Module Handbook
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Module Code:     IOCT 5000

Module Title:       Major Project



Semester:                    1,2 and Summer

Academic Year:              2009/10

Module Leaders:            Dr Sophy Smith


Contact Details

Name:                                      Dr Sophy Smith

Room:                                     0.80, Gateway House

Tel:                                          0116 255 1551 (ext 6864)



1          Module Description

This module provides the opportunity to develop and demonstrate skills acquired from the taught course in the creation, development and realisation of a negotiated creative or research project.  This module allows students to bring together all aspects of the course ranging from research methodologies to discipline-specific modules.  Preparation for the major project starts in the first semester with individual tutorials and continues in the second semester, in conjunction with individual tutorials and informed by the chosen modules.  The type of award will be determined by the area of specialism reflected in the student’s choice of focus.  The negotiated project will be designated MA or MSc and this will determine the nature of the final award.


This module will enable students to carry out their own research project under supervision.  They will conduct appropriate research in accordance with an agreed project proposal, which will be negotiated with appointed staff.  A learning contract will be drawn up and agreed by both parties.  Outcomes will be negotiated and may be in the form of one or more artefacts, prototypes, concept developments, other transdisciplinary format or other agreed format(s) or dissertations.


Designation of MA or MSc award

Traditionally, the title Master of Arts is given in the arts, education, humanities or social or business studies and the title Master of Science is used where studies are based on the sciences, mathematics, engineering or technology and their applications.  However, this programme will bring together eScience, the Digital Arts and Design and Humanities in a way that will cross traditional disciplines and boundaries, encouraging innovation and developing new modes of collaboration in eScience and digital arts research.  Students will not sit solely within the traditional disciplines. They may be technologists with a creative dimension, or artists working with technologies, or designers with programming skills, or any one of many more such ‘crossovers’. The central vision of the IOCT Masters, therefore, is one of convergence and trans/inter/multi-disciplinarity, enabled by the new technologies.


Because of the nature of the programme the type of award will be determined by the area of specialism reflected in the student’s choice of focus as outlined in their project proposal and the central driving force of the projects motivation, in relation to both the research question and the subject matter of the investigation. Students will be asked to identify the award they are working towards and justify why.  This proposal will be developed in negotiation with the individual tutor, resulting in a learning contract agreed by both parties, which will specify the MA or MSc focus of the proposal and resulting award.  An MA will be usually be awarded for project proposals where the majority of focus concerns development for the arts and humanities looking at creativity development and technique.  An MSc will usually be awarded for project proposals where the majority of research focus concerns development for science and technology and that are normally empirical or statistics based.


Example of projects in similar subject areas, but with different areas of research focus that would be designated MA and MSc include;


The development of a computer game with stills, animations but no interactivity would be designated an MA project, whereas the production of a computer game, which is fully interactive, would be designated an MSc.  The development of an e-commerce website produced in Dreamweaver with only basic functionality would be designated an MA project, whereas an e-commerce website produced using HTML, ASP, PHP MYSQL would be designated as an MSc project.


As guidance, examples of knowledge and skills characteristics of the two different awards are given below.  This is in no way intended as a definitive or exhaustive list, but is intended to help students focus their thoughts regarding the most appropriate award;


All projects may involve;

  • Creative and innovative ability
  • Intellectual/aesthetic contemplation
  • Generation of ideas and concepts
  • Practical and theoretical research
  • Research through practice
  • Work informed by critical and contextual dimensions and theoretical contexts
  • Design and realisation of products, systems or services
  • Employing materials, media, techniques, methods, technologies and tools associated with the disciplines studied with skill and imagination
  • Critical evaluation and testing
  • Recognise and analyse criteria and specification appropriate to specific problems and plan strategies for solution
  • Awareness of social, environmental, ethical, economic, professional and commercial considerations
  • Essential facts, concepts, theories and principles of discipline


In addition, an MA may also involve;

  • Positioning of the individuals practice within appropriate critical discourse and contextual theory
  • Articulate and synthesise knowledge and understanding in contexts of creative practice and research


In addition, an MSc may also involve;

  • Project underpinned by science and/or maths and/or engineering
  • Complex technical issues in terms of the research, analysis, experimentation, development and production as well as the final outcomes.
  • Design, construction and evaluation of systems
  • Realisation - in terms of the final outcomes, any prototype should actually work
  • Display appropriate theory, practices and tools for the specification, design, implementation and evaluation of technology-based systems
  • Providing technical specifications, relevant code and results of any technical testing
  • Appropriate quantitative science and engineering tools

2          Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module students will:


Outcome no.



