Engineering Research Proposal – Global Homework Experts

Academic Year 2021-2022
CIV6000 – Advanced Engineering Research Study
CIV685 – Engineering Research Proposal
MSc Dissertation HANDBOOK
Domenico Baù, PhD
Updated April 2022

1. Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 1
2. Project Allocation……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 2
2.1. Self-Proposed Projects…………………………………………………………………………………………… 2
3. Research Proposal…………………………………………………………………………………………………. 3
3.1. CIV61005 Activities and Feedback…………………………………………………………………………. 4
3.2. Assessment Criteria ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 4
3.3. Dissertation Proposal Structure………………………………………………………………………………. 5
4. CIV6000 Timeline …………………………………………………………………………………………………… 6
5. Aim of Individual Research project …………………………………………………………………………. 8
5.1. Learning Outcomes………………………………………………………………………………………………… 8
5.1.1. Knowledge and Understanding ………………………………………………………………………………. 8
5.1.2. Skills and Competence…………………………………………………………………………………………… 8
6. Assessment, Submission Rules and Extenuating Circumstances ………………………….. 9
7. Feedback ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 9
8. The Dissertation……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 10
8.1. Format ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 12
8.2. Submission …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 12
8.3. Organization and Content …………………………………………………………………………………….. 12
8.4. General guidance …………………………………………………………………………………………………. 14
8.5. Useful Tips……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 15
8.6. Readings………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 15
9. Interview……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 16
10. Other Useful Information ………………………………………………………………………………………. 16
APPENDIX A. …………………………………………………………………….CIV6000 Assessment Forms 16
APPENDIX B. ………………………………………………………………….CIV61005 Assessment Criteria 23
APPENDIX C.…………………………………….. Dissertation Title Page and Declaration Statement 26
1. Introduction
The module CIV6000 – “Advanced Engineering Research Study” represents a major
element of the Masters programme, and aims at enabling participants to learn skills in
scientific investigation and in running and presenting a project.
During Semester 1, each student will be assigned a supervisor and a dissertation topic, on
which they will work throughout the year and full-time from June through August. Students
will have to maintain regular contact with their supervisor to ensure satisfactory progress of
the work.
CIV6000 stems from the “Professional and Research Skills” (CIV61005) module
component, which is carried out during Semester 1 and the first part of Semester 2. As a
part of the CIV61005 coursework, students will develop a plan for the work they will carry
out for CIV6000 during the summer.
At the end of the CIV6000 module, students are required to submit a comprehensive report,
or dissertation, describing to a very high standard the individual work that they have done
during the summer semester. The assessment of the report will be made after an oral
interview taking place in the first half of September 2022, which will count for 100% of the
This document contains detailed information regarding the requirements for production of
the dissertation document, along with additional general advice. Further details on relevant
issues, such as plagiarism, will be covered in CIV61005. Students need to be familiar with
the points presented in this document, as well as the module assessment criteria, which are
provided in Appendix A.
CIV6000 is formally an all-semesters module, but most of the research study will be
conducted during the summer. Students must be aware that 10 credits should be equivalent
to 100 hours work, so they should expect to spend around 600 hours working on their
dissertation project.
CIV6000 is intrinsically connected to the CIV61005 module running in Semester 1, as the
research proposal forms a main element of the CIV61005. Students are strongly advised to
discuss their proposed project time planning with their supervisor at an early meeting. This
is to ensure supervisors are aware of such planning, so that restrictions to students and
supervisors’ availability for meetings can be discussed and mutually agreed early on.
Students must be aware they are responsible for organising meetings with their supervisor
and to be prepared for those meetings. It is unlikely they will be able to receive useful
feedback between meetings. This requires making progress on their project between
Different students and projects will require different amounts of time with their supervisor.
Typically, students meet once a fortnight although this may vary depending on the project,
with some meeting more frequently at key points. At an absolute minimum, students must
meet their supervisor three times per semester. Any student struggling to meet with their
supervisor should contact the Student Support Office.

2. Project Allocation
At the start of Semester 1, student will have to express their preferences on the dissertation
topic from a large list of titles and project descriptions outlined by academic staff. The
allocated dissertation topic will be based on such choices and will be released by Week 7 of
Semester 1.
2.1. Self-Proposed Projects
Students have the option to self-propose a project. Self-Proposed Projects require the
submission of an ‘Expression of Interest’ (EOI) for consideration. Students on scholarships
are required to propose their own project if their scholarship requires them to work
on a specific dissertation area.
If such option is not taken, they may end up being allocated
a project that does not meet their scholarship requirements.
Submitting an EOI does not exempt students from expressing their preferences from the
dissertation topic list, as there no guarantee that a self-proposed project is accepted. Project
preferences will be disregarded only if an EOI is accepted.
The EOI form for self-proposing is posted at:
The EOI form will need to be submitted by Monday of Week 4 (9am, 18 October 2021)
A self-proposed project will be considered against the following points:
1. Will the project allow the student to meet all the learning outcomes for the
dissertation? It is important that a self-proposed project honours the key criteria
based on which it will be marked, in order to ensure no disadvantage for the student.
2. Does the Department have the technical skills to supervise the student appropriately?
3. Do the Department have the facilities needed by the student to carry out the project.
A self-proposed project EOI will include:
Brief description of the project (250-350 words)
Indicative references
Subject area (Geo, Water, Structures, or Other if this area is unknown)
Suggested Supervisor. Students should look up the department research web pages
and the staff pages to identify a potential project supervisor. Potential supervisors
should be contacted in advance of the EOI submission.
Lab time: if this is necessary, students need provide a rough estimate the amount of
lab time required by project.
Health and Safety implications
Students should consider the following points when writing the Project Description:

order now
1. Aims
Concise explanation of what the student hopes to achieve at the end of the project.
2. Introduction (or Background)
Description of the context or broader setting of the project, and why that is important.
2a. Rationale (or Motivation)
Broad description of the problems/issues being addressed, the critical need for
investigation, nature and purpose of research. Basic questions to be addressed are:
why is such research needed, and what is being done in it?
3. Methodology


Broad overview of the research objectives. Description of approach taken to achieve
them (e.g. simulation, experimental or theoretical?), with some details on the need
and suitability of it.
4. Lab resources
Description of experimental work, if applicable (equipment, materials, estimate of lab
5. Health and Safety Issues
While an actual formal health and safety risk assessments will be completed in due
course, the student need to merely demonstrate awareness of relevant Health and
Safety issues and advance a plan to address them.
6. Indicative references
List of References for sources of information cited in the text.

