Information regarding our 2023/24 admissions cycle

Our 2023/24 postgraduate taught admissions cycle will open on Monday, 10 October. For most programmes, the application form will not open until this date.

MSc Mechanical Engineering Design

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Research Methods

Course unit fact file
Unit code MECH60041
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course unit detail provides the framework for delivery in 20/21 and may be subject to change due to any additional Covid-19 impact.  Please see Blackboard / course unit related emails for any further updates.

The unit involves the acquisition of skills and techniques in research methods and related activities which are transferable across engineering disciplines and professions. It also includes non-technical topics related to research project management which complement the engineering content. The unit is designed to prepare MSc students to undertake their dissertation project


(1) To develop knowledge and understanding of research methods used in engineering research.

(2) To acquire and develop skills in i)  the use of techniques, methods and software packages relevant  to engineering research,    ii)  the planning and management of experimental research work and iv) in carrying out of literature searches  and the presentation of their results.

(3) To acquire knowledge of the Project Management steps required to plan, implement and complete an Engineering research project.


1 Introduction Unit structure, Introduction to Blackboard,  Introduction to Research Methods,  The Scientific Method, research definitions, research philosophies and approaches, reasoning, research tools and the purpose of engineering research.  Qualitative and Quantitative research. Technology Readiness Levels. 
Getting Started
3 Academic Writing   Introduction to Academic writing, referencing, Ethics, academic integrity, collusion, fabrication, plagiarism.
Introduction to Innovation in engineering, patenting, publishing/ IP protection. Types of reports, structural conventions, Prototyping and test rigs. Case studies of engineering failures.
4 MATLAB2 MATLAB – Matrices
5 Critical literature review Critical literature review, reporting vs critiquing.  Types of literature source, data gathering. Choosing a research dissertation project. Choosing literature sources, search engines, tools and methods, comparison matrix. Referencing and reference managers.  Dissertation title allocation process. 
6 MATLAB3 MATLAB – Programming
7 Dissertation Project design Project aims and objectives. SMART objectives. Principles, methodologies and practices of data collection.  Use of software tools. Data handling. Error analysis. Reliability and validity of data. Dissertation project structure. Using figures, tables and graphs.
8 Presentation Skills Types of presentations, planning a presentation, presentation design and structure, presentation style, visual aids, time limits, poster presentations.
9 Subject specific application  *Subject specific application as per below.
10 Introduction to project management Engineers as project managers. Purpose of project management, core components, PM systems. Project phases and processes, project planning tools, Gantt charts, precedence diagrams and mind maps. 
11 Project management 2 Planning a research project, Project characteristics. Project Initiation and planning. Project deliverables, Work Breakdown Structures and Product Breakdown Structures. Estimating, Program Evaluation Review Technique and Critical Path Method. Project Management Plans.  Activity on Arrow/ Activity on Node networks. Resource Organisation and Resource Assignment Matrix. Introduction to managing risk. Introduction to project implementation. Project Closure activities.
12 Research methods summary Project tracking and closure, time management, Unit summary and quiz.
Various times Personal tutorials/ additional subject specific.*The syllabus content is taught to 5 MSc programmes. These programmes study the following topics separately and specific to the programme:
MSc in Aero and TPFE An introduction to FORTRAN programming
MSc in AMT Advanced topics and practice for MATLAB
MSc in MED Design tutorial
MSc in Structural engineering will have a case study visit to view relevant buildings locally

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Report 60%
Oral assessment/presentation 20%
Practical skills assessment 20%

Feedback methods

Assessment by supervisors / written feedback on blackboard


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
eAssessment 9
Lectures 18
Project supervision 45
Supervised time in studio/wksp 4
Tutorials 14
Independent study hours
Independent study 60

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Milan Mihajlovic Unit coordinator

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