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The School of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) administers final year thesis reports in single, combined, and concurrent degree programs for the BE (Computer Engineering), BE (Software Engineering), BE (Bioinformatics), BSc (Computer Science Honours).
|Program||Thesis Part A||Thesis Part B|
|Software Engineering||SENG4910, BIOM5909||SENG4911, BIOM5904|
|Bioinformatics||BINF4910, BIOM5940||BINF4911, BIOM5941|
|Computer Science Honours||COMP4910||COMP4911|
Thesis website: http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/thesis/
Staff associated with thesis administration in CSE include:
Thesis Coordinator - Salil Kanhere
Student Office Manager - Cassandra Nock
Undergraduate theses are unusual (compared to other courses) in that they consist of a single piece of work spread over two courses: Part A and Part B. The two parts have quite different outcomes and assessment, which are described in detail below, but which can be summarised as:
Aims and Goals
The aim of the Thesis is to allow you to put into practice the knowledge and skills that you've learned in your study up to this point. You do this by investigating a research topic, developing a significant software/hardware system, or some combination of these.
All topics will require you to carry out the same basic set of six tasks:
Whether you are developing software or hardware, or are doing a piece of pure research, you cannot predict how the work will go. However, you should be able to develop a work-plan that will help you determine whether the work is on track. This work-plan may take the form of a timeline, commencing in week 8 of Thesis Part A and finishing on the date of final thesis submission, and contain milestones. For example, if you are developing hardware, you need to plan when the fabrication of the equipment should take place (and check for example on workshop availability). If you are developing software, a software lifecycle may determine how long you are in the requirements gathering phase or when you need to start testing and evaluation. If your work is more research-oriented, then the original problem is normally broken up into smaller, more easily doable sub-problems, and some ordering is placed on these sub-problems. Many topics will involve some mix of the above, and this will result in a possibly more complex work-plan. In any case, an important aspect of both Thesis Part A and Part B is that you demonstrate that you can set yourself and carry out tasks in a (semi)independent way.
The outcomes of Thesis Part A are a report and a seminar, both of which are assessed. The outcomes of Thesis Part B are a thesis (written report on the entire project) and a demonstration; only the thesis is directly assessed, but the demonstration can impact the assessor's impression of the work.
The purpose of Thesis Part A is to prepare you for both the research/development and the thesis writing that you need to carry out in Thesis Part B, and for you to start the actual project work. In Thesis Part A, you should also develop the skills and gain the confidence you need to work semi-independently in Thesis Part B.
In Thesis Part A, you are expected to submit a written report and hold a seminar. The report and seminar will be assessed by your supervisor and an assessor. However, in certain cases additional assessors may be appointed.
A mark out of 10 will be returned by your supervisor and will contribute 10% towards your final mark for Thesis Part B. The written report and the seminar are worth 5 marks each.
In your UNSW academic transcript, Thesis Part A is graded as Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory. You must pass both the written report and the seminar to receive a satisfactory (SY) grade in Thesis Part A.
The report will be assessed on the following criteria:
More details on the assessment criteria and standards expected are available.
In Thesis Part B, you are expected to submit a final Thesis Report and demonstrate your work to (at least) your supervisor and assessor. (The final Thesis Report is often called simply The Thesis).
The thesis report is worth 90% of the final mark. The mark for the final Thesis Report is determined by taking an average of the marks awarded by the supervisor and the assessor.
The final Thesis Report will be assessed on the following criteria:
Full details of the assessment criteria and standards expected are given on the Thesis web site.
The final thesis mark is computed according to the following:
ThesisASeminar = mark out of 5 ThesisAReport = mark out of 5 ThesisAMark = ThesisAReport + ThesisASeminar ThesisAGrade = SY, if ThesisAMark ≥ 5; UN, otherwise ThesisBMark = (SupervisorMark+AssessorMark) / 2 FinalMark = ThesisBMark*0.9 + ThesisAMark FinalGrade = HD|DN|CR|PS|FL, determined by FinalMark
Thesis Part A: ThesisASeminar = 4, ThesisAReport = 3 Thesis Part B: SupervisorMark = 70, AssessorMark = 66 ThesisAMark = ThesisASeminar + ThesisAReport = 7 ThesisBMark = (SupervisorMark+AssessorMark) / 2 = 68 FinalMark = 68 * 0.9 + 7 = 68.2 (not including late penalty)
Thesis A Seminars take place in week 7 of the semester (details will be posted on the thesis web site in due course). The aim of the seminar is to present the work you've done so far and get some feedback on it. The ultimate goal is to convince the audience that you are in a good position to work towards a solution or build the required software.
