Module code: ENGM044

Module provider

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Module Leader

THORNE AM Dr (Civl Env Eng)

Number of Credits


ECT Credits



FHEQ Level 7

JACs code


Module cap (Maximum number of students)


Module Availability

Year long

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 599

Lecture Hours: 1

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Project (Group/Individual/Dissertation) DISSERTATION PROJECT 100

Alternative Assessment


Prerequisites / Co-requisites

Completion of 60 credits at FHEQ Level 7

Module overview

The module provides an opportunity for masters students to undertake, guided, individual research into a topic related to their programme of study.  Students are required to take independent ownership of their project and demonstrate this through their management of the available resources, including meetings with project supervisor(s), the timely acquisition of relevant information and experimental results. 

Module aims

To enable masters students to demonstrate their ability to plan and execute a research project, to have a command of the relevant literature, to present and interpret their research outputs and to draw sensible conclusions and where appropriate recommend further investigation.

To allow scope for students to demonstrate initiative, perseverance and critical thinking

To encourage students to develop a critical appreciation of a topic and its broader context.

To encourage students to synthesise and critically appraise their findings and those of others.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
Plan and execute a small research project. C,K,T KCT
Carry out a critical review of the literature relating to research project. C,K KC
Demonstrate synthesis of research data in relation to published data and research objectives. C,K,T KCT
Demonstrate critical and analytical skills and the ability to evaluate evidence. C,K,T KCT
Demonstrate an awareness of new areas of investigation/new problems/new or alternative applications or methodologies. C,K,P KCP
Prepare an appropriately referenced and argued research report. T,P PT
Critical thinking T
Time management T
Observation T
Technical report writing T
Health & Safety risk assessment, where laboratory/fieldwork is undertaken T
Risk identification T
Risk mitigation strategies T

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Module content

The project forms a significant component of the MSc degree.  It is intended to occupy 600 hours normally over about 100 working days.  Projects may be selected from a list provided by the Programme Directors or students may suggest their own project topic.  Project topics must be related to the programme of study as outlined below:


Project Topic area(s)

Bridge Engineering

Bridge Engineering

Civil Engineering

Bridge Engineering, Structural Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Construction Management

Structural Engineering

Structural Engineering, Bridge Engineering, Soil-Structure interaction with emphasis on the structural component

Water & Environmental Engineering

Water and Environmental Engineering

Advanced Geotechnical Engineering

Geotechnical Engineering

Infrastructure Engineering and Management

Infrastructure Engineering or Infrastructure Management

Projects are generally carried out in association with one of the research groups – a member of academic staff or an experienced research worker will be appointed as academic supervisor though day-to-day supervision may sometimes be by a researcher working in the project area.  In some cases projects may be undertaken in collaboration with industry.

Further details are given in the Programme Handbook


Methods of Teaching / Learning

Learning is achieved by guided individual research and study, making full use of all the appropriate resources. The learning process is supported through an introduction to research methods, information sources, and time management and through regular, time restricted, meetings with academic supervisors (20-30 minutes per week).



Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate that they learned to undertake a sizeable research project and manage it from inception to completion; that they managed to study their topic of choice to a depth that allows an informed academic discussion; and that they are capable of defending their conclusions based on evidence and justifying their steps in arriving at these conclusions.  

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

The assessment of the dissertation report (ie the document and diary) (50%) made up from:

Abstract           [1,d]                                                5%

Structure & presentation [6, b,d]                              10%

Introduction & Literature review [2,a,c,d]                  20%

Technical detail [3,4,5, 6, a,c,d,e,f,g]                       25%

Discussion       [3,4,5, a,c]                                      30%

Conclusions & further work    [6, a, d]                      10%


Assessment of the project by oral defence (50%) made up from:

PowerPoint Presentation [1,b,c,e,f,g]                        5%

Knowledge of subject & literature [2,5,a,c,f,g]            25%

Planning and Methodology [1,5,a,b,c]                       20%

Technical ability and synthesis [3,4,5,a,c,e,f,g]          35%

Overall level of defence [a,c,e,f,g]                            15%


Both independent examiners shall be required to attend the oral defence together with a chairperson. The role of the chairperson will be the same as it is in the current practice.

Dissertation assessments are carried out in one of four separate sessions:


Late August/early September

Mid/late September (for students with Summer assessments)


February (for FT February starters only and students with semester 1 resits)

Any students missing one of these sessions through extenuating circumstances will be assessed at the next session.

Students must have 120 credits in order to be permitted to submit a dissertation for assessment.

Formative assessment and feedback

Each project is assigned an academic supervisor. The supervisors are available for individual discussion and feedback sessions for 20-30 minutes per week. It is the students responsibility to make use of this availability. The supervisors do not proofread the thesis, but give detailed feedback on one chapter, typically the literature review.

Reading list

Reading list for DISSERTATION PROJECT : http://aspire.surrey.ac.uk/modules/engm044

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Structural Engineering MSc(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Bridge Engineering MSc(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Civil Engineering MSc(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Infrastructure Engineering and Management MSc(YEAR LONG) Year-long Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Water and Environmental Engineering MSc(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Advanced Geotechnical Engineering MSc(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2017/8 academic year.