NOTE: At this stage, the description in the methodology section of the EOI form can be very
brief (it will be finalised later). It is however very important to provide an estimate of the hours
required for laboratory support, which the student should discuss their potential supervisor
in advance.
3. Research Proposal
In the module CIV61005-Professional and Research Skills, which starts in Week 1 of
Semester 1, students will develop a dissertation research proposal under the guidance of
their dissertation supervisor. While this proposal is due in Week 2 of Semester 2, students
are expected to work regularly during Semester 1 as soon as their dissertation title is
The goal of the proposal is to lay out a feasible working plan for their allocated CIV6000
project work and receive early formative feedback from the supervisor. Supervisors will
provide their feedback within two-three weeks after the submission deadline. The assessed
work is expected to be a concise summary of the student proposed plan for Semester 2 and
the summer. Experience suggests that the more the initial planning the less the stress
student experience later when the CIV6000 study is conducted.
The proposal will consist of a word-processed report, not exceed 1500 words as specified
in Section 4. Such document must be formatted on A4 paper with at least 2 cm margins,
and Arial font 11. Such a document will be submitted electronically via
Turnitin by the
deadlines given in Table 1. A proposal template is provided in Section 4. The research
proposal assessment criteria are given in Section 3.

Table 1. CIV61005 Important dates
Modules Proposal
Semester 2 – Week 2
9AM Wednesday
Semester 2 – Week 5
Friday 11/03/2022

3.1. CIV61005 Activities and Feedback
Students should be prepared to do the following activities with their supervisor within the
time frame shown.
Initial Meeting (Semester 1, Weeks 8–9). Students will meet with their supervisor to
start a discussion about the project they have selected and identify potential research ideas
they would like to develop.
Background and Literature Review (Semester 1, Week 12). Students will meet with
their supervisor to look at work on the Background and literature review for their proposal
so far. They should provide a structure for their sections highlighting the areas they will cover
and evidence of the literature they are reviewing. Some of the literature review should be
written up fully, but it is not expected to be in the final version.
Draft proposal review (by Semester 2, Week 1). Students will meet with their
supervisor, who will look through their proposal briefly and provide them with key points for
improvement. However, the supervisor will not be able to proof-read the whole draft and the
student should be prepared with questions about key areas on which they feel advice is
needed. To get this feedback, students must arrange to meet their supervisor before the
end of Week 1 of semester 2. Supervisors might not be available to see the students in the
same week when the proposal is due.

IMPORTANT NOTE: the student-supervisor meetings are not timetabled! Students are
responsible for liaising well in advance with their supervisor to set up a time and a location
for these activities.

3.2. Assessment Criteria
The proposal will be assessed by the supervisor according to the following seven criteria:
I. Clarity of the research question.

Aims and objectives are appropriate and clearly stated.
Sufficient awareness of project context and rationale relevance.
Appropriate awareness and understanding of the relevant literature.
The methodology, methods, and research design are understood and appropriate for
the proposed study.
Health and safety matters have been considered in sufficient depth that there is a
reasonable basis to suggest the work can be conducted safely.
Reference list is complete and formatted correctly.
Details on the levels of assessment for each of the above criteria are given in
Appendix B.

3.3. Dissertation Proposal Structure
A structured description of the sections that need to be included in proposal is provided


Keywords: include a few words that define the essence of the proposed research. Ideally,
these would be the relevant words that other researchers should enter in a search engine
to get a better chance of finding your study among the results. This section will not count
toward the word limit.


1. Aims and Objectives (100 words)
Explain in broad terms your aspiration, that is, what you hope to achieve at the end of the
project. This part should be one or two paragraphs maximum. Keep them concise.
Objectives are the steps taken to achieve the aims. Thus, you need to explain what you
will do to achieve these aims. One to three objectives per aim, stated concisely. You might
want to use a bullet list.
Objectives should be S.M.A.R.T., that is, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and
time constrained.


2. Background (200 words)
Describe the context or broader setting of your work. Use a few paragraphs, do not exceed
3-4 if possible.
Provide a broad description of the problems/ issues being addressed, the critical need for
investigation, nature and purpose of research. The broad questions to be addressed are:
why are you doing such research, what are you are doing in it?


3. Literature review (500 words)
The overall goal is to present the state of the art in your specific area of research and
explain how your work is going to advance it, that is, improve general knowledge in the
field or perceived knowledge gaps.
As you are preparing for your dissertation you are likely to read more literature than is
presented in the report, keep notes on the extra information and this may prove useful for
your final literature review in your dissertation.
Make sure you present the most relevant sources of literature here that underpin why you
have chosen your research area and approach. Remember this is a critical review, thus it
important to express your opinion on previous work discussed.


4. Research Questions (100 words)
Include concisely the major questions you set out to answer in your final year research
project. These questions need to be specific, precise and concrete, as well as tightly linked
to the aims presented in Section 1. Ideally, these questions will address knowledge gaps
previously identified in the Literature Review (Section 3).


5. Methods (200 words)
Describe your methodology, that is, the general strategy devised to address the
problems/issues being addressed, and your methods, that is, the set of tools (e.g.
numerical models, physical models, mathematical analysis, laboratory experiments, etc.)
adopted to answer the posed research questions.
Normally the method description should be detailed enough for the reader to replicate
your work. Thus ensure all details are given. In this preliminary report a less detailed
outline is acceptable. You
must also describe how your results can be trusted by the
reader (i.e. use of scientific method such as controls, verification, validation, calibration,
repeat tests etc).


