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Miniproject guidelines

First year Complexity MSc students will each do two successive 12-week miniprojects, each generally comprising about one week of prior reading, ten weeks of active research, and finally a presentation of their work for assessment (see assessment information below). This year we have 12 students meaning we have 24 miniproject places to fill. Supervising a miniproject is an excellent opportunity to potentially recruit a fully-funded PhD student into your research program (see below). In addition, we have also 7 Erasmus Mundus students on a Masters programme in Complex Systems Science who will each do one project. This page provides details of the miniprojects and proposal submission information.

Scientific remit of Complexity Miniprojects

We have prepared a list of pointers describing what fits as Complexity Science and, perhaps more importantly, what does not. Miniprojects should present students with an accessible challenge on which to demonstrate competence in research techniques, plus the opportunity to contribute something more original. Miniprojects should have some actual or prospective connection to "downstream" users or crossing disciplines. Downstream users could ideally be our external end-users already associated with the centre, or new prospective additions to that list. They could also be other academic groups closer to practical application than you. Proposed projects are, in principle, vetted by complexity staff for suitability before offering them to the students. If you have any queries about your project idea, DTC staff will be happy to discuss it with you before submission. The coordinator for MSc projects this year is Stefan Grosskinsky.

Schedule and deadlines

  • Deadline for submission of proposals by supervisors: Wednesday, February 12 2014
  • Deadline for selection of projects by the students: Wednesday, March 5 2014
  • Slot 1 : late March 2014 to mid June 2014
  • Slot 2 : mid June 2014 to mid September 2014

You will be asked to specify which slots you will be available in to supervise your project. We do not generally expect any project to actually run more than once. We realise that holidays and conference trips are liable to intrude on research time. We expect both supervisors and students to be business-like in organising that each knows when the other will not be available. If the main supervisor is going to absent for longer than two weeks in succession, then the student should be assured of some back up by co-supervisor or a colleague.

Supervision requirements and commitments

Miniprojects on Campus can be single supervisor and in each case one named Warwick department involved should get teaching credit for the supervision. For supervisors who do not hold full academic posts at Warwick (Assistant Professor and above), we need a named back-up (typically in same dept) who does. Miniprojects based off-campus need a Warwick co-supervisor who is responsible for checking the smooth running of the project and assuring and contributing to the assessment. Primary supervisors are expected to stay in regular contact with their student (e.g weekly appointment and available at further times). Co-supervisors (where applicable) are expected to check with the student within about two weeks and every four weeks thereafter.

Students' Capabilities and Resources

Our students come from a range of generally science backgrounds, and their MSc teaching has focussed on mathematical and statistical modelling. We would expect some will be interested in joining in experimental work, and all should be able to relate to data, but they cannot be presumed to be trained in experimental methods. Complexity students are equipped with their own laptop and have some access to CSC Desktop and Workstation Cluster (CoW) computing resources: more than that is up to the supervisor to provide. Likewise our students have only very limited consumables resources (e.g. office costs) and meeting any more specialist experimental costs is the responsibility of the supervisor.

Follow-on PhD projects

Most of our Complexity students are (subject to satisfactory performance) already funded for PhD: supervising a miniproject is your prime opportunity to recruit one of them to your research programme! Choices of miniproject will not bind student choice of PhD project, but they will serve as a prospective taster (both individually and through group opinion). We expect that all miniprojects offer the possibility of a follow-up PhD project. It is important that supervisors think about how a miniproject could lead towards a PhD project, with prospects for collaboration with another department or outside body (per PhD requirements below). What we expect of PhD projects is summarised in our PhD projects. You might also want to review our summary answering the question what is Complexity Science?


Miniproject 1
  • 30 % of marks for poster presentation which will take place at the DTC annual retreat. The poster presentation assessment form is available here.
  • 70 % of marks for a scientific report on the project.
    Regarding the formatting and structure, the report should be written as a journal article using the style file of a journal appropriate for the field of the research (which journal format is most appropriate should be agreed between student and supervisor). If the journal you selected has a page limit, it can be ignored but the report should not exceed 8000 words (common sense should be used if there are a lot of equations).
    Regarding content, the report should be understandable by your fellow students, so the introduction and literature review could be a bit more detailed than in a research paper.
    The report will be marked by complexity staff with input from the supervisor. The supervisor feedback online form is available here. If you prefer to fill in a hard copy, it is available here.
Miniproject 2
  • 30 % of marks for an oral presentation which will take place during the visit of the external examiner in late September.
  • 70 % of marks for a scientific report in the project. The report for miniproject 2 is the same as for miniproject 1 above.

Miniproject proposal submission

Prospective supervisors are asked to prepare a project outline which should not exceed 1 A4 page. We have prepared as short list of pointers of what to include in the project outline.

Miniproject proposals should be submitted to the DTC using our online submission form. The deadline is Wednesday, Feb 12 2014. We will do our best to consider later submissions - the form stays open. We welcome both new projects and also resubmission of projects not taken in previous years. Lists of projects from previous years are still available for review from the links on the top.

We are also offering opportunities for prospective supervisors to give short 10 minute presentations to the students ahead of time. These talks will take place on Wednesday mornings. We would especially advise external supervisors and supervisors from other departments who have not had a chance to interact much with the students to make one of these presentations. Our experience in previous years has been that the students strongly favour proposals from supervisors who have already presented their research. Staff can book a slot to talk about your research/project here.

As in recent years there will also be a miniproject fair where prospective supervisors can bring posters to advertise their projects to students with drinks and nibbles, which will take place on Wednesday, Feb 19 2014 from 4pm.