This week, for the first time, we are running our 3rd year exams in January rather than in the summer. This is part of our continual process of updating our degrees to make sure that our students get the best and most relevant experience they can.
We are doing it to make sure our final year projects are the best they can be. The final year project is our students’ opportunity to work on a large scale software development project like one they will work on when they get a job as a programmer. Employers are looking for graduate software developers who have practical programming experience and so the final year project is a vital part of the portfolio our graduates can show to employers. We have therefore made it an important part of their degree and work hard to make it as close to work in industry as possible.
Like most universities we used to run our projects at the same time as the 3rd year taught courses. Many students told us that this made it difficult to work on the project, as they were torn between working on their course works and on their project and could never concentrate on their project as they should. Based on this feedback we took the radical step of making the second term project only, so they could concentrate entirely on their project and have a term entirely dedicated to practical work as a preparation for their first job.
We tried this last year and our students gave us great feedback, and produced some excellent projects, but they still said they couldn’t concentrate 100% on their projects because they still had to do exams in the summer. So this year we have moved their exams to the first week of this term, after which they can concentrate on nothing but their projects.
It’s been a lot of hard work for us, we are the only department to have exams in January and organising them at this time has meant a lot of preparation to tight deadlines, but it will all be worth it if it gives our students the opportunity to work on exciting projects and to do great work.