MSc by Research Course Requirements & Assessment

Course and Assessment Information.

Year 1 will involve taught courses, supplemented by practical experience in the form of small projects at both the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University. You  need to select courses that equate to 180 pts, this is including the MSc dissertation. 


Core Courses and locations 

1. Robotics: Science and Systems (20 points) - Taught at University of Edinburgh

2. Seminar course entitled Autonomous Systems Research (30 points) - Taught at Heriot-Watt University and which will introduce you to current research issues in many areas of robotics and related fields including the activities of some of our industrial partners

3. An MSc dissertation (100 points) under one-on-one supervision from one of our research supervisors

Taught courses

To reach 180 points students normally take two to three master’s-level courses (depending on amount of points awarded per course). You may choose from the different fields of robotics, machine learning and related areas.

Taught course information for RAS CDT students


 Course Registration

 You will need to register on to your selected courses for the whole of your first year at the beginning of the programme at both University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt.  The choice of optional courses should be selected at the time of course enrolment at both institutions. Registering for courses at Heriot-Watt will be completed online during induction week.

 Course registration  at University of Edinburgh is via the Informatics Teaching Organisation 

Course registration

CDT in Robotics and Autonomous Systems Degree Programme Table

Induction week schedule


Assessment of MSc by Research

The MSc by Research in Robotics and Autonomous Systems is administered by the School's 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. 

Score Grade Interpretation 
> = 70  A Excellent 
60-69  B Very Good
50-59 C Good
40-49  D Satisfactory for Diploma but inadequate for MSc
< 40  E Unsatisfactory


Written examinations take place in December and then during the first weeks of the summer. Exams can spread over up to five weeks so check when your exams take place. 

 Your overall mark is decided at a Board of Examiners meeting, usually held in 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 Director of Studies, 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.


Requirements for awarding the MSc by Research in Robotics and Autonomous Systems 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. 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% in 50 pts of taught courses and
  •  A pass mark in least 50 of 80 pts of taught courses and
  • A pass mark in the dissertation (100pts)

Therefore, we allow at most 30 credits 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, but the minimum mark that needs to be obtained in each criterion is 40%, not 50%.