Demonstrate an understanding of the processes and methods of creative technologies and scholarly practice at an advanced level

(Maps to Programme Outcomes 1, 3, 10, 13, 14)


Demonstrate self direction and originality in the use of processes and methods and the development of innovative solutions

(Maps to Programme Outcomes 5, 8, 11, 12, 16)


Use systematic thinking and make reasoned judgements in resolving creative technology problems

(Maps to Programme Outcomes 4, 7, 8, 10, 13, 14)


Demonstrate a capacity to produce original, high quality work in a creative technologies context and a multi/inter/transdisciplinary environment.

(Maps to Programme Outcomes 5, 6, 9, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18)


3          Teaching and Learning

This module will be run through self-directed study with tutorial support with a specialist tutor nominated as supervisor to discuss project planning and research management.  Preparation work takes place in the first and second semesters, a detailed proposal being drawn up and agreed by the end of the second semester.  Individual tutorials throughout summer will monitor student progress and resolve specific project issues.  Sessions will also be held over the summer dealing with critical reflection and evaluation skills and student will be encouraged to develop their critical skills through discussions with the other students.

4          Assessment 

Students may be assessed in any taught module on up to a maximum of two occasions, i.e. first attempt and reassessment. Please see section 4.2 for further information.

Assignments should be handed into the IOCT Office (Gateway House 0.80) by the date and time detailed below. Please remember to include a Receipt for Coursework form with your work – this will be your proof of submission.




volume of assessment

Assessment Weighting
[as % of module]



Due Date

Due Time





Major Project

1000 words


30 minutes


12,000 words

or equivalent
























4.1       Criteria for Assessment

The major project can be either a dissertation of 12,000 words or equivalent practical project, which would include project outcome plus supporting critical commentary/report. The exact nature of the major project must be negotiated with the students tutor. The negotiated project will be designated MA or MSc and this will determine the nature of the final award.


Your final Major Project submission is worth 70% and must be 12,000 words or equivalent.  


If the work is a dissertation it must be presented as outlined in the Programme Handbook. Dissertation materials and support are also available on the Humanities Academic Guidance Blackboard site.   If the work is a practical project students must also provide supporting critical documentation, either in the form of a project report or a critical commentary.  This needs to be around 6,000 words.  However, this supporting documentation does not have to be submitted on paper – students need to choose the best format for your work. Supporting documentation could be in the form of an electronic portfolio. Traditionally, supporting documentation has been submitted in boxes and ring binders. Although this format works fine for paper and other print-based materials, it misses many other ways of communicating ideas. Electronic portfolios can be an effective way to more clearly present information not only through text, but also through visuals, audio, and video formats.


The assessment scheme allows the students to complete self-directed work whilst being supported by tutorial input.  Gradual assessment throughout the two semesters will ensure that students are progressing throughout the module duration and will assist in their planning.  The presentation will give the students a valuable opportunity to articulate and communicate their proposed project.  These presentations will be attended by other IOCT Masters students, sharing practice between year groups.  It will also give the students the opportunity to have valuable feedback on their developing project.


The assessment relates to the learning outcomes by enabling the students to undertake scholarly practice at an advanced level, demonstrating self-direction and originality in the use of processes and methods and the development of innovative solutions to produce original, high quality work in a creative technologies context and a transdisciplinary environment.

The module operates to the generic University marking criteria which provide summative results and transcripts in the form of percentage marks. The generic criteria are set out below.


> or = 70% ("Distinction level")


Excellent work which demonstrates that the student:


  • possesses an authoritative grasp of the conceptual context within which the work was undertaken,


  • is able to display originality, insight and powers of in-depth critical analysis in the solution offered and/or is able to sustain an argument displaying originality, insight into current debates and conceptual positions, in-depth critical analysis, and is capable of expressing this argument clearly, concisely and accurately,


  • possesses a high degree of relevant technical competence.


60 - 69% (pass level)


  • A clear grasp of an appropriate methodology suitably focused on the topic/problem.


  • A good level of understanding, organisation and relevant technical ability. An ability to synthesise material and to construct responses which reveal good skills of critical analysis and insight.


50 - 59% (pass level)


A coherent response to the task undertaken demonstrating a sound grasp of appropriate methodology. Work will be accurate and appropriately organised with clear evidence of skills of critical analysis.


40 - 49% (pass level)


The grasp of material and methodology is such as to enable a basic response to the task undertaken. Work will generally be accurate and appropriately organised with some evidence of critical analysis.



35 - 39% (marginal fail)


The work demonstrates some understanding of the topic/problem but overall the achievement in terms of understanding, technical accuracy, organisation and critical analysis does not justify a pass mark.


