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More in this section MSc Project

MSc Project



This is a compulsory course that contributes 1/3 to the total mark used to decide your degree classification.

Please note that in order to pass the MSc you must pass the MSc project with at least 50%.


A project is a major individual piece of work. It can be of an academic nature and aim at acquiring and demonstrating understanding of and the ability to reason about a specific area of information security. Alternatively, the project work may document the ability to deal with a practical aspect of information security.


The student will write a comprehensive dissertation on the topic of the project. On completion of the project students should have demonstrated their ability to:

  • work independently on a security-related project, for which they have defined the objectives and rationale;

  • apply knowledge about aspects of information security to a particular problem, which may be of an engineering, analytical or academic nature;

  • produce a well-structured report, with introduction, motivation, analysis and relevant references to existing work.

The Project Selection

Students should discuss possible areas of interest and/or their plans for their project with potential supervisors. Students will also find information about the interests of members of staff on the Information Security Group (ISG) web-site and on individuals' home-pages. This is the most common method for choosing an MSc project. More information on which members of staff will be available to supervise projects can be obtained from the MSc Project Guidance page.

The ISG Smart Card Centre (SCC) will advertise a meeting via email at which the project topics that may be undertaken in the SCC will be outlined.  Such projects will be supervised by Keith Mayes and Konstantinos Markantonakis. Students who are interested in such projects should attend this meeting.

Each student will have an academic project supervisor to give advice on the conduct of the project and to monitor its progress. However, it is primarily the responsibility of the student to define and plan the MSc project. Students can do their projects off-site, but must maintain contact with their academic supervisor, for example by checking their emails regularly.

Some projects may be supported by industrial partners of the ISG. Every year the ISG  receives a number of requests for project placements from our industrial partners. These requests will be forwarded to all MSc students. At the same time a number of our MSc students independently approach companies in order to seek a project placement.

It is expected that full-time students will agree the exact project topic at the beginning of the second term, so that preliminary work (as specified in the MSc project process) can be done during the second term, and that students will concentrate on their project after the course examinations in May. For part-time students, this process may proceed at a slower pace or be delayed until the second year. However, students are encouraged to begin their projects as early as possible in order to ensure the best possible result.

Timetable for project work

Details of the MSc project process and the relevant deadlines can be found in the Forms and Templates section of the web page.

First Term

Allocation of Advisors

At the beginning of the first term each student is assigned a personal advisor. It is very important that the students take the initiative and engage with their advisor in order to discuss the topic area in which they wish to do their project. The advisor may act as supervisor of the project or suggest other members of staff who the student may approach to be their supervisor. The ISG web site contains information about ISG staff and their interests. More information on which members of staff are available to supervise projects can be found on the MSc Project Guidance page under the "Who will be my project supervisor" section.

Project Tutorials (Task A1)

During the first term the ISG staff will also run a series of MSc Project tutorials. The tutorials aim to provide a good overview of the MSc project process along with discussing sample MSc project titles and in general how to tackle the MSc project. Student attendance at these tutorials is mandatory.

A link to the actual presentation from this academic year's project tutorials can be obtained from the Forms and Templates section of the web page. 

Avoiding Plagiarism Tutorials in Moodle (Task A2)

It is crucially important for students to obtain an early appreciation of how to properly reference other peoples work and avoid any plagiarism issues. The MSc Project Guide can be used as the main guide on proper referencing and students are once more strongly encouraged to consult it. The Moodle virtual learning environment also contains valuable resources. Student are expected to log-on to their ISG Moodle accounts and complete the “Avoiding Plagiarism Course”, “Questionnaire” and the “Course Completion confirmation” elements.

Please note that Tasks (A1, A2) are mandatory requirements in order to proceed in the next step in the MSc Project supervisor allocation process. Students not completing these two tasks will not be permitted to nominate a project supervisor. As a result they may not be able to proceed with their MSc project, successful completion of which is essential in order to obtain the MSc degree.

Supervisor Nominations

For more information please visit the supervisor nomination process page.

Second Term

Each student should arrange to meet their supervisor regularly to discuss their project.  In particular they must develop the Project Description Form (PDF) and the Preliminary Literature Review (PLR) and submit them both to their supervisor.

The PDF defines what you are going to do, why you are doing it, how you are going to do it, and when you are going to do it. If the supervisor is happy with the contents of this form then they will sign it and allow the proposed project to proceed. A copy of this signed PDF will be retained by the supervisor. The student can also keep a signed copy for her/his own benefit. A template for the Project Description Form is available in Microsoft Word format. Examples of completed PDFs are also available for your information: PDForm1, PDForm2, PDForm3, PDForm4.  Please note that these forms should provide you with an idea of what is expected. You should use the PDF template that is on the ISG web site, but feel free to add any relevant sections (e.g. a draft table of contents, time plan, references, etc.), in order to more accurately describe the unique requirements of your project. Please make sure that you do not simply copy the existing example project description forms.

A template for the Preliminary Literature Review (PLR) is available in Microsoft Word. This should be submitted with the PDF.

Students not providing an acceptable Project Description Form and Preliminary Literature Review by the deadline will be reported to the MSc Course Director, and their personal record will be updated accordingly. Non-completion of these two mandatory elements of the MSc could prevent students from graduating.

Third Term

This is the main period during which work should be undertaken on the project, although students must complete their Preliminary Literature Review during the second term. Advice should be sought from project supervisors, and any other appropriate sources, at all stages, and the supervisor should also be kept informed of progress. Students should show their supervisor a draft of their project dissertation at least two weeks before the submission deadline.

Submission and Assessment

Projects will be assessed on the basis of the written report, and possibly on the basis of a demonstration or evaluation of an artifact such as a computer program. An oral examination may take place at the discretion of the examiners.

TWO COPIES of the dissertation must be submitted by the closing date for submission. These should be handed to the Departmental Office (Room 243 McCrea Building) and a receipt obtained. An electronic version must also be submitted.

For more information on submission and assessment please visit the Submission and Assessment section of this page.

More information about the closing date for submission for the current academic year can be obtained from the FAQ section of the webpage

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