Master's Final Project
Students are required to complete a Master's Final Project (MFP) with a workload of 15 ECTS credits. The protocol for completing the MFP, established at the Master in Software and Systems Academic Policy Committee's meeting held on 30 May 2012, is outlined below.
Students are entitled to complete their project either at the Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos or at an institution outside the UPM. In this case, students shall first have to apply to the Master in Software and Systems' Academic Policy Committee and gain approval from its chair.
Students shall be entitled to write and present their project in either Spanish or English.
Students shall have to defend their Master's Final Project before the end of the academic year in which they enrolled for their Master's Final Project (that is, before the end of July). Otherwise, students shall be required to re-enroll for their Master's Final Project in September.
The completion of the Master's Final Project is a three-phase process:
The main tasks to be completed in each of these phases are briefly outlined below.
Phase 1: Choice of topic and supervisor
Regarding the choice of topic, each student shall have to produce a proposal enabling preliminary individual and joint deliberation concerning the student's initial research aim. Students shall have to contact a member of the Master's or Department's faculty to supervise their Master's Final Project. Students shall then notify the Master's administrative officer to have their chosen faculty member appointed by the Master's Academic Policy Committee as their academic supervisor. Otherwise, the Committee may allocate a supervisor based on students' interests. If need be, students have the option of applying to the Master in Software and Systems' Academic Policy Committee for a change of supervisor. For this purpose, students shall submit the change of supervisor application form. Students shall have a choice of topics for their Master's Final Project proposed by Master's faculty. Alternatively, students with a special interest in any particular topic shall, subject to approval from their supervisor, be able to put forward their own.
Master's Final Projects shall be supervised by doctors (UPM academic staff), from Master's programme or Department of Computer Languages and Systems and Software Engineering faculty members, specialized in different software and systems fields. The supervisor's mission shall focus on putting students into contact with the right people, providing guidance on required information, giving advice on the project, appraising the progress of the research and its contents, coming up with ideas for consideration, revising documentation written by students, etc.
Exceptionally, a MFP may be co-supervised by two doctors. For this purpose, students shall submit a co-supervision application form to the Master in Software and Systems' Academic Policy Committee justifying co-supervision. Co-supervisors shall be doctors but not necessarily Master in Software and Systems or Department of Computer Languages and Systems and Software Engineering faculty members.
Phase 2: Completion of Master's Final Project
The completion of the Master's Final Project is the culmination of the teaching/learning process, as it draws on different academic programme contents for the purpose of research. Additionally, the completion of the Master's Final Project shall be supported by participation in Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos Research Groups, visits to other groups or institutions, attendance of seminars and congresses, active participation in congresses, etc.
The Master's Final Project shall consist of a written dissertation (with a minimum of 20,000 words, not including indices, references and appendices) completed by the Master's degree candidate. Students shall have to demonstrate that they have developed skills for formulating, evaluating and managing an applied research project in the software and systems field, have the ability to conduct an in-depth critical study and appraisal of the state of the art in some innovative topic of interest in this field, including a personal contribution to the topic, or the ability to conduct substantial research with academic integrity within the chosen field of specialization.
The Master's Final Project shall have to be written in Spanish or English. In any case, all projects shall include a summary in Spanish and an abstract in English.
Phase 3: Defence of Master's Final Project
Students shall be entitled to defend their Master's Final Project at any time during the academic year (September to July). For this purpose, students shall first have to enrol for the defence of their MFP at the Registry. Students shall have to submit the MFP enrolment application form, requesting the Master in Software and Systems' Academic Policy Committee to appoint the board to examine their MFP. This form shall state the student's name and surname, the title of the MFP, the supervisor's name and surname, proposed board member, and bear the student's signature and supervisor's approval.
Students shall defend their Master's Final Project individually in a public oral hearing before a board appointed by the Master's Academic Policy Committee. The board shall be composed of three members: two Master in Software and Systems faculty members, plus the student's supervisor. If the MFP has a supervisor and co-supervisor, only the supervisor (and never both supervisors) shall sit on the board.
The Master in Software and Systems' Academic Policy Committee shall pick another board member within five working days by drawing lots among the Master's faculty (the choice shall be delegated to the Master's coordinator). If students fail to propose a board member or propose a person who is not a Master's faculty member, the Master in Software and Systems' Academic Policy Committee shall again pick this board member by drawing lots. The board shall be chaired by the highest-ranking (or the longest-serving in the event of equal rank) member of the board, and the other faculty member will serve as the board member. The MFP's supervisor will act as secretary of the board. Supervisors shall be notified of the composition of the board in order to contact board members to arrange the date of the defence.
Students shall then apply to the Registry for defence at least five working days before the defence proceedings. To do this, students shall submit the defence date notification form (which shall state students' name and surname, MFP title, supervisor’s name and surname and defence date, and shall be signed by students and approved by their supervisor). Before applying for defence, students shall submit their MFP in PDF format to Alicia Andrés attaching the respective Agreement for Electronic Editing and Publishing of it. Students (or, failing this, their supervisor) shall submit a copy of the MFP (preferably in electronic format) to each board member at least five working days before the defence proceedings.
The board secretary shall be responsible for all the arrangements for the defence of the MFP, such as, for example, booking the room for the defence, collecting, completing and submitting the examination board minutes to the Registry, etc.
The public defence should last no more than an hour and a half, although it may, exceptionally, be extended by the board, if need be. The Master's Final Project defence protocol shall be composed of the following steps:
- Meeting of the board: the board shall meet formally behind closed doors at the time scheduled for the Master's Final Project defence. At least two of the three board members shall be present at this meeting.
- Oral presentation (approximately 25 minutes): students shall deliver an oral public presentation of their Master's Final Project, relying for this purpose on presentation slides put together following their supervisor's instructions. The presentation shall focus mainly on the research conducted by the student and its main contributions.
- Practical demonstration (optional, approximately 5 minutes): students shall be entitled to give a brief practical demonstration of any system or software that they have developed, if they so wish.
- Board questions: each board member shall be able to raise any questions, queries, clarifications or objections that they like, to which the student shall have to give proper and convincing responses.
- Deliberation: at the end of the defence, the board shall retire to deliberate and make a decision on the grade. The board should assess the Master's degree-related knowledge and skills demonstrated by the student, the originality of the research conducted, the clarity and precision of the Master's Final Project report, the quality of the presentation and, if applicable, the demonstration, and the answers to questions raised by the board. Additionally, it shall have to check that the student has achieved the learning outcomes stipulated for the MFP. Then, after signing the minutes of the thesis defence, the board’s chairperson shall publicly announce the grade awarded to the student (the board may unanimously recommend conferral of an honours distinction). At the end of the defence, the board secretary shall submit a copy and the original of the examination board minutes to the Master's administrative office and the Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos's Registry, respectively. If put forward for an honours distinction, a committee shall decide, as of September of the following academic year, which MFPs are to receive this distinction.