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Assessment of Undergraduate Modules in the Computer Science Department - Academic Year 2008/09Rules in force for students entering on or after September 1996
Table of Contents
This document contains important information for students on the first-degree programmes offered by the Computer Science Department. These are:
BSc Computer Science (G400)
MEng Computer Science (G402)
MSci Computer Science (International Programme) (G405)
MEng Computer Science (international Programme) (G403)
Many sections of this document also apply to Computer Science modules taken by students on the Mathematics and Computer Science programmes (administered by the Department of Mathematics). However, there are important differences in the scheme of award for the BSc and MSci MA&CS programmes so students following these degrees should check carefully with the Department of Mathematics.
UCL introduced new assessment arrangements for all undergraduate students who entered the first year of an undergraduate degree programme in 2005/06. This is known as ‘harmonisation’ and is intended to bring considerable standardisation to the way in which the various UCL departments conduct their examinations business. While the harmonisation process gradually works through all cohorts of students, inevitably the rules will be slightly different for some students on Computer Science programmes, depending on which year they started. Please read the following pages carefully to make sure you understand which details apply to you. If you have any queries, please contact the Computer Science Undergraduate Administrator (Chris Neil) in the first instance (email firstname.lastname@example.org).
In each year you study for a total of 4 “credits” (sometimes referred to as “course-units.”) With one or two exceptions CS modules are worth half a credit (or half a course-unit). Typically, a half-credit CS module is taught as about 30 hours of lectures plus tutorials, help sessions and so on. We expect that, normally, the load on you for a half-credit is about 150 hours when lectures, exercises, coursework, reading, revision etc. are totalled. Some modules are compulsory whilst others are chosen from a range of options. Such choices must always be with the approval of the Departmental Tutor. Further details of the rules concerning choices can be found in "Degree Programme Structure in the Computer Science Department". The number of credits you pass or fail determines whether you are allowed to progress to the next year of the module and, ultimately, whether you will be awarded a degree.
Levels of modules:
(a) basic/introductory (ie at a level below that of a normal first-year module);
(b) first level (ie COMP1007, COMP1008 etc)
(c) intermediate level (ie COMP2007, COMP2008 etc)
(d) advanced level (ie COMP3005, COMP3072 etc)
(e) masters level (ie COMPM012, COMPM061 etc)
The following rules then apply:
(a) students must take at least 3 credits at advanced level in order to be awarded a BSc Honours degree;
(b) students may take no more than 1 credit at basic/introductory level in order to be awarded an Honours degree;
(c) students must take at least 2 credits at advanced level in order to be awarded an Ordinary degree;
(d) for 16-credit MSci/MEng programmes, students must take at least 3 credits at masters (M) level
To pass a module, you must:
(a) be 'complete' in the module (please see the section 'How CS modules are assessed); and
(b) achieve the pass mark (please see the table below)
To progress from one year to the next, and ultimately be awarded a degree, you must:
(a) achieve passes in a certain number of modules; and
(b) satsify the examiners in certain specified modules (please see the tables below)
* To progress from 1st year to 2nd year you need to have passed 3 units. In addition, please note that first year Computer Science students must
also pass the programming module COMP1007 in order to progress to year 2. To pass COMP1007, students must achieve a mark of 40% in the coursework and a mark of 40% in the examination.
**To be eligible for the award of the BSc in Computer Science you must normally have completed and passed the final year project. Students who do not complete and pass the final year project may be eligible for the award of the BSc in Computing.
*To progress from 1st year to 2nd year you need to have passed 3 units. In addition, please note that first year Computer Science students must
also pass the programming module COMP1007 in order to progress to year 2. To pass COMP1007, students must achieve a mark of 40% in the coursework and a mark of 40% in the examination.
**To be eligible for the award of the MSci/MEng in Computer Science you must normally have completed and passed the final year project. Students who do not complete and pass the final year project may be eligible for the award of a degree in Computing.