6. Planning (200 words)
You should include a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix up to 2 pages long.


7. Risk Assessment (100 words)


You should include a risk register of up to 2 pages long. As well as health and safety risks
you should also consider risks to the project succeeding.


8. Outcomes (100 words)
Explain what you expect to achieve in your project. This section must link back to the
Objectives listed in Section 1.


9. Reference List
Include the full references to sources cited in the text using the Harvard referencing
system; this section will not count toward the word limit.


Include appendices to provide supplemental material to your proposal. Label them as
Appendix A, Appendix B, … These parts are to be included only if necessary and will not
count toward the page limit.


NOTE: the above layout is meant to provide general guidelines that students should follow
while writing their dissertation proposal. Students should consult with their supervisor if
they think the sequence of sections should be modified. However, all sections need to be
presented. In addition, word count, text margins, and font requirements must be all
complied with.

For further general guidance on writing dissertations and proposals, students should see
the support provided by the “
301: Academic Skills Center”. While this is generic guidance
for all departments, most of the information is applicable to research in engineering.
Following are two useful links:

Information on writing research proposals and dissertations:

Information on searching for research:
4. CIV6000 Timeline
Table 2 provides a complete list of important dates and deadlines.
Dissertation. Students are typically expected to develop most of their dissertation study during
the Summer Semester. They are expected to work full time on their project starting early in June
and until the end of August. No holidays are allowed over this period. The dissertation will be due
on 26 August 2022 (see Table 2).
Interview. The dissertation is a major piece of individual research work that must be presented
in written form to a very high standard and defended at an oral interview. The student’s
dissertation report and performance at the interview will be assessed holistically and will count for
100% of the mark of CIV6000. The interview is normally held in the first two weeks of September
2022 (see Table 2).


Table 2. CIV6000 Important Dates and Deadlines
Autumn Semester
Week 4 Project Allocation System open, Project Fair
9AM Mon Week 5 Submit self-proposed project EOI (optional)
9AM Wed Week 6 Project choice: 6 titles to be selected in preference order.
The system will be locked after the deadline.
Week 7 Project allocated
Weeks 8-9 Initial meeting with assigned supervisor
Week 12 Draft literature review session with supervisor
Spring Semester
Week 1 Draft proposal review meeting with supervisor
9AM Wed Week 2 Submission of Research Proposal
Week 5 Supervisor marking/feedback on Research Proposal
Summer Period
13 June 2022 Latest start date of the dissertation work
No holidays are allowed over the dissertation period.
9AM 26 August
Submission of the dissertation
Submit electronic copy via Turnitin (link to be made available
on the CIV6000 Blackboard site)
30 August 2022 –
9 September 2022
A Google Calendar invite will be sent and should be accepted
immediately. If there is a problem with the interview date/time,
the supervisor must be informed as soon as possible.
Students should not plan to move away from Sheffield until
after 9 September 2022.

5. Aim of Individual Research project
The individual research project is intended to enable students to develop and implement
skills in scientific investigation, creative problem solving and critical evaluation of research
findings. Students are also expected to develop skills in technical writing, oral presentation
of research work, as well as time and resource management for the successful completion
of their work against a deadline.
Student must be aware that the individual research project is the keystone to their degree.
Not only is it worth a substantial number of credits, but it may also be picked up as a potential
question during job interviews. The project provides a unique opportunity to explore a single
problem in tremendous depth, practising skills previously developed during the MSc course.
Student must ensure to make the most of it.
5.1. Learning Outcomes
On successful completion of the final year project, students will be able to:
5.1.1. Knowledge and Understanding
1. Display knowledge and understanding and discuss the specific subject matter of their
2. Independently search and critically evaluate published sources of information,
leading to the formulation of novel hypotheses.
3. Design, organise, justify, and operate an appropriate suite of methods to deliver a set
research goal.
4. Identify and apply appropriate scientific principles.
5.1.2. Skills and Competence
1. Conduct an appropriately designed experiment, whether field, laboratory or
numerically based.
2. Critically assess the reliability, validity and significance of published data, and/or data
generated in the project.
3. Analyse and evaluate findings and formulate coherent conclusions from the work
4. Produce an effective, detailed and coherently written technical report to given
specifications that avoids plagiarism.
5. Defend and discuss all aspects of their project in an interview.
6. Plan and manage project progress and make effective use of time and resources.

NOTE: The above learning outcomes will be assessed through the final report and the
interview based on the assessment criteria included in the marking Forms included in
Appendix A. Students are strongly encouraged to carefully study the above learning
outcomes, as well as the assessment forms, and ensure they have addressed all learning
outcomes required for the project.

6. Assessment, Submission Rules and Extenuating
Assessment of learning outcomes of the individual research project will be carried out
using the forms in Appendix A. In a broadly similar fashion to the assessment of a Ph.D. or
M.Phil. thesis, the project will be assessed in its entirety with a single mark, with the
assessors reflecting on the student’s combined performance on three individual elements:
Final Report (see assessment criteria in Form 1, Appendix A);
Interview (see assessment criteria in Form 2, Appendix A).
To pass the module CIV6000,
students should achieve at least a threshold level for
each learning outcome associated with each deliverable
. It is essential to obtain a grade
of 50 or above in order to be eligible for the award of the MSc Degree.
The student’s final report will be assessed by the supervisor and another member of staff,
not involved with the project, acting as a second assessor. The second assessor undertakes
an independent assessment of the level of performance demonstrated by the project report.
Both assessors will have read the student’s report prior to the interview and will have made
notes which will form the basis of questions in the interview.
The dissertation report and the outcome of the interview will be assessed holistically and
will count for 100% of the mark of CIV6000.
All reports should be submitted via
Turnitin by the specified times and dates given in
Table 2.
The penalty for late submission of the final project report is a reduction of
5% per day of lateness with a cut-off (zero score) after 5 working days
(in accordance
with University wide penalty system, outlined in the
Departmental Handbook).
Students must be extra careful not to submit their dissertation late, as this may not give
enough time to the two assessors to assess it thoroughly. In addition, it may not be possible
to reschedule an interview if this conflicts with the deadline for the final mark submission.
Where extenuating medical or personal circumstances occur that prevent a
student from timely submission of work, they should:
a) Complete an Extenuating Circumstances Form. This is available from the Student
Support Office
and online.
b) Take this promptly to the Student Support Office or submit electronically to [email protected], prior to the submission deadline.
c) Notify their supervisor and the CIV6000 module lead instructor (Domenico Bau).
SSiD website gives also detailed advice on what to do in the case of medical
circumstances (for example attending the University Health Service), which must be
followed. Additional information on Extenuating Circumstances and Requests for
Assignment Extensions can be found in the
Civil Engineering Student Handbook.

