# 4th Year Course Information

# Module Listing



# General Advice

# Simon's Advice (2022-23)

With the FYP making up 40% of your year mark, doing (really) well in Y4 requires a lot more strategy than previous years in my opinion. I think that there is a lot of randomness involved in the score you get for the FYP, and this has a strong potential to significantly affect your grade both negatively and positively, so I’ll share some advice below on some of my insights looking back on the whole process. This will be more relevant if you’re looking to maximise your score, if you don’t really care as much then I’d recommend trying to pick something you enjoy, as it’s effectively impossible (read extremely rare) to fail your FYP. For context, I took an EE project under the supervision of Tom Clarke (TC), so some of the advice I give might be specific to him, but I think a fair amount of the comments below apply to other supervisors too, especially more “traditional” ones.

You’ll need to choose 6 technical modules this year - I’d highly recommend front-loading these to give you more time to work on your FYP in Term 2 and 3, where most of the work tends to get done in practice. I took 4 technical modules in Autumn (+ BPES which is no longer required), 2 in Spring, which I found worked really well. Taking 1 exam module in autumn helps spread out the assessments, since EE exams are after Spring break (like Y2), but I’d caution against taking more than 2 as this will take a lot of your attention away from FYP work over late Spring / early Summer. Unfortunately I didn’t find the modules offered in Y4 nearly as interesting as the ones in Y3, so I took a few modules which synergised / had overlapping content, which helped reduce the workload on the module side.

Choosing the right FYP is probably one of the most important steps in getting really high marks, as some projects will have an implicit cap on the mark you can achieve. In general, “riskier” projects (with more unknowns / novel work) have higher caps than low risk ones, although it can be quite scary to choose as there’s obviously a higher chance things don’t work out. In hindsight, I would recommend not worrying about this too much, as even if your project doesn’t go as planned, as long as there are interesting things for you to write about, that’s what will net you the most marks due to the substantial report component. In this vein, I think I’d generally recommend against choosing a project building on top of a previous student’s work. It will tend to limit your scope for making design decisions, as many of these will have been done for you already by the previous student, and a large part of your background will be reflecting your understanding for the previous project, which is something the supervisor likely knows in much greater detail than you, making it more likely you miss something they want you to talk about. Furthermore, it’s reasonably likely that parts of the old student’s project don’t work as advertised, since they were also probably trying to maximise their mark, meaning you’ll have to spend a bunch of time debugging and fixing their problems which tends to be “grunt” implementation work which won’t get you many marks. If you have a good idea, self-proposing is almost always better as it eliminates the randomness of the selection process - although most people will get their top 3 choices, a small minority will get something lower, and if you get a project you’re not interested in / doesn’t give you as much scope to explore / analyse / design then it will make the rest of your work much harder and less enjoyable. In practice, if you have any sort of decent rapport with the lecturer then it’s possible they can even give you one of the projects they’re offering as “self-proposed”, guaranteeing you getting it. It’s always valuable to spend some time in the first few weeks of term meeting with lecturers to learn more about their projects to help with your decision - don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed by the huge range of projects on offer, I felt the same (as did most people I know). I also don’t think there’s a strategic reason to choose EE over DoC or vice-versa, try choosing something that best fits your interest / the points mentioned above.

Once you have a project, try to focus getting a good set of requirements captured, as understanding your supervisor’s expectations is essential to doing well, since they’re effectively the ones determining your grade. Be proactive in organising meetings, and don’t be afraid to suggest ideas, these will help convince your supervisor that you’re smart / capable = big stonks 🚀. I took the first ~4 weeks of Spring term to write my interim report, where the core focus is on getting a strong background you can reuse for your final report. I found this work to be extremely painful, as it’s very researchy, but doing well here is very important, as although the interim report isn’t worth much, it sets the tone for the rest of the project (most of the other students I know who did projects with TC got final grades within 2% of their interim grade). Doing a project which isn’t exactly in your supervisor’s area of research helps doing better in this side of things, as odds are that if you do something they know a lot about they’ll be much better at researching than you (see comment above about missing things they want you to talk about) - a bulk of my project was on optical systems that both me and my supervisor knew nothing about, so I think it made it much easier for me to convince him I knew my stuff. Once you’re done with interim, this is when most people tend to start on implementation work, although you don’t necessarily need to get much done during Spring.

In general, when working on your project try to actively think about how you can talk about it in the report. You’ll probably have to do some less interesting things to get something actually working for demo day (although you can always do a bit of movie magic in your demo video 😉), but try to find things that will let you plot pretty graphs you can talk about in your report / make nice design diagrams, as this is what tends to net you large marks. As a concrete example, I made a benchmark which randomly generated images to test my system on, which only took a few days of actual work but gave me a lot to talk about in the report, and TC was a big fan - this wasn’t something that was discussed or listed as a requirement previously, but helped convince my supervisor that I’d thoroughly tested my system. Make sure you’re on the lookout for opportunities like these, as this is what will separate good FYPs from great (80%+) ones. If you’re anything like me and procrastinated on doing much work on your project until Summer, make sure you focus the last few weeks on making your report good vs implementing things. You can even say you’ve done things in your report that you haven’t done yet, and spend the ~3-5 days between the report deadline and presentation to deliver on these features. These last few weeks will probably be very stressful and a lot of work, but are survivable (not worse than Y2 Spring term). For the presentation, focus on figuring out what story you want to tell, you have very limited time and won’t be able to share everything you’ve done, so try to find the more marketable aspects of your work and use those to make what you’ve done seem smart / impressive. Similar to the other deliverables, a lot of what it comes down to is convincing the assessors that you’re a smart, capable engineer, and that the work you’ve done reflects that. The whole way the assessment structure works unfortunately penalises those who have weaker essay writing / presentation skills, but I can’t really think of a better way they could assess things fairly, and the current system is for better or worse pretty representative of the real world, learning how you can convince your superior, whether that be your boss or project supervisor is a very important skill for professional advancement.

