Research Methods in Computer Science


  1. To provide a deep and systematic undersanding of the nature and conduct of CS research.

To enhance existing transferable key skills.

To develop high order transferable key skills.

To equip students with the ability to undertake independent research.

To remind students of the Legal, Social, Ethical and Profesional (LSEP) issues applicable to the computer industry.



Introduction and overview of the module (1 Lecture).


The nature of CS research; what is research? (3 Lectures).


Literature searches, information gathering (1 Lecture and 1 Practical).


Reading and understanding research papers (2 Lectures and 1 Tutorial).


Technical writing, referencing, bibliographies (5 Lectures, 1 Tutorial, and 5 Practicals).


Presentation skills, written and oral (4 Lectures).


Choosing or proposing a project (2 Lectures).


Project planning, tools and techniques for planning (3 Lectures and 1 Practical).


Project conduct, time management, risk management, team working (2 Lectures).


Commercial and economic considerations in IT research and IT industry (4 Lectures and 1 Practical).


Review of legal, ethical, social and professional (LSEP) issues including data protection and standards (3 Lectures).

Recommended Texts

Christian W. Dawson: Projects in Computing and Information Systems (A Student''s Guide). Addison Wesley, 2005.

Justin Zobel: Writing for Computer Science. Springer, 2004.

Learning Outcomes

Have an understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to extend, create and interpret knowledge in Computer Science.

Have a conceptual understanding sufficient to: (i) evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in Computer Science, (ii) be able to participate effectively in the process of peer review, and (iii) propose possible alternative directions for further work.

Be able to deal with complex issues at the forefront of the academic discipline of Computer Science in a manner, based on sound judgements, that is both systematic and creative; and be able to communicate conclusions clearly to both specialists and non-specialists.

Demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems within the domain of Computer Science, and be able to act autonomously in planning and implementing solutions in a professional manner.

Make use of the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring: (i) the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility, (ii) decision making in complex and unpredictable situations, (iii) scientific risk identification, assessment and control, and (iv) the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.

Understand and participate within the professional, legal, social and ethical framework within which they would be expected to operate as professionals within the IT industry.

Have the skills set to be able to continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level, with respect to continuing professional development as a "self-directed life-long learner" across the discipline of Computer Science.

Be able to define and plan a programme of independent research.

Learning Strategy



Formal Lectures and Seminars: Students will be expected to attend three hours of formal lectures and seminars in a typical week. Formal lectures will be used to introduce students to the concept and methods covered by the module.

Practicals and Tutorials: Students will be expected to attend one hour of tutorials or computer lab practicals in a typical week. Both tutorials and computer lab practicals are intended to allow students to undertake practical exercises with the possibility of immediate feedback.

Private study: In a typical week students will be expected to devote 9 hours of unsupervised time to private study. The time allowed per week for private study will typically include 2.5 hours for reflection and consideration of lecture material and background reading, and 6.5 hours for completion of the assessment tasks.