UCL Department of Computer Science


Section 13: Assessment


Information on examination and assessment, including details of the information students will receive, how work is set and marked, and when they will receive notification of their marks.

13.1.Forms of assessment

All programmes include both formative and summative assessment, which develops students’ knowledge and understanding and measures attainment against the programme’s Learning Outcomes. A variety of Assessment Methods are used across a programme to test different knowledge and skills, include for example: written examinations, coursework (presentations, reports, practical assessments, group work, etc.), and research projects/ dissertations.

13.2.Assessment Methods

Information on summative assessment, and how students will learn about how assessment on their programmes is structured.

The Assessment Method defines the way in which a student will be assessed for a particular component or module. Each module will have one or more summative components of assessment that will test students against the Learning Outcomes for that module. The mark for each summative component of assessment contributes a given percentage towards the overall module mark. Examples of common assessments include examinations, coursework, presentations, group project work, and in-class tests. Most modules have multiple assessments, such as a coursework and examination.

Some summative components of assessment comprise multiple assignments, for example a Coursework might be comprised of a Report, and a Presentation. The mark for each assessment task contributes a given percentage towards the overall component mark.

The Assessment Methods for each module will be detailed in the module’s syllabus. This includes the Assessment Titles, Weightings, any Minimum Marks for components, and any Alternative Assessments which would be offered in the Late Summer Assessment period (i.e. if the original Coursework cannot be re-run).

Further information:

13.3.Assessment Tasks

Information on how students will learn about the requirements of the Assessment Tasks they will take, what is required of them.

The Assessment Task is the specific examination paper, essay question, topic or activity which students are asked to undertake. Students will be provided with accurate and timely information about each of their Assessment Tasks; the information provided will be appropriate for the Task, and will usuablly include the following:

  • A description of the Assessment Task, i.e. what is required, any word count limits or other restrictions, and any penalties that may be applied if restrictions are exceeded.
  • Marking Criteria setting out how marks will be awarded for the Assessment Task, and detials of any Peer Marking;
  • Instructions on the style of referencing to be used (for example, Harvard, Vancouver, APA, etc.), and examples of this;
  • Instructions on when and how work should be submitted, for example, via Moodle and/ or in hard-copy in class;
  • Information on when and how provisional marks and feedback will be published , for example, written comments via Moodle, general verbal feedback in class;

In the event that assessment information is missing, incomplete, or unclear, students should contact the relevant examiner or Module Leader, which should be via the module's Moodle discussion forum.

13.4.Marking Criteria, Learning Outcomes, and Marking Scales

Information on what Marking Criteria and Learning Outcomes are, and what information students can expect to receive.

13.4.1.Marking Criteria

Each summative assessment has Marking Criteria that sets out how marks will be awarded for the Assessment Task. This will include details of the marking scale that will be used and, where relevant, how marks will be converted to a numerical scale; for group work this will also include information on whether and how the contribution of individuals will be assessed; for peer assessed work this should include information on how marking should be carried out, and on how the marks awarded by peers will be second-marked and moderated.

For quantitative assessments, such as written examinations, the Marking Criteria is commonly in the form of an explicit explanation of how the assessment is scored, i.e. how many marks are available in total and how they are allocated. An examination's marking scheme will also include details of any negative marking approaches used, for example where incorrect answers are given to Multiple Choice Questions.

Publication of Marking Criteria

Marking Criteria will be published as follows:

  • For coursework and other assessments, criteria are published via the module’s Moodle page at the point the coursework or assessment is set
  • For written examinations, the rubric will state the total number of marks available, and that the marks available for each question and each sub-part of each question will be throughout the paper
  • For research projects/ dissertations, students will usually be provided with the explicit criteria that examiners will use to mark the work; arrangements will vary between programmes, and students should therefore consult with their Project Supervisor or Programme Director

Students may also refer to the Computer Science Grade Descriptors (https://moodle-1819.ucl.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=12329#section-4), which set out the general qualities examiners look for in students' work in each of the grading bands. Students are encouraged to contact the responsible examiner with any queries relating to how their work will be marked or what is expected, either in class, via the Moodle discussion forum, or during Staff Office Hours.