Grade System and Scheme for the Award of Honours
Once examination marking is complete at the end of
the summer term, and after the Board of Examiners has met, the Department
will issue provisional marks for each of the modules you have taken,
using the following scale:
Later in the summer, following Faculty and UCL endorsement, the UCL Registry will issue finalists with an official transcript giving the exact marks obtained in each module. See also http://www.ucl.ac.uk/current-students/examinations/transcripts/ Continuing students can also view their results on the Portico website at www.ucl.ac.uk/portico/
Scheme for the of Award of Honours
The final result that you obtain is decided by the UCL Board of Examiners following recommendations made by the Computer Science Board and Engineering Sciences Faculty approval. The Computer Science Board is attended by External Examiners as well as members of the Department and representatives of the Faculty. The role of the External Examiners is to see that standards are maintained and that all students are treated fairly. The percentage marks you obtain help the examiners to determine the class of degree you will be awarded. The final mark is a weighted average of the marks you obtain in the modules you take throughout your studies. Note that the process is not entirely mechanical and the examiners are required to use their judgement and discretion. An oral examination may be held when the examiners consider it to be desirable, particularly in the case of borderline candidates.
Examiners may take note of all relevant information, including performance in any oral examination, and any special factors such as certified disability or illness, before making the final recommendation of Honours Class.
Students who have acquired credits from another UCL degree programme prior to joining the CS Department might reach 11 credits before the end of their final year. If nothing is done about this a degree - probably a poor one - will be awarded. Students in such a position must formally apply to "postpone honours" so that they can proceed to the final year. Please contact the Departmental Tutor about this if it applies to you.
Mean Mark % Class Awarded
CS modules are assessed through a combination of coursework and written examination. The proportion of the total mark which can be gained from coursework varies from module to module and may be between 0% and 100%. The proportion for a particular module is stated in the syllabus. Please note that, irrespective of the proportion of the marks allocated to coursework, in order to pass a module you must pass the written examination on its own. In some cases, you must pass both the coursework and the exam separately. The syllabi pages give details of what is required.
Where there are both coursework and examination elements to an assessment, you must make a "serious attempt" at each element separately. From the academic year 2001/2002 onwards, a new UCL rule was introduced requiring students to make a serious attempt at least 35% of the coursework for a module. Failure to do so will mean that the student is deemed to be 'not complete' and will not pass the module.
The decision as to whether the work you submit constitutes a 'serious attempt' is made by the examiners for the module - usually the principal lecturer and one other. The key requirement is that the examiners consider you have submitted sufficient of your own work to allow an assessment to be made - simply writing your name on a sheet of paper and handing it in definitely does not qualify! Where the coursework element consists of several separate items of work, it is up to the examiners to decide whether all items must be completed or whether the omission of some may be disregarded.. The precise conditions applying to a particular module can normally be found in the syllabus. If this is not the case then the information should be obtained direct from the lecturer concerned.
Note that model solutions for a piece of coursework are often made available very soon after the submission deadline. It may be difficult for you to convince the examiners that a "serious attempt" has been made if you submit work after the solutions have been published.
If you are deemed to be "not complete" for a module you may take the examination one year hence. Further in formation on re-sit examinations is given below.
"Coursework" here includes work
done in your own time and handed in or paper or electronically, online
tests and class tests. Coursework is set for a variety
of reasons. In some cases it is designed principally to assist you
in understanding the taught material, in others it is intended to
assess skills and knowledge which cannot sensibly be tested in an
examination. To cover this range the department sets coursework in
the following main categories:
Note that, with the exception of "unmarked exercises", coursework is formally part of the assessment of the module. Therefore, failure to make a serious attempt at it renders you liable to be "not complete" for the module. The precise conditions applying to a particular module can normally be found in the syllabus. If this is not the case then the information should be obtained direct from the lecturer concerned.
You must complete a coversheet for each
piece of coursework and attach it to the front of your work.
