Computer Laboratory

Sources of Projects

The first stage in selecting a project is to collect a number of ideas. The main sources of inspiration are commonly:

  1. Ideas proposed by candidates.
  2. Suggestions made by Supervisors or Directors of Studies.
  3. The project suggestions on the projects web page (see
    http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/teaching/projects/).
  4. Past years’ projects:dissertations written by previous years’ students are stored in the Library.
  5. Proposals put forward by industry, especially companies who have provided vacation employment for students.

When ideas are first being suggested or discussed it is good to keep an open mind about them - a topic which initially seems very interesting may prove unreasonable on further consideration, perhaps because it will be too difficult. Equally, many of the ideas suggested by Laboratory members will relate to ideas that are unfamiliar to you, so will need study before you can appreciate what would be involved in following them. Almost all project suggestions should also be seen as starting points rather than fully worked out prescriptions. By making adjustments to original ideas, or selecting aspects of the project to concentrate on, even the most uninspired starting point can grow into a worthwhile proposal that has its own special character.

At an early stage it is usually best to identify one or two ideas that have the following properties:

  1. Your Supervisor and Overseers agree that there could be an acceptable project based on the idea.
  2. You can imagine being interested in work in the general area concerned.
  3. You have identified somebody who is able and willing to supervise such a project.

Often (3) will solve itself first if you are picking up an idea proposed by a Supervisor or other member of the Laboratory.

You should bear in mind that the Examiners will require electronic submission of your dissertation and code. Therefore you should not sign anything, such as a non-disclosure agreement, that would prevent you from submitting them.