IMPORTANT: Delays or difficulties connected with computing will NOT be accepted as
valid reasons for late submission. It is therefore essential that students keep back-up
electronic copies of their work.

7. Feedback
The research proposal developed in CIV61005 (Section 3) will provide a formal formative
feedback point as it will be marked by student’s own supervisor.
Following the completion of this, it is up to the student to discuss with their supervisor further
formative feedback needed on any subsequent project work and agree on appropriate timescales
for verbal feedback in order to progress with the project.

By virtue of the independent nature of this project, it is NOT appropriate for supervisors to
proof-read the chapters of final reports. However, they may advise on the content of smaller
sections, as well as give suggestions on the overall proposed report structure and contents. If a
student wishes to get this support, material must be given to the supervisor in a timely manner.
Any supervisor is likely to have several other MEng, MSc and BEng students to supervise, as well
as their other work commitments. Hence, it will not be possible to provide significant feedback on
material submitted to them a few days before the final report deadline!
In the two weeks following their dissertation interview, students may be able to obtain feedback
on their final report from their supervisor.
8. Laboratory Work
Before conducting any laboratory work, if applicable, the following requirements must have
been satisfied:
1. A student and her/his academic supervisor should have initial discussions on all Health
and Safety issues relating to the project, including the level of supervision in the
laboratory required in accordance with the University’s Health and Safety Code of
Practice, Paragraph 2.4 (b) Supervision of Students. A checklist identifying potential
safety/ risk issues is included in the Appendix C and assessment forms are available
via Blackboard.
2. A student and her/his academic supervisor should discuss a planned programme of
experimental work with the senior technician in the relevant area, as soon as possible,
and well before commencement of the experimental part of the project in order to
a. The level of technical resource required – a Technical Resource Requisition
should be completed if deemed necessary. This needs to include the duration of
expected support. No supervisor is permitted to request more than sixty hours of
technical support time over all the projects they supervise to ensure that the full
spectrum of work has the opportunity for support.
b. The Health and Safety requirements (COSHH, Manual Handling and Lifting,
General Risk Assessments, Out of Hours restrictions etc.). All required
assessments must be completed and forwarded to the departmental safety
officer for central records and to the appropriate senior technician for display in
the laboratory.
c. The equipment required, in order to check availability.
d. The materials required, in order to allow adequate time for delivery if required.
A student will only be allowed into laboratories to commence experimental work when:
o All Health and Safety assessments have been completed and are displayed in the lab.
o All appropriate technical staff are fully aware of the student’s experimental programme.
Students need to ensure that they conduct their work in a safe manner and in particular:

Comply with all safety instructions given to them, (both oral and written);
Never enter a laboratory or workshop unless authorisation has been given to do so;
Never use any material or facility, without having first been given specific instructions
on the operations to be performed and precautions to be adopted;
Never attempt to modify or repair any apparatus belonging to the department without
the permission of a member of staff.

Failure to adhere to Health and Safety practices may result in their laboratory access to be
revoked and experiments terminated.
Students should identify in their initial planning chart the activities of their work that will
require safety assessments.
Completed risk assessment forms should be included in an
appendix to the research proposal
Other possible issues that one may need to refer to during the period of the project are the
TSR system: To use the Technical Services Requisition (TSR) System, each student needs to
do so in coordination with their supervisor. The TSR system can be accessed via this
where relevant guidance can also found.
To make a formal risk assessment: about any aspect involved in their research, each
student should fill in an online
STAR form. If their research further involves Chemicals, they
are also required to fill in a (Faculty of Engineering)
COSHH assessment form.
Contact details of all head technician for each laboratory are provided in Table 3.

Table 3. Contact details of laboratory technicians
Geotechnical Engineering
Paul Osborne
Laboratory Supervisor
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 25722
Water Engineering
Paul Osborne
Laboratory Supervisor
[email protected]
Tel: 25722
Environmental Science laboratories
Paul Osborne
Laboratory supervisor
[email protected]
Tel: 25770
Materials/Structures Laboratories –
Paul Bentley
Departmental Technical Manager
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 25709
Mechanical Engineering Workshop –
Paul Blackbourn
Workshop Supervisor
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 25062
Electronics/Instrumentation Workshop –
Paul Bentley
Senior Experimental Officer
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 25708
Computing/IT Workshop –
Alan Grundy
Senior IT Technician
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 25072
Buxton CEDUS Labs –
Tommy Lodge
Research Laboratory Manager
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 0129825951 (@ Buxton)