13.4.2.Learning Outcomes

The Learning Outcomes for each module specify what a student should be able to do as a result of having completed it, ideally something that is measurable. This is typically an action rather than a concept. Summative assessments are designed to tests students’ learning against these outcomes. The Learning Outcomes for Computer Science modules are published via the Module Syllabus Directory. For modules based in other departments, students should refer to that module's home department.

Further information:

13.4.3.Marking Scales

UCL operates a Numeric Marking Scale and, on some programmes, a Letter Grade Marking Scale. The Numeric Markign Scale is used on all Computer Science programmes, with the exception of MRes Virtual Reality and MRes Modelling Biological Complexity, which include Letter Grade Marking.

Module Marking Scales

Summative assessments are criterion-referenced, which means that the assessment evaluates the ‘absolute’ quality of candidates' work against the Marking Criteria; the same work will always receive the same mark or grade, irrespective of the performance of other students in the cohort. It must always be possible to achieve full marks for a given assessment.

Some assessments are Binary Marked, which means that a genuine attempt will be awarded a mark of 100, otherwise the work will be given mark of 0. The aim of this type of assessment, which usually carries a small weighting, is to help students to learn but to relieve the pressure of chasing every mark.

13.4.4.Grade Descriptors

Grade descriptors relate general characteristics of assessed work to a range of marks. The department publishes general grade descriptors to help students interpret the marks and grades they receive for their work.

Further information:

13.4.5.Publishing Provisional and Final Marks

Marking must be subjected to internal moderation and external review to ensure fairness, consistency, and equitability of standards, which the Board of Examiners must first assure, before Marks and Awards can be finalised. All Marks are therefore Provisional and subject to change until they have been Confirmed by the responsible Programme Board of Examiners, the Faculty Board of Examiners, and released by UCL Academic Services.

Publication of Provisional Marks

Provisional Marks for coursework components will be published via Moodle Gradebook (www.ucl.ac.uk/moodle) within one calendar month of the submission date or date of assessment. Marks may be released prior to the application of any Penalties or Mitigation due (for example, in the case of Late Submission or Extenuating Circumstances); where this is the case, students will be informed of their New Mark once any Penalties or Mitigation has been applied.

Publication of Final Marks

Final Marks for modules will be published via Portico (www.ucl.ac.uk/portico) following final verification by the responsible Programme Board of Examiners by the dates given in Section 4: Key dates.

Further information:


Information on what feedback is, how will students recognise it (questions in lectures, emails etc.), how and when students will receive feedback on their work and what will it look like.

13.5.1.Feedback on assessment

Students should receive feedback for every summative assessment they take. The aim of feedback is to provide an evaluation of the assessed work that has been marked, to help students better understand their own work and identify and understand how it could be improved, to develop students' assessment literacy, and to inform their future learning.

Forms of feedback

Feedback takes a variety of forms, including individual written comments, annotated marking schemes, individual oral feedback, automated feedback, model or indicative answers, face-to-face marking in lab classes, and feedback given during lectures. The type of feedback given depends on the nature of the assessment and the approach of the marker.

Details of when and how feedback will be provided for the assessment will be published alongside the assessment instructions and Marking Criteria via the module’s Moodle page (usually at the point the assessment is set.)

13.5.2.UCL Feedback Policy

Regular feedback is an essential part of every student’s learning. It is UCL policy that all students receive feedback on summative assessments within one calendar month of the submission deadline. This feedback may take the form of written feedback, individual discussions, group discussions, marker’s answers, model answers or other solutions (although students should note that UCL is generally unable to return written examination scripts.) Students writing dissertations or research projects should also expect to receive feedback on a draft on at least one occasion; feedback on a draft will be provided within 14 calendar days, provided the draft is recieved at least 21 calendar days prior to the final submission deadline.

