University of Sydney Handbooks - 2012 Archive

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Honours in the Bachelor of Design Computing


Students of the Bachelor of Design Computing should take the unit of study DECO3008 Design Computing Preparatory Honours Research in their third year.

To qualify to enrol in the honours program a student should have qualified for the award of the pass degree, or a similar degree from another university that is acceptable to us, or be a graduate of not more than four years standing. Students should have a weighted average mark (WAM) of at least 70 for the pass degree.

Before applying you should have an approved dissertation topic and supervisor. The supervisor must be from our academic staff. We invite you to discuss your plans with a relevant staff member. Students who complete the preparatory honours unit will probably resolve their topic and supervisor during this unit. If you are new to the University one of the Student Administration Centre staff will be able to put you in touch with someone to start the discussions. You can have an associate supervisor if you require shared supervision beyond the immediate expertise of your supervisor.

The honours year

The honours course is to be taken full time over two consecutive semesters. Enrolment is effected by taking 48 credit points, being DECO4001 and DECO4002 in the first semester and DECO4003 and DECO4004 in the second semester.

There will be no formal classes. You are expected to make arrangements for regular (weekly) contact with your supervisor on an individual basis to chart the work, receive advice, review and monitor progress. At the conclusion of the year you are expected to submit a body of work, usually a dissertation, properly bound for addition to the faculty's Audio Visual library where there is an honours and master's dissertation collection.

Submission date and form of dissertation

All honours dissertations are to be lodged with the supervisor by the end of the first week of the formal examination period in the final semester of enrolment.

Where this date is later than the due date for honours results for postgraduate research scholarships (eg, APA), an indicative mark will be provided by the student's supervisor in consultation with the Principal Examiner to be based, in part, upon presentation of a draft of the dissertation to the supervisor and the Principal Examiner. If no draft is provided, no indicative mark shall be provided.

Dissertations for examination can be simply bound or held together. Examined and amended dissertations are to be permanently bound (cloth binding preferably) with the student’s name and dissertation title written on the spine. The examination copy and the permanently bound copy must include a CD-ROM or DVD which includes all software and digital documentation of the research work as appropriate. These are held permanently in the faculty's Audio Visual library. As a guide to your own dissertation you may wish to look at this collection of works.

The dissertation should be 15,000 to 25,000 words in length. A practice-based honours dissertation has different submission requirements, described below.

Types of dissertation

Students, in consultation with their supervisor or program coordinator, should complete one of the following types of dissertations.

The aim of a design-based dissertation is to introduce a novel design work or component technology or technology-driven design process that is realised through the introduction, incorporation, enhancement or development of cutting-edge computing. The dissertation should report on the aims and objectives of the work, the rationale and process taken in its conception and development, and a detailed reflection or empirical evaluation of the design work. Sufficient digital documentation of the designed work should be provided with the dissertation.

A model-based dissertation aims to create a computational model of a theory or phenomenon related to design or to model design computationally based on an analogy to another system. Phenomena that have been modelled computationally include creativity, motivation and emergence. Models of design based on analogies to other systems include evolution, co-evolution and systems biology. The computational model is implemented and validated or tested to ensure verisimilitude to the phenomenon being modeled.

An empirical study aims to characterise or explain. In design studies, empirical research is often conducted on the cognitive behaviour of designers, the social dynamics of group-based design or participatory design, or a critical study of the design of specific objects. The student will utilise a variety of quantitative and qualitative research methods including survey, interview, experimentation, participatory action research and parametric or non-parametric modelling. Where the research will include human participants, students will need to follow the University ethics policies and guidelines for research involving humans. Due to the time frame for obtaining approval for such research, students are strongly encouraged to apply early in their honours research year or to conduct their research within the framework of an existing study lead by their Supervisor.

A practice-based honours dissertation needs to include creative practice as an integral component in relation to the issues and questions raised in this research, its outcomes and its research approach and methods. Creative outcomes need to be new or original artwork and can include the following areas:

  • video
  • composition
  • performance
  • digital photography
  • electronic installation
  • kinetic sculpture
  • robotic art and software/hardware prototype (code art, devices, smart materials, wearable technology).

The creative outcome cannot stand alone as research, but will be assessed together with a dissertation that includes research questions, objectives and a review of relevant artwork/artists in the chosen research area, as well as a written, critical reflection articulating the research process.

The practice-based dissertation includes different submission requirements:

  1. Written component: Dissertation of 6,000–8,000 words which is inclusive of a 1,000–2,000 word critical reflection articulating the research process.
  2. Digital documentation: Practice-based component (exhibition, performance or site-specific installation) in the form of either (i) a video DVD (5-10 mins) or audio recording (5-10 mins) or (ii) 5-10 high resolution images (eg TIFF format) or 3 x 30 second CD quality samples.
  3. Public exhibition component: The student is to organise a public exhibition (in the form of an exhibition, performance or site-specific installation) at least two weeks before the submission of the dissertation to the supervisor.

Students who do not complete the honours year will be awarded the pass degree. Those who terminate their study prior to the end of the second semester of study will be awarded a grade of DNF or Discontinue without failure.

Determination of honours

The honours dissertation itself receives a mark, which is recorded on the transcript next to DECO4004. The other units will be converted to R for Satisfied Requirements upon successful completion of the dissertation.

The grade of honours is determined by using a mark derived from weighting the mark for the honours dissertation at 70 percent and the weighted average mark (WAM) of the pass degree at 30 percent. While this number is not recorded on the transcript, the final class of honours awarded is.

The honours degree of Bachelor of Design Computing shall be awarded to eligible students, with the following grades:

  • Honours Class I (with a mark of at least 80)
  • Honours Class II, Division 1 (with a mark of at least 75)
  • Honours Class II, Division 2 (with a mark of at least 70).

The University Medal may be awarded as described in the frequently asked questions section.

A student of the honours program who does not meet the requirements for award of honours shall be awarded the Bachelor of Design Computing pass degree.