Research Methods & Project Design - EL849

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
(version 3)
Autumn and Spring 7 30 (15) PROF Y Yan checkmark-circle


Introduction to Matlab
Introduces the basics of the Matlab and Simulink programme environment and prepares the students for the Introduction to Matlab workshops.

Introductiion to the MSc Projects
Overall timetable and plan for the individual and group projects

Writing Better Technical English
As scientists and engineers, an ability to communicate information clearly through the written word is central to our professional activities. Whether we are publishing our research in an academic journal, writing a report for our employers or just summarising a piece of work for our records, the way in which we write will directly influence the quality and value of what we do.

In these lectures we will look at what determines the quality of formal writing, and how we can maximise the impact and clarity of what we write. Whether English is our native language or a second language, it is important critically to examine how we write if we are to express what we have to say in the best possible way. We will begin by examining the benefits of making more effort in our writing, and we will survey some of the common errors which often occur, showing how these can have an effect not just on the ease with which our work can be understood and absorbed but also on the precise meaning of what we say. We will explore some strategies for improving writing quality, and will consider some guidelines for the development of longer-term writing skills. We will explore a number of examples of "good" and "bad" writing, and everyone will have an
opportunity to take part in some simple exercises.

Literature Review: Techniques and Tools
Surveys using networked electronic information sources, on-line databases, inter-library loan facilities, private communications, etc. Identification of a technical area worthy of research, definition of the state- of -the-art in a given field, definition of the research project, and research proposals. Patent search.

Research Project Management
Time management. Resources management. Project management software (MS Project). Use of logbooks. Data management. Data security. Team working skills.

Research Publications
Structure, content and procedures. Project reports and theses. Journal and conference papers. Technical presentations. Use of references. Writing up of abstract, introduction and conclusions. Submission, refereeing and amendments. Effective use of figures, drawings and tables. MS WORD, ENDNOTE and LATEX.

Presentations and Research Results
Objectives and structure. Audience analysis. Rehearsal and delivery. Design of visual aids. Use of computerized projection facilities. Multi-media approach. Poster design and poster presentation. Handling questions.

Interllectual Property Rights
Patents, patent rights and know-how. Copyright and copying. Design rights and registered designs. Research contracts and agreements. Confidentiality agreement.

Research Ethics
Ethics in engineering research. Research supervision. Modelling and simulation versus real experimental work. Processing and presentation of experimental data. Obfuscation in writing up research papers.

Systems Engineering
Understanding systems definitions, the context of projects and levels of systems engineering. System boundaries. Capturing requirements. System design methods. Validation and verification.

Team Dynamics
Project management phases, Tucker's team building model. People, psychological types. Influencing others and managing people. Leadership styles


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 20
Private study hours: 280 (including group project work)
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Assignment (100%)

Indicative reading

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

1 Use the Matlab and Simulink programming and system modelling languages.
2 Carry out a comprehensive literature survey on a selected topic using library and electronic information sources.
3 Identify the current status of a particular research area and define the state-of-art in that research area.
4 Identify and formulate further research which could usefully be undertaken in a defined area of technology.
5 Plan an individual and group research project, including the definition of objectives, project management, experimental design and data collection and processing within time and resource constraints, regulatory requirements and the need for sustainability.
6 Undertake research using logical and effective methodologies.
7 Use common software packages for project management, data analysis and presentation.
8 Communicate with peers by way of conference and journal publications.
9 Understand general issues concerning engineering projects including IPRs and research ethics.
10 Understand team dynamics and roles in engineering projects and plan accordingly.


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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