9. The Dissertation
The dissertation should be an all-inclusive single document reporting on the research
undertaken. Such a report should be written in good English, at a level of technical
competence and quality of expression that ideally befits an original academic contribution to
the field, as may be seen in the academic engineering literature. The writing style should
comply with the normal rules for spelling, punctuation and syntax. Where sentences are
quoted directly from the work of others, this should clearly be indicated by using an
italic font
or “inverted commas”.
The report should have a title page showing the name of the University and Department,
title of project, name of supervisor and submission date. Students are also required to
include immediately after the title page, a signed declaration statement stating that the work
contained in the report is their own. The wording of this statement should be as follows:
“[Author’s First and Last Names] certifies that all the material contained within this document
is his/her own work except where it is clearly referenced to others” (see Appendix D).
9.1. Format
The dissertation should be word-processed on A4 paper with 1.5 line spacing, 11-point
Font, a left-side margin of 40 mm, and a 25 mm margin on all other sides. The document
should not exceed 70 pages excluding any appendices. While the 70-page limit is a
guideline and not a strict requirement, the student will be assessed for “writing an effective
report” (Form 1, Appendix A), thus an excessively long report might result in a penalty under
the ‘effectiveness’ criterion. Appendices, if any, should not exceed 40 pages. The use of a
consistent font style such as Arial, Helvetica, Times New Roman, or Cambria is strongly
recommended. Other “fancy” fonts should be avoided.
9.2. Submission
Students should submit their dissertation electronically via the Turnitin portal, available
through Blackboard, by the deadline specified in Table 2.
9.3. Organization and Content
There are no strict guidelines for the dissertation layout. A typical contents list would be
suggested as follows:

i. Title page
Please see the example is provided in Appendix D.
Declaration Statement
Please see the example is provided in Appendix D.
This section should not exceed 1 single-sided page and is meant to provide a concise

overview on the content of the dissertation, summarising background, objectives,
methodology, results and main conclusions. The abstract should not be confused with
the Introduction, which is discussed below.

iv. Acknowledgements
This section is optional and should be used to thank those who supported and helped
the student in the study.
Table of contents
List of figures
List of tables
List of symbols used or notation

Chapter 1. Introduction
This section should include the general history and the background behind the
research, as well as the
aim and objectives of the study. It needs to be written on the
assumption that the reader is unfamiliar with the work presented.
The overall aims and the objectives of the work should be stated, putting them
succinctly into the context of previous related studies. This can then be followed by a
brief presentation of the content of the following chapters, thus giving a preview of the
organization and the content of the dissertation.
Chapter 2. Literature Review
The goal of this section is to provide a critical review of published articles related to the
dissertation study. Such a review must be focused specifically on the knowledge gaps
addressed in the dissertation study, with details of previous experimental or theoretical
studies, and a discussion of their results in relation to those that are presented in the
dissertation. At the end of this section, the specific research question saddressed in
the dissertation study will be listed (see also Section 3.3).
Chapter 3. Methodology/Methods
The goal of this section is to present the approach followed in the dissertation study to
answer the research questions identified in Chapter 2. This will include, for example,
the equipment used in lab experiments, the adopted sampling design technique and
lab procedure, a software used, the numerical methods developed and/or
implemented, the mathematical or statistical analyses conducted.
Chapter 4. Results
This chapter will include a detailed presentation of results, the primary findings of the
study, along with a discussion and/or a comparison of these findings with those from
other studies.
Chapter 5. Conclusions
The goal is to summarize the major findings of the dissertation study, and the
conclusions that can be drawn from it, potentially including limitations and
recommendations for implementable solutions. No new material or arguments should
be introduced at this stage. Where applicable, recommendations for further work in the
subject area of the dissertation can be given, especially if the work undertaken was
inconclusive or there was insufficient time for more extensive studies.
Chapter 6. References
The goal of the reference list is to provide full details of the publications consulted and
cited in the text. Other sources of information (e.g., textbooks, presentations, etc.) used
by the student, but not referenced directly, should appear in a Bibliography list following
the References. This will serve two main purposes: (a) to show the Examiners the
student’s breadth of knowledge; and (b) to provide a useful source of information for
any other person that might read the document later.
It is strongly recommended that citations of references in the text follow a parenthetical
format, also known as Harvard Style. Such referencing method uses Authors’ names
and the year of publication, [for example: Smith (1986) or (Smith, 1986); Smith and
Jones (1986) or (Smith and Jones, 1986); Smith et al. (1986) or (Smith et al., 1986)]
with the of lists of references ordered alphabetically. The students should consider
using reference management software, such as
EndNote or Mendeley. More details
on the Harvard referencing style are presented in CIV61005.
This section should include ancillary material not essential for the understanding of the
dissertation, such as logged experimental data, maps, mathematical derivations,
detailed calculations, computer codes, safety assessment forms, etc.

NOTE: the applicability and suitability of the above chapter headings will depend on the
type of dissertation and should be discussed by the students with their supervisor.

9.4. General guidance
Writing a technical report requires paying much attention to language, logic and readers’
psychology. This can be summarized with the following points:
A report should serve a purpose. The student needs to identify this purpose, determine
who is intended to read the report, and keep both the purpose and the reader in mind
while writing it.
The title of the dissertation must be accurate and informative.
The dissertation should convey all the required information to the reader – the supervisor
and the second assessor being the first – but it should not be cluttered with unwanted
information. The information required and the presentation style will depend on the extent
of the reader’s knowledge and the reader’s capacity for understanding.
Information may come from both primary and secondary sources, and it is important to
distinguish between these. Primary information include data of experimental and/or
numerical nature, questionnaire responses, etc. Typically, this is not based on other
written works, but comes in its original form, without having been arranged or interpreted
by anyone else. Secondary information typically comes from scientific journals and
textbooks where primary information has been analysed, interpreted and discussed.
It is recommended to never rely on a single source of information. A good research report
weighs up information from several sources and evaluates their credibility. With an
original piece of research, emphasis should be place on obtaining high quality, primary
Before starting to write, the relevant material to present must be selected and arranged
logically. An ordered list of contents should be prepared, which will then form a structure
for the writeup.
Illustrations (figure, tables, graphs, charts) form an integral part of a report and are a most
effective means of presenting data clearly and concisely. Their inclusion should be
considered carefully when the first draft is produced. Particular attention is needed to
select the most appropriate statistical or graphical techniques for summarising data
correctly. All illustrations need to include an informative caption, so they become standalone. Captions enable the reader to understand the content of figure and tables without
looking elsewhere in the report.
A good content list also helps a reader. A self-contained summary of the contents should
be placed near the beginning of the report, to enable the reader to decide what parts are
worth reading in detail.
Towards the end of the report, findings and conclusions should be emphasised. A good
report should read sequentially. The reader needs to be guided through the work carried
Students need to write as simply, clearly and concisely as possible, and strive for
objectivity. Personal feelings and accounts are out of place, but opinions may, and often
should, be expressed.
Students should take enough time to re-examine and criticise their own writing and revise
it as necessary. Special care is required with the summary and conclusions, as these are
the sections that are always read first by the examiners.
Students should allow others to read their draft work. Having someone outside the project
to read and critique one’s writing can help notice assumptions, abbreviations or unusual