If, for whatever reason, a department/ division cannot ensure that the one calendar month deadline is met then they will tell students when the feedback will be provided - it is expected that the extra time needed should not exceed one week. Where feedback is not provided within the timescale, students should bring the matter to the attention of their Departmental Tutor or Head of Department.

Procedure for repoting late feedback

If feedback on coursework components is not provided within one calendar month of the date of the assessment, and if the examiner has not indicated a delay, students should contact the Departmental Tutor who will raise the matter with the examiners concerned and seek to resolve the matter.

Further information:

13.6.Written examinations

Information on written examinations and a link to the UCL Examination Guide for Candidates on the Examinations and Awards website (Centrally Provided.)

Examination conduct

Students must ensure that they are aware of the regulations governing written examinations detailed in the UCL Examination Guide for Candidates on the Examinations website.

Students should pay particular attention to the regulations around examination irregularities. Students who are suspected of any form of cheating or of breaching the Examination Regulations will be investigated under the UCL Acadmeic Manual Chapter 6, Section 9: Examination Irregularities and Plagiarism Procedure (www.ucl.ac.uk/academic-manual/chapters/chapter-6-student-casework-framework).

Intercollegiate examinations

UCL students taking examinations at other colleges as part of the University of London’s Intercollegiate Scheme must abide by the regulations of the college they are attending. Similarly, students from other colleges taking examinations at UCL are subject to UCL’s regulations for examinations.

Past Examination Papers

UCL Library Services Electronic Exam Papers Service (www.ucl.ac.uk/library/digital-collections/collections/exam) hosts a limited collection of past examination papers, which students may use to guide their examination preparation. The Department's Policy is that a maximum of 3 past papers will be published, where available. Students should be aware that Late Summer Assessment and Multiple Choice Question papers may not be published.

Further information:

13.7.Coursework and other assessments

Information on coursework submissions, clear information about where and how to submit work, including details of any electronic submission methods and the technical support available.


The term 'Coursework' covers a very broad range of Assessment Methods, including for example: written reports, essays, technical questions, programming tasks, application development, lab work, online MCQs, presentations, practical and demonstrations, and excluding written examinations. In-class tests count as coursework in most respects (for example, UCL's service standards for feedback), but are usually carried out under examination-like conditions.

Most modules have one or more coursework-based Assessment Tasks. Some coursework Assessment Tasks comprise multiple assignments; for example, a Task might include a written report, a practical demonstration, and a presentation. The composition of coursework Assessment Tasks, including how any assignments are weighted, any specific instructions, and how feedback will be provided, will be specified via the module’s Moodle page.

At the point each coursework Assessment Task is set, specific information on when and how to submit the required work will also be published.

13.7.2.Coursework submission procedure

The procedure for coursework submission is set by the home department for each module. Computer Science modules are prefixed with the code ‘COMP’, and for these modules coursework is submitted either in digitally (usually via Moodle) or in hard-copy (in class).

The deadline for both digital and hard-copy submission is 12:00 (noon) on the day of submission (unless otherwise specified). Where submission requires both digital and hard copy, both must be received by the deadline.

  • Digital submission: the work must be uploaded and submitted via the module's Moodle page (or as instructed by the examiner)
  • Hard copy submission: a coursework coversheet must be completed, signed and attached to the work, which should then be handed in during class (or as instructed by the examiner).

Students who undertake modules owned by other departments should ensure they familiarise themselves and comply with the submission procedures prescribed by those departments.

Support for coursework submission

If a student has difficulties understanding any aspect of the coursework, they should consult the member of staff who was responsible for setting it in the first instance. Ideally, and by default, coursework queries should be posted to the module's Moodle discussion forum so that all students benefit from any discussion. Module Leaders may set their own expectations for how issues should be raised.

Technical support for submission via Moodle is provided by the Information Service Division (ISD) Help Desk via email, telephone or in person. The Help Desk is available Monday to Friday between 08:30 and 17:30. Students can also seek advice from the Programme Administrator for their programme, who can advise on the submission procedure and help resolve any common problems students may face.

