D.Phil. in Computer Science
First Year Requirements
Requirement II: Assessed WorkChoice of lecture courses and term papers should be made in consultation with the supervisor at the very beginning of the first term. By Monday of week 3 of the first term, the PRS must complete a form (headed PRS Assessed Work) indicating which courses they wish to attend and any term paper they plan to write. The form is to be signed by the supervisor and submitted to the Graduate Studies Administrator for approval by the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). Students must register for each MSc course chosen, and seek permission from the lecturer to attend each advanced undergraduate course chosen, because of space restrictions. Any changes to coursework and term paper selection, as the year progresses and interests focus, should be recorded by resubmitting the PRS Assessed Work form.
If a supervisor deems a student to have adequate background already, they may apply for partial or complete exemption from Requirement II. It should be noted, however, that the fact that a student already has an MSc, from Oxford or elsewhere, is not an acceptable reason for exemption. Also, if a student has taken a course as part of an Oxford degree, they will not be able to count it towards Requirement II.
We expect that all DPhil and MSc by Research students who come to Oxford will want to take advantage of the broad range of courses available, and will sign up enthusiastically. A student's coursework and term paper performance is an early indication of their true level of ability and commitment. Supervisors or the DGS may recommend remedial action, or a change of research direction, on the basis of unsatisfactory performance.
We expect that all DPhil and MSc by Research students who come to Oxford will want to take advantage of the wide range of courses available. Requirement II should not prevent students from taking more than two taught courses, if their supervisor thought this appropriate (they would then submit their three best pieces, including a term paper).
Under Requirement II, lecture courses can be selected from the MSc (CS), or MSc (MFoCS), or advanced undergraduate courses in the Department of Computer Science. Students must register for each MSc course chosen, and seek permission from the lecturer to attend each advanced undergraduate course chosen, because of space restrictions. PRS are normally expected to complete the same practicals and coursework (including any continual assessment), following the same deadlines, as other course participants. However, if the same form of assessment is not deemed appropriate by the supervisor (or lecturer), the supervisor should advise an alternative (such as essay, viva or end-of-course exam) and indicate it on the PRS Assessed Work form.
For MSc courses, the fortnightly problems, practical exercises and end-of-course assessment will be marked as for MSc students. The PRS's performance will appear in the register compiled and circulated by the Academic Administrator. For advanced undergraduate courses, it is the supervisor's responsibility to ensure that the student's solutions to any tutorial or class sheets and collections are marked.
PRS may also select advanced undergraduate or graduate courses offered by other departments, such as Mathematics, Statistics, Engineering Science, Physics, and Economics. Students who take such a course need to discuss with their supervisor how it will be assessed. If it is not possible for the PRS to sit an examination with other students on the course, the supervisor is expected to set and mark a piece of written work based on the course followed.
A specially designed reading course, based on a selection of research papers on a theme related to a student's research, may provide an alternative to a lecture course.
Term Papers A term paper is a mini-project set by the supervisor, completable in a term. Its aim is to test the student's ability to carry out advanced study and independent research; its format is intended to be flexible. A term paper may take the form of a case study, or an essay designed to explore and formulate a research topic, or an MFoCS-style mini-project. There is no formal word limit, but as a rough guide, it should be around 12 LNCS pages (or about 7000 words). A term paper can of course be a workshop or conference paper (or an early version thereof) (co)authored by the PRS. However, there is no requirement that a term paper be publishable.
Term papers are usually assessed by the supervisor. An assessment proforma should be completed and submitted with the term paper when the PRS applies for transfer.