Surrey University Stag


Module code: ENGM044

Module Overview

The module provides an opportunity for students to undertake guided, individual research into a topic related to their programme of study.  Students are required to take independent ownership of their project and demonstrate this through their management of the available resources, including meetings with project supervisor(s), the timely acquisition of relevant information and experimental results. They must prepare and submit a formal, written, report to a specific deadline and subsequently present and defend their work at an oral examination.

Module provider

Sustainability, Civil & Env Engineering

Module Leader

WOODS Rick (Sust & CEE)

Number of Credits: 60

ECTS Credits: 30

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

JACs code: H200

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 599

Practical/Performance Hours: 1

Module Availability

Year long

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

The Dissertation Project forms a significant component of the MSc degree.  It is intended to occupy 600 hours typically spread over about 100 working days.  Topics may be selected from a list provided by academic staff or students may suggest their own topic.  The project may comprise laboratory investigation, numerical modelling, field observations, mathematical analysis, or a combination of any of these. A critical review of the relevant literature will always be required whatever the topic, but a dissertation cannot wholly consist of a literature review.

Project topics must be related to the programme of study as outlined below:


Project Topic area(s)

Bridge Engineering

Bridge Engineering

Civil Engineering

Bridge Engineering, Structural Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Construction Management

Structural Engineering

Structural Engineering, Bridge Engineering, Soil-Structure interaction with emphasis on the structural component

Water & Environmental Engineering

Water and Environmental Engineering

Advanced Geotechnical Engineering

Geotechnical Engineering

Infrastructure Engineering and Management

Infrastructure Engineering or Infrastructure Management

Projects are sometimes carried out in association with one of the research groups – the project supervisor will normally be a member of academic staff though some assistance may be offered by a researcher working in the project area.  In some cases projects may be undertaken in collaboration with industry, and may have a joint industrial supervisor.

Further details are given in the Programme Handbook.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Project (Group/Individual/Dissertation) DISSERTATION PROJECT 100

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate that they: 

  • are able to undertake a sizeable research project and manage it from inception to completion 

  • managed to research their topic of choice to a depth that allows an informed academic discussion;  

  • are capable of defending their conclusions based on evidence and justifying their steps in arriving at these conclusions.  

Thus, the summative assessment for the dissertation project comprises a final written report and oral defence (100%).

Formative assessment takes the form of a project plan, various self-assessments, and progress reports that are submitted at various stages in the journey of the dissertation project.  

Feedback is given: 

  • at supervisor meetings 

  • on the interim submissions (formative assessment) 

Module aims

  • To enable students to demonstrate their ability to plan and execute a research project, to have a command of the relevant literature, to present and interpret their research outputs and to draw sensible conclusions and where appropriate recommend further investigation
  • To allow scope for students to demonstrate initiative, sound judgement, planning, and critical thought
  • To encourage students to develop a critical appreciation of a topic and its broader context.
  • To encourage students to synthesise and critically appraise their findings and those of others.
  • To give students the opportunity to write a detailed and professional report, that sets out the aims, objectives, method, results, discussion and conclusions of the work undertaken

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Plan and execute a small research project KCT
002 Carry out a critical review of the literature relating to the topic KC
003 Demonstrate critical and analytical skills and the ability to evaluate evidence KCT
004 Demonstrate an awareness of new areas of investigation, new problems, new or alternative applications or methodologies KCP
005 Prepare a professional, appropriately referenced and argued research report KPT
006 Present, and subsequently defend, the project work at an oral examination KPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is that the student will achieve the learning outcomes through guided individual research and study, making full use of all the appropriate resources. The learning process is supported through meetings with academic supervisors.

This module will build on a variety of previously (and concurrently) studied modules, depending on the topic of the dissertation.  Most students will have undertaken an individual research project in their final Bachelors year, and although it was probably for fewer credits and with expectations relevant to FHEQ Level 6 rather than Level 7, it would provide a useful indicator.



Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: ENGM044

Other information

Digital capabilities:   Depending on the topic, the Dissertation Project will require the student to become familiar with and use advanced software packages, such as finite element analysis and GIS.  Experimental work may develop proficiency with computer-controlled testing and data logging.

Resourcefulness & Resilience:   The Dissertation Project will, by nature, require the student to tackle open-ended problems, formulate solution strategies, overcome obstacles, and manage the overall progress, thus developing resourcefulness and resilience.

Sustainability:   Depends on the dissertation topic.

Employability:   The Dissertation Project will enable the student to develop expertise in a particular area of civil engineering, alongside professional and transferable skills, thus enhancing their employability.

Global and cultural capabilities:   All Dissertation Projects will require students to become familiar with the international literature and not just that within the UK or Europe. Some projects will go further and might for example collect and work with data collected from across national boundaries.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Water and Environmental Engineering MSc(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Advanced Geotechnical Engineering MSc(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Structural Engineering MSc(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Civil Engineering MSc(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Infrastructure Engineering and Management MSc(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Bridge Engineering MSc(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2024/5 academic year.