It is ultimately a student’s own responsibility to ensure their work is submitted on time. Students are expected to plan their time sensibly, and take appropriate precautions to back-up and safeguard their work. In most cases, computer failures, virus infections or similar will not be regarded as sufficient excuse for late submission. Where work is submitted late, and where there are no approved Extenuating Circumstances, Late Penalties will be applied.

13.8.Penalties for late submission

Planning, time-management and the meeting of deadlines are part of the personal and professional skills expected of all graduates. For this reason, UCL expects students to submit all coursework by the published deadline date and time, after which penalties will be applied.

If a student experiences something which prevents them from meeting a deadline that is sudden, unexpected, and significantly disruptive and beyond their control, they should submit an application for Extenuating Circumstances (www.ucl.ac.uk/academic-manual/chapters/chapter-4-assessment-framework-taught-programmes/section-6-extenuating-circumstances). If the request is accepted, the student may be granted an extension. If the deadline has already passed, the late submission may be condoned i.e. there will be no penalty for submitting late.

Application of Penalties

Late Penalties may not be applied immediately, particularly for work that is subject to automated marking. Markers may mark students' work and release unconfirmed provisional marks via Moodle Gradebook without Late Penalties applied. The Teaching and Learning Administration will apply Late Penalties

Support at Computer Science

In the first instance, students are encouraged to speak with their Personal Tutor, Programme Director, or Programme Administrator (based in MPEB 5.22) if they anticipate they may be unable to meet a coursework deadline or if they need advice on the Extenuating Circumstances procedure. Completed applications for Extenuating Circumstances, along with supporting evidence, should be submitted to the Departmental Extenuating Circumstances Panel (via email cs.ec@ucl.ac.uk). More detailed information on Extenuating Circumstances is given in Section 14: Extenuating Circumstances and Reasonable Adjustments.

Further information:

13.9.Penalties for exceeding word count limits

Information about word count limits and penalties.

Instructions for Assessment Tasks will, where relevant, include clear instructions about word counts, the inclusion of footnotes, diagrams, images, tables, figures and bibliographies etc. Students are expected to adhere to the requirements for each assessment. Students exceeding these parameters may receive a reduction in marks.

For project work the department typically specifies maximum page counts rather than word counts, due to the wide variety of kinds of projects. The instructions for each summative assessment will be published to the relevant module’s Moodle page at the point the assessment is set. This will include any specific parameters and, where relevant, any consequences for exceeding them.

Further information:

13.10.Absence from assessment

Information about absence from assessment and the consequences of this (Centrally Provided.)

Any student who is absent from an assessment or does not submit required work will receive a mark of zero, and will be considered to have made an attempt, unless they obtain authorisation for the absence and formally apply to Defer the assessment to a later date by submitting a request for Extenuating Circumstances:

Absences from assessment need to meet the criteria for Extenuating Circumstances and be supported by appropriate evidence. If Extenuating Circumstances are not approved, the mark of zero will stand.

Authorised Absence for Tier 4 students

In line with UCL’s obligations for students studying under a visa, Tier 4 students must also obtain authorisation for any absence from teaching or assessment activities under the Authorised Absence for Students on a Tier 4 Visa procedures:

13.11.Reassessment and Deferred Assessment

Information on Reassessment and Deferred assessment, capping of module marks, and restrictions on Second Attempts (Centrally Provided.)

The Programme Summary describes the modules which students must pass in order to be elligible for the Award of Degree. Where a student fails to meet these requirements, the Consequences of Failure regulations in the UCL Academic Manual apply:


If a student fails one or more modules, the Board of Examiners may offer them a Reassessment opportunity. Depending on the amount of failure, this may take the form of either a Resit in the Late Summer Assessment period or a Repeat in the following academic session. If a student successfully completes a module at the Second Attempt, their module mark will be capped at the Pass Mark:

  • The Pass Mark at FHEQ Levels 4, 5 and 6 (Undergraduate level) is 40.00% or Grade D
  • The Pass Mark at FHEQ Level 7 (Masters/ Taught Postgraduate level) is 50.00% or Grade C

Students who fail a Masters Dissertation/ Research Project will normally Resit by 31 January. Exceptionally, the Board of Examiners may decide that the extent of failure is such that the student needs to Repeat the Dissertation/ Project in the next academic session (with tuition and fees.)

