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Project Supervision

We often have a number of students work on their 3rd year, 4th year or M.Sc. projects whilst in an industrial context. Perhaps your company would like to get involved in one of these?

The projects have to be suitable for academic purposes, which may conflict with some industrial requirements. You should also bear in mind that some students are not yet all that fluent in certain techniques and programming languages. Hence, they may not get beyond the prototype stage in the time available.

There are three issues you need to consider.

Timing

M.Sc. students usually start their projects in early February, handing in a provisional report around Easter. After their exams in May they then work full time on the project until their thesis is due for handing in, which usually occurs in September.

Third year students choose their projects in the summer term of their second year. They then work on them throughout their third year, handing in the final report just after Easter. During this time they are also attending lectures.

Fourth year students work full time on their project from January until June.

Funding Arrangements

Students are keen to work with industry in their projects as this can often help not only with student debts but it can also provide the student with valuable work experience. Depending on where the student is expected to work whilst performing the project the following is a guideline as to what recompense the students often expect.

In addition the University would be expected to be recompensed for any additional project costs over and above what we would usually expect to pay for ourselves. For example the cost of specialised equipment needed to perform the project or the cost of drawing up an overly complicated agreement.

Intellectual Property Arrangements

IP arrangements for 3rd year and M.Sc. projects can be negiotated on a case by case basis. There are very little constraints on the type of arrangements which can be entered into. Clearly the more stringent the IP arrangements are then the higher the cost to the sponsoring organisation.

Fourth year projects are slightly different in that here students are expected to produce a product-oriented piece of work together with a business plan. The student needs to consider the work as if they were about to spin off the work into a separate company. Indeed in some years this has happened.

In such a situation the IP arrangement needs to be more carefully arranged. Since such work is usually of the software development nature a suitable IP agreement could consist of one of the following options:

  1. The software is freely licensed to the company on a non-exclusive basis, the company essentially funding the development costs.
  2. The software is sold back to the company, if they wish to use it in future, on an exclusive use basis.
  3. The software is freely licensed to the company on a non-exclusive basis, with the company taking an equity stake if the student decides to set up their own company marketing the software.

If you are interested in helping to suggest possible project ideas or in supervising a project then please contact Simon McIntosh-Smith.