Group Design Project

Module aims

  • To enable the students to consolidate their technical knowledge and understanding through practical application in the context of civil engineering as a design process.
  • To build on the creative design modules and Constructionarium carried out in first and second years.
  • To provide an opportunity for students to work together on a significant piece of civil engineering design.
  • Industrial partnering on the projects allows the students to gain real world insight into the design process.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

On successfully completing this module, students should be able to:

Pull together experience and learning from the creative design modules and Constructionarium in first and second years, as well as knowledge from taught modules, to deliver a comprehensive and feasibly outlined design study. Emphasis is placed on effective team working, engineering creativity, design understanding and practicality, and appropriate use of technical knowledge. Teams of 8 to 12 students work on different projects. All projects will be based on specific briefs, set collaboratively by industry representatives and Departmental academic staff.

Skills and other attributes

On successfully completing this module, students should be able to:

  • Work effectively in a group.
  • Succinctly present and discuss ideas and concepts with third parties.
  • Interpret a client brief and develop a project around the brief.
  • Explore design proposals in an iterative manner.
  • Deliver oral and poster presentations to a professional standard.
  • Present a professional standard written project report.

Module syllabus

The group design project is carried out over four weeks in the summer term. A high degree of initiative is expected from the groups, and for this reason (as is common in practice) project briefs will contain a relatively limited amount of information. Groups are expected to work with clients to develop the briefs into projects, exploring design proposals in an iterative manner, building towards the effective presentation of a comprehensive feasibility and outline design study.

Groups are expected to address issues of:

  • Cost and value, including the business case.
  • Environmental impact and sustainability.
  • Constructability.
  • Risk assessment and mitigation.
  • Health and safety strategy.

 In groups and as individuals students are expected to:

  • Present well-developed and argued cases.
  • Be self-critical and self-assessing.
  • Make group and individual value judgements.
  • Be self-reliant and self-editing.

Groups will have regular meetings with academic and industrial clients during the project, providing a close to real world experience. Group members will need to learn to work together effectively, getting to know each other's technical, practical and social skills. Groups will need to learn to work to their individual strengths, while adapting to cover potential areas of weakness.


CI1-111, CI2-211, CI2-212

Teaching methods

The projects will be evaluated throughout the four weeks that the module runs. This evaluation will be in the form of weekly critical evaluation meetings with the client, as well as continuous peer-assessment and group presentations at the mid-point and end-point of the module. Each group is expected to keep a log book of their activities to be presented to the client with the final report.

During the first critical evaluation meeting groups will need to work with the clients to expand the brief and fill in gaps, arriving at agreement as to exact requirements of the project. Subsequent critical evaluation meetings are intended to provide opportunity for fair and frank exchange of views and ideas as part of the design process. Groups should note that in critical evaluation sessions the client may not be able to provide complete answers, and it is the job of the group to act on client feedback and arrive at solutions leading to a final design.


A short group presentation at the mid-point of the project, and a longer group presentation at the end-point of the project, will allow critical evaluation and self-assessment between groups. Each group will also be required to produce a poster to complement their final group presentation.

Module leaders

Dr Margaret Szabo