Note that Thesis A Seminars are held around three weeks before the the Thesis A Report is due, so you should take any feedback from the seminar into consideration as you write your report.
The seminar should go for a minimum of 30 minutes including questions, with an extra 15 minutes for feedback from the supervisor and assessor. In the seminar you need to convince the audience that you:
A basic skeleton of a seminar can follow the first 4 tasks outlined above, namely:
If you have preliminary results, you should also present these.
The beginning and end of your talk should be understandable to other 4th year thesis students. The main body of the talk should be targeted to academics.
Your supervisor will chair the seminar (30 minutes) and the meeting afterwards (15 minutes).
Students enrolled in Thesis A are required to attend at least six seminars by their fellow Thesis A students. A roll will be marked in each Seminar; ensure that your name/id are recorded when you attend each seminar.
Your seminar will be assessed on the following aspects:
The written report should expand on the first 4 tasks described above. You should also describe any preliminary results (e.g. a system prototype). It is worth investing effort in the Thesis Part A Report, because you can use most (if not all) of the content as a basis for your Thesis Part B report.
The report should:
Thesis templates in LaTeX and Word format will be made available. For technical writing such as a thesis, LaTeX is superior to MS-Word.
Warning: The thesis report is supposed to represent your own ideas. Do NOT copy text from other people into your thesis. You may include small quotes from others' work, but they must appear in quotation marks and be properly referenced. Failure to follow this advice will result in automatic failure of the thesis and possible disciplinary action from the University. See the University's plagiarism guidelines for more details.
Submission: The written report must be submitted on-line by Tuesday of Week 12 (see Thesis website for details).
During Week 10 of the Thesis B semester, students should arrange to demonstrate their work to their supervisor and assessor and to any other students and staff who might be interested. This provides a chance for feedback on the work before you complete the write-up of the Thesis B Report. It also gives supervisors a chance to identify excellent theses, which will be demonstrated in the Thesis Showcase at the end of the semester.
Apart from the above, there are a number of reasons for doing the demonstration:
The demonstration will not be officially assessed, but is very important in contributing towards an overall impression of the work in the mind of the assessor.
The Thesis should contain a complete description of your project, including expanding on all 6 tasks described above. You should have most of the introductory material (aims, literature review) from the Thesis A written report, although some aspects may have changed during Thesis B, so be prepared for some re-writing of the material. It should also report on the results of your work. In the case of a research-oriented topic, you should describe what you discovered/proved and provide solid arguments and evidence as to why we should believe your results. In the case of a development-oriented topic, you should document the development process (requirements, specification, design, implementation and especially evaluation/testing) of your system. There is no need to submit source code listings as part of the Thesis; however, you should make the source code available to your supervisor (create a tar/zip of the source code tree and submit it as an attachment to the Thesis).
The Thesis must:
Thesis templates in LaTeX and Word format will be made available. For technical writing such as a thesis, LaTeX is superior to MS-Word.
Further tips on the preparation of the Thesis:
Warning: The thesis report is supposed to represent your own ideas. Do NOT copy text from other people into your thesis. You may include small quotes from others' work, but it must appear in quotes and be properly referenced. Failure to follow this advice will result in automatic failure of the thesis and possible disciplinary action from the University. See the University's plagiarism guidelines for more details.
Submission: The Thesis must be submitted on-line before midday Tuesday of Week 13 (see Thesis website for details).
Useful information can be found at various locations on the thesis web site.
Thesis Noticeboard: http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/thesis/index.html
Seminar Timetable: https://my.cse.unsw.edu.au/thesis_seminars.php
Thesis Submission: https://my.cse.unsw.edu.au/thesis_student_submit_reports.php
There will be a lecture to help you get started on your thesis project. The lecture will cover such topics as: how to get started, researching the topic, developing ideas, evaluating research, presenting results, preparing a presentation, writing the thesis, relationship with supervisor, administrative requirements. See the Thesis Noticeboard for the time and location of this talk.
The lectures notes can be viewed at: http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/thesis/lecturenotes/index.html
Any student who does not attend their Thesis Part A seminar or submit their report by the due date will receive an Absent Fail grade and will be required to re-enrol the following semester. Special Consideration can be sought in the usual manner, by submitting an application within the required time to Student Central (see below for more details on Special Consideration).
Any student who does not submit their Thesis Part B report by the due date will receive an Absent Fail grade and will be required to re-enrol the following semester.
