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Department of Computer Science and Technology


MPhil in Advanced Computer Science


Scheme of assessment

MPhil Students must take twelve modules.

Students take five taught modules selected from those offered in each year in consultation with their Course Adviser, each of which is assessed independently. In consultation with their Course Adviser and a Project Supervisor, students undertake a research project which is worth seven taught modules.

The deadline by which students must submit their final selection of modules is early October (date to be confirmed). Module selections must be approved by the Postgraduate Education Committee. The Postgraduate Education Office will enrol MPhil students for modules on CamSIS. There will be one final opportunity to change module selections for Lent Terms at the end of Michaelmas term (date to be confirmed). The deadline by which all students must confirm their enrolment on CamSIS is the third Friday in January.

Each year ACS teaching staff will propose research projects that they are willing to supervise and these will be published on the web in the second part of Michaelmas Term. Students may also propose their own project.

Students must obtain an average mark of 60.0% or more across all taught modules and also 60% or more in the project to obtain the MPhil degree. A distinction will be awarded to students who obtain an average of 75.0% (900 marks out of 1200) or more across all of taught modules together with the project mark as weighted by its module equivalent.

Coursework and Written Tests

Each student must take :

  • 5 taught full modules (or a combination of full and half-modules to the equivalent of 5 full modules) and undertake a project and submit a project report of up to 15,000 words

Each taught module consists of 16 contact hours normally over 8 weeks which may consist of any combination of lectures and/or supervised practicals, seminars or reading groups. (Where any half modules of 8 contact hours are offered and taken, these must be combined with another half module to count towards the degree requirement.) Students are expected to undertake around 4 hours of self-study for each contact hour.

Modules may be assessed by a combination of tests and/or coursework. Coursework may consist of recorded 'ticks' for ungraded assignments and/or graded term papers, practical reports, or essays. Ticks for ungraded reading assignments, oral presentations, or practical work may constitute a maximum of 20% of the coursework for any individual module.

Written papers may be set on selected modules. Test questions are marked according to a marking scheme and solution notes that are made available to the course examiners and agreed in advance of the test. Test papers will indicate the assignment of marks to each question and each component of a question. Students taking modules in which a 'take home test' test is set will be required to sign an undertaking that the work will be their own and not completed in collaboration with any other person.

Formal notices of the schedule and format of written and take-home tests will be sent electronically to all students and posted in the MPhil and Part III Practical Laboratory SW02 at the end of November (for Michaelmas modules) and early March (Lent modules). Written and take-home tests are, in general, set during the first week of following term. Written tests are no longer than two hours' long and reading time is provided; students are generally given between 48 and 72 hours to complete take-home tests. For modules where assessment is by coursework alone, the deadlines will be published. Final essay and mini-project submissions are, usually, set for the first week of the following term.

Students are recommended to use the study weeks immediately after and immediately before the Cambridge full terms to revise for tests and to complete coursework.



A schedule of coursework deadlines will be published each year. Deadlines are taken seriously and marks will be deducted for late submission.

The penalty for the late submission of coursework will be calculated as follows:

penalty = n/10 x mark

where n is the integer part of the number of days late, rounded up to the nearest integer.

Take-home tests: Failure to submit a take-home test script by the time and date published will result in it being awarded zero marks.

Individual project report: Failure to submit the project report by 11:00 on the required date will lead to it being awarded zero marks and outright failure.

Research project word and page count: The word count is defined as the number of words in the main body of the project report excluding the abstract, bibliography and appendices but including footnotes and captions. Exceeding the published maximum word or page count will result in a penalty as follows:

penalty = 10% x mark


Extensions will not be granted except in exceptional circumstances such as illness or some other grave reason. Requests for mitigation must be made by a student's College Tutor. If you are a Part III student, your Tutor will need to make a case to the General Board's Examination Access and Mitigation Committee. If you are an MPhil student, your Tutor needs to write to the Examiners, via the Secretary of the Degree Committee, requesting an extension on the student's behalf. Module lecturers cannot approve requests for deadline extensions.

Please see the Faculty's guidance on deadlines for further instructions as to what to do in such circumstances.

The final project report must be handed by the time and on the date published.

See Part III and MPhil ACS projects and the Student Registry's list of M.Phil submission deadlines for Easter Term.

Marking Guidelines

Research project reports are marked out of 100 and the pass mark is 60.

Suggested guidelines to M.Phil project assessors and examiners:

Test papers in the form of questions seeking short factual answers may be used where more appropriate to the subject matter. These will be usually marked out of 20 and the assignment of marks for each question and/or component of a question will be indicated on the paper.

Coursework marking schemes will vary according to the length and weight of individual asignments.

In assessing each module, conveners are able to assign marks on a scale from 0-100% or letter grades (see below). Work in each band might have the following characteristics. These descriptions are comparable with the guidance given to project report examiners:

Numerical marks

  • 90-100% - Definitive treatment of material. Close to faultless in execution and presentation. Original interpretation extending beyond taught material.
  • 80-89% - Fully correct treatment of material. Only very minor faults in execution, depth of understanding or presentation. Demonstrates significant insight or creativity.
  • 75-79% - Very good treatment of material. Demonstrates thorough understanding, with some minor faults.
  • 70-74% - Clearly presented. Evidence of understanding, but may contain some faults. Execution basically good
  • 60-69% - Adequate presentation, lacking clarity or detail in places, or containing irrelevant material. Mostly demonstrates understanding, but with occasional mistakes.
  • 50-59% - Somewhat incoherent, with important omissions, or irrelevant material. Some serious flaws in understanding.
  • 40-49% - Work is poor and unstructured, with some parts missing. Little evidence of understanding, many inconsistencies and flaws.
  • 30-39% - All aspects have been handled badly. Assigned work is substantially absent, incomprehensible or wrong. Little evidence of understanding, but at least mentions most of the relevant ideas.
  • 20-29% - Almost total failure to engage with task. Assigned work is substantially absent, incomprehensible or wrong. Some reference to relevant ideas, but many are entirely missing.
  • 0-19% - No evidence of any understanding. Marks may be given for presentation.

Letter grades

Letter grades may be used for feedback for work submitted during the term. A final numerical mark based on a summative written assignment will be provided after the Examiners' meetings in February and May.

  • A+ excellent, consistent with final grades in range 85-100
  • A very good, consistent with final grades in range 75-85
  • B good, consistent with final grades in range 70-80
  • C acceptable, consistent with final grades in range 60-70
  • D disappointing, consistent with risk that a pass grade will not be achieved
  • E unacceptable, consistent with fail

Students will be notified about their progress in Michaelmas and Lent Terms by letter following the Examiners' meetings in February and May. The grades provide provisional feedback only; results are subject to confirmation at the Final Examiners' meeting, the Degree Committee and by the University of Cambridge's Student Registry.

Plagiarism and collusion

The Faculty's guidance on plagiarism and collusion may be found at

The Degree Committee for the Faculty of Computer Science and Technology subscribes to the policy and guidance on plagiarism and collusion provided by the University's Board of Graduate Studies, the General Board and Board of Examinations. See University-wide statement on plagiarism.