Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

We have prepared the following FAQ to assist companies in assessing your interest to participate further in the 2016-17 Programme, and answer any initial questions you may have.

What sort of projects can Masters Students do?

The dissertation project is primarily a scholarly activity demonstrating that the student "can show proficiency in research and/or analytical skills relevant to advanced work in the discipline". This is a broad remit and there is scope for a wide range of project activities, from academic research through to applied development. Our students can contribute a wide range of skills and knowledge to suit many different projects and working environments. Our students are of a high calibre and will have completed an undergraduate degree with a minimum entry requirement of a UK 2:1 honours degree or international equivalent qualification.

Students from the following four Masters Programmes at the School are eligible to participate:

  • High Performance Computing
  • High Performance Computing with Data Science
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Theoretical Physics

You can propose:

  • a specific project title or topic for the student to deliver;
  • a general idea of a business need which requires further development;
  • a core research theme to be developed by the student into a bespoke project;
  • an intended outcome for your company, leaving the design of the research entirely to the student.

For example, we expect that projects could involve:

  • large scale data analysis and interpretation;
  • mathematical and computational modelling;
  • parallelisation of computationally intensive operations;
  • porting of application code to a parallel system;
  • performance analysis of an existing application;
  • optimisation problems;
  • “big data” problems and data mining;
  • other in-depth assistance in your research & development.

The only conditions are that the proposed project is sufficiently in-depth to meet the academic standards and requirements at Masters level. Once you have proposed a suitable project topic or theme we will work with you to develop it.

Some previous MSc dissertations in High Performance Computing

Further information regarding the programme structure of the High Performance Computing Masters programme

More information about the School

Is this a type of work experience?

Work-Based Projects are very different from “work experience”. Students are expected to undertake a well-specified, dedicated project which is written up as a dissertation that will contribute to their overall assessment for award of a Master’s degree. It is important to both the student and the University that our partner companies participate fully in the execution of the project.

Can we interview potential students and select the best?

Companies will be provided the opportunity to interview students. To simplify the allocation process, interviews would ideally be conducted jointly by the company with the Academic Supervisor present. Alternatively, you can request us to nominate a suitable student.

The short-listing and allocation process undertaken by the University is:

  • All students will be given a choice of projects . This list of all projects offered to students will be a mix of academic projects and industry projects.
  • Students will express their project preferences.
  • Allocation of industry projects will then be assessed on a competitive basis following an evaluation by academic staff that the student has the necessary skills & experience to undertake their preferred project(s).
  • Assuming that multiple students select an industry project and all are suitable, companies will be offered the opportunity to interview all the students and select the student you would prefer to undertake your project.
  • If you do not feel that the students proposed are acceptable to your company then you have no obligation to proceed to undertaking the project.

If we agree to participate, are we guaranteed to have our project undertaken?

Unfortunately we cannot guarantee this. There are a number of reasons why a project proposed by a company might not be undertaken in practice:

  • A final project agreement cannot be reached e.g. topic is not suitable in terms of focus & scope for a Masters dissertation or a suitable Academic Supervisor cannot be identified.
  • No students choose the project, or the Programme Director/Academic Supervisor feels the student does not have the skills & experience to complete the project successfully.

It is our intention to work pro-actively with companies to avoid such situations, or identify any misalignments as early as possible.

Will students require a lot of supervision?

Each student undertaking an industry project will have an Academic and Industry Supervisor. The University will take responsibility for primary supervision of the student, and the scope & role of the Industry Supervisor should be agreed on a case-by-case basis. This could range from technical advice & mentoring to full joint supervision. Clearly it is important that the Supervisors are aligned with regard to directing the project, and communication between the Supervisors is excellent so the student receives consistent feedback.

The guideline for academic supervision effort is up to 32 hours during each project, however in most cases a single one hour meeting per week is sufficient. Similarly, we would expect an hour a week to be the maximum required from an Industry Supervisor.

The Academic Supervisor is required to:

  • provide primary supervision of the student to ensure objectives are being met,
  • be available throughout the project for input,
  • ensure the project is on track via regular contact with the student,
  • oversee the write-up phase,
  • undertake the final project assessment.

We would normally expect the Industry Supervisor to:

  • provide the student with a project briefing and expected outputs,
  • oversee the project delivery and provide technical guidance & mentoring,
  • ensure the student is aware of, and complies with legal requirements related to being based in the workplace (if applicable).

What will it cost me?

Masters students do not require a salary payment as the project is an inherent element of their degree programme and there should be no significant expenses associated with Work-Based Projects with local companies. Any additional expenses or costs can be discussed on a case-by-case basis.

Additional discretionary payments to the student are not uncommon, however, this is not expected and any agreement would be between yourselves and the student.

Where will the student work?

There is flexibility in the location of the work depending upon the nature of the project. There is no absolute requirement for a student to be located full-time during their project at the company offices, although we would encourage that to ensure that the student gets the most from the experience. If more convenient, the student can attend your offices for progress meetings and conduct the bulk of project work at the University. If the student is spending a lot of time within your organisation then they would require a working area and the equipment/resources necessary to undertake the agreed project successfully. During the write-up phase, the student would normally return to the University to make Academic Supervision of this phase more convenient.

Can we propose multiple projects?


We would be happy to develop proposals for multiple project topics and then assess student demand to undertake them. We are flexible with regard to the level of detail and size of proposal that you make. It is not unusual for initial project proposals to be relatively speculative, and the student can use the “Project Preparation” course module to develop the proposal into its final form ready for undertaking in the summer.

Previous examples of project proposals can be provided on request.

Is there an Agreement governing the project?

Yes, the understanding between the Company, University and Student are set out in an Agreement that is signed by all parties prior to the commencement of the project to ensure all key parameters are clear and understood. Each Agreement will be tailored to incorporate the specific details relevant to the project. For example:

  • project title, start date and delivery deadline,
  • project outputs,
  • location,
  • operating procedures and workplace regulations,
  • Intellectual Property rights, non-disclosure agreements and ownership on completion.

The student is responsible for project completion and delivery to meet the agreed deadline. Assessment of the final academic output remains the responsibility of the University.

Are there other types of students available?

Yes, the University operates work-based projects across a wide range of disciplines through the “Making the Most of Masters” initiative. Further information, contact details and case studies can be found on the website

How is the Programme funded?

This programme is funded by the Scottish Funding Council.

Last updated: 03 Nov 2016 at 10:51