COMP 440 (2021) - Home Page

This information applies to COMP 440, COMP 441, ENGR 440, ENGR 441 and CGRA 440, in either Trimester 1 or Trimester 2.

COMP 440 is a directed Individual Study course, which can take more than one form.

The standard form is an individualised course of study negotiated with your supervisor and the organiser of COMP 440. A Course Outline is prepared and agreed with you, detailing the topic of the Directed Individual Study, what you are required to do and how you will be assessed.

A non-standard form is the "wrapped" form which consists of a 300-level course plus a research essay. The course requirements consist of the requirements for the 300-level "wrapped" course plus the additional COMP 440 requirements below.

Please note: from 2020 the School has adopted a policy of minimising the use of ENGR 440/441 Directed Individual Study courses as "wrappers" of 300-level courses, due to the significant problems this practice creates.

link for staff.

Requirements (when taken as a 400-level "wrapper" for another course)

You must meet all the requirements of the wrapped course. As a graduate course, you are required to do work additional to the 300-level wrapped course, generally in the form of an research essay on some topic related to the wrapped course.

Students must reach out to the course coordinator of the 300-level course and identify themselves. The course coordinator for the 300-level wrapped course will let you know what the requirements are for their course.


Your grade for COMP 440 will be determined based on the following assessment weightings:
  • 80%: Your mark for the wrapped course
  • 20%: Research Essay (or other negotiated component)

Research Essay

If you are wrapping a 300-level course where you are expected to write a research essay, then the essay should be around 1500 - 2000 words (3000 word limit), and is due at the end of the term: 11 June/19 Nov (Tri1/Tri2), unless the wrapped course has no exam or assessment item due during the exam period, in which case the deadline will be 26 June/26 Nov (08:59hrs). Please reach out to me if you're unsure.

On some courses, the course coordinator will have course-specific instructions about the research essay.

Instruction for research essays, where the course coordinator has not given course-specific instructions

If the course coordinator does not have instructions specific to that course, then you can choose your own topic for your essay but you must have the topic approved by the organiser of the wrapped course and by the organiser of COMP 440 by 1 Apr/12 Aug, and have a preliminary bibliography of reading for the essay approved by 6 May/16 Sep. You can submit the essay topic, the bibliography, and the final essay as pdf files via the submission system.

  • COMP/CGRA/ENGR 440/441 submission page
    The title of the page is "COMP440", but use it regardless of which actual code you are enrolled in.
    Make sure that the name of the file you submit contains the course code for the 300-level course you are wrapping.
Please include your name and the code for the wrapped course in the name of the file that you submit.

Essay Structure

Unless you have negotiated an alternative form of the essay (or an approved practical project or other alternative assessment), your essay should describe the state of the art of some narrow research area within the area of your course, based around three key research papers, but referring to additional papers for background. The audience for the essay is students who have taken the wrapped course; we intend to make these essays available to future students of the course as resources for them to find out more about the area of the course.

The structure of the essay will be
  • The problem/issue
    • Describe the problem/issue/limitation that the papers are trying to address
    • Explain why it matters - where does the problem arise in practice.
  • Explaining the three papers
    • Explain the solutions presented by the three papers, highlighting the similarities and differences between their solutions
  • Limitations
    • Discuss the limitations of the solutions - what they don't solve yet.
    • Briefly outline any other approaches from other papers that address any of these limitations, if any.
  • Conclusion
    • Summarise the state of the art in addressing the problem, saying what can be done now, and what issues are still open for future research.

Essay Marking

The essay is expected to demonstrate achievement at a graduate level, as in other 400-level courses. The assessment of the essay will be based on criteria such as
  • Demonstrated understanding of appropriate research literature.
  • Clear exposition of the issue addressed and the approaches presented in the papers that were read.
  • Demonstrated understanding of the relationships between the approaches presented in papers, comparing and contrasting the approaches, not simply describing each paper separately.
  • Insightful discussion of the limitations of the approaches and the outstanding problems that still need to be addressed
  • Well written (spelling, grammar, clarity, structure) with appropriate referencing of the literature.
Late submission of the final essay will result in a penalty of 10% per day, unless an extension is negotiated on the basis of exceptional circumstances.