Copies of the coversheet are available from the Departmental Office
(Computer Science Reception on the 5th Floor of the
When the coursework is set you should be told:
In most cases, coursework submitted on paper should be handed in to the Departmental Office where there will be a list for you to sign. Any disputes about the time at which coursework was submitted will be resolved by reference to this list. If you have not signed, you have not submitted.
UCL is moving increasingly towards the electronic submission of coursework. You will be informed by the lecturers setting the coursework whether they wish to receive it electronically or in hard copy. You should note that UCL has now signed up to use a sophisticated detection system (JISC Turn-It-In) to scan work for evidence of plagiarism, and the Department intends to use this for assessed coursework. This system gives access to billions of sources worldwide, including websites and journals, as well as work previously submitted to the Department, UCL and other universities
Deadlines for coursework submission will be applied rigidly. Coursework submitted late without good reason will be marked according to the following rules:
A working day is defined as a Monday-Friday other than a Bank Holiday or other day when UCL is officially closed (eg at Christmas or Easter).
Wherever possible, a student should obtain agreement from the lecturer in advance if they have a good reason for submitting work late. Otherwise the penalties detailed above will be applied.
Your performance may be adversely affected by ill health or personal problems. This might prevent you from submitting coursework on time, make it difficult or impossible for you to sit an exam, or cause you to miss a large number of lectures. Very minor problems which result in missed coursework deadlines can normally be dealt with informally by the lecturer concerned. More serious problems should be notified to the Departmental Tutor by filling in a Notification of Extenuating Circumstances. The form must give dates of when the circumstances took place and details of which modules, courseworks or exams were affected. Suitable eveidence must be attached (medical/ doctos's/ hospital letter, or other documentation). The completed form should be returned with the evidence to the Departmental Tutor.
When the examiners consider degree awards or progression to the next year of a degree programme, they take account of any problems which have affected your performance or prevented you from taking exams. However, this can only be done if such problems are notified in writing and are accompanied by copies of supporting evidence. Such evidence should be provided to the Departmental Tutor as soon as is practical. Be aware that reports of illness which are submitted late tend to lose credibility and look like excuses.
If you do not understand how to complete a piece of coursework, please discuss this with the lecturer or with your tutor before the hand-in date. It might be possible for you to be given extra help, or you may be able to get credit for the attempts you have made even if these are not successful. Whatever happens, do not be tempted to copy other students' work - the penalties for plagiarism can be very severe.
Provisional registration for returning students takes place at the beginning of the autumn term. Registration is a matter of agreeing with the Department which modules you want to take. From 2006/07. all students will use UCL’s on-line module registration process within PORICO. Our curriculum pages (Degree Programme Structure in the Computer Science Department) set out the rules that govern your choice. You are given several opportunities to confirm your choices, the final opportunity being around the second week of term two.
Once you have registered your initial choice of modules these can only be changed in consultation with the Departmental Tutor. You will not be allowed to join a module that has already started if it is too late for you to catch up or if this is likely to be disruptive to students already on the module.
In some, limited, circumstances it is possible to withdraw from exams and postpone them for a year. Generally this is only possible on grounds of ill health or other serious personal circumstance. Departmental approval is required, via the Departmental Tutor. Details are given in the Registry website at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/current-students/forms/
The majority of Computer Science undergraduate exams take place in Term 3. Advanced 4th year Computer Science modules are examined in Term 2, before Easter. The provisional results of the exams become available after the Board of Examiners' meeting which normally takes place in mid-June. These provisional results are displayed in the Department. Once they have ben confirmed by the UCL Board of Examiners you can also access them on-line at www.ucl.ac.uk/portico (marks normally become available on Portico at the end of July) The UCL Registry sends official transcripts to all graduating students at their permanent home address during July/August. Please see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/current-students/examinations/transcripts/ for further details.
