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Academic Overview

Learning Objectives

At the completion of this unit students will:

  • appreciate the context and application of information retrieval systems;
  • understand the different models of information retrieval and their comparative advantages and disadvantages;
  • understand how objective and subjective evaluation strategies are used with information retrieval systems;
  • be conversant with the issues and challenges of managing very large databases of heterogeneous data for information retrieval;
  • understand how web search engines and search algorithms are constructed, utilised and deployed;
  • appreciate the different indexing strategies that can be used for the retrieval of information across different modalities;
  • understand how information retrieval systems can be used for the retrieval of audio-visual information;
  • appreciate the utility of and understand the theoretical and practical underpinnings of relevance feedback in information retrieval systems.

Graduate Attributes

Monash prepares its graduates to be:
  1. responsible and effective global citizens who:
    1. engage in an internationalised world
    2. exhibit cross-cultural competence
    3. demonstrate ethical values
  2. critical and creative scholars who:
    1. produce innovative solutions to problems
    2. apply research skills to a range of challenges
    3. communicate perceptively and effectively

Assessment Summary

Examination (2 hours): 50%; In-semester assessment: 50%

Assessment Task Value Due Date
Practical Assignment 25% Week 9
Research Report 25% Week 12
Examination 1 50% To be advised

Teaching Approach

  • Lecture and tutorials or problem classes
    This teaching and learning approach is delivered through lectures, tutorials and problem classes.
  • Laboratory-based classes
    Laboratory-based classes facilitates a practical learning approach. 


Our feedback to You

Types of feedback you can expect to receive in this unit are:
  • Informal feedback on progress in labs/tutes
  • Graded assignments with comments
  • Interviews

Your feedback to Us

Monash is committed to excellence in education and regularly seeks feedback from students, employers and staff. One of the key formal ways students have to provide feedback is through SETU, Student Evaluation of Teacher and Unit. The University's student evaluation policy requires that every unit is evaluated each year. Students are strongly encouraged to complete the surveys. The feedback is anonymous and provides the Faculty with evidence of aspects that students are satisfied and areas for improvement.

For more information on Monash's educational strategy, and on student evaluations, see:

Previous Student Evaluations of this unit

If you wish to view how previous students rated this unit, please go to

Recommended Resources

Recommended reading will be provided during the lectures as appropriate.

Unit Schedule

Week Activities Assessment
0 This schedule is subject to change, please refer to Moodle for updates. No formal assessment or activities are undertaken in week 0
1 Introduction  
2 Indexing, lexical analyses and the Boolean model  
3 Vector space model  
4 Web search  
5 Vector space model II/Latent Semantic Indexing  
6 Probabilistic models  
7 Relevance feedback and text classification  
8 Collaborative filtering  
9 Content-based image retrieval Assignment 1: Practical Assignment due Week 9
10 Discussion class  
11 Evaluation  
12 Advanced topics Assignment 2: Research Approach due week 12
  SWOT VAC No formal assessment is undertaken in SWOT VAC
  Examination period LINK to Assessment Policy: http://policy.monash.edu.au/policy-bank/

*Unit Schedule details will be maintained and communicated to you via your MUSO (Blackboard or Moodle) learning system.

Assessment Requirements

Assessment Policy

To pass a unit which includes an examination as part of the assessment a student must obtain:

  • 40% or more in the unit's examination, and
  • 40% or more in the unit's total non-examination assessment, and
  • an overall unit mark of 50% or more.

If a student does not achieve 40% or more in the unit examination or the unit non-examination total assessment, and the total mark for the unit is greater than 50% then a mark of no greater than 49-N will be recorded for the unit

Assessment Tasks


Please ask lots of questions during lectures and tutorials.   You won't be assessed on the quality of your questions, but you will get a lot more out of the unit!

  • Assessment task 1
    Practical Assignment
    This assignment will involve the implementation of an information retrieval system.   More details will be provided during the lecture in week 2.
    Criteria for assessment:
    • The quality of submission in relation to the assignment specification.  
    • A marking guide will be provided at the time of release of the assignment specifications. 
    • Students may be required to present their work to the class.
    Due date:
    Week 9
  • Assessment task 2
    Research Report
    Students will prepare a 3,000 word research report on a topic relevant to Information Retrieval.   Suggested topics will be provided.   This assignment will be completed by individual students, not groups.  Students may be required to present their work to the class.
    Criteria for assessment:
    • The main criterion for assessment will be the quality of analysis presented in the report. 
    • More detail regarding marking will be provided when the assignment is handed out.
    Due date:
    Week 12


  • Examination 1
    2 hours
    Type (open/closed book):
    Closed book
    Electronic devices allowed in the exam:

Assignment submission

It is a University requirement (http://www.policy.monash.edu/policy-bank/academic/education/conduct/plagiarism-procedures.html) for students to submit an assignment coversheet for each assessment item. Faculty Assignment coversheets can be found at http://www.infotech.monash.edu.au/resources/student/forms/. Please check with your Lecturer on the submission method for your assignment coversheet (e.g. attach a file to the online assignment submission, hand-in a hard copy, or use an online quiz).

Extensions and penalties

Returning assignments

Referencing requirements

Referencing should follow the IEEE style.

Other Information


Student services

The University provides many different kinds of support services for you. Contact your tutor if you need advice and see the range of services available at www.monash.edu.au/students The Monash University Library provides a range of services and resources that enable you to save time and be more effective in your learning and research. Go to http://www.lib.monash.edu.au or the library tab in my.monash portal for more information. Students who have a disability or medical condition are welcome to contact the Disability Liaison Unit to discuss academic support services. Disability Liaison Officers (DLOs) visit all Victorian campuses on a regular basis

Recommended reading will be provided during the lectures where appropriate.

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