Appreciation of the nature of research

University of Sunderland

School of Computer Science

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PROM02 – Masters Project Module


Assignment 1 of 3 – Planning Review



This assignment contributes 10% to your final module mark.


The following learning outcomes will be assessed:


K1        A critical appreciation of the nature of research including ethical approaches and the goals of academic reading, information searching and communication

K3        An understanding and critical awareness of project management concepts, techniques

K4        Advanced knowledge in a specialised area of the relevant discipline



S5        The ability to critically assess the ethical, legal and professional issues in research relevant to your programme of study when planning research.

S6        The ability to independently design and undertake a major project on a topic which relates to the forefront of the academic area under study.

S7        The ability to reflect objectively on method, process and outcome of the project.


Important Information

You are required to submit your work within the bounds of the University Infringement of Assessment Regulations (see your Programme Guide).  Plagiarism, paraphrasing and downloading large amounts of information from external sources, will not be tolerated and will be dealt with severely.  Although you should make full use of any source material, which would normally be an occasional sentence and/or paragraph (referenced) followed by your own critical analysis/evaluation.  You will receive no marks for work that is not your own. Your work may be subject to checks for originality which can include use of an electronic plagiarism detection service.

Where you are asked to submit an individual piece of work, the work must be entirely your own.  The safety of your assessments is your responsibility.  You must not permit another student access to your work.

Where referencing is required, unless otherwise stated, the Harvard referencing system must be used (see your Programme Guide).

Please ensure that you retain a duplicate of your assignment.  We are required to send samples of student work to the external examiners for moderation purposes.  It will also safeguard in the unlikely event of your work going astray.


Submission Date and Time As per schedule
Submission Location Via Canvas
Estimated Time on Submission 15 hours

Overview of Assignment 1 – The Planning Review (worth 10% of the module marks)

Your Planning Review must be submitted by the date on your schedule and has 4 elements that need to follow the guidance and templates provided below


Element Explanation Mark Range
Terms of Reference Detailing the focus of your project, the aims and SMART objectives, relevant research literature, method, etc. as specified in the template. 0-5
Project Schedule Providing the project plan, specifying the deliverable, effort, etc.  as specified in the template tables and a gantt chart. 0-2
Evaluation Plan Detailing how you will evaluate your work against objectives. 0-1
Social, Ethical, Legal and Professional issues and development Critical evaluation of social, ethical, professional and legal issues that you judge may affect your project completing the provided table in the template. 0-2
Total   0-10



You must use the templates and tables provided and adhere to word limits.


The Harvard referencing system must be used. References are not included in word count and the reference list should be provided as the final section of your Planning Review submission.


Items are to be submitted as one PDF document, uploaded through Turnitin via Canvas by the date indicated on the schedule.








Assignment 1: Planning Review Template & Guidance


Student Name:


Student Number:


Mode: Full Time / Part Time


1      Terms of Reference (5%)


1.1       Abstract (<100 words)

Guidance: Provide a brief abstract of your project this should concisely summarise the purpose of your project covering:

  • In-discipline challenge and research question
  • the justification, relevance and importance of the work (e.g. why you are going to do your project, why it matters)
  • Your goals for learning, personal and professional development
  • Practical element and expected outcome
  • Main results / findings / outcomes you expect to get from your practical work and how this will help you answer your research question
  • What you are expecting to be able to conclude


1.2       Project Title

Guidance: Provide a title that reflects your aims, research questions and expected outcomes



1.3        Client/Sponsor:

Guidance: this table needs to be completed even if your supervisor is your sponsor / client. Remember to include letter of support in the appendix.

Name:   Organisation  
Email:   Telephone:  
Client / Sponsor Overview Guidance: Brief outline of client / sponsor (<100 words). Include weblinks if relevant
Client / Sponsor Project Requirements & Outcomes Guidance: Bullet point list of the specific requirements the client / sponsor has for the project product / output and the process of developing it, including any interim deliverables
Supervisor Guidance: Add name


1.4        Project Overview

Guidance: provide the aim, objectives, research question and practical outcomes of your project:


Aim:                            < 50 words

Clearly state the overall aim of your project – this should be overarching and should incorporate both research and the practical element.



Objectives:                  5-8 bullets <50 words each

Your objectives should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound identifying what you intend to achieve and the related major activities, deliverables and outcomes. Ensure that your aims can be met and that your research question can be answered by your objectives and that they result in your expected outcomes. N.B. You must evaluate your project against your objectives.


