1. Course Structure
  2. Pastoral Care Tutorial System
  3. Exams and Assessment Regulations
  4. Past Exam Papers
  5. Summer Dissertation Project

MSc Computer Science

The MSc Computer Science is a generalist masters programme. The programme is in three parts; a compulsory element covering the basic computer science; an optional element where you choose three courses according to your own interests from an options list; and finally a substantial individual project which is carried out full time after the examinations which are taken at the start of the summer term.

For the MSc Computer Science we normally require a minimum of a second-class Honours degree from a UK university in a subject other than computer science or information technology, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. A level Mathematics or its equivalent is also a requirement. We also ask applicants to show some proof of basic programming either as a module taken in their previous degree or 1-3 pages of a programme written by the applicant on their own, with a description this can be submitted with the application or produced at the Admissions Tutor request.

The compulsory element is divided into five courses. These develop knowledge and skills in programming using Java; topics relating to software design - principally how software is engineered, human computer interaction, and advanced programming techniques; a course on software architecture and hardware; a course on software systems infrastructure which gives an introduction to operating systems, middleware, compilers and database systems; and finally an algorithmics course which covers the practical and theoretical aspects of data structures and algorithms.

Four of the compulsory courses from the basis element are studied during the autumn term, the algorithmics course and your three option selections are studied during the spring term. The collection of options is varied slightly from year to year, however there are usually at least ten options from which to make your selection. They cover a good range of computer science topics including communications and networks, image processing, graphics, artificial intelligence including neural networks, and medical scientific computing. It is also possible to pursue some of the topics covered in the basic courses in more depth, for example database systems, interaction design, software engineering and alternative programming paradigms. Depending on