COMPGS12 - Research Methods in Software Engineering

This database contains the 2017-18 versions of syllabuses. Syllabuses from the 2016-17 session are available here.

Note: Whilst every effort is made to keep the syllabus and assessment records correct, the precise details must be checked with the lecturer(s).

PrerequisitesResearch Seminar in Software Engineering (COMPGS11)
Taught ByEarl Barr (100%)
AimsTo provide students with a hands-on introduction to identifying research topics in software engineering, formulating adequate research questions, and planning the research activities needed to answer these questions.
Learning Outcomes

The students will learn how to specify the work needed to publish a research idea, how to plan to realize that work, and how to write up that work.

Students successfully completing the module should be able to:

  • find and formulate a good research problem (or question), then convincingly and effectively solve (or answer) it, either via validation or proof.
  • conduct a literature search, avoiding the twin evils of shallowness and excessive depth.
  • write a detailed research project proposal.


Students will engage with research staff in the Software Systems Engineering group to identify a supervisor and a research topic and write a detailed proposal for research they could conduct as part of COMPGS98.

The report will include a clear problem statement and enumerate the problem's novelty and importance. If the work is very novel, the final report must include a detailed review of literature necessary to understand its importance; otherwise, it must include a detailed literature survey that positions the proposed work against related work. Finally, the research report must close with a careful, succinct discussion of the theoretical or experimental work to be done to prove or validate the work.

Students may work individually or in small groups. Individual projects are preferred; group projects will require justification and approval. Groups will be expected to do more work, commensurate with their size.

Students who perform well in this module may be invited to enrol in COMPGS98 Research Project in Software Engineering.

Method of Instruction

Self-directed learning and direct, one-on-one staff supervision.


The course has the following assessment components:

Coursework (100%)


Readings for this module vary for each student and research topic.

Reading list available via the UCL Library catalogue.