Research Question:    < 50 words

Your research question must be a question. The underpinning research and practical outcomes should relate to how you will answer this question. Your research question is answered through your proposed literature focus, practical work and exploration as provided in the objectives.


Practical outcomes:   Up to 5 bullets (< 50 words each)

Briefly detail the expected practical outcomes from your project, identifying up to 5 key deliverables or outputs you expect to generate during the project e.g. if you are creating software, you may have practical outcomes such as requirements analysis or design specs as well as prototypes and products.


1.5        Underpinning research with Literature Review

Guidance: Complete the following table for at least 10 references from research journals and conferences that will contribute to your work. Provide this in landscape format within your Terms of Reference.

Citation Brief summary of paper Relevance to your research question Relevance to practical outcome of project
Smith, J., Jones, X. and Bloggs, P., (2019) Yet another research paper, Journal of Academic Research, 2 (3), pp. 191-207. (4 bullets of 20 words maximum) <50 words <50 words


1.6        Practical Outcome (Diagram & <100 words)

Guidance: Outline your approach to developing your practical element, identifying methods, tools, techniques and approach you will use to enable you to develop your practical element. Include a visual representation of your approach, this could be a diagram, table, workflow chart, etc. Include citations to the chosen methods and to software, datasets, etc. and online resources you will use where relevant.


1.7        Research Approach (Diagram & <100 words)

Guidance: Provide a diagram of your research design identifying the steps of your research specifying the methods, analysis techniques and outputs during those steps. Provide a brief explanation and justify your approach detailing how it will enable you to answer your research question. Include citations to methods, tools, techniques and approaches where appropriate.

2      Project Schedule (2%)

Guidance: the project schedule should be provided as a series of tables as detailed below.

2.1        Table 1: Effort

Guidance: Decompose each of the major tasks in your project into sub-tasks, identifying deliverables and deadlines

Task Id Task Name Start Deadline Hours Deliverable
1.0 Major Task Name (mapped to objectives / method)
2.0 Major Task Name (mapped to objectives / method)

2.2        Table 2: Deliverables

Guidance: Add project deliverables in chronological order following approach for the project proposal which is already added. Deliverable numbers needed to be included for all deliverables.

Del. No. Name Deadline
  Project Proposal 14/06/2019
  Assignment 1 – Planning review  
  Assignment 2 – Research paper  
  Viva Presentation  
  Assignment 3 – Appendices  


2.3        Table 3: Milestones

Guidance: Add milestones in chronological order and how you will know these have been achieved.

Milestone No. Name Deadline Evidence
      Specify what deliverable or event used to identify that the milestone has been met


2.4        Table 4: Outline Schedule / Gantt chart

Guidance: Identify the timeline for each major Task / Objective (as in the effort table above) with related deliverables / milestones – as in the example below.

  June July August September
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Major Task 1   MS1 D1.1           D1.2            
Major Task 2       MS2     D2.1       D2.2        

3      Evaluation Plan (1%)

Guidance: Complete the following table – one page maximum.


Objective Evaluation Approach Evidence
List each objective specified in your terms of reference For each objective, specify how you will evaluate achievement identifying how you will generate and use evidence to demonstrate that objectives have been met.



Identify the evidence that you will collect and create. This can include deliverables and outputs including design documentation, questionnaires, literature review, testing reports, presentations, sign-off documentation, approved meeting minutes, etc.

4      Social, Ethical, Legal and Professional issues (2%)


4.1        Social, Ethical, Legal and Professional Issues Table

Guidance: reflect on your project considering the context, sector, users, potential stakeholders, etc. Consider how your project sits with legislation, such as GDPR, are your users under 18 or vulnerable? How does it relate to current government strategy and focus? Why is it needed – is your project responding to a social or professional need? What impact might it have on that profession? Are there ethical issues for your project – is the data sensitive, could your results have implications for work or life? Not every project will have issues across all 4 categories, but do critically consider this so you can be certain your project does not. The whole table should be no longer than a page.


Social issues


Provide up to 100 words on social issues related to your project if any.
Ethical issues



Provide up to 100 words on ethical issues related to your project if any.
Professional issues



Provide up to 100 words on Professional issues related to your project if any.
Legal Issues Provide up to 100 words on social issues related to your project if any.