Students are permitted a maximum of two attempts at any given assessment, incluing the Dissertation/ Project.


If a student's performance at asssessment has been affected by Extenuating Circumstances then they may be offered a Deferral of the assessment i.e. a ‘new First Attempt’ or a ‘new Second Attempt’ at the assessment. If a student successfully completes a module at the First Attempt, their module mark will not be capped at the Pass Mark.

Restrictions on Second Attempts

There are some circumstances in which students will not be offered a Second Attempt:

  • If students are eligible for Condonement their marks will be Condoned and they will not be offered a Resit (however if a student has Extenuating Circumstances the Condonement Criteria will not be applied until all Deferrals are complete);
  • Students cannot be reassessed in a Passed module (unless they have valid Extenuating Circumstances);
  • Students may not be allowed a Second Attempt if they have been excluded for academic insufficiency, academic misconduct or disciplinary issues.

The Board of Examiners and, where relevant, the Extenuating Circumstances Panel will communicate with students who are required to undertake Reassessment or Deferred assessment to inform them of this and the arragements for completing the assessments.

13.12.Coursework referencing

Information about accepted referencing methods.

A student’s academic work will typically draw on information, concepts and ideas from a range of different sources, including for example: academic journals, books, standards, technical specifications, policy and law, and websites.

Referencing is a method of citing the sources that have been used to inform the work in question. Accurate referencing is important to demonstrate how widely the student has researched their subject, to show the basis for their arguments and conclusions, and to avoid plagiarism.

There are many different styles that can be used for referencing, with Harvard and Vancouver being amongst the most common at UCL. The style that should be used for each module or assessment will be informed by the relevant module tutor when the assessment is set. Examples of these styles will be provided via the module’s Moodle page.

Further information:

13.13.Academic integrity (inc. Referencing, Plagiarism, and Exam Misconduct)

Information about UCL’s examination irregularities and plagiarism procedures (Centrally Provided.)

Examination Irregularities and Plagiarism

UCL students are expected to be aware of and adhere to UCL’s referencing and examination requirements as a condition of their enrolment:

  • For examinations, the UCL Examination Guide for Candidates (www.ucl.ac.uk/students/exams-and-assessments/exams/your-exams-what-you-need-know) is published annually on the Examinations and Awards website. All candidates for written examinations must ensure they are familiar with the requirements for conduct in examinations set out in this guide.
  • For coursework and Research Project/ Dissertations, students must ensure that they are familiar with the UCL Library Guide to References, Citations and Avoiding Plagiarism (www.ucl.ac.uk/library/training/guides/webguides/refscitesplag) which provides detailed guidance about UCL’s referencing and citation requirements. Students should also ensure that they are familiar with the specific referencing requirements of their discipline.

UCL will use plagiarism detection software to scan coursework for evidence of plagiarism against billions of sources worldwide (websites, journals etc. as well as work previously submitted to UCL and other universities.) Most departments will require students to submit work electronically via these systems and ask students to declare that submissions are the work of the student alone.

Any student suspected of examination misconduct, plagiarism, self-plagiarism, collusion, falsification, contract cheating, ghost writing (paying and/or instructing someone to write an assignment for you) or any other form of academic misconduct which is likely to give an unfair advantage to the candidate and/or affect the security of assessment and/ or compromise the academic integrity of UCL will be investigated under the Examination Irregularities and Plagiarism procedures. If misconduct is found, students are likely to be failed for that assignment and/ or module. Serious or repeated offences may lead to failure of the whole year, suspension or even expulsion. A breach of copyright or intellectual property laws may also lead to legal action.

