Part-time students registered for an MSc degree must undertake an industrial project which should demonstrate an understanding of some of the technical, economic and human aspects of engineering business and their interaction. This project is assessed and it contributes 50% to the final marks on which the decision to award a degree is based. The other 50% derives from post-course work associated with taught modules in various aspects of manufacturing and design.
As the project represents a large amount of effort on behalf of the student (~ 800 hours) it is a significant undertaking. Benefit can accrue to both the company and industrial supervisor if the topic for investigation is carefully chosen., It is the intention that both the project and the resulting dissertation are of value to the company.
Students must select a topic of their own choice and must then find within their company a person who is prepared and able to act as their 'Industrial Supervisor' during the course of the project. There is also an 'Academic Supervisor' who is a member of the University who has knowledge of the selected topic, and the monitoring and support of the project is the joint responsibility of the two supervisors. The role of the Industrial Supervisor is as follows:-
- To monitor progress on the project over a period normally of 1 to 2 years in order to be able to assess effort, competence and comprehension.
- To liaise with the Academic Supervisor to ensure that the project is directed so as to be industrially relevant and academically suitable.
- To read and assess the completed written report with regard to quality of content and presentation.
- To jointly (with the Academic Supervisor) conduct an oral examination to assess overall breadth and depth of knowledge.
The industrial and academic supervisors are responsible for equal proportions of marks for the projects. The Industrial Supervisor is required to judge the relevance of methods used and conclusions drawn in relation to normal company practices and current and future business objectives. The Academic Supervisor is required to judge the level of understanding of all principles or techniques described and the awareness of practices and processes being employed outside the company world-wide.
Since the Industrial Supervisor is instrumental in deciding marks which affect the awarding of a degree, the University stipulates that the Industrial Supervisor should normally meet the following requirement:-
- The person should have a degree or equivalent professional qualification.
- The person should occupy a significant position of authority and responsibility.
- The person should have a significant awareness of the project and be in a position to assess an individual's contribution to the project.
Monitoring of progress on the project should be possible without extra commitment if requirement 3 (above) is satisfied. An initial meeting is required at which all three parties meet to discuss the project thoroughly and to resolve any outstanding questions. Subsequent tripartite meetings may be initiated by any party and will normally only be to change the objectives of the project as a result of new findings or company circumstances, and to establish where best to place emphasis within the project as the various aspects become clearer. Two or three meetings during the lifetime of the project should be sufficient for these tasks. It is advisable for the student to regularly liaise with the Academic Supervisor to ensure that the project has suitable academic content. At the completion of the project both supervisors receive a typed and bound dissertation which must be read and assessed within 4 weeks, and an oral examination must also be held within this period. This may be conducted either at the place of work or at the University and normally lasts 2 - 3 hours.