< or = 34% (fail)


Student's performance is deficient in most respects, revealing inadequate grasp of the material, poor organisational and technical ability and poorly-developed communication skills. No evidence of critical analysis. A clear fail.

All Master’s level course work will be internally moderated by the programme team and will be made available to the external examiner. Some students may be required to defend their work orally and be required to attend an interview either in person or via telephone. This is unusual but might occur in situations where, for example, the student has achieved a borderline fail or borderline distinction, or where there is a dispute about the final grade.

4.2       Penalties, Reassessments, Extensions and Deferrals 

Please see the latest version of the Taught Postgraduate Programmes University Regulations on the University’s website ( for the full unedited regulations and any amendments. 

4.2.1        Penalties for Late or Non Submission 

Late Submission

For unauthorised late submission the following applies:

  • 40% cap for work submitted up to 7 actual days after the original submission date.
  • 0% for work submitted more than 7 actual days after the original submission date.

Non Submission

A student who fails to submit work for assessment or attend examinations shall be deemed to have failed the assessments concerned.

4.2.2    Reassessment

If a student fails the assessment, the student will have to revise the aspects of the project that were deemed not to be of an acceptable standard.  The deadline for reassessment work will be determined by the SAB.  The maximum mark the student can be given for reassessed work is 40%

4.2.3    Extensions / Deferrals

The limit for granting a coursework extension is TWO weeks before the date of the Assessment Board.

Applications for extensions of coursework of up to two weeks will be considered by Module Leaders (or the dissertation supervisor in the case of extensions to dissertation deadlines). Module Leaders will be expected to observe the Faculty conventions on circumstances which are not considered to be extenuating. Students should make a formal request and Module Leaders should keep a record of the request and their decision.

All applications for extensions of more than 2 weeks on coursework deadlines or deferral of assessment should be submitted to the IOCT Office (Gateway Building 0.80) for consideration. The Board Chair will consider the grounds on which the extension/deferral is requested. The Chair will work within the criteria set down by the Academic Board Panel and may also have regard for possible wider issues about the student's health and welfare.

Module leaders should not approve extensions of coursework of two weeks if the resulting deadline would extend beyond the ultimate limit and potentially delay the presentation of the mark.

  1. Teaching Programme

Students are encouraged to begin thinking about their Major Project as soon as they arrive on the course.  The module runs throughout the year for full-time students, over the two years for part-time students.  The key processes in the Major Project module are;


1. Selecting an area of research.  This should be done in consultation firstly with the Programme Leader and secondly with the allocated supervisor.


2. Planning.  After discussion with their tutor, students will produce a project proposal summarising the project.  As well as being a written document this will be given in a presentation format to the tutor and other students.


3. Execution and Completion.  Students will spend most of this module in independent study completing their projects, backed by tutorial supervision.  Students are reminded to make themselves aware of their supervisor’s availability over summer well in advance and to plan their timescales accordingly.


6          Reading



Bell, J. (1999). Doing Your Research Project: A Guide for First-time Researchers in Education and Social Science. Buckingham, Open University Press.


Bernotsson, M, Hansson, J, Olsson, B and Londell, B. (2002) Planning and implementing your research project with success. Springer Verlag.


Berry, R. (1994) The Research Project, 3rd edition, London: Routledge.


Booth, Wayne C. et al. (2003) The Craft of Research. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Brown S. (1989). Conceptions of Inquiry: A Reader. London: Routledge


Burns, R. B. (2000). Introduction to research methods. London: Sage.


Buzan, T. (2000) Use Your Head. BBC Publications


Cryer, P. (2000), The Research Student’s Guide to Success, Open University.


Denscombe, M (1998) The Good Research Guide. Open University Press.


Fairburn, G & Winch,C. Reading, Writing and Reasoning, Open University Press, 1991


Gruzianbo, A and Raulin, M (2002) Research Methods. Allyn and Bacon.


Hart, C. (1998). Doing a literature review: releasing the social science research imagination. London, Sage.


Pririe, D. B. (1985) How to Write Critical Essays, London: Methuen


Punch, R.F. (2001) Developing Effective Research Proposals. Sage.


Rogerson, S. (1989). Project skills handbook, Chartwell-Bratt.


Sharpe, J, Peters, J and Howard, K. (2002) Management of a student research project, Gower


Stradman, P. (1998). No Guru No Method? Helsinki: Research Institute, University of Art & Design Helsinki.


Walliman, N. (2001). Your Research Project: A Step-by-step Guide for the First-time Researcher. London, Sage Publications Ltd.


Watson, G. Writing a Thesis: A guide to Long Essays and Dissertations, London: Longman, 1987


Wisker, G. The Postgraduate Research Handbook: Succeed with your MA, MPhil, EdD and PhD. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001.


