CIVL4022: Honours Thesis A (2015 - Semester 2)

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Unit: CIVL4022: Thesis A (6 CP)
Mode: Normal-Day
On Offer: Yes
Level: Honours
Faculty/School: Civil Engineering
Unit Coordinator/s: Dr Shen, Luming
Session options: Semester 1, Semester 2
Versions for this Unit:
Site(s) for this Unit:
Campus: Camperdown/Darlington
Pre-Requisites: 30 credits of 3rd year units of study and ISWAM 65 or over.
Brief Handbook Description: The ability to plan, systematically conduct and report on a major project, involving both research and design, is an important skill for professional engineers. The final year thesis units (Thesis A and Thesis B) aim to provide students with the opportunity to carry out a defined piece of independent research and design that fosters the development of engineering skills. These skills include: the capacity to define a problem; carry out systematic research in exploring how it relates to existing knowledge; identifying the tools needed to address the problem; designing a solution, product or prototype; analysing the results obtained; and presenting the outcomes in a report that is clear, coherent and logically structured.

The thesis is undertaken across two semesters of enrolment. Taken together, the thesis A covers initial research into the background of the problem being considered (formulated as a literature review), development of a detailed proposal incorporating project objectives, planning, and risk assessment, preliminary design, modelling and/or experimental work, followed by the detailed work in designing a solution, performing experiments, evaluating outcomes, analysing results, and writing up and presenting the outcomes. The final grade is based on the work done in both Honours Thesis A and B, and will be awarded upon successful completion of Honours Thesis B.

While recognising that some projects can be interdisciplinary in nature, it is the normal expectation that the students would do the project in their chosen area of specialisation. For student who are completing a Major within their BE degree, the thesis topic must be within the area of the Major. The theses to be undertaken by students will very often be related to some aspect of a staff member’s research interests. Some projects will be experimental in nature, others may involve computer-based simulation and analysis, feasibility studies or the design, construction and testing of equipment. All however will require students to undertake research and design relevant to the topic of their thesis. The direction of thesis work may be determined by the supervisor or be of an original nature, but in either case the student is responsible for the execution of the practical work and the general layout and content of the thesis itself.

The thesis must be the student's individual work although it may be conducted as a component of a wider group project. Students undertaking research on this basis will need to take care in ensuring the quality of their own research and design work and their individual final thesis submission. The thesis will be judged on the extent and quality of the student’s original work and particularly how critical, perceptive and constructive he or she has been in assessing his/her work and that of others. Students will also be required to present the results of their thesis to their peers and supervisors as part of a seminar program.

Whilst thesis topics will be constrained by the available time and resources, the aim is to contribute to the creation of new engineering knowledge, techniques and/or solutions. Students should explore topics that arouse intellectual curiosity and represent an appropriate range and diversity of technical and conceptual research and design challenges.
Assumed Knowledge: None.
Additional Notes: It is expected that the Thesis will be conducted over two consecutive semesters and that the majority of students will start in Semester 1. Commencement in Semester 2 requires permission of Thesis coordinator and School`s Director of Learning & Teaching and will only be allowed where there are good reasons for doing so. Students considering this option should discuss it with the Thesis coordinator at least one semester before they intend to start.
Timetable: CIVL4022 Timetable
Time Commitment:
# Activity Name Hours per Week Sessions per Week Weeks per Semester
1 Lecture 1.00 1 1
2 Research 10.00 13
3 Meeting 1 13
T&L Activities: Research: It is expected that students will spend at least one full day per week undertaking background research work, organizing their plan of work and preparing their research program.

Meeting: Weekly meetings with supervisor are required, unless otherwise agreed.

Attributes listed here represent the key course goals (see Course Map tab) designated for this unit. The list below describes how these attributes are developed through practice in the unit. See Learning Outcomes and Assessment tabs for details of how these attributes are assessed.

Attribute Development Method Attribute Developed
Formulating an original problem. Identifying opportunities for innovation and improvement. Design (Level 4)
Developing in-depth knowledge of a specialist area in civil engineering. Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 4)
Training in scientific/engineering research and investigation practices, in preparation for potential postgraduate study or advanced consultancy work. Conducting a literature review. Investigation of an original problem using various research methods. Developing initiative in sourcing ideas, data and knowledge from self and others. Information Seeking (Level 3)
Experience and training in the preparation of a high quality formal report, with emphasis on correctness, quality & succinctness. Communication (Level 4)
Experience working in a small team, including allocation of tasks, resolution of priorities. Time management training on an extended project, working to a series of deadlines. Project and Team Skills (Level 3)

For explanation of attributes and levels see Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table.

Learning outcomes are the key abilities and knowledge that will be assessed in this unit. They are listed according to the course goal supported by each. See Assessment Tab for details how each outcome is assessed.

