I’m taking a break out of the big trilogy to talk about what modules I’m taking this year and my thoughts behind them. Some thoughts also behind the whole postgraduate academic year too. Think of this as more of a traditional blog post than any sort of editorial or interesting life piece.
The degree scheme I’m studying this year at Aberystwyth University is G493 Computer Science (Software Engineering). It’s absolutely a CS degree, but the primary focus is software engineering, or CS in relation to software engineering, but there’s plenty of CS stuff in there too by the seems of things.
Postgraduate years are split into trimesters, and they’re all set to be pretty darn busy. I’m not going to bore you with the details of what modules are available since that’s present on the module webpage, so I’ll go over what I’ve chosen and why, and why I didn’t chose the alternatives.
First module I’m undertaking is CSM2120 – The Object-Oriented Paradigm. It’s graded by a medium-sized study analysis and three practical assignments of a Java nature that include analysis and design. Design patterns, and object-oriented analysis are, from what I can tell, still important parts of the software development lifecycle, and are relevant to software engineers of all pathways. Definitely one worth taking, even if my Java needs some sharpening.
The next module I’m enrolling in is CHM5720 – Internet Technologies. I was a little unsure of this one at first – it largely covers Internet protocols like TCP/IP and its varying underlying layers, including the physical aspects of things. There’s all knowledge here that can be applied though to web development and I personally believe it’ll be interesting. It’s graded through a two hour exam and a 2000 word essay, so it should be okay.
Last module is CSM3120 – Modelling, Managing and Securing Data. Data modelling, relational algebra, databases, cryptography, and security are all really important, so another exceptionally useful module. It’ll be tough though, as I struggled a bit in its younger cousin that I enrolled in during my second year. This one is graded on a larger 4000 word report on security issues and a two hour exam.
The other options were a module with an artificial intelligence (AI) focus which while interesting looks difficult and doesn’t interest me as much as the others, and the other was a stats module, which was ruled out immediately.
This is where things pick up the pace. It starts with CHM1320 Advanced Software Engineering, which focuses a lot on the field itself, current issues, and related research. There is a grade for participation, along with a conference poster and 6000 word paper, so that’ll be fun. Judging by the course delivery statistics, there will be a far higher ratio of independent learning in this module than any previously encountered.
Now the meat and potatoes. In my second year of university, I did a group project module. We built task management software that was split into three components – a server module, a Java desktop application, and a web-based component. We also had to make use of the traditional Waterfall software development model. I was specifically responsible for the web-based component, built in PHP and jQuery, and it was called TaskerMAN. I’ll re-build it at some point in the year when I’m doing up my portfolio – perhaps using frameworks. My point is, is that the group project was a nightmare, and many of my peers will agree with me.
But alas, here’s another group project. Another group project, aptly named CSM2020 – Agile Software Development Project. This time, it’ll be using agile methodologies, which does make things a lot easier and a lot less bureaucratic. But a group project is still a group project. Let’s pray it goes well. It’s marked 70% from the project itself and its deliverables, and 30% from a presentation of said project.
Finally, I’ll be simultaneously working on CSM2220 – Mobile Solutions. This is much more focused on mobile development and the implications. 60% comes from three programming assignments worth 20% each, and a 40% case study of 2000 words.
The only other alternative options to the last module I discussed just now were another AI module, and a data mining module that is more bioinformatics focused and doesn’t interest me too much.
Master’s thesis. Dissertation. Yep, this one. The nightmares and flashbacks of my Bachelor’s thesis, and I get to do it all over again at Nightmare difficulty. I assume I get to find out about any available research projects during my second trimester, or whether I’ll have to come up with one of my own and find a suitable supervisor.
Despite all this, I can’t wait to go back. I’ve sworn off a lot of my extracurricular activities and voluntary undertakings that underpined my time as an undergraduate, focusing instead on my studies, and on my part-time teaching job, which basically means even more programming and computer science in my own time. Then the gym and kickboxing, and then even more study, and then chores, and you get the picture.
Roll on September.