If you are going to submit your thesis late then you should notify the CSE Student Office Manager by email, stating on what date you will submit. Note that if you submit late then you will automatically incur a late penalty, unless you have specifically applied for and been granted an exemption from the late penalty in advance (see below).
The penalty for submitting late will be up to 2 marks per day. More precisely, your late mark is computed as follows:
N = # Days Late if (OriginalMark < 50) then LateMark = OriginalMark else LateMark = 50 + (OriginalMark-50)*(exp(-0.04*N))
An exemption from the late penalty is only granted in extenuating circumstances, e.g. prolonged sickness or major equipment or supply delays. These circumstances must be documented, and the documentation must clearly show how the work was affected.
If you require an extension because of major equipment or supply delays, you should apply for an exemption from the late penalty in the following way:
Otherwise, if you require an extension because of an illness or family circumstances (for example), you should apply for an exemption from the late penalty in the following way:
In all cases, the School will get back to you with a decision via an email to your CSE account.
UNSW Special Consideration Policy: https://my.unsw.edu.au/student/atoz/SpecialConsideration.html
The Thesis Part B mark may be queried by a student. Before doing so, the student should be aware of the following:
If a student feels that en error has been made in marking the thesis report, then the following action should be carried out:
If the student is not content with the result of the Thesis Report Review, then the student should initiate a Thesis Coordinator Review.
If the student is still not content, then the student is able to submit a complaint to the CSE Grievance Officer.
Students should be aware that they are always able to submit a formal application for review via Student Central. However, a fee is charged for such reviews, and the scope of the review is far more restrictive than a school-oriented review. It is thus advisable to follow the school's internal review procedures.
UNSW policy on Review of Results: https://my.unsw.edu.au/student/atoz/ReviewResults.html
Here is some simple advice that will help you get on well with your supervisor and work effectively:
Many students are too ambitious in Thesis Part A and Part B and find they run out of time with a thesis that is nowhere near finished. Make sure that the project is feasible (do this early in consultation with your supervisor), write-up whenever you can, and keep an eye on the plan.
Sample Thesis Part A Reports: http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/thesis/a/a-sample.html
Sample Thesis Part B Reports: http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/thesis/b/b-sample.html
CSE Thesis Accounts: http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/~helpdesk/services/thesis_acc.html
Plagiarism may be defined as "the presentation of the thoughts or work of another as one's own†"
Submitting an assessment item that has already been submitted for academic credit elsewhere may also be considered plagiarism.
The inclusion of the thoughts or work of another with attribution appropriate to the academic discipline does not amount to plagiarism.
Students are reminded of their Rights and Responsibilities in respect of plagiarism, as set out in the University Undergraduate and Postgraduate Handbooks, and are encouraged to seek advice from academic staff whenever necessary to ensure they avoid plagiarism in all its forms.
The Learning Centre website is the central University online resource for staff and student information on plagiarism and academic honesty. It can be located at: http://www.lc.unsw.edu.au/plagiarism
The Learning Centre also provides substantial educational written materials, workshops, and tutorials to aid students, for example, in:
Individual assistance is available on request from The Learning Centre.
Students are also reminded that careful time management is an important part of study and one of the identified causes of plagiarism is poor time management. Students should allow sufficient time for research, drafting, and the proper referencing of sources in preparing all assessment items.
† Based on that proposed to the University of Newcastle by the St James Ethics Centre. Used with kind permission from the University of Newcastle.
‡ Adapted with kind permission from the University of Melbourne.
Behaviour Required of Students: https://my.unsw.edu.au/student/atoz/BehaviourOfStudents.html
The role of the Occupational, Health Safety and Environment team is to provide a professional service to the UNSW, its staff and students on all matters relating to occupational health, safety and environment, particularly in the area of legislative compliance. Further information can be found in: http://www.riskman.unsw.edu.au/ohs/ohs.shtml
All tertiary education institutions have a responsibility to provide the opportunity for students with disabilities to access and participate equitably in tertiary education in order to achieve their individual capabilities. The University of New South Wales also has obligations under the following anti-discrimination legislation:
UNSW is committed to the goals of equal opportunity and affirmative action in education and employment. It aims to provide a study and work environment for staff and students that fosters fairness, equity and respect for social and cultural diversity and that is free from unlawful discrimination, harassment and vilification. This is detailed in the Equal Opportunity in Education Statement: http://www.infonet.unsw.edu.au/poldoc/equaled.htm
More information on Equity and Diversity issues: http://www.equity.unsw.edu.au/disabil.html