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Research project 1: Transport planning and engineering methods (CIV5135W)

Course convenor: A/Prof Mark Zuidgeest (Department of Civil Engineering)

Course objectives
The course aims to develop research skills, with a particular focus of developing professional practice in the transport studies field. The objective of the research project is to provide students with an opportunity to develop and enhance skills in a selected area of professional transport planning and engineering practice. The research involves undertaking a critical investigation of the origins, rationale, and debates surrounding a selected transport planning or engineering method applied in professional practice, mastering the necessary activities associated with applying the practice, and reflecting upon how it might be improved.

Course structure and submissions
Students are not required to be present on the university campus while undertaking this course. Contact with the course convenor can be maintained through email and skype. Weighted at 25 credits, the course will require in the region of 250 hours of research time to complete.

The course runs over a single semester, and is comprised of the following phases and associated submissions:

Phase 1:       Topic selection and research proposal

This phase will involve:

  • identifying an element of professional data collection, design, analysis, modelling and estimation, (impact) assessment, operations and control, regulation or design practice in the field of transport planning and engineering for study (e.g. an infrastructure design code, traffic control design, Level-Of-Service analysis, trip generation rates, parking standards, trip diary instruments, traffic assignment models, cost-benefit analysis, routing algorithm, network optimization algorithm, walkability index, calibration technique,  a geometric design standard, modelling method etc.) – students are responsible for identifying a planning or engineering method or technique for investigation, but are welcome to discuss their ideas with the staff within the Centre for Transport Studies; and
  • preparing a research proposal that motivates why the method is of interest and relevance to the context within which he or she practices, articulates a set of key research questions, explains the research method (and if applicable data collection method) that will be followed, and organises the required research activities into a programme of work.

Submission: research proposal (maximum 2,500 words)

Phase 2:       Research ethics clearance

This phase will involve:

  • preparing a research ethics application; and
  • acquiring clearance to proceed with the planned research.

Submission: Assessment of ethics in research projects (submitted to department representative on the Faculty Ethics in Research Committee)

Phase 3:       Literature search and information collation

This phase will involve:

  • searching library data bases and internet search engines to find information on the selected method, and relevant codes of practice and guidance manuals in particular;
  • where applicable, identifying and contacting key individuals and organisations to collect required information on the method that is not available in the literature; and
  • where applicable, assembling the data required to apply the selected method.

Submission: none

Phase 4:       Draft research report (and abstract)

This phase will involve:

  • studying the codes of practice and other information found in the previous phase;
  • applying the selected transport planning or engineering method or technique;
  • writing a draft research report which presents the findings of, and reflection on, the method application; and
  • writing a draft abstract aimed at a professional audience.

Submission: draft research report (maximum 8,000 words excluding references appendices and tables) and abstract (maximum 350 words)

Phase 5:       Final research report (and abstract)

This phase will involve:

  • revising the method application on the basis of the feedback received;
  • finalising the research report; and
  • finalising the abstract aimed at a professional audience.

Submission: final research report (maximum 8,000 words excluding references appendices and tables) and abstract (maximum 350 words)

Learning outcomes
Students who have completed the course successfully should:

  • be able to design and execute a small research project (including an appreciation of research ethics) (e.g. a meta-analysis, a systematic review of standards and practices or calibration of a model);
  • be able to demonstrate competency in a selected element of professional data collection, analysis, modelling and estimation, (impact) assessment, operations and control, regulation or design practice in the field of transport planning and engineering (e.g. an infrastructure design code, traffic control design, level-of-service analysis, trip generation rates, parking standards, trip diary instruments, traffic assignment models, cost-benefit analysis, etc.);
  • demonstrate a critical understanding of the origins, objectives, current applications and shortcomings of a selected professional practice; and
  • be able to identify lessons and implications for improvements for a selected professional practice.

Assessment
The research project will be subjected to both internal and external examination.

First drafts of the research project reports will be assessed by the course convenor for the purposes of feedback, but no marks will be awarded.

The aggregate mark for this course is compiled as follows:

research proposal 10%
final research project report (and abstract) 90%
  100%

Students who do not obtain an aggregate mark of at least 50% will be deemed to have failed the course.