Course Details

Course Code GSOE9010
Course Title Engineering Research Skills
Units of Credit 6
Course Website
Handbook Entry


Lectures are held in Law Theatre G04 from 4pm on Mondays. In weeks 1,2,12, we will spend the whole time in the lecture theatre. In weeks 3-11, we will spend the first hour in the lecture theatre, and the second hour in rooms G16/G17/G18 in the Tyree Energy Technology Building (a short walk from the lecture theatre).

Course Staff

Staff Name Role Email Phone
Emily Mitchell Course Convenor emily.mitchell at 93857284
John Shepherd Lecturer jas at 93856494
Mona Wong Course Admininstrator p.wong at

Contacting Us

Administrative queries (e.g. tutorial enrolment, late submission of work, special consideration) should be directed, in the first instance, by email to both lecturers. If you send mail to just one of us, it will be ignored.

Course Summary

This course explores the various skills and processes in carrying out an engineering research project: formulating a research problem, exploring prior work, designing experiments to test hypotheses, evaluating the results, and presenting the work both verbally and in a written report.

Course Aims

This course aims to prepare students to carry out their research project in later semesters of their MEngSc program or for undertaking research projects in an industrial setting. This course covers skills common to both contexts.

Student Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. formulate a research problem in engineering
  2. conduct effective literature searches and filter relevant material
  3. design a solution to the research problem
  4. design experiments to demonstrate the effectiveness of the solution
  5. collect and analyse experimental results
  6. formulate valid conclusions from experimental results
  7. present the results of the research effectively to an audience
  8. write a well-structured and coherent research document
  9. work effectively in a research team
  10. develop a research profile
  11. practice as an ethical researcher

The course requires students to produce the following:

  • a collaborative research report describing an Engineering research challenge (Report)
  • an individual research proposal describing the challenge and a research proposal for investigating it (Proposal)

In addtion, students will be required to complete pre-lecture quizzes and actively participate in workshops conducted during the lecture period. Each student is required to lead one of the workshops.

This course contributes to the development of the following graduate capabilities:

Graduate Capability Acquired in
scholarship: understanding of their discipline in its interdisciplinary context Report
scholarship: capable of independent and collaborative enquiry Proposal, Report
scholarship: rigorous in their analysis, critique, and reflection Proposal
scholarship: able to apply their knowledge and skills to solving problems Lectures, Proposal
scholarship: ethical practitioners Lectures
scholarship: capable of effective communication Lectures, Report, Proposal
scholarship: information literate Report
scholarship: digitally literate Report, Proposal
leadership: enterprising, innovative and creative Proposal
leadership: capable of initiating as well as embracing change Lectures
leadership: collaborative team workers Report, Lectures
professionalism: capable of independent, self-directed practice Report
professionalism: capable of operating within an agreed Code of Practice Lectures

Assumed Knowledge

The only assumption we make is that students have completed an undergraduate degree in some branch of engineering.

Teaching Rationale

GSOE9010 employs student-centred learning as the basis for its instructional design and emphasises the importance of active learning. The teaching in this course is based on a flipped-classroom philosophy.

Teaching Strategies

Student-centred activities form the basis of the course, which will draw on the prior knowledge of the students and allow engagement in relevant and challenging experiences. The lectures are designed to be supportive and friendly, and include meaningful realistic learning tasks, as well as promote independent and collaborative study and enquiry.

Teaching strategies used during the course will include:

  • small group learning to understand the importance of teamwork in an engineering context and to demonstrate the use of appropriate collaboration to address research goals;
  • explicit teaching including lectures and a range of teaching strategies to foster interest and support learning;
  • structured occasions for reflection on learning, to allow students to reflect critically on topics discussed;
  • extensive opportunities for whole group and small group dialogue and discussion, allowing students the opportunity to demonstrate their capacity to communicate.

These activities will occur in a climate that is supportive and inclusive of all learners.


The following table summarises all of the assessment items in the course:

Assessment Item Due Date Weight
Pre-lecture Quizzes weeks 3-11 8%
Participation in Lecture/Workshops weeks 3-11 4%
Facilitation in Lecture/Workshop allocated week 18%
Collaborative Research Report week 12 25%
Individual Research Proposal week 10 45%

Standard UNSW grades (HD, DN, etc.) will be awarded. A combined overall mark of at least 50% is required in order to pass this course.

Full details on what is required for each submission will be posted on the course web site well before the due date. We give a brief summary of each assessment item below:

Lecture/Workshop Facilitation : Students work in pairs to prepare and facilitate a 45 minute workshop during the second part of an allocated lecture period. The workshop will follow a list of class activities; activities will be posted on the class Moodle site in the week prior to your facilitation.

( Note: Workshop facilitation is mandatory . Once workshop topics have been allocated no changing of topic or week of presentation is allowed. A workshop cannot be delayed to another week. Any student who fails to present at the specified time will have to contact the lecturers for an alternative assessment. Please note medical or other supporting documentation will be required.)