logic steps. Likewise, reading someone else’s report may give ideas for how to construct
sections differently. Students should consider forming a reading group to help achieve
Effective reports do not just happen. They are the result of clear writing, which comes
from clear thinking. Therefore, it is important to develop a good insight on all the aspect
of a project. Thus, the steps involved in drafting a good dissertation may be summarised


9.5. Useful Tips
In the interest of the organization and clarity, when writing the dissertation students
Use a consistent set of units (preferably SI) throughout the document.
Number all equations (the equation number will be used in the narrative to point to the
reader to the equation itself).
Use figures and table numbers appropriate to each chapter (for example Figure 4.1
should appear in Chapter 4).
Ensure all tables and figures are numbered and easy to read. Tiny font sizes must be
avoided. All figure axes need to be adequately labelled; all graphs should be identified on
a legend.
Include a descriptive caption for all figures and tables so that they can stand alone.
Ensure that all figures and tables appear at an appropriate point in the text. Each figure
and table must be adequately introduced, described and referred to at least once in the
text. It is very important to guide the reader to interpreting the data shown in tables or
Ensure that all pages are numbered sequentially, except the title page. It is common
practice to use lower case Roman numerals for the preliminary pages, and then start with
page 1 at the beginning of the main text (i.e. Chapter 1…).
Categorically avoid “forward referencing” (e.g., referring to a figure in Chapter 4 during
Chapter 2, or to Equation 23 before this has been presented).
Justify in writing any sudden change of topic required.
Be aware of copyright issues if they intend to make a direct copy-and-paste of a figure or
photograph from a published document or website. The University Library provides
copyright guidelines that, if in doubt, students should check.
Expect that the preparation of the dissertation (typing, checking, correcting) will require
at least three weeks.
Be aware that, while supervisors can advise on matters relating to dissertation layout and
content, the ultimate responsibility on the dissertation document rests with the student.
Be aware that it is a fundamental requirement that the dissertation be written
entirely by the student using their own words. Copying from other sources without
acknowledging the original author(s) is considered plagiarism and could be a clear
ground for MSc failure.
9.6. Recommended readings
Writing successfully in science, M. O’Conner, 1991, (Univ. Library ref. 808.0666-0).
Good style: writing for science and technology, J. Kirkman, 1992 (808.0666-K).
How to write and publish technical papers and reports, H.B. Michaelson, 1990 (808.0666-
Writing in the technical fields: a step-by-step guide for engineers, M. Markel, 1994,
Technical writing and speaking: an introduction, J. Van Emden, 1996, (808.0666-V).
Effective writing strategies for engineers and scientists, D. Woolston, 1988, (808.0666-
Writing for Science and Engineering – Papers, Presentations and Reports, H. SilynRoberts, 2000, (808.066-S).
10. Interview
The interview will be conducted by the student’s supervisor and a second assessor and
will take place during the week following the submission of the dissertation (see Table 2).
The interview is 30-45 minutes long. Student will be informed on who their second assessor
is, as well as on the time and the venue of their interview at least one week in advance.
The aim of the interview is to assess the student’s knowledge and understanding of their
work, and the ability to discuss and defend every aspect of it. Some interviewers may also
place secondary emphasis on the general organisation and management of the student’s
The interview will be assessed by the student’s supervisor and second assessor using
the criteria shown in Form 2 of the Appendix A. In the weeks after the interview, students
may contact their supervisor to obtain verbal feedback on the final report and interview.
However, marks will not be available at this stage, as they will be subject to approval by the
exam board and external examiners.
11. Other Useful Information
Support for ACADEMIC SKILLS is available from the Student Skills and Development
, at 301 Glossop Road, Sheffield.
The Writing Advisory Service (WAS) is a facility provided by the English Language
Teaching Centre
(ELTC) to help improve the writing skills of both home and international
students. For further details, online guides, and contact information, see the
Language Support & Development
resources available at the ELTC.
The Disability and Dyslexia Support Service (DDSS) is a friendly and confidential service,
open for advice every day (times vary, usually between 10am and 4pm but check
website). The DDDS is located at “The Hillsborough Centre” in the Alfred Denny Building,
just at the end of the Arts Tower car park on the way to the Student Union, and can also
be reached by phone (0114 2221303) or email <
[email protected]>.
APPENDIX A. CIV6000 Assessment Forms

Supervisor / 1st
Assessor :
2nd Assessor:


Reg No.: Date
1st ASSESSOR ONLY: (please )
1. The level of support provided to this student was:
(they worked independently)
What is typically expected
(they were reliant on support)
2. The research in evidence in the report is:
Essentially all the student’s own
The student’s work
underpinned by some
assistance with core concepts
/ methods
Little more than materials / ideas that I
or another individual provided them
3. During the Project, the student:
Was extremely well organized;
they planned their time
Showed perfectly adequate
organization and time
Was either disorganized or struggled to
complete tasks in a timely fashion