4.2        Ethics Approval

Guidance: If your proposal requires ethical approval attach approval (or submission if not yet approved) from the Research Ethics Committee as an appendix.



4.3        Resources & Risk

Guidance: If your client / sponsor is providing access to resources or if you need access to specialised equipment and resources (e.g. eye tracker, digital fabrication equipment, social robots, etc.) specify this here. In addition provide risk analysis as a table:

Risk Likelihood Impact Mitigation

4.4        Motivation & Professional Development (<150 words)

Guidance: Briefly outline your personal and professional goals with this project. Reflect on how achieving the project’s research and practical outcome will contribute to your learning and professional development including expected subject specific and project management progression.


4.5        Project management (<150 words)

Briefly summarise your approach so far to project management, identifying tools and approaches you are using or intending to use, along with relevant citations. This section should be support by cross-referencing to evidence provided as an appendix to the assignment. Your evidence should provide 3-5 examples of engagement with your client / sponsor and supervisor e.g. meeting minutes, signed off objectives/plans, emails, etc


5      Appendices


For example…

Letter of Support

Ethics Approval

Minutes from meetings with client/sponsor and supervisor

Communications – emails, texts, signed off specs, etc.




Feedback Grid


Element Grading Criteria
  Fail – Under 35% Borderline – 35%-39% Pass – 40%-59% Merit – 60%-69% Distinction – 70%-79% Outstanding – 80+%
Terms of Reference Poor or missing title, abstract, aim. Objectives missing, not SMART or insufficient. Poor or missing research question, practical element or methods. Lack of integration between research and practical element. Poor title, abstract, aim. Objectives, insufficiently SMART. Poor research question, expected practical outcomes or lack of integrated research and practical element. Insufficient justification or presentation of methods. Good title, abstract, aim. Appropriate SMART objectives with an adequate research question and expected practical outcomes with adequate justification and presentation of methods to achieve these. Very good title, abstract, aim. Highly effective SMART objectives with an integrated research question and expected practical outcomes with well-justified and presented methods to achieve these. Excellent title, abstract, aim. Excellent, effective SMART objectives with an integrated research question and expected practical outcomes with well-justified and presented methods to achieve these. Outstanding title, abstract, aim. Outstanding, effective SMART objectives with an integrated research question and expected practical outcomes with well-justified and presented methods to achieve these.
Project Schedule Very poor scheduling of the project with limited or no decomposition or use of the template tables. Missing and/or unclear tasks, outcomes and milestones.

Timeline missing or not clear

Poor scheduling of the project with limited decomposition or use of the template tables. Unclear tasks, outcomes and milestones.

Timeline missing or not clear

Good scheduling of the project with the project decomposed using the template tables into adequately described, achievable tasks, outcomes, milestones and timeline. Very good scheduling of the project with the project fully decomposed using the template tables into clearly understandable and achievable tasks, outcomes, milestones and timeline. Excellent scheduling of the project with the project fully decomposed using the template tables into well-specified, achievable tasks, outcomes, milestones and timeline. Outstanding scheduling of the project with the project fully decomposed using the template tables into well-specified, achievable tasks, outcomes, milestones and timeline.
Evaluation Plan Very poor plan and approach evaluating only some of objectives or lacking evidence examples. Poor plan and approach to evaluating each objective along with a limited or no example of how this could be demonstrated


Good plan and approach to evaluating each objective along with an adequate example of how this could be demonstrated


Very good plan and approach to evaluating each objective along with a very good example of how this could be demonstrated


Excellent plan and approach to evaluating each objective along with an excellent example of how this could be demonstrated


Outstanding plan and approach to evaluating each objective along with an outstanding example of how this could be demonstrated
Social, Ethical, Professional and Legal Issues & Personal Development Very poor critical reflection on the project’s Social, Ethical, Professional and Legal issues and/or personal development. Insufficient critical reflection on the project’s Social, Ethical, Professional and Legal issues and/or personal development. Good critical reflection on the project’s Social, Ethical, Professional and Legal issues and personal development. Very good critical reflection on the project’s Social, Ethical, Professional and Legal issues and personal development. Excellent critical reflection on the project’s Social, Ethical, Professional and Legal issues and personal development. Outstanding critical reflection on the project’s Social, Ethical, Professional and Legal issues and personal development.


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