MSc dissertations


I am interested in supervising students on the following master theses. I’m also open to consider other titles in my areas of expertise, but please contact me well in advance to ensure adequate planning.

Bugzilla for Accessibility

The student will analyse and categorise usability problems of UK government web sites, looking for recurring accessibility problems.

Improving the performance of web applications

The student will:

  • Analyse the common approaches used to improve the performance of web applications
  • Compare their effectiveness in terms of performance improvement
  • Evaluate the cost for their implementation

Discount Internet security testing

Jacob Nielsen introduced the concept of “discount web usability”, by which persons with minimal experience in usability testing can be effectively used during usability tests. This thesis will investigate the possibility of developing a similar approach for Internet security.

The student will build on top of existing methodologies and technologies to develop cost-oriented approaches to internet security testing.

Web-based project management using Prince2

This project will develop a web application to support small Prince2 projects. This is a thesis that requires both business and software development skills. The student will have to be familiar with the Prince2 standard and proficient in a sever-side web development environment (either LAMP/WAMP or IIS/SQL  Server/ASP.NET). Access to a development box will be provided under those conditions.

Recent topics

University programme planner

The student taking this thesis will develop a server-side module planner, to be used by university programmes to manage dependences between modules. The software will be written using PHP and HTML/CSS (AJAX optional). The planner will give allow to easily know which modules students have to take and which ones are optional, and would allow them to correctly plan their studies.

Automated usability testing: analysing the UK web sites

For a number of years researchers have been developed tools for doing automatic web usability testing. The student will be working on an extensive quantitative analysis of web usability, using the the FULL Dmoz catalogue of UK websites (210,000+ web sbites) as corpus, focusing on the homepage. As part of the thesis, the student will have to develop software to support the usability testing and for organising the results. The student is expected to investigate the levels of usability in the different areas of the Dmoz database and to answer to questions as: Are there any categories of web sites which have more usability problems? Which ones? Are there any categories in which the usability is typically higher? Why?

(This thesis has been assigned in February 2010 to Alexander Rukshan and has been submitted in May 2010. A paper with work derived from the disseration has been presented at the ACT 2011 conference.)

Web malware and spam: analysis and countermeasures

The student taking this thesis will focus on investigating malware and spam targeting Web sites (NOT email). The thesis will include a review of the new types of malware and spam that have been appearing in the last years and will investigate countermeasures. As practical component of this thesis, the student will develop a prototype software for collaborative web spam filtering (having a role similar to the one of pyzor for email spam).
The student needs to have or acquire familiarity with Linux and expertise in programming and networks. The student will also have to familiarise with software used to detect malicious intentions as snort and mod_security.