<49 50% – 59% 60% – 69% 70%+
Of The Subject
Basic understanding of the essence of
the research and basic knowledge of
relevant subject matter.
Good understanding of the essence of
the research, its relevance and its
Comprehensive and detailed
understanding of the research and its
context. Able to frame this in a novel
or innovative way based on past work
in the field.
53 55 57 63 65 67 75 80 85 90 95
Aims and
Discernible From the introductory
Clearly stated near the beginning,
with some evidence of innovation.
Clearly stated near the beginning, and
were indicative of an innovative
approach to the problem.
53 55 57 63 65 67 75 80 85 90 95
Search For and
Sources Of
Can search for both academic and
other information relevant to the
research, with some evidence of
critical engagement.
Can search for both academic and
other information relevant to the
research, independently evaluate it in
a critical fashion and identify
knowledge gaps.
Can initiate and undertake searches
for both academic and other
information relevant to the research.
From a critical evaluation of this
material can recommend actions
based on knowledge gaps.
53 55 57 63 65 67 75 80 85 90 95
Methods /
Used a basic and familiar approach for
the project leading to a routine
The methods / techniques adopted
were appropriate
Can develop and clearly justify a
scheme for solving unfamiliar
engineering problems.
The methods / techniques were both
appropriate and of an advanced level.
Can develop and clearly justify
innovative scheme for complex
engineering problems.
The methods / techniques were
appropriate, sophisticated and either
novel or applied in a novel fashion
53 55 57 63 65 67 75 80 85 90 95
Data Quality The data obtained were sufficient for
limited analysis and basic conclusions
to be made.
The data were of a good quality and
an attempt was made to show this in
the study.
The data were of a good quality,
sufficient to form the basis of a
subsequent research output. This
quality was demonstrated in the
53 55 57 63 65 67 75 80 85 90 95
Experimental /
Principles and
Able to conduct a prescribed
approach to the research.
There was an attempt to incorporate
the rudiments of a good study design
into the research project.
Student is able to select an
appropriate approach to the research.
Principles such as sampling,
robustness, repeatability,
representativeness and replication
had been considered in the project
The research design was strong, with
an effective consideration of the
relevant principles.
The student is able to both select and
adapt an appropriate approach to the
research. Hence, there is a high level
of confidence in the potential to
obtain quality results.
53 55 57 63 65 67 75 80 85 90 95


Overall Comments on Dissertation: Incorporating a consideration of the points highlighted in the marking criteria.
Preliminary Mark
for Dissertation:


Analysed and
Findings and
From The
Able to estimate errors / accuracy of
methods used.
Can evaluate and derive information
from data to produce coherent
Able to estimate errors and validate
accuracy of the results produced.
Can critically evaluate and interpret
results of his/her work and relate
these results to published evidence to
draw robust conclusions.
Able to clearly estimate errors and
clearly validate accuracy of the results
using appropriate methods.
Can critically evaluate methodology
used, interpret results of his/her work
and relate to published evidence and
consider the results in a broader
context to draw robust conclusions.
53 55 57 63 65 67 75 80 85 90 95
An Effective,
Able to clearly communicate the research in an effectively structured written
technical format using appropriate IT techniques. Appropriateuse of figures.
Avoids plagiarism and uses an appropriate referencing system correctly.
Able to communicate the research
in a targeted, focused manner, using
appropriate IT techniques.
Detailed And Figures clearly selected to enhance
Coherent the arguments. Avoids plagiarism
and uses an appropriate
Avoiding referencing system correctly.
53 55 57 63 65 67 75 80 85 90 95




Supervisor / 1st
Assessor :
2nd Assessor:
Reg No.: Date


<49% 50% – 59% 60% – 69% 70%+
Matter and
Impact Of
The Project.
Demonstrated basic
understanding of the essence of
the project and knowledge of
relevant subject matter.
Demonstrated good understanding
and wide knowledge of the essence of
the project, its objectives and
Demonstrated comprehensive
understanding of the project, its
objectives and its justification and
relevance to broader issues that were
not directly covered in the project.
53 55 57 63 65 67 75 80 85 90 95
Demonstrated basic knowledge
of the methodology,
experimental technique and
associated scientific / design
principles / validations
techniques employed.
Demonstrated good knowledge and
understanding of the methodology,
experimental technique and
associated scientific
/ design principles / validations
techniques employed.
Demonstrated wide knowledge and
comprehensive understanding of the
methodology, experimental technique
and associated scientific / design
principles / validations techniques
53 55 57 63 65 67 75 80 85 90 95
Findings and
Form the
Demonstrated basic ability to
evaluate information and
produce coherent conclusions
from the work undertaken.
Demonstrated ability to critically
evaluate methodology used, interpret
results of work undertaken and draw
robust conclusions.
Demonstrated ability to critically
evaluate methodology used, interpret
and discuss results of work undertaken,
drawing robust conclusions in a broader
context of published evidence.
53 55 57 63 65 67 75 80 85 90 95
Time and
Developed a plan to meet a
deadline and identified the
main external constraints and
resource requirements.
Identified the critical activities within
a plan of work, planned for effective
use of resources and monitor progress
to achieve deadlines.
Prepared a detailed plan, taking account
of potential risks, monitored and
adjusted the plan of work on an on
going basis to achieve goals.
53 55 57 63 65 67 75 80 85 90 95
Defend All
Aspects Of
Project In
Adequately prepared, able to
answer straight-forward
questions directly related to the
Well prepared, able to engage in
discussion and to answer more
detailed questions related to the
Very well prepared, engaged in wide
ranging discussion and able to answer
questions related to the topic area that
have not been directly covered in the
53 55 57 63 65 67 75 80 85 90 95
Overall Comments on Interview:
Preliminary Mark for


Student Plans Post University… Reg No:

Further Study | Employment | Volunteering | Other | Unknown

Please provide further details as to location / employer / organisation / degree title etc:
Please provide their personal contact details:
Telephone: Postal Address:
Email Address:


Department Of Civil &
Structural Engineering

Dissertation Feedback
Interview Feedback
Overall Feedback
Explain the strengths and weaknesses of the project, including a discussion of both the Dissertation
and Interview components.