Discipline-specific guidance

Unless a Module Leader explicitly instructs you otherwise, the following acts all constitute plagiarism, and any student found to have committed them will be penalized in accordance with UCL's Examination Irregularities and Plagiarism Procedure:

  • taking code from the Internet (or anywhere else) that was written by anyone other than you, and submitting it for a programming coursework, apart from code given to you by your Module Leader or instructors;
  • asking questions about how to solve a coursework on an internet-based question-and-answer forum (apart from any official discussion forum run by your module's instructors, e.g., on Moodle or Piazza);
  • making your own coursework solution available to another student; note that UCL's Examination Irregularities and Plagiarism Procedures regard the "giver" and "receiver" of material as equally culpable. In shared computing environments, set permissions on files containing your coursework solutions so that others cannot read them;

Note further that because students are prohibited from making their solutions to courseworks available to other students, making solutions to UCL's courseworks available to the general public (e.g., in a public GitHub repository, or a repository accessible to other UCL students) is prohibited, and will be treated as having shared a coursework solution with other students.

Finally, claiming ignorance of these regulations does not exempt anyone from them. If you are ever unsure whether taking some action violates UCL or UCL Computer Science's rules governing academic honesty, please consult your Module Leader before acting.

Further information:

13.14.Research ethics

Information about research ethics, approvals process, code of conduct, etc. on the programme (where applicable.)

All Computer Science students who undertake research, for example through their Project/ Dissertation, must consider the ethical implications of the work they intend to carry out and seek ethical approval for this.

Research ethics ensures that the rights, dignity and best interests of all parties involved in, or affected by, a student’s research are protected. This often simply means gaining consent from informants and organisations, behaving with empathy in the field, and providing anonymity to people and places during and after the research phase.

Students will receive guidance on research ethics from their Project Supervisor through their Project/ Dissertation module. Some degrees also cover research ethics through the taught part of the programme. Students who wish to undertake research through their taught modules, for example as part of an assessment, should seek guidance on any ethical implications from the relevant Module Leader.

Further information:

13.15.Marking, Second-Marking and Moderation

Information about marking, Second-Marking and moderation, and the release of provisional marks (Central and Local.)

All work that is submitted for summative assessment is marked by a UCL Internal Examiner or Assistant Internal Examiner. All UCL programmes also include rigorous Second-Marking and internal moderation processes to ensure that marking is consistent and fair. Second-Marking can take a number of different forms depending on the type of assessment, but the overall aim is to ensure that marking is as accurate as possible. Internal moderation also helps UCL to ensure that marking is equitable across different modules, pathways, options and electives.

Computer Science Marking Policy

All Computer Science programmes include rigourous Second Marking. All Written Examinations are Check-Marked by a Second Marker. A representative sample of Coursework and all Research Project/ Dissertations are double-marked by a Second Marker and are made available to the External Examiner for review. Second Markers may be Internal or Assistant Internal Examiners. Where Markers cannot agree, a Third Marker is consulted.

Further information:

13.16.External Examining

Information about External Examiners at UCL.

External Examiners are senior academics or practitioners from other universities who help UCL to monitor the quality of the education we provide to our students. In particular, External Examiners scrutinise the assessment processes on each programme, helping UCL to ensure that all students have been treated fairly, that academic standards have been upheld and that the qualifications awarded are comparable with similar degrees at other UK universities.

Each External Examiner submits an online Annual Report. Faculties and departments are required to reflect on any recommendations and address any issues raised in a formal response. The report and response are discussed with Academic Representatives at the Staff-Student Consultative Committee, and are scrutinised by faculty, department and institution-level committees. Students can access their External Examiner’s report and departmental response via their Portico account or by contacting their Departmental Tutor in the first instance or Student and Registry Services directly (examiners@ucl.ac.uk.) Reports will also be made available via the Student Handbook Annexes in Moodle (https://moodle-1819.ucl.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=12329#section-3).

Further information:

Updated: 30-09-2018