4th Year Projects

Overview and Objectives

The project course will provide experience in carrying out a significant project from conception to completion with minimal supervision and assistance. Frequently, the project is comprised of the design, implementation and documentation of a significant software or hardware system, but theoretical investigations or survey papers are equally valid. Other project ideas which do not fall into any of these categories are also possible. Students select projects after talking to a potential supervisor. The conduct, requirements and evaluation of each project lie solely in the hands of the faculty member who supervises the project. The faculty member and the student should agree on an appropriate scope of work before the project begins; for example, the design component of a particular software project could be so large that there will be no implementation requirement.


12h computer science at the 3000 or 4000 level, each with C- or better.

Individual projects are likely to require additional prior knowledge. For prerequisites of individual projects, students should consult the faculty member offering to supervise the project.

Course Coordinators

Dr. Darcy Benoit and Dr. Danny Silver

General Course Conduct

Project Topics: Students may select any project from the list of topics offered by individual faculty members. The list of topics may be obtained from the school web site. Students may also propose project ideas of their choice to faculty members.

Supervisors: Students may select any faculty member to be their supervisor, provided that the faculty member is willing to supervise the student to work on the selected topic.

Course Registration: In order to register for the course, you must first meet with one of the course coordinators. After this meeting you must meet with Mrs. Watson to be registered in the course. 

Project Registration: After students have selected a topic and a supervisor for their project, students should complete a Project Registration FormThis is not the same as registering for the course through the Registrar! You must do both.

Conduct of Work: Unless stated otherwise by the supervisor, all project work must be done independently by individual students. Students may discuss their project with other people, but are solely responsible for the design and implementation of their project (in the case of software or hardware projects) and for the documentation, ideas and/or compilation of information in their project. Students are directed to the Academic Integrity section of the Acadia University Calendar. Additionally, all instances of cheating will be reported to the Director of the School and to the University Registrar.

Late Rules: Work submitted after the required date is penalized at a rate chosen by the supervisor, who may also refuse to mark work submitted after a certain date. In any case, no work will be accepted after the last day of classes for the term in which you are registered in the course.


The project deliverables include a formal, written report and a public presentation. As determined by the supervisor, deliverables may also include any or all of the following:

  • a statement of the scope of the project;
  • a functional specification;
  • a detailed design;
  • a draft version of the report;
  • a demonstration of the implemented system; and
  • anything else the supervisor deems appropriate for the project.

Dates, details and value of all required work will be determined by the supervisor. A sample is given below.


Students are evaluated as specified by the project supervisor. Since the supervisor is normally the only one responsible for the mark given to the student, students must consult individual supervisors for details.

General Hints

The supervisor may give the student a statement of the precise requirements for the project. Alternatively a requirements document may be one of the first deliverables; this document would represent an agreement between the student and the supervisor as to what the rest of the project shall comprise.

At the end of this course outline is a suggested organization for the project report, which may be modified in accordance with the supervisor's directions. Depending on the type of project chosen, it may be important to include examples that demonstrate the effectiveness of the solution. These examples should be chosen and explained carefully.

Good projects require students to display significant individual initiative. Much of the work must be done individually, without any day to day supervision.

Students are responsible for ensuring that their work is received in time. All work submitted should be clearly marked with the student’s name, student number, and the number of the course (COMP 4983). Students should find out from their supervisors in what form work should be submitted: in printed form, electronically, or any combination thereof.

When submitting electronic materials, students must take care to agree with their supervisor on the format in which the files will be written. Files that can only be read by proprietary software are less portable and less desirable than files that can be read on a wide variety of systems. The supervisor may sometimes prefer the student to provide an additional plain text copy of such files.

All work submitted must be legible and tidy. If something is too difficult to read it may not be marked. Students should pay attention to the quality of all written work, since marks may be deducted for flaws such as bad grammar and incorrect spelling. (Note that many programs to check spelling are available; students should make use of one.) Unless the supervisor indicates otherwise, students may have other people proof-read their writing, but students must not have anyone else do any of the actual writing.

Students should choose their project early and start work on it as soon as possible. Experience has shown that many students cannot complete their projects in one semester.

Sample Schedule and Marking Scheme

Below is one suggested schedule (two-term version) and marking scheme for the project. The supervisor for a given project may use a schedule and marking scheme considerably different than these.


September 1. Preliminary written scope of the project
October 2. Final statement of scope of project
November 3. Functional specification
January 4. Detailed design
March 5. Draft report
Last Day of Classes 6. Final report and project delivery

Marking scheme:

20% Items 1 to 5 (above)
20% The final written report
60% Difficulty of the problem solved and quality of the solution

Students intending to complete a project in one term should keep in mind that the schedule for such projects is considerably more compressed than the one above. As a very rough guide, students intending to finish a project in one term probably should have the final scope and functional specification finished by the end of the first month and the detailed design completed by the middle of the second month.

Students who would like to finish the project in one term should give serious thought to getting the project topic decided upon well in advance of the term.

Sample Suggested Organization of the Project Report

Here is one possible organization for the project report. It may be modified in accordance with the supervisor’s directions. For example, a project which does not involve an implementation will probably not have an implementation description, a list of files, nor a source listing.

  Abstract i
  Table of Contents ii
Section 1 Introduction 1
Section 2 Literature Review 3
Section 3 Problem Description 6
Section 4 Solution Description 9
Section 5 Implementation Description 12
Section 6 Possible Extensions 16
Section 7 Summary and Conclusions 18
Section 8 References and Bibliography 19
Appendix A List of Files 23
Appendix B User Manual 24
Appendix C Source Listing 31

Abstract: This should be a summary of the report, 150–250 words in length, on a separate page. It gives an overview of the problem and the solution (if appropriate).

Introduction: This should be a more detailed statement of the purpose of the project. In the case of an implementation project or theoretical investigation, it would provide an in-depth description of the problem and also outline the rest of the document. It should state why the problem or subject is important or interesting and how the solution method (if appropriate) will be used.

Formatting Considerations:

  • The project report should be in the same format and style as an honours thesis, including:
    • Margins
    • Page Size
    • Spacing
    • Page numbering
    • Guidelines for charts and tables 
  • Project reports usually contain between 15 and 40 pages.
  • Source code should be listed with appropriate page breaks, using the same margins as the rest of the report.


  • One good final copy of the report must be delivered to the supervisor no later than 12:00 noon on the last day of classes. This copy must be signed by the student, and it will be graded and retained by the supervisor.
  • A machine-readable version of the project documents must accompany the written report. The electronic submission must contain the project report text files, as well as any source code, executable code, data or configuration files.

Prepared by R. Giles. Updated by D. Benoit - Sept 2013