COMPGZ07 - Professional practice

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, Department of Management Science and Innovation (MS&I)
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 NCS, 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.
What are projects and how do we measure their success?
The role of the project manager in influencing the outcome of a project
Basing the project on pure need
The project plan
Quanitiative criteria
Risk management
Creating project teams
Leading and motivating the team
Budgets, schedules and resource allocation
Systems engineering
Monitoring and control
Time management

Method of Instruction:

Lecture presentations, seminars and workshops


The course has the following assessment components:

  • Orally Assessed Coursework (50%)
  • Written Examination (2.5 hours, 50%)

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 two sections each containing two questions (thus four in total).  In each section there will be one software engineering and one networking focused question.  Students must answer one question from each section but need not follow the topic of their degree programme I.e. networking students are free to answer software engineering questions and vice versa. 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.

To pass this course, students must:

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