PADDIES: Project administration and dissertation delivery Innovations and education support

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Undergraduate computer science (CS) students participate in multiple project based classes throughout their studies. In our context, the two most significant of these are the optional final year project dissertation and the compulsory
penultimate-year team-based software engineering project. These projects can
require levels of independent work, teamwork, critical thinking, communications,
and time management that are not required in other classes. They can also help
inform students’ future paths, many doctoral students tracing their research to their undergraduate projects. The importance of projects is increasingly recognized by professional, accreditation and education bodies. This paper explores the evolution of these two project classes over their short history at the first Sino-foreign higher education institution (SfHEI), the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC). Growing from the paper-and-pen-based administration of a couple of dozen students in 2014–15 to the current highly automated administration of around 100 students, stages in this evolution have included: the automation of project catalogue preparation, introduction of rubric-based marking, industrial collaboration, COVID-related remote working and administration, and innovative quality assurance mechanisms.
This paper traces the background and evolution of the two explicit UNNC CS
project classes. Cross-pollination of ideas and innovations across both are explored, following a reflective practice grounded in Kaizen philosophy. Experiences scaling up the classes, and managing the related administrative and pedagogical challenges, are explored. A recent experience of obtaining Chinese provincial “first class module” recognition is also critically examined, including a discussion of the importance of accreditation and external recognition for curriculum innovations.
Delivering undergraduate projects is challenging, requiring management not only
of participating students but also the coordination of the supervisors and other key stakeholders. Ensuring timely and consistent marking, suitable provision of
feedback, punctual mark administration and quality assurance practices that meet accreditor standards are examples of the tensions and challenges to be contended with. This paper includes details and experiences of how these issues have been dealt with in an SfHEI over the last decade of UNNC CS projects.
This is, we believe, the first report of undergraduate CS project classes in an SfHEI context. The double recognition, by both a British professional body and a Chinese provincial education authority, represent a unique aspect of this study. The lessons learned over the evolution of the two project classes and the listing of best practices and advice for other undergraduate project administration will be of interest to both educators and administrators.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2022 International Conference on Open and Innovative Education (ICOIE 2022)
EditorsEva Tsang, Kam Cheong Li, Philips Wang
Place of PublicationHong Kong
PublisherHong Kong Metropolitan University
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)9789888439690
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2022
Event2022 International Conference on Open and Innovative Education - Hong Kong Metropolitan University, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Duration: 13 Jul 202215 Jul 2022


Conference2022 International Conference on Open and Innovative Education
Abbreviated titleICOIE 2022
Country/TerritoryHong Kong
CityHong Kong
Internet address


  • Undergraduate projects
  • professional accreditation
  • class administration
  • Sino-foreign Higher Education
  • reflective practice


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