The Work Based Project is designed to represent the skills, knowledge and behaviours in the Apprenticeship standard. The project will provide substantive evidence from an employer-related project to demonstrate the application of skills and knowledge.
This module enables students to engage in an extended piece of independent research, showing innovation in a chosen topic, using relevant technical research and design concepts, and analytical, test, measurement and evaluation techniques, in order to produce a finished product. The apprentice 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.
Apprentices will be supported and mentored by a member of academic staff (project supervisor) and a work place tutor, who will work together with the apprentice to agree a project that is achievable within the employer’s business constraints and that meets the requirements of both the Apprenticeship standard and the degree.
At the start of the project there are several taught sessions on project management and research methods including synthesising research questions, academic writing, referencing and analysing results.
The general University research ethical approval process is contextualised in the cyber domain. Particular care is taken to steer apprentices away from inadvertently performing research activity that is legally or ethically problematic.
The significance of the Data Protection Act and the Computer Misuse Act are re-emphasised. Research methodologies are reconsidered for those anticipating surveys of individuals or organisations, hoping to get them to divulge honestly their cyber posture or past failures.
The importance of isolated, synthetic environments for practical experimentation is re-emphasised. The strengths and weaknesses are explained of experimental design which uses uncontroversial proxies as substitutes for controversial activities or data.
Anonymisation of research data is explored paying particular attention both to the research value that the data may or may not retain following anonymisation, and also to the weakness in anonymisation of re-aggregated data.
The overall aim is to improve the apprentices’ project risk management by removing their naïve assumptions.
The aim is to see the correct application of these ideas through supervisory meetings and in the final project dissertation.