission Deadlines
 to the Supervisor              for registration in:
                        Fall            Winter          Spring
Registration            September       January         April
Research Plan/          November        March           July
Problem Specification
Literature Search       December        April           August
Final Submission        August          December        March

1.5. Scheduling the Final Oral Presentation

The scheduling of the final oral presentation will be done by the Departmental Secretary on submission of the final documentation. This presentation will be scheduled at least two weeks after the submission of all required reports. Students should note that scheduling a presentation in June, July or August could be difficult because of summer vacations. Corrections and/or additions may be required as a result of the evaluation before any marks are submitted to the Registrar's Office. The time required for these possible changes should be borne in mind by the student, especially if graduation depends on this course.

1.6. Vital First Submission

Within an appropriate delay the Research Plan or the Problem Specification must be completed and a copy deposited with the Project Coordinator as evidence that the project has been started; failure to do this could result in the recommendation for withdrawal from the course. The appropriate delay is one month for 2P99/3P99 projects, two months for 4F90 projects. Documents submitted late could result in a termination of the project.

2. Intermediate Documents

Intermediate documents may be bound in a manner acceptable to the supervisor. The hardcopy documents for the Examining Committee, if required, should be bound in a single volume, with section separators. Any questions concerning binding should be directed to the Project Coordinator. All required documents must be submitted to the supervisor, who will record the dates of submission and any penalties assessed.

2.1. Research Plan

The Research Plan should briefly outline (one or two pages) the general research direction and include a plan of attack for the problem.

2.2. Problem Specification and Development Cycle

The Problem Specification should describe the requirements of the system. It is a baseline document which is to be adhered to except with permission of the supervisor.

This specification should state, in as much detail as possible, the job to be done. For example, diagrams from a CASE package could be used to add to the clarity of the document. Limits or constraints of the proposed system should also be described.

For the development cycle, some form of Time or Gantt Chart should show the expected dates for the Design Phase, Programming Phase and Documentation Phase. These phases may, of course, overlap.

2.3. Literature Search

This consists of an annotated bibliography of relevant work in the field of study. It forms the basis for the final Reference list, and an updated version could be included in the final report.

2.4. Design Specification

This document defines a solution to the problem described in the Problem Specification; it is the foundation for the system implementation. The design logic described here is detailed enough so that all the required functions, interfaces, files and program module interconnections are defined. The lowest level of program module is specified in terms of the functions it must perform and the interfaces it must have with other modules but the actual internal design of these low-level modules is to be left to the program implementation phase. The design specification could include such items as:

  • Program hierarchy: definitions, flow chart and/or descriptions of the modules making up the complete system

  • Data hierarchy: definitions and descriptions of the types of files and their structures (as applicable)

  • Preliminary input and output formats and screen designs (as appropriate)

  • Implementation language(s)

3. Final Submission

The following reports are normally submitted as part of the final submission, depending on the nature of the project. Students should note that their work will be marked based on these reports and their oral presentation. Changes or additions to these documents may be required by the Examining Committee. The exact composition of the submission is dependent upon the type of project undertaken. The supervisor will discuss the requirement format to be submitted. Some possible components of the report are discussed below.

The supervisor and examiner(s) will require three (3) hardcopy documents, to be printed on standard letter-size paper. The usual costs associated with printing and binding the reports are to be paid by the student. The advisor and student have the freedom to decide whether a project should be published on the Web or not.

3.1. Research Report

This Report will normally include the following sections:

  • Abstract - a single paragraph

  • Introduction.

  • Literature Survey. This places the student's work in its scholarly context. Current related work should be described in sufficient detail to give the examining committee a background against which the student's work can be judged

  • The body of the report

  • Conclusions (possibly including suggested future directions)

  • Source Code (one copy only - Departmental copy)

  • References (and an annotated bibliography, as appropriate)

3.2. Maintenance or Technical Manual

The rationale for this document is to enable other programmers to more easily understand the system's data structures and logic, for maintenance and changes. It is an extension of the Design Specification and will typically include:

  • Brief description of the purpose of each module (or procedure)

  • The modules (or procedures) invoked by each module (or procedure)

  • The modules (or procedures) which invoke a specific module (or procedure)

  • File and/or data structure formats (as appropriate)

3.3. User Manual

This should be a concise and clear manual explaining to a potential user how to use the program, demonstrating the various commands available and their results, as appropriate.

3.4. Software

At the discretion of the student and supervisor, all software (both source code and executable code) may be made downloadable from the Web, together with relevant installer programs and installation instructions.

Source code listing must be in one copy of thesis, in an appendix.