Lecture/Workshop Participation : The first hour of most lectures will be a Q&A session with the guest lecturer for that week. You should view all of the video material and read all of the written material before each lecture and come along with some questions on the material. You are also required to complete a quiz on the video material before the lecture. You should also participate fully in the workshops that follow the Q&A session. Participation will be assessed by course staff, who will be present during all workshop sessions. Note that you will be required to rate and provide feedback to the workshop presenters; you can only do this well if you participate fully.

Quizzes : Pre-lecture quizzes will be placed on the Moodle site to accompany the video material for each lecture. You should complete each quiz after you have viewed the corresponding videos. You must get the quiz completely correct before it registers as a completion; you can attempt the quiz as many times as you like. Succesful completion of a quiz adds 1 mark to your final score in the course.

Collaborative Research Group Report : Students will work in teams (of around 16 people) to investigate a topic chosen in the first two tutorials. You should explore the engineering aspects of the topic, identifying research and innovation opportunities. The team should collaborate to assemble a set of resources on the topic, using whatever collaboration tools you wish. There are a number of milestones to be submitted during the semester (e.g. group roles, mind-map of the topic, bibliography, etc.). In week 12, each team must submit a report on their findings, and make a short presentation in the week 12 lecture. The team will be awarded a mark for the report, and each team member's mark will then be modified by the peer-assessment of their individual contribution. More details on the CRG Report are available on the Moodle site.

Individual Research Proposal : Each student will choose a topic from their own discipline on which to develop a research proposal. This topic does not have to be related to the topic of their CRG report. The final proposal must contain describe the topic, current practice (and its deficiencies), and suggest an innovation to improve practice, along with a description of experimental work and its analysis that would be required to convince others that the innovation did improve practice. (Note that this is a proposal so you are not required to carry out any experiments). The proposal must be submitted in Week 10, and will be marked by the tutors and lecturers. More details on the Research Proposal are available on the Moodle site.

Notes: for both the CRG Report and the Research Proposal

  • must be submitted in PDF format
  • will be checked for plagiarism via Turnitin
  • before submitting, you should check the Turnitin similarity score yourself
  • a Turnitin score above 10% in the final submission attracts significant marks penalties
  • late submission attracts penalties which accumulate on an hourly basis (including Saturday and Sunday)

If you have a valid (generally, medical) reason for late submission, you must notify academic staff and submit a special consideration through the regular UNSW special consideration mechanisms.)

Academic Honesty and Plagiarism

Plagiarism is defined as <q>using the words or ideas of others and presenting them as your own</q>. UNSW treats plagiarism by students as academic misconduct, which means that it carries penalties as severe as being excluded from further study at UNSW. There are several on-line sources to help you understand what plagiarism is and how it is dealt with at UNSW:

Make sure that you read and understand these. Ignorance is not accepted as an excuse for plagiarism.

Course Schedule

Week Lecture Tutorial CRG Tasks (due Fri) Deliverables
1 Course Introduction (none) - -
2 Consolidation: future challenges and collaborative research groups Choose/explore CRG topic; facilitation exercise - -
3 Group Dynamics (Guest lecturer Emily Mitchell ) Tasks and Topic Group rules and roles (A4) -
4 Literature Search (Guest lecturer John Shepherd ) Group Dynamics - -
5 Writing (Guest lecturer Pam Mort ) Literature Search Mind Map of topic (A3) -
6 Academic Integrity (Guest lecturer Gwyn Jones ) Abstracts and Lit Review List of Sources -
7 Statistics (Guest lecturer Rhett Evans ) Plagiarism, Turnitin - -
8 Experimental Design (Guest lecturer Ross Odell ) Statistics;
Indivdual Proposals
Report Skeleton -
9 Presenting (Guest lecturer Mona Wong ) Experimental Design;
Individual Proposals
Write Report Draft Sections Individual Proposal turnitin check
10 No Lecture - Public Holiday - Edit Others' Report Draft Sections Individual Proposal due
11 Research Profile, Publishing and Grants (Guest lecturer Stuart Wenham ) - - CRG Report turnitin check
12 CRG Presentations - Peer Assessment of Contributions;
Self reflection
CRG Report due

Resources for Students

There is no textbook for this course.

Videos and other material will be made available as the course progresses.

The course Moodle site will hold all of the resources you need, apart from the ones you discover yourself during your exploration of topics for the CRG and the Proposal.

Course Evaluation and Development

This is only the second offering of this course and your feedback is essential for its future development. Based on the feedback we received from students last semester, we have made a number of changes to improve the delivery (e.g. decoupling the Proposal from the CRG topic, having tute groups as CRGs). With your feedback, we should be able to make the course even better in future.

Resource created Tuesday 04 August 2015, 01:01:14 PM, last modified Tuesday 04 August 2015, 01:55:22 PM.

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