COMPGZ07 - Professional practice

This database contains 2016-17 versions of the syllabuses. For current versions please see here.

Year MSc
Prerequisites N/A
Term 2
Taught By Graham Collins, Department of Management Science and Innovation (School of Management)
Nicolas Gold, Department of Computer Science (CS)
Aims The aim of this course is to provide an 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 lifecycle and will highlight which of the techniques are most appropriate for use for course GZ99/GS99.
Learning Outcomes 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 good project management techniques in practice; appraise the utility of individual project management techniques within a given environment and originate new techniques within a sound framework; project 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.

  1. What are projects and how do we measure their success?
  2. The role of the project manager in influencing the outcome of a project
  3. Basing the project on pure need
  4. The project plan
  5. Quantitative criteria
  6. Risk management
  7. Creating project teams
  8. Leading and motivating the team
  9. Budgets, schedules and resource allocation
  10. Systems engineering
  11. Monitoring and control
  12. Time management

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.

The examination consists of three questions of which students must select two to answer.   The examination is not based on the specific seminar topics of the course but will expect students to draw on these, and their general knowledge and wider reading to address unseen questions related to contemporary issues in software engineering and networked systems.


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