4. Final Presentation

4.1. Duration

The student should give a succinct oral presentation of the work performed. A maximum of 30 minutes should be allotted for the presentation, followed by a 10 minute question and discussion period. Students should not attempt to present too much material nor too much detail - remember that full details are provided in the documents and reports previously made available. Thus the objective of the oral presentation should be to describe the background, history (including any other avenues that were explored), highlights of the work, and to discuss any conclusions reached.

4.2. Presentation Tools

The best way to present material in a limited time period is to use multimedia tools that support each of the points made. One screen or viewing frame should normally be used for each technical point and should not exceed 6 to 8 lines of text. In 30 minutes, no more than 15 screens can typically be accommodated, so that the presentation should be tailored around 15 major points. Each screen should have no more than 6 supporting concepts for the presentation of one technical point. If there are more concepts, choose only the 6 most pertinent for illustrating that point.

4.3. Demonstration

Some projects result in systems that can usefully be demonstrated. In such cases, thought must be given to the scheduling of a demonstration, either, immediately before, during or immediately after the oral presentation, but this demonstration should not be considered a replacement for any part of the oral presentation. The student should approach the Administrative Assistant for help in setting up appropriate equipment.

5. Examination/Evaluation

5.1. Examination

COSC 2P99/3P99 projects will be marked by the supervisor. The supervisor will be present for the final oral presentation.

For COSC 4F90 projects an examining committee (consisting of the supervisor and a member of the Department's faculty) will be appointed, at the start of the project, by the Project Coordinator, typically based on the areas of interest of faculty and an equitable workload. The examining committee will be present for the final oral presentation. After the presentation the examination committee will meet in camera in order to arrive at the overall project mark, following the standard evaluation criteria.

5.2. Additional 4F90 Evaluation

After the oral presentation has taken place, the Examining Committee will meet, review the student's performance, and arrive at a base mark for the final submission. Although the supervisor has been intimately connected with the project and can evaluate it as a whole, the remaining members of the Examining Committee will obviously base their evaluations primarily on the written submissions and the oral presentation.

5.3. Submission of Final Grade

The final grade will only be submitted to the Registrar's Office once the following points have been satisfied:

  • the supervisor has informed the Project Coordinator that the documentation changes (if any) have been satisfactorily completed and approved by the supervisor; and

  • the student has returned any Departmental keys, books and/or manuals.

6. Evaluation Criteria

The following evaluation criteria are intended to provide better guidance both for the student and for the examiners.

6.1. Marking Scheme

A+ 92 Exceptional

  • Project much above most projects in quality and creativity

  • High level of independent work, critical judgement, research

  • Work is above and beyond the original project proposal

  • Thesis document is well written, organized, complete

  • Research results might be publishable, or is close to being commercially viable (as applicable)

  • Verging on MSc work

A 85 Excellent

  • Above average effort and results

  • Proposal objectives completely satisfied

  • Independent work and thought shown

  • Thesis document is good

B 75 Satisfactory

  • Majority of proposal requirements satisfied

  • Some aspects of proposal not completed, or done marginally

  • Much room for improvement in many aspects of project

  • Thesis document may be lacking in organization and quality

C 65 Pass

  • Below average results, but credit will be given

  • Some aspects of proposal completed satisfactorily, but much is still lacking

  • Quality of work is marginal

F 45 Fail

  • Project objectives not met

6.2. Guidelines for COSC 4F90 Examining Committee

The overall project grade is a sum of two grades:

Technical content (weight 60%):

  • Based on overall results, student performance during project, presentation

Written thesis (weight 40%):

  • Based on the quality of written report, organization, clarity, grammar, spelling, other theses in the past; presentation

Overall grade is matched with above scheme to arrive at a Brock grade. The examiners can decide upon the appropriate category "subjectively". This will at least allow us to rationalize our giving a particular grade to the student.

If the supervisor and student wish additional people to be involved in the marking of one of their projects, then they have the prerogative to do so, and split up above marking scheme appropriately.

Projects with external supervisor should have an internal supervisor as well. The internal and external supervisors should have regular meetings with the student, to ensure that departmental requirements are being met in the project.

7. Publications

Projects of exceptional quality are often suitable for publication in academic conferences and journals. The decision to publish a project should be a joint one of the student and supervisor. The supervisor should have final discretion on the suitability of a project for publication. When projects are published in academic forums, both the student and supervisor are included as co-authors of any papers. This recognizes that the project is a joint collaboration between the student and supervisor, as both have contributed ideas, time, effort, and resources to the success of the project.

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