Assessment

Coursework, exams, resits and progression information.

Coursework

Most technical courses have coursework, which usually accounts for 25% of the assessment for the course.

Coursework will usually be submitted either electronically, or in paper form to the ITO.

Coursework deadlines will be announced at the beginning of each course, to help you plan.

Work will normally be handed back within three weeks (generally two) for most courses. Some courses (example large practicals) may take longer but this will be advertised. 

Coursework will be annotated with a grade and/or a mark. Please note that these are provisional and may be revised by the Board of Examiners (for example, this might happen if it became clear that coursework had been much more harshly marked on one course than another).

Examinations

Each lecture course is examined by a separate two hour examination paper in the examination block of semester 2 for most courses (hereinafter referred to as "the May examinations'', although the diet starts in mid-April). However, a few courses have the examination in December (see below) for more details. There are two standard formats for examinations:

  • Attempt two questions out of three. (This is the most common.)
  • Attempt a compulsory question, and one out of two (or more) optional questions.

Some courses (such as Database Systems) use yet another format. The course lecturer will normally advise you if the format of the examination will be different from what you see in the course's past papers: however, it is your responsibility to read the rubric of the examination paper!

For Honours courses (including combined honours), the examinations must be passed at the first attempt, although failures on individual papers are permitted. That is, students failing to obtain an overall Honours pass mark, or failing to achieve 80 credits, after the May examinations will not be permitted to enter fourth year, even if they resit the examinations.

Students who miss an examination with good reason (medical or severe other circumstances) are usually permitted to take the exam in the August (`resit') diet. Similarly, in cases of medical or other severe circumstances that adversely affected performance in an examination, the College has the power to declare an examination void, so that students may take the examination in the August diet as if it were the first attempt. However, students should note that all such concessions are at the discretion of the Board of Examiners and College, and that the School is not obliged to set papers for the August diet in such cases, although it usually does so. Students may in principle be required to take the examination in the May diet of the following year.

It is therefore essential that students with medical or other circumstances affecting examinations inform their Personal Tutor and the Course Organiser immediately.

Calculators not provided at Informatics exams

If the use of a calculator is permitted in an exam, it is your responsibility to bring your own calculator to the exam. 

Only a calculator from the approved list specified in Policy 4.1.3 of the College of Science and Engineering Policy and Procedure of the Use of Calculators in Examinations 2015-16 may be used in Informatics exams.

 

Please note: You are entirely responsible for the working order of your calculators and batteries.   You are warned that although electronic calculators have a high degree of reliability, you should check the correct entry of data and the credibility of results. The commonest form of malfunction is due to the run down of batteries. 

Invigilators will remove calculators not in the approved list; candidates may collect them at the end of the examination (Policy 4.3).

Other schools within the University may have different policies on providing calculators; please make sure you check this before any exams.  If in doubt, take an approved calculator with you to the exam, just in case.

Timing of Honours Examinations in Informatics at Edinburgh

Where Informatics Honours-level courses are assessed by examination, these are usually held during the April/May exam diet.  This places them quite apart from the main teaching weeks during semester.  This is different to courses from years 1 and 2, and may come as a surprise.  However, it is quite intentional and aims to better support you in long-term learning of this more advanced material.

Having a lengthy period (four weeks to six months) rather than a short period (a week or less) between teaching and testing by examination is a more robust way to assess whether you have mastered the material in an advanced course and can make use of it away from lectures and tutorials.  It also supports deeper learning and better long-term retention by giving you the opportunity to revise the material, internalize what you have learnt, and combine it with what you know from other courses.

Keeping exams separate from teaching also allows for a dedicated "project block" of 2 & 3 weeks at the end of semester that is free of lectures and exclusively for courses using alternative assessment methods.  In third year this includes the Large Practicals, as well as some courses assessed entirely through coursework.  In fourth and fifth year this also covers the major student projects.

