COMPGZ07 - Professional Practice

This database contains the 2017-18 versions of syllabuses.

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

Year MSc
Prerequisites N/A
Term 2
Taught By

Graham Collins [School of Management] 100%

This course has weekly external speaker seminars with speakers drawn from companies such as IBM, Microsoft, GowlingWLG, NeoTechnology and

Aims The aim of this course is to provide a viewpoint on the commercial realities of work within the area covered by the MSc FSE and MSc SSE and practical skills in project management. This is done in two parts: the first is a series of seminars given by those with practical experience of real problems at technical, managerial, financial and ethical levels. Most such speakers are drawn from industry and this part of the course is intended to stimulate a questioning and inquisitive approach to the field. We expect the material covered to be topical and either informative or presented in such a way as to encourage discussion. The aim of the project management part of the course is to prepare students for effective project work and, by extension and comparison, for effective teamwork in a commercial environment. The course will cover all aspects of project management.
Learning Outcomes

Students successfully completing the module will demonstrate the ability to:

  • assess the effectiveness of solutions presented and to question them in an intelligent way
  • synthesise solutions to general open-ended problems drawing on various sources of knowledge and tempered by information on commercial realities from this module
  • adopt reasoned ethical standpoints
  • apply appropriate project management techniques
  • appraise the utility of individual project management techniques within a given environment and originate new techniques within a sound framework
  • outline the difference between use of project management techniques in small-scale activities such as the group project and those in industrial scale activities 


The topics for the seminars are determined by speakers and are dependent on their areas of expertise and current market conditions. Areas of likely focus/awareness needed include (but are not limited to) GDPR and Brexit implications, cloud, DevOps, agile, IT law, containerisation, technological advances, and open source.

For project management:

  1. What are projects and how do we measure their success?
  2. The role of the project manager and team in influencing the outcome of a project.
  3. Communicating with stakeholders and ensuring buy-in. The business case and writing effective goals.
  4. Project planning, monitoring and control. Structure of project reports.
  5. Agile project management
  6. Trade-offs, optimisation and architecture decisions
  7. Risk and opportunity management
  8. Creating, motivating and leading project teams
  9. Quantitative criteria including financial appraisal
  10. Retrospectives, process improvement and project reviews

Method of Instruction

Lecture presentations, seminars and workshops


The course has the following assessment components:

  • Orally Assessed Coursework (50%);
  • Written Examination (2 hours, 50%).

To pass this module, students must:

  • Obtain an overall pass mark of 50% for all components combined.

The oral coursework takes the form of a presentation on the students' preparation for their upcoming summer projects and how the techniques and issues from GZ07 will be applied or managed therein.

See past papers, particularly questions 1 and 3 from papers before 2017, and all questions on the 2017 past paper for examples of the type of current awareness question asked on this course.

Formative Assessment

Students are encouraged to participate in class discussions with visiting speakers and the module team.

Students are often set discussion questions through Moodle that are responded to by the module team.


Students on this module are expected to maintain their awareness of broad computing issues as would be expected of a professional working in the field. Regularly reading resources like slashdot,, Computer Weekly, Software Development Times etc should help to keep students abreast of the kind of trends and issues being raised and allow them to reflect on the implications of the situations and issues discussed there for their programmes of study and future fields of work (e.g. what does a situation imply about networking technology or skills, or how could software engineering change or be changed by what's happening?).

Reading list available via the UCL Library catalogue.