If you are absent from an examination without permission (or if you attend but either make no attempt the paper or attempt so little that it cannot be assessed) and provide no evidence of extenuating circumstances, then normally you will be:
Once the results are known you should take urgent action if:
In all cases you should contact the Departmental Tutor in the first instance.
If you fail a module (coursework or examination or both) you have the right to re-sit the failed component at the first possible date (normally the next academic year). Only exceptionally will a second resit be allowed. It is your responsibility to confirm to the Registry the examinations you wish to re-sit, via on-line module registration using PORTICO. It is also your responsibility to check with the Department to determine whether you are required to submit new coursework.
UCL regulations state that a candidate must complete the assessment for a module within two years of attending that module. This period of two years may be extended at the discretion of UCL Board of Examiners.
Students who withdraw from an examination owing to special
circumstances will not be regarded as having made an entry
and therefore would be taking the examination as if for the first
time the next academic year. If you have passed the coursework component
already, then the marks you achieved will be brought forward.
The purpose of Deferred Assessment is to enable students who have missed exams through no fault of their own to get the assessment out of the way as soon as possible. The assessment will normally be through a formal examination usually taken in early September. There are various restrictions:
If you believe you are eligible then you must apply on a form (from the Computer Science Undergraduate Administrator or Departmental Tutor or from the Registry website at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/current-students/examinations/deferred-assess/ You should apply within one week of the end of the examination period in question and submit your form via the Departmental Tutor together with appropriate supporting documentation (medical certificate or statement). Full details are in the Registry web pages at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/current-students/examinations/deferred-assess/
If you are applying for Deferred Assessment in a module offered by another department, you ask that department to fill in their part of the form and sign it.
If your application is successful, details of the
assessment, deadlines etc. will then be sent to you.
Referred assessment is available to continuing students only on the new harmonised scheme (ie those who entered Year 1 in 2005/06 onwards), where they have gained a mark between 35% and 39% (in some modules in the Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences to be agreed in advance, the band is 30% to 39%). If you take a Referred Assessment, you will be given an additional (supplementary) assessment over the summer in order to give the Board of Examiners the information it needs to make a pass/fail judgement on the overall performance in that module. This process is not available to final year students.
The modes of assessment can be either oral, formal written examination or essay. The maximum mark available for the module overall as a result of successful supplementary assessment is 40.
This additional (supplementary) assessment should be assessed and the result communicated to you before the start of the next session.
Students who fall into the referred band can opt as follows:
• take the referred assessment and, if passed, be awarded a mark of 40;
• refuse the offer of referred assessment and re-enter at the next normal opportunity, if all resit attempts have not already been used;
• opt not to resit and keep the mark gained up to the value of one credit maximum, having sought academic advice.
If a continuing student opts to retain a failed mark, this would be treated as a “fail with credit” (i.e. it counts as completion of a module but without a pass mark), and students can only have one of these not to jeopardise the final classification.
For students who have been referred and who then fail the referred assessment, unless they have used all their resit attempts, they will resit at the next normal opportunity.
There are no circumstances whereby a student, who has failed a CS module at below 35% (or below 30% for certain modules in the Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences), would be allowed to take the module at any other time other than the next normal opportunity.
If students are incomplete (i.e. where they have not attempted all elements of all assessments for a given module), the incomplete module will count as one of their attempts. Students with an incomplete result will not be expected to resit any piece of assessment passed: they would normally be expected to resit only the part failed at the next occasion.
Your attention is drawn to the official College statement on this which is reproduced below:
1. The College is subject
2. Plagiarism is defined as the presentation of another person's thoughts or words or artefacts or software as though they were a student's own.
3. Any quotation from the published or unpublished works of other persons must, therefore, be clearly identified as such by being placed inside quotation marks, and students should identify their sources as accurately and fully as possible.