Note: In 2016/2017 the School is running a trial of December exams for a small number of third-year courses.  The results of this trial, and it's impact on student workload in particular, will be reviewed at the end of the year.

Towards the end of the academic year 2015/2016 College Strategy and Teaching Committees have advised that: 1. First semester courses should be assessed in the December diet. 2. Results from the first semester courses should be ratified by exam boards in January. 3. Schools should review their assessment profiles to ensure that no student is required to sit more than three exams in one diet.

School policy on timing of examinations

Informatics teaching staff discussed the relevant College documents in both Board-of-Studies and Teaching Committee meetings towards the end of the previous academic year, but decided to wait for the outcome of the on-going review of the structure of the academic year before we would go ahead with a plan to implement these requested changes. Now that the consultation has been completed we have consulted with various members of staff within Informatics and various committees and decided to go ahead with a phased introduction plan. We have decided that we would be following our plan to implement College requirements in a phased way starting with willing volunteers. As a result this year four UG3 courses (IAML, CD, and SDM, PI) will have their exams scheduled in the December exam diet. All of these courses are 20 point courses and they each cover a foundational courses of the AI, CS, and SE degrees, respectively.

December diet exam courses:

  • Introductory Applied Machine Learning(IAML)
  • Computer Design (CD)
  • Software Design and Modelling (SDM)
  • Professional Issues (PI)

Overall assessment

Examinations, coursework and projects are taken into account in assessing each student's performance.

Progression into fourth year, or passing an ordinary degree, is determined by the (credit-point weighted) average of the third year courses. However, the marks for the individual courses are carried through into fourth year, where they are combined with the marks for the fourth year courses to calculate the overall degree class.

The Board of Examiners has the discretion to take into account criteria other than the raw mark in deciding admission to Honours or the award of an Ordinary degree. The criteria used by the third year Board include:

  • did the candidate suffer serious medical, psychological or emotional stresses that adversely affected their performance? For this reason, it is most important that you keep your Director of Studies informed of any such circumstances when they happen.
  • did the candidate's choice of courses include some with unusually low averages, or that encountered serious problems during delivery?
  • does the candidate display particular strengths in some areas that mitigate the overall failure?
  • does the candidate have a strongly improved performance compared to the previous year of study?

Progression to fourth year; ordinary degrees and resits

To be admitted to the fourth year of the Honours degrees, students must achieve an overall mark of 40% (Progress to the MInf year 4 is 55% average rather than just 40%) in third year, with examinations taken at the first attempt. In addition, it is necessary to pass at least 80 credits' worth of courses. In combined degrees, the Board of Examiners may consider that a clear fail in one half of the degree will debar the candidate from progressing to fourth year. Further, failure on certain courses (notably the major practicals) may reduce the candidate's BCS exemptions (see below).

Candidates who fail at the May diet may take re-sit examinations in the August diet to try to achieve an Ordinary degree. Students needing to resit should consult their PT to make sure they are registered for the examinations. Students are not expected to resit papers that they passed in May, as the mark from the May examination will be carried forward. Candidates are not permitted to re-do coursework.

BCS Exemptions/ CEng accreditation

The rules for accreditation for CEng and exemption from parts of the British Computer Society examinations are somewhat complicated. The following is a summary: if in doubt, consult the DoT

If you gain an Honours degrees in SE, CS, AI&CS, AI&SE, CS&E or SE&E, including the Professional Issues course, and pass the Informatics Honours project, then you are eligible for CEng accreditation and exemption from Parts I and II (and Project) of the British Computer Society Examinations.

If you gain an Honours degrees in CS&ManSci, CS&Maths, or CS&Physics, and pass the Informatics Honours project, then you are eligible for exemption from Part I (and Project) of the British Computer Society Examinations.

If you gain an Ordinary degree in Informatics, and pass one of the CS3 major practicals, then you are eligible for exemption from Part I (and Project) of the British Computer Society Examinations.