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TM470 British Computer Society (BCS) requirements

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One of the interesting things about the OU Computing and IT (Q62) qualification, and closely related qualifications is that it is accredited by the British Computer Society (BCS).

The TM470 undergraduate project module plays an important role in that accreditation, since it enables students to gain direct experience of running and managing their own project, which is an important graduate skill.

Although I’m not (yet) a member myself, the BCS is what you call a professional association. It supports, develops and campaigns for its members. Gaining an OU Computing and IT degree means that you may be able to apply to become something called a Chartered IT Professional (CITP). If you become a BCS member, and a CITP, you can be accepted into something called a public CITP register, which is a further formal accreditation of your status and standing as an IT professional.

Universities that offer degrees that are accredited by the BCS have to go through a formal accreditation process, which is described in an accreditation guidelines document (BCS, pdf).

For those studying TM470, it is worth having a quick look at section 2.5, which is about major projects which are described as follows: “projects must include the students undertaking practical work of some sort using computing/IT technology. This is most frequently achieved by the creation of an artefact as the focus for covering all or part of an implementation lifecycle.” (p.12).

What follows is an abridged version of a summary of what a final project report should contain, according to the BCS (p.12):

  • Elucidation of the problem and the objectives of the project.
  • An in-depth investigation of the context and literature, and where appropriate, other similar products.
  • Where appropriate, a clear description of the stages of the life cycle undertaken.
  • Where appropriate, a description of how verification and validation were applied at these stages.
  • Where appropriate, a description of the use of tools to support the development process.
  • A critical appraisal of the project, indicating the rationale for any design/implementation decisions, lessons learnt during the course of the project, and evaluation.
  • A description of any research hypothesis.
  • In the event that the individual work is part of a group enterprise, a clear indication of the part played by the author in achieving the goals of the project and its effectiveness.
  • References

Looking at the project from another perspective, undergraduate students must demonstrate:

Their ability to apply practical and analytical skills present in the programme as a whole.

  • Innovation and/or creativity.
  • Synthesis of information, ideas, and practices to provide a quality solution together with an evaluation of that solution.
  • That their project meets a real need in a wider context.
  • The ability to self-manage a significant piece of work.
  • Critical self-evaluation of the process.

For TM470 students, all these elements are reflected not only in the module materials, the tuition that is offered by tutors, but also the TM470 learning outcomes (blog). There is also an implicit link here to my more practical suggestions about TM470 Project report structure (blog).

There is, of course, no compulsion or requirement to join a professional association like BCS when you have completed TM470. It is completely up to you, but it does give you a further opportunity to formally recognise your skills and abilities.

Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements are duly given to the BCS. The bullet points summarised above can be found in their accreditation guidelines document, which was last accessed 12 March 2024. At the time of writing I have no formal connection or link to the BCS.

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