Qualitative Research


Lindlof T R (2001). Qualitative communication research methods. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks.


Mann, C and Stewart, F. (2000) Internet Communication and Qualitative Research. Sage


Marshall, C. and G. B. Rossman (1999). Designing qualitative research. London, Thousand Oaks.


Miles, M and Huberman, M. (1999) Qualitative Data Analysis. Sage.


Silverman, D. (2000). Doing qualitative research: a practical handbook. London, Sage.


Wolcott, H. F. (2001). Writing up qualitative research. London, SAGE.



Specific/Art and Design


Burden, I., J. Morrison, et al. (1988). Design & designing. London, Longman.


Finnegan R. (1992). Oral Traditions and the Verbal Arts: A Guide to Research Practices. London: Routledge.


Jolliffe, F. R. (1986). Survey design and analysis. Chichester, Ellis Horwood.


Jones, C. J. (1970). Design Methods: Seeds of human futures, John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Laurel B. (2003). Design Research: Methods and Perspectives. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press


Lorenz, C. (1986). The Design Dimension: Product Strategy and the Challenge of Global Marketing. Oxford, Basil Blackwell.


Naoum, S. G. (1998). Dissertation Writing and Research for Construction Students. Oxford, Butterworth-Heinemann.


Powell, D. (1995). Presentation techniques: a guide to drawing and presenting design ideas. London, Little Brown.


Spector, P. E. (1981). Research designs. London, Sage.



Specific/Computing Sciences and Engineering


Checkland, P and Scholes, J (1990). Soft systems methodology in action. Chichester, Wiley.

Wragg, E. C. (1999). An introduction to classroom observation. New York, Routledge Falmer.


Hinton, P. (1995) Statistics Explained. Routledge


Hoyle, R.H. (1999) Statistical Strategies for Small Sample Research. Sage.


Rowntree, D. (1991) Statistics without Tears. Penguin





Born, G. (1995), Rationalizing Culture: IRCAM, Boulez, and the Institutionalization of the Musical Avant-Garde, University of California Press.


Davies, Máire Messenger (2006) Practical research methods for media and cultural studies : making people count, Edinburgh University Press.


Emmerson, S. (Ed.) 2000. Music, Electronic Media and Culture. Aldershot: Ashgate.


Foster, H., (ed) (1983). Postmodern Culture, London: Pluto.


Jenkins, Keith (ed). (1997) The Postmodern History Reader. London: Routledge.


Kittler, Friedrich A. (trans. G. Winthrop-Young and M. Wutz) (1999) Gramophone, film, typewriter.  Stanford, CA : Stanford University Press.


Licata, T.  (2002) Electroacoustic music: analytical perspectives.  London/Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.


Manning, P. (2004) Electronic and computer music.  Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press.

May, Tim. (1993) Social Research. Issues, Methods and Process. Buckingham: Open University Press.


Nattiez, J-J. (trans. C. Abbate) (1990) Music and discourse : toward a semiology of music.  Chichester / Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.


Schafer, R. Murray. 1977. The Tuning of the World.  New York: Knopf.  [Republished as The Soundcsape.  Rochester: Destiny, 1994].


Schechner, Richard., (1993) 'The five avant-gardes or …' in The Future of Ritual London & New York: Routledge., pp 5-21. also in Huxley & Witts (1996) The Twentieth Century Performance Reader pp. 308-27


Simoni, M.  (ed.) (2006) Analytical methods of electroacoustic music.  London/NY, Routledge.


Taylor, T. D. (2001) Strange sounds: music, technology & culture.  London /New York: Routledge,


Théberge, P. (1997) Any sound you can imagine: making music / consuming technology. London/Hanover, N.H:  University Press of New England. 

Truax, B. 2001.  Acoustic Communication. Westport. CT: Ablex Publishing.




Easterby-Smith, M and Thorpe R (2001) Management Research. Sage


Hewson, Claire (et al). (2003), Internet research methods: a practical guide for the social and behavioural sciences, SAGE.


Leedy, P. D. and J. E. Ormrod (2001). Practical research: Planning and design. Upper Saddle River, N.J., Merrill Prentice Hall.


Robson,C. (2001) Real World research Blackwell.


Schon, D. (1991). The Reflective Practitioner. Aldershot. (Specifically Chapters 1, page 3, Chapter 2, page 21, Chapter 3, page 76, Chapter 8, page 256, Chapter 9, page 267)


Schon D. (1987). Educating the Reflective Practitioner. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.



Yin, R K. (1993). Applications of Case Study Research. Sage (Specifically Chapter 1, page 3, Chapter 2, page 31, Chapter 4, page 55)