Student Feedback Form
MSc – CIV6000


Supervisor / 1st
Assessor :
Overall Mark:
Reg No.: Date:
Title of Project:

APPENDIX B. CIV61005 Assessment Criteria

Criteria Assessment Scale
50-60 %
60-70 %
70+ %
1) Clarity of
the research
No recognition of
context in which
the study is
carried out.
attempt to pose
an appropriate
Clearly defined
research question
which is relevant to
the literature
Clearly defined
questions, which
has developed
from identified
knowledge gaps
in the existing
2) Aims and
and clearly
No aims or
objectives stated.
These must be
developed in
order to provide
the basic
structure of your
Aims and
objectives are
discernible from
description and
Aims and
objectives are
clearly stated,
achievable and
Aims and
objectives are
clearly stated,
achievable and
appropriate for
the context.
There is evidence
of innovation in
3) Sufficient
awareness of
context and
understanding of
the project
context, and
Evidence may be
required to back
up statements
Broad definition
of the context in
which the project
sits. However,
this lacks
evidence to
underpin some of
the assertions
Good awareness of
the context in
which the project
sits, backed up
with evidence.
awareness of the
project context,
backed up clearly
with relevant


g of the
Very few sources
of information
presented. More
work is needed to
provide the
knowledge about
the current state
of the art in your
research area.
Able to source
relevant literature.
However, the
engagement is
Able to source
literature from a
range of sources
and evaluate its
importance. There
is some evidence
of critical
Able to source
literature from a
wide range of
resources and
evaluate its
importance. Able
to critically
evaluate this
material in their
context of their
research to draw
clear conclusions.
5) The
methods, and
design are
for the
There is no
approach to
presented, or it is
inappropriate for
the project area
or time /
available for a
The general
presented is
appropriate and
accounts for
basic principles of
good study
design. Details on
the methods are
lacking and plan
of work is limited.
The general
presented is
appropriate and
accounts for basic
principles of good
study design. Good
understanding of
the methods and
broad plan of work
is defined. There
are still some areas
of uncertainty in
the approach to the
The approach
planned is
excellent. In
understanding of
the methods
being used, and
has a clear and
detailed plan for
undertaking the
research. This
consideration of
the potential risk,
and uncertainty in
results and how
this will be
6) Health and
Safety and
matters have
considered in
depth that
there is
basis to
suggest the
work can be
No consideration
of health and
safety or ethical
matters. There
are health and
implications of
the work and
these must be
addressed in
preparation for
the dissertation
Health and safety
and ethical
matters have
been considered
to a level that is
appropriate for
the tasks being
Health and safety
and ethical matters
have been
considered to a
level that is
appropriate for the
tasks being
Health and safety
and ethical
matters have
been considered
in detail and are
appropriate for
the tasks being


7) The
document is
The use of
references is
very poor, or
Make sure you
plagiarism by
reading the
handbook on the
) and refer
to the library
tutorials on
referencing to
find out how to
appropriately in
the text
Referencing has
been attempted
throughout the
However, there
are several cases
where statements
are made without
reference to
source material.
Make sure you
plagiarism by
reading the
handbook on the
) and refer
to the library
tutorials on
referencing to find
out how to
appropriately in
the text
Referencing is
generally good,
using a standard
system. There may
be occasional
statements that
require backing up
with evidence.
Document clearly

APPENDIX C. Safety Checklist and Assessment
University of Sheffield
Department of Civil and Structural Engineering
Safety Checklist
ACTIVITY: ……………………………………………………………………….. DATE: ………………….
NAME: …………………………………………………..

Manual Handling –e.g. heavy loads, large loads
Obstructions/ tripping hazard
Rotating/other machinery – e.g. centrifuges, mixers
Compressed gas – e.g. bottled/line/high/low pressure
Pressure Vessels – leak/explosion risk/vacuum
Toxic materials – solid/liquid/gas
Reactive materials / corrosives
Dust hazards
Stored water – contamination.
Sample/specimen storage/disposal
Excessive Noise , explosions
Heat/cold burn risks e.g. hot plates/liquid nitrogen
Electricity – e.g. high voltages, damaged insulation, contact with water
Fire risk/ flammable materials
Radiation hazards
Laser hazards
Repetitive Strain
Other 1
Other 2


Do you have warning notices in place?
Are all items labelled where not obvious e.g. chemicals, contaminated soil?
Do you have a safe (and legal) disposal procedure e.g. chemically
contaminated soil?
Procedure in event of accident:


Are you aware of what to do? Have you attended a relevant course?
If you are not there, will others know what to do?
Do you have the right equipment available in the event of an accident e.g. fire
extinguishers, first aid, absorbents, eye wash etc.?
Do you need assistance/others present when using equipment?
Do you have protection for you and others e.g. goggles, dust masks, physical
barriers, boots?
Are materials stored safely e.g. hazardous materials kept in secure
Are you transporting materials safely e.g. hazardous materials securely
contained in event of accident

N.B. This list is intended to act as a guide and to provoke thoughts when considering the safety implications
of any work carried out in the laboratory, field or elsewhere. It is not intended to be exhaustive. Any hazard
identified above or otherwise must be assessed specifically and an appropriate form completed and signed
e.g. COSHH, General risk assessment.

APPENDIX D. Dissertation Title Page and Declaration Statement
Dissertation submitted as part requirement
for the Degree of Master of Science in
Structural Engineering (or one’s MSc course title here).
Student full name here (first name, then family name)
Student supervisor’s name here
The University of Sheffield
Department of Civil and Structural Engineering
September 2022

Declaration Statement as follows:
Student’s first and last name] certifies that all the material contained within this document
is his/her own work except where it is clearly referenced to others.
NOTE: The declaration statement should appear on its own, left-aligned on the centre of the
page following the title page.