Queen's School of Computing NSERC CREATE ULSS

Programs of Study

The ULSS graduate programs are specializations of the existing graduate degree programs in the School of Computing. Students must first be accepted into the School and then to the ULSS Graduate Specialization. See "How to Apply" for application procedures and requirements.

The ULSS CREATE program offers an enriched experience in ultra-large scale software systems, including specialized courses in ULSS Technical Skills, ULSS Professional Skills, and targeted graduate courses in software engineering designed to prepare you for a career in the future of ULSS.

A practical internship or project experience in collaboration with an industrial partner is an integral part of the program, and for the thesis option, an industrially-motivated research topic in ULSS carried out in collaboration with one of our industrial partners.

PhD by Research Thesis

The ULSS specialization PhD consists of the four steps outlined in the School of Computing's PhD program, augmented with a specialization in ULSS. The four steps are breadth, topic proposal, comprehensive examination, and thesis. See the School's graduate website for procedural and scheduling details and overall requirements.

Breadth In the breadth step, students accumulate breadth "tokens" (graduate-level courses or equivalent experience) in the three core areas of computer science, Theory, Applications and Systems, and possibly tokens in other areas relevant to the student's specialization. The School requires at total of ten tokens, with at least two in each of the three core areas. A previous MSc thesis normally counts as a token, as does industrial experience on a topic equivalent to a graduate course. In the ULSS specialization, breadth tokens must include at least CISC 883: Introduction to Ultra-Large-Scale Software Systems, CISC 885: Professional Development in Ultra-Large-Scale Software Systems, and at least two electives chosen from the ULSS electives course list. The breadth step should be completed by the end of the third term (first year) in the program. See here for details.

Topic Proposal In the topic proposal step, a 6-page research topic proposal document is submitted for approval. The document gives a description of a proposed subject area and research topic to be pursued, including a brief oultine of the key and most pertinent literature contributions for the proposed topic. The PhD supervisory committee provides feedback on the document, including expected weights of the literature survey and research plan components of the PhD comprehensive examination. In the ULSS CREATE program, the research topic is normally chosen in consultation with the industrial research partner. This step is to be completed by the end of the third term after initial registration in the PhD program. See here for details.

Comprehensive Examination In the comprehensive examination step, strudents must show that they are well-versed of the state of the art in the area in which they intend to pursue research, that they have a critical perspective of the area, and that they are able to formulate a research plan to explore open problems and research opportunities. A formal PhD research proposal paper is submitted, presented and defended at an oral examination. The research proposal paper is a 40-page maximum document to be submitted before the end of the sixth term after initial registration in the PhD program. It should normally cover background material (e.g., motivation and literature survey), the problem to be tackled, methods to be used (e.g., research plans and experimental design), results sought, evaluation metrics (i.e. how research success will be measured), and milestones (including progress to date). The proportions of text for the literature survey and for the research plans will have already been communicated to the student through the feedback received on their topic proposal step. In the ULSS CREATE program the research proposal is normally created in consultation with the industrial research partner. See here for details.

Thesis In the thesis step, the proposed research is conducted and completed, and a formal dissertation is written and formally defended at an oral thesis examination. In the ULSS program, the examination committee normally includes a representative from the industrial partner. See here for details.

One or more of the topic proposal, comprehensive examination and thesis step will normally include on on-site internship with the industrial partner.

All ULSS CREATE PhD students are eligible for financial support from the CREATE program.

MSc by Research Thesis

The research pattern MSc in ULSS is a specialization of the MSc program of the School of Computing described here, combining four graduate courses with professional development and an MSc research thesis. For the ULSS specialization, the course selection must include at least CISC 883: Introduction to Ultra-Large-Scale Software Systems, and three electives chosen from the ULSS electives course list, as well as CISC 885: Professional Development in Ultra-Large-Scale Software Systems, in place of CISC 897.

An MSc thesis topic in the ULSS area is chosen in collaboration with the industrial partner and completed and defended over the first five terms. The MSc thesis examination will normally include a representative of the industry partner at the examination.

The thesis research step will normally include an on-site internship or remote collaboration with the industrial partner.

All ULSS CREATE research thesis MSc students are eligible for financial support from the CREATE program.

MSc by Courses and Project

The project pattern MSc in ULSS is a specialization of the Project MSc program of the School of Computing described here, combining seven graduate courses with a one-term research project. For the ULSS specialization, the course selection must include: CISC 883: Introduction to Ultra-Large-Scale Software Systems, CISC 885: Professional Development in Ultra-Large-Scale Software Systems in place of CISC 897, at least five other graduate courses with at least three chosen from the ULSS electives course list, and an industrially-motivated one-term research project in ULSS.

Project MSc students are self-funded, and normally receive no financial support from the ULSS CREATE program.