Regardless, at the end of the day try your best to enjoy your last year, for most of you it'll mark the end of a big chapter of your lives, so try your best to finish it without regrets (and 10 years down the line you probably won't care that much about min-maxing for that extra .3%). I spent a lot of time in Y4 working on other things, and definitely don't regret a minute of it. Best of luck! - Simon

# 2021-22 (Pre-Curiculum Rework)


  • Start this as soon as possible
  • Don’t make the mistake of forgetting about this or overprioritising your other modules until the Summer Term. Keep working on it regularly throughout the year!!!
  • If in doubt over how to do something, try something. Anything is better than nothing.
  • This is the biggest part of your year – worth way more than any single module

Jobs: start applying asap (duh)

Don’t spend too much time working – your mental health will thank you Learn how to prioritise your time effectively – is XYZ really worth your time? - JZ

# 2020-21

Stay on top of your work - being organised is a massive key to success in fourth year as you also have to manage graduate job applications and your final year project. Speaking of FYPs, I would recommend getting a lot of work for your project done as early as you can, including the interim report because it definitely helps you later on in the year. You can leave work to the summer term and still do well in your project but you definitely won't gain as much from the experience and will hinder your grades at least a bit. It depends where your priorities lie (project, grades or grad job), but choose which is your priority and stick to it.

Take a business module and frontload your modules this year. I did 6 modules in my first term and 1 in my second, which gave me plenty of time to work on FYP without interruption in spring.

I'd rather leave the spring term quite empty for FYP work. If you are not gonna stay in the academia, this year you can basically fuck around whole year, but what to make out of this year is entirely up to you.

Getting a grad job as early as possible helps you a lot mentally. So, try to get one offer at least.

# FYP Advice

Try to do as many exams and modules in Autumn term. If you really want to invest in the FYP it will be hard to do it with more than or 2 exams in May. Plus, I would recommend choosing easy modules so that you can focus properly on the FYP without distractions like ASP style modules – 2020-21

Keep a steady pace at all times, you'll be fine. Supervisors won't care about your project unless you go to them with ideas/next steps/implementations. You are almost always on your own but PhDs/post-docs can be immensely valuable for your project (even more so than your supervisor!!) - 2020-21

Don't put it all off until the summer term, but you can do so and still get a good mark. I did no work beyond the required interim report until May, and got a 2:1. But it was quite hellish doing so. – 19/20

There is less time than you might think. It’s important to choose a really well defined project so you don’t have to waste time searching for what to focus on and what you need to achieve. – 19/20

Write report as you go, through the term will save you a lot of editing time later – 19/20

Stay disciplined, motivated and organised. If you have your own idea for the project, I would highly recommend you do it, as this way you are guaranteed to have a project that you're passionate about, and have more autonomy over. However regardless the project is a great opportunity to complete a piece of work all by yourself and at the end you definitely feel accomplished that you completed it, even if you felt pretty daunted at the beginning of the year. – 19/20

Don't be afraid to discuss changing the scope of your project with your supervisor. Many of them would much prefer a smaller, really well done project, to a big one that isn't great. Also don't jump straight in, spend your time on research before starting. – 19/20

Choose something you are genuinely interested in, in an area which you know you enjoy, and work consistently on it. Otherwise you will suffer. – 19/20

The FYP should be neglected for other modules even during Autumn term. Good planning and regular meeting with your supervisor are key for the FYP. Being pro-active will really benefit the FYP – Clementine Biet, 2019/20

Don't leave it until last minute, there is way too much work to do to manage it in a month. Also, communicate with your supervisor, they have done this before and are really helpful – 19/20

Avoid drama in the first week and either check Tom Clarke's project list early on (there should be a few projects in September) or think about self-proposing a project. Also, choose your supervisor well - make sure they'll be able to meet regularly and give you actual advice. – 19/20

always start early, otherwise you will be too stressed – 19/20

Try to do as many exams and modules in Autumn term. If you really want to invest in the FYP it will be hard to do it with more than or 2 exams in May. Plus, I would recommend choosing easy modules so that you can focus properly on the FYP without distractions like ASP style modules – 20/21

Keep a steady pace at all times, you’ll be fine. Supervisors won’t care about your project unless you go to them with ideas/next steps/implementations. You are almost always on your own but PhDs/post-docs can be immensely valuable for your project (even more so than your supervisor!!) - 20/21