Every study project should contain "something old" and "something new". The "something old" is the explanation of some interesting technical aspect of the research papers, and is the main focus of the project. As for the "something new", the intention is that every project should at least a little bit of new technical material. For instance, you could take a claim or lemma that is not proven in the paper (or whose proof is only sketched) and give the full proof. Or, in the case of a theorem stated in asymptotic terms (e.g., "if X has superpolynomial security, then so does Y"), you could translate it into concrete security terms (give the exact form of the reduction: e.g., "if X is (t,q,e)-secure, then Y is (t/2,sqrt(q),10e)-secure"). Or, you could take any security result and say something about how tight it is (e.g., if X is claimed to be (t,q,e)-secure, can you find an attack that (t,q,e/2)-breaks it? what is the best attack you can find against a scheme satisfying the premises of the theorem?). Or, if there is a theorem with a complicated proof, you could take some easier special case and give a simpler proof for that special case. Feel free to be creative in your choice of what you will do. You must state in your proposal what new technical item you will provide.
If you do a study project, the expectation is that you should take effort to make your report "beautiful". Your report does not have to provide a comprehensive survey of the entire topic area you chose, but the parts it does present should be well thought-out, clearly presented and organized, conceptually cohesive, and easy to read.
If you just want to peruse the literature, good places to start include the Journal of Cryptology; conference proceedings from CRYPTO, EUROCRYPT, and ASIACRYPT (these are all available in one convenient location in the Engineering library); and the IACR e-print archive. Many of the papers below can be found online at Springer's LINK service, through the library's INSPEC database (use Melvyl online), or at Citeseer.
Your project proposal is due April 5th.
You may submit your project report electronically or on paper. I prefer electronic submission, although you may choose either. If you submit the final report electronically, it must be in a format which is easily readable on Unix platforms: that means HTML, Postscript, or PDF is fine (but not Microsoft Word). If you submit on paper, place it in David Wagner's mailbox in Soda Hall (in the mailroom, or outside his office: 765 Soda).