4. A series of short quotations from several different sources, if not clearly identified as such, constitutes plagiarism just as much as does a single unacknowledged long quotation from a single source. Equally, if a student summarises another person's ideas, judgements, figures, diagrams or software, a reference to that person in the text must be made and the work referred to must be included in the bibliography.
5. Recourse to the services of "ghost-writing" agencies (for example in the preparation of essays or reports) or of outside word-processing agencies which offer "correction/improvement of English" is strictly forbidden, and students who make use of the services of such agencies render themselves liable for an academic penalty.
6. Where part of an examination consists of "take-away" papers, essays or other work written in the student's own time, or a coursework assessment, the work submitted must be the candidate's own.
7. Some departments give specific advice about non-originality, plagiarism and the use of material by others, and students must make themselves aware of such departmental guidelines and abide by them. For such assessments it is also illicit to reproduce material which a student has used in other work/assessment for the module or programme concerned. Students should make themselves aware of their department's rules on this "self-plagiarism". If in doubt, students should consult their Personal Tutor or an appropriate other Tutor.
8. Failure to observe any of the provisions of this policy or of approved departmental guidelines constitutes an examination offence under the University Regulations. Examination offences will normally be treated as cheating or irregularities under the regulations for Proceedings in respect of Examination Irregularities. Under these Regulations students found to have committed an offence may be excluded from all further examinations of the University and/or the College."
Please take this statement seriously. There have been cases in the past in which students have been found to have cheated by copying the work of other students and submitting this as their own. The Computer Science Department and the College as a whole take an extremely serious view of this. Students found to have been cheating in this way will normally be given 0 marks for the work in question. In extreme cases all of the student's results for the year will be declared void and he/she will be sent down for a year. Persistent offenders may be permanently excluded from the College. Note that, when plagiarism is discovered, it is not normally obvious which piece of work is the original from which the others have been copied. This means that all those involved, including one possibly innocent party, come under suspicion.
Computer Science students are perhaps especially vulnerable since much of the material they deal with is electronic and hence easy to copy. For example, if you find information or software on the WWW which helps you with a piece of coursework you must acknowledge your source. The acknowledgement must be precise indicating exactly what was the source and which sections of your work are affected. If it turns out that an almost complete solution to a problem is available on the WWW you should report that fact - it is then a problem for the lecturer rather than for you! You should avoid looking at other students' solutions or allowing others to look at yours; once you have see someone else's solution it is virtually impossible for you to erase it from your memory and produce your own independent work.
Note that we do not wish to discourage students from discussing their work with fellow students and collaborating in solving problems. However you should avoid allowing the collaborative phase to approach too close to a final solution which might make it impossible for you to make your own distinctive intellectual contribution. The key point is that you must not present the results of another person's work "as though they were your own". If you feel that a substantial part of a piece of work you submit for assessment has resulted from collaboration with other students you must make that clear in writing before the work is marked.
You must complete a coversheet for each piece
of coursework and attach it to the front of your work. Copies
of the coversheet are available from the Departmental Office, or can
be printed from the web at http://www.cs.ucl.ac.uk/teaching/cwsheet.htm
You should note that UCL has now signed up to use a sophisticated detection
system (JISC Turn-It-In) to
scan work for evidence of plagiarism, and the Department intends to
use this for assessed coursework. This system gives access to
billions of sources worldwide, including websites and journals, as
well as work previously submitted to the Department, UCL and other
You may have worked hard on a solution but has been quite unable to make progress. Do not try to solve this problem by copying. Instead, explain to the lecturer what has happened either in person or in writing. Keep copies of the preliminary work you have done (rough notes etc.) as evidence that you have tried. You will not be declared "not complete" if you can show you have made a serious attempt at a piece of work even if this was not successful.
Jill Saunders (Departmental Manager)
email any comments or queries to Nicola
Jarvis (Departmental Admininstrator - Academic Policy and Operations)
Please email any comments or queries to Nicola Jarvis (Departmental Admininstrator - Academic Policy and Operations)
Last updated: 6 September 2008