Assessment & Award

Information on the assessment and awarding guidelines for the MSc in Data Science CDT.

Assessment of the MSc by Research in Data Science

The MSc by Research in Data Science is administered by the School of Informatics' MSc Board of Examiners, governed by the University's Postgraduate (research) assessment regulations.  Most examinations for the MSc courses in Informatics take place at the end of Semester 2.  A small number of courses may examine in Semester 1, this may also be true of external courses.  The correspondence between numerical scores, grades and their interpretation in terms of the MSc is given below.

Postgraduate research assessment regulations




> = 70





Very Good






Satisfactory for Diploma but inadequate for MSc

< 40



Written examinations take place in December and then during the first weeks of the summer. The exam diet can spread over up to five weeks so be careful to check when your exams take place before arranging any absences from Edinburgh. There is one examination paper per course and each paper typically lasts 2 hours. Each paper normally is set by the lecturer responsible for each course and is vetted by an External Examiner and appropriate members of the Board of Examiners. Questions may be set on any aspect of the lectures or coursework.

The Board of Examiners comprises the External Examiner, the Convenor, the CDT in Data Science Programme Director and the team of MSc course lecturers. Your overall mark is decided at a Board of Examiners meeting, usually held at the end of May. The Board has the freedom to aggregate marks in any way, but normally each paper is given equal weighting. The Board may take mitigating circumstances (e.g. illness) into account so it is vital that you communicate these to your Year 1 personal tutor, along with substantiating evidence (e.g. a medical certificate), if you believe that your performance has been impaired. If you are ill on or around the date of an examination then you must obtain a medical certificate from a doctor as soon as you are fit enough to do so. Your project mark is decided at a second Board of Examiners meeting in October, along with your overall MSc by Research award. The Board of Examiners can award distinctions to students who have performed exceptionally well on both the taught (close to or above 70) and project (at least 70) components, and merits if both the dissertation component and the taught component of the MSc(R)  are marked at 60% or above.

CDT in Data Science Programme Director

Progression to the PhD in Data Science is contingent on successful completion of the MSc by Research programme. Full information will be made available immediately after the Board of Examiners meeting.

Requirements for awarding the MSc by Research in Data Science

Formally, whether you are successful in completing the MSc by Research degree is a separate decision from whether you are allowed to progress to the PhD in Data Science. Because you are only allowed one chance to pass each exam, we allow some flexibility --- called "passing on aggregate" --- so that doing poorly on just one exam does not have an undue effect on your entire degree. We will award the MSc by Research if you obtain all of the following:

An average mark of 50% across the 60pts of taught courses (not counting IRDS)

Passes (at 50% level) in at least 40pts of 60pts taught courses (not counting IRDS)

Successful completion of IRDS, with mark at least 50%

Successful completion of the MSc by Research project, with mark at least 50%

Therefore, we allow at most 20 credits to be passed on aggregate, with the exception that we do not allow IRDS to be passed on aggregate. You will notice that the requirements for the mark of MSc by Research are not as stringent as the performance that we would typically expect for students who are allowed to continue to their PhD.

Students who fail to perform at MSc level can be awarded a postgraduate diploma. The same award criteria are applied (see the four bullet points above), but the minimum mark that needs to be obtained in each criterion is 40%, not 50%.