Design (Level 4)
1. Ability to formulate and plan a personal research project
2. Originality, ingenuity and initiative in dealing with critical research issues.
Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 4)
3. In-depth knowledge of a specialised area within the discipline
Maths/Science Methods and Tools (Level 3)
4. Ability to formulate an appropriate method for investigating a specific research question
5. Ability to analyse data, draw appropriate conclusions and present those conclusions in context, with due consideration of methods and assumptions involved.
Communication (Level 4)
6. Ability to document and report research work undertaken in a format appropriate for academic literature with correct referencing.
7. Ability to deliver a research presentation that is clear, confident and engaging to an academic audience.
Assessment Methods:
# Name Group Weight Due Week Outcomes
1 Progress Report No 10.00 Week 10 1, 3, 4, 6,
2 Participation No 15.00 Following Semester 1,
3 Presentation/Seminar Yes 15.00 Following Semester 3, 7,
4 Thesis No 60.00 Following Semester 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,
Assessment Description: Progress Report: Research Plan & Progress Report (Thesis A). A Research Plan and Progress Report of around 15 pages is required from each student. Should include problem/task specification, literature survey, proposed methodology, expected outcomes, progress in first semester and proposed timeline.

Presentation/Seminar: Oral Presentation and Poster (Thesis B). Each student will be required to participate in a group presentation and contribute to a group poster on the group`s thesis research. Group presentations will be approximately 15-20 minutes duration, scheduled in parallel sessions according to field of specialisation. Poster should be printed on an A1 page and summarise the groups`s research work, including the main conclusions.

Participation in presentations is compulsory. Failure to deliver a scheduled seminar will result in a fail grade for the thesis units.

Participation: Management of Research Project (Thesis B). Thesis projects are undertaken in groups but marking of project management component is based on individual contributions.

Thesis: Final Thesis (Thesis B). Two hard-bound copies of the Thesis should be submitted for marking to the school administration office by end of Week 13, Semester 2. Statement identifying the specific contributions of the student and others must be included. Maximum length is 50 pages (including tables, figures and references, but not appendices). The Thesis must contain a page stating the specific contributions of the student and that of others involved. While the thesis project work is conducted in groups, the final thesis itself musts be written and submitted individually. Students should closely consult Thesis Guidelines handout and Thesis Marking Sheet for content and formatting requirements.
Grade Type Description
Continuing Unit This unit is first of a two part series. On completing this unit, students will receive a mark of UC (Unit Continuing) if they have shown sufficient progress to warrant continuing with the next unit. The final grade for the two units is based on the work done in both units as a whole.
Policies & Procedures: See the policies page of the faculty website at for information regarding university policies and local provisions and procedures within the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies.
Recommended Reference/s: Note: References are provided for guidance purposes only. Students are advised to consult these books in the university library. Purchase is not required.
Online Course Content:

Note that the "Weeks" referred to in this Schedule are those of the official university semester calendar

Week Description
Week 1 Selection of topics and assignment of thesis supervisor. Topic registration form due.
Week 2 Thesis project work.
Week 3 Thesis project work.
Week 4 Thesis project work.
Week 5 Thesis project work.
Week 6 Thesis project work.
Week 7 Thesis project work.
Week 8 Thesis project work.
Week 9 Thesis project work.
Week 10 Thesis project work. Research Plan & Progress Report due.
Assessment Due: Progress Report
Week 11 Thesis project work.
Week 12 Thesis project work.
Week 13 Thesis project work.
Following Semester Assessment Due: Participation
Assessment Due: Presentation/Seminar
Assessment Due: Thesis

Course Relations

The following is a list of courses which have added this Unit to their structure.

Course Year(s) Offered
Civil 2015, 2016
Civil / Arts 2015
Civil / Commerce 2015
Civil / Design in Architecture 2015
Civil / Medical Science 2015
Civil / Project Management 2015
Civil / Science 2015
Civil (Construction Management) 2015
Civil (Environmental) 2015
Civil (Geotechnical) 2015
Civil (Structures) 2015
Chemical & Biomolecular / Arts 2016
Electrical 2016
Software 2016
Civil (till 2014) 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil Engineering / Arts 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil Engineering / Commerce 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil Engineering / Medical Science 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil Engineering / Project Management 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil Engineering / Science 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil (Construction Management) (till 2014) 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil (Environmental) (till 2014) 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil (Geotechnical) (till 2014) 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil (Structures) (till 2014) 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Project Engineering and Management (Civil) (till 2012) 2010, 2011, 2012
Project Engineering and Management (Civil) / Arts 2011
Project Engineering and Management (Civil) / Commerce 2010, 2011
Project Engineering and Management (Civil) / Science 2011
Flexible First Year (Stream A) / Science 2012

Course Goals

This unit contributes to the achievement of the following course goals:

Attribute Practiced Assessed
Design (Level 4) Yes 37.5%
Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 4) Yes 20%
Maths/Science Methods and Tools (Level 3) No 22.5%
Information Seeking (Level 3) Yes 0%
Communication (Level 4) Yes 20%
Professional Conduct (Level 2) No 0%
Project and Team Skills (Level 3) Yes 0%

These goals are selected from Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table which defines overall goals for courses where this unit is primarily offered. See Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table for details of the attributes and levels to be developed in the course as a whole. Percentage figures alongside each course goal provide a rough indication of their relative weighting in assessment for this unit. Note that not all goals are necessarily part of assessment. Some may be more about practice activity. See Learning outcomes for details of what is assessed in relation to each goal and Assessment for details of how the outcome is assessed. See Attributes for details of practice provided for each goal.