In general, students here own all intellectual property they create, and this extends to the project and dissertation. A small number of students, however, sign away some or all of their IPR, either as a condition of a sponsorship agreement or as a condition of working on a project with externally-funded colleagues. (In the latter case you might wish to discuss this with your Director of Studies before deciding to working on such a project.)
Provided such IPR has not been signed away, students are welcome and even encouraged to exploit their work commercially. However, some points are worth noting:
- Material being submitted for a UK patent requires absence of prior public disclosure. If you plan to patent something then either omit it from your dissertation or file the patent first--even examining (consider e.g.-detection software) may represent a form of disclosure and examiners will not sign NDAs). Moreover, it is usually unwise to divert energy from your project into patents; if you do come up with valuable software your primary IP protection is likely to be your copyright in it.
- Copyright arises automatically in both text and code that you write, and in images and video you take. You do not have to do anything for this to happen, but adding a copyright notice (to works you want to protect) can help resolve disputes later.
- A University project and a commercial product are valued according to very different metrics. Spend your time working to get a good final project mark, and only then worry about the possibility of making money.