Honours Project

This web page describes those aspects of the Honours Project that are largely unchanged from year to year. It is designed to supplement rather than replace the formal Course Descriptor. For information specific to projects done during a specific academic year - list of project proposals, allocation of students to projects and supervisors, project group meetings, project calendar, etc. - please select one of the following: Most of the following also applies to MInf students: they choose projects from the same pool and participate in the same group meetings, but have different deliverables and the project extends over two years, with MInf Project (Part 1) in year one followed by MInf Project (Part 2) in year two.

There is additional information for supervisors here:

Any questions or comments should be emailed to the Honours Project Coordinator, Don Sannella, at dtsthe letter a with a circle around itinf.ed.ac.uk.

Slides from project introduction talk, 19 Sep 2018

Slides from dissertation workshop, 16 Jan 2019:

A recording of the workshop is available from the "Replay Lectures" part of the Honours Project Learn page.


The project involves both the application of skills learnt in the past and the acquisition of new skills, on a substantial piece of independent work. The types of skill required vary from project to project, but six main areas of work are required: You choose a project topic in Semester 2 of the third year from a list of proposals produced by staff and external organisations. Alternatively, you may choose to do a project on a self-proposed topic, on condition that a member of staff can be convinced to act as supervisor.

Projects are intended to allow you to demonstrate your ability to organise and carry out a major piece of work. The relative amounts of time spent on the above areas will vary. No project consists of just implementation or experimentation: much careful thought and planning is required in advance. Project topics span the range of Informatics, so that you can choose a project that you find useful and interesting, and goals are usually flexible so that you can work to the best of your ability.

The fourth year structure has the following blocks of concentrated effort for the project:

During these periods you should be spending much (Weeks 1-5 in both semesters, with few coursework deadlines) or all (Weeks 11-13 of Semester 1, minus revision time and exams if any, and 10-11 of Semester 2, with no coursework deadlines for most UG4 students) of your time on the project. You should keep your project going at a quieter level during the other periods of the year, as steady progress is far more likely to result in a satisfactory project than erratic jumps. You are encouraged to keep a log in which you record all work done on your project and the time spent.

You are assigned one (or occasionally two) supervisors, who provide technical advice and assist in planning the project. You should meet with your supervisor frequently and regularly, preferably each week during semester time.


The project is assessed on the basis of a written project report submitted in Week 11 of Semester 2. (See the project calendar for the exact date.) You will also be required to submit your entire project directory, to provide background information.

Link: Report requirements and submission procedures

The report submission deadline is strict. If you submit late - which is not recommended, as the penalty for this is high - we use the University's "penalty" scheme. In certain cases, where convincing evidence of special circumstances is presented to the Board of Examiners, the penalty might be waived.

Link: Special circumstances procedures


The project is assessed entirely on the basis of your report. The report is read independently by the project supervisor and a second member of staff (and, if there is a significant difference of opinion between markers or if either of the two markers gives a failing mark, by a moderator). It must be self-contained and include all information relevant to the project since, in general, the readers will be unaware of the work undertaken, the difficulties encountered and the results obtained. They allocate a numerical mark after assessing the project work in terms of the following criteria:

  • Understanding of the problem
  • Completion of the project ("Completion" covers achievement of the original objectives, achievement of modified objectives, or providing convincing evidence that the objectives are unachievable.)
  • Quality of the work
  • Quality of the report
  • Knowledge of the literature
  • Critical evaluation of previous work
  • Critical evaluation of own work
  • Justification of the design decisions
  • Solution of any conceptual problems
  • Amount of work
  • Evidence of originality
  • Outstanding scholarship or engineering, and/or publishable research

Projects are marked according to the following classifications, which relate to the above criteria:

0-19: Bad Fail
The project is inadequate on all of the basic criteria.
20-29: Clear Fail
The project is inadequate on more than one of the basic criteria, but not all.
30-39: Marginal Fail
The project is inadequate on one of the basic criteria.
40-49: III
The project is adequate on all of the basic criteria.
50-59: II.2
The project is at least fair on all of the basic criteria and is fair on most of the additional criteria.
60-69: II.1
The project is at least good on all of the basic criteria and is at least fair and sometimes good or excellent on all of the additional criteria.
70-79: Low I
The project is good or excellent on all of the basic and additional criteria; or it almost achieves this by being fair on only one of the additional criteria, and also has elements of the exceptional criteria.
80-89: High I
The project is good or excellent on all of the basic and additional criteria and also has elements of the exceptional criteria.
90-100: Outstanding I
The project is excellent on all of the basic and additional criteria, and has strong elements of the exceptional criteria.

Project materials

You are strongly advised to use only supported software, be it programming languages, editors, graphics packages, windowing systems, etc. Where a project requires the purchase of materials of any form, including software, the necessary purchase should be negotiated in good time with the project supervisor and the project coordinator. Normally the supervisor should be able to supply any required software or equipment from existing resources.

Interim report

To provide a check on progress, and as preparation for writing the final report, you must submit a ten-page interim progress report at the end of Week 2 of Semester 2. One option for the interim report is to submit drafts of 1-2 chapters of your final report, as a way of getting started early on writing up. Or, write a progress report that briefly describes your project and its goals, your results and accomplishments so far, what remains to be done, and a timeline for the final semester of your project. You should plan to be finished with system building by Week 4 of Semester 2 at the latest, to give time for evaluation and writing up.

The interim report should contain a section-level skeleton of the final report. You may make changes to this skeleton when you write your final report, but the exercise of thinking about the skeleton should be useful to you in your planning.

Your interim report is read by your supervisor, who will give written or verbal feedback.

Project group meetings

To further broaden involvement in projects, students are divided into small groups which meet to discuss progress, with supervisors in attendance. Project groups meet at three times in the year:

One of the supervisors in the group is assigned to act as convener. Group meetings may also be attended by the project coordinator. Your attendance is obligatory. At each meeting, you will give a talk describing your progress on project work and your future plans. Your talk should take 10 minutes, plus 5 minutes for questions.

More detailed guidelines are circulated in advance of each meeting. Your supervisor should assist you in preparing for project group meetings. The group convenor transmits individual feedback to you and to the project coordinator, after discussion with the supervisors, following the meeting.

The purpose of this system is:

Any student whose progress gives cause for concern may be asked to give a further presentation to the project coordinator, with the supervisor in attendance. This permits a more thorough discussion of any problems that have arisen.

Project feedback day

A few weeks before project submission, an event will be organised where students can demonstrate their projects and present posters. All students and staff from Informatics are invited to attend. Participation is voluntary but there is a prize for the best presentation, and this event is a good opportunity to recruit subjects for user tests.

Project presentations

Finally, you give a 30-minute presentation of your project to your project markers and perhaps one additional member of staff, in or around Week 1 of the Examination Period (about 3-4 weeks after Semester 2 ends). Alternatively presentations may be arranged in the week immediately following project submission. See the project calendar for more precise information. The purpose of the presentation is to help the markers gain insight into your project, as input to the marking process. The presentation itself is not assessed but it is obligatory.

The focus of the presentation should be a demonstration of results and not just repetition of sections of the report. You might not require a computer to demonstrate your project but you should have some results to demonstrate your evaluation of your work. The markers may well have already read your report and are likely to raise specific questions.


Feedback will be provided on all of your work.

Intellectual property and confidentiality

Intellectual Property in a project is owned by the people or organisations who supply original ideas. As a student, you are not an employee of the University and you are marked in part for original input so ipso facto you will own at least some of the intellectual property of your project. Your supervisor, an employee of the University, may also supply original ideas to the project and this intellectual property would be owned by the University. Your project might also involve a company and if their staff contribute original ideas to it then that intellectual property would be owned by the company. How much intellectual property each contributor owns will depend on who proposed the project and the degree of direction you were given. If this is an issue, you and your supervisor or external organisation should sign an agreement prior to committing to the project. The Informatics commercialisation team should be consulted for advice.

Company involvement in a project often requires a confidentiality agreement. The Informatics commercialisation team can provide a document for this purpose. If a company sends you an agreement to sign, do not simply sign it! Please ask your supervisor to send it to the Informatics commercialisation team for review. They will ensure that your (and the University's) rights are protected, and liaise with the company as required to put a suitable agreement in place. For example, the University would veto any agreement that imposes employment restrictions after graduation or gives the company any editorial control over your project report. On the other hand, if a company has allowed confidential information to be used in your project, the University would normally allow it the right to request access restrictions to the project report for some period of time and this would also affect your freedom to publish the report. You may, for your own reasons, wish to restrict access to your project report - for instance, if you plan to commercialise the results after graduation - and you can specify this when submitting it for examination.

Home : Teaching : Courses 

Informatics Forum, 10 Crichton Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AB, Scotland, UK
Tel: +44 131 651 5661, Fax: +44 131 651 1426, E-mail: school-office@inf.ed.ac.uk
Please contact our webadmin with any comments or corrections. Logging and Cookies
Unless explicitly stated otherwise, all material is copyright © The University of Edinburgh