Certificate of Postgraduate Study in Chemical Engineering
Guidelines on preparing a CPGS dissertation
Nature of Dissertation
The dissertation is a summary of three term's research on a specific topic, and can lead to the award of a CPGS. Most candidates hope ultimately to become registered for a PhD degree, and may be allowed by the Examiners to have their CPGS work "count" towards the PhD degree. The Department emphasises that such an allowance is a privilege and not a right. The Examiners are looking for clear evidence that the candidate is capable of submitting a good PhD dissertation in a reasonable length of time (ideally within three years of starting research, and certainly within no more than four years).
The CPGS dissertation is expected to contain evidence of research output. A few projects do not naturally lead to many results at this stage; in these cases, it is appropriate to give a detailed account of original work such as the design and construction of a new apparatus or, if the work is theoretical, a mathematical analysis.
A critical literature survey is an important part of the dissertation. This should be more than a mere catalogue of what others have done. You should relate what you have read to the work you have done and propose to do.
Another important part of the CPGS dissertation is the proposal for future work. This should give full details of your proposed work plan, and describe what advances you believe you will make if you are registered for the PhD degree. It is unlikely that a satisfactory plan of future work could be written in less than three pages.
The standard of presentation must be comparable to that of a reputable scientific or engineering journal. The dissertation should be clearly written, with well laid-out tables and good quality figures. The grammar, punctuation and spelling of the text of the dissertation are important. Friends and group members may be willing to help candidates with their English, but it is ultimately the candidate's responsibility to produce a dissertation of an appropriate standard.
You may find it helpful to peruse copies of CPGS dissertations from previous years. These are available for inspection in the departmental library.
Title of Dissertation: As required by the regulations, your supervisor will be sent a form on which to enter the title of your dissertation which you have both agreed. The form is then returned to the Graduate Studies Office, in the Engineering Department, normally not later than the end of your second term of candidature, for approval by the Degree Committee for Engineering.
Draft of Dissertation: It is essential to prepare a draft version of the dissertation for your supervisor to inspect at least one month before the final version is to be submitted. Thus, for students admitted in October, the first draft should be ready by mid May. Substantial amendments to a first draft are often required on the basis of the Supervisor's comments.
Submission of Dissertation: Candidates admitted in October must submit their dissertations before the end of the Easter Full Term (~June 11th). In exceptional circumstances, the Graduate Studies Office may allow an extension. The regulations require each candidate to submit two copies of the dissertation to the Graduate Studies Office in the Department of Engineering. After the dissertation has been examined, one copy shall be retained by the Department and deposited with the librarian.
Examination: Two Examiners will be appointed by the Degree Committee to read your dissertation and examine you orally on the subject of your dissertation. The date of the oral examination is fixed by mutual agreement between the candidate and the Examiners, and it normally takes place in Cambridge a few weeks after submission of the dissertation. The Examiners are likely to ask you questions both on the specific content of your dissertation, and on material relating more generally to your research topic. The Examiners send a report to the Degree Committee and the Degree Committee make a recommendation to the Board of Graduate Studies.
Preparation of Dissertations: Detailed Requirements
- The dissertation must be between 6,000 and 10,000 words in length. On no account can the dissertation be longer than 10,000 words, and in addition it must not contain more than 40 pages, including diagrams, references and appendices.
- The dissertation should be produced on A4 paper. Candidates should select a font and line-spacing within a word processing system that produces text that is clear and easy to read. The Department recommends using Times New Roman font, 12 pt characters with 1-1.5 line spacing. All diagrams must either be A4 size or else folded to fit within the limits of the A4 size. The dissertation must be submitted in a folder or firmly bound. The Department does not pay for any costs associated with the production of the thesis.
- The dissertation should contain the following, in the order listed below:
- Outside front cover. Departmental header, your name, college and the title of the dissertation printed clearly, together with the year of submission.
- A preface (typically half a page) which contains:
- a statement of where the work was carried out and during what period, e.g. Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, University of Cambridge, between January and December 2009.
- a statement confirming that the work contained in the dissertation, or any part thereof, has not been submitted for any other degree.
- a statement giving the numbers of words contained in the dissertation.
- any acknowledgements to those who have helped with or sponsored the work.
- A one-page summary reporting the purpose and results of the work.
- A page listing the contents; the account should be sectionalised and sub-divided wherever this is helpful.
- The main text of the dissertation (see point 4 below).
- The main text of the dissertation may well contain the following sections (some of which may be combined):
This should put your research topic in perspective in relation to existing understanding of the problem, and make clear the aims of the project.
- Literature Review
This should review published literature critically, particularly in the context of your research programme.
Experimental procedures should be reported in this section. Ideally, these should be in sufficient detail that your results could be reproduced by another worker. This section might also include a description of a laboratory apparatus that you have constructed or that you propose to build.
This might contain a description of the theory underpinning the experimental techniques you have used and the methods for interpreting experimental data. Alternatively, it might contain details of the numerical scheme used for simulation experiments.
A concise description of your results should be reported, whether these are experimental, numerical or theoretical. The dissertation is not intended as an archive of every single result that you may have obtained. Attention should be given to error analysis and reproducibility of the results.
This should be a critical discussion of the results that you have obtained.
State the conclusions drawn from the Results and Discussion reported in previous sections. Have any of the aims of the work been achieved?
- Future Work
This section should normally be about three pages in length, and should contain a detailed description of your future research plans.
All references to published work should be given in a consistent style. The Department recommends that the format used is that advocated in the instructions to authors in Chemical Engineering Science, i.e. using the following style:
- to a book:
Kay, J. M. and Nedderman, R. M. (1985). Fluid Mechanics and Transfer Processes, pp. 328-343. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
- to a journal:
Able, R. M. G., Othen, S. M. and Nedderman, R. M. (1996). The exit time distribution during the batch discharge of a cylindrical bunker. Chem. Eng. Sci., 51, 4605-4610.
- to a book:
Appendices may be used to provide supplementary information that would otherwise disrupt the flow of the text. For instance, it is appropriate to set out a specimen calculation in an Appendix showing clearly all the steps involved in translating the experimental data into a final result.
- List of Symbols
A list of symbols used should be included on a page at the end. If there are a very large number of symbols, it is convenient if this can be made to fold outwards.
- If you believe that your dissertation is not suited to this structure, you must agree a revised outline structure with your supervisor before writing the dissertation.
- The standard of presentation must be comparable to that of a reputable scientific or engineering journal. Journals can be inspected to get an idea of appropriate styles.
- Tables and Figures should normally be integrated with the text.
- Figures and scanned images should be clear and of good quality.
- All pages, including any containing only figures and tables, must be numbered.
- Each diagram, graph, photograph and table should have a number in addition to having a caption. Equations should also normally be numbered.
- Graph axes must be clearly labelled.
- It is standard practice for the symbols of variables to be written in italics. Thus the circumference of a circle is given by 2πr; the variable r is written in italics, but the number 2 is in normal font.
- It is standard practice for a space to be placed between a number and the units. For example, 1 m3 of water weighs 1000 kg (with spaces between "1" and "m3", and "1000" and "kg"). A "non-breaking space" (control-shift-space) can be used to prevent the number and the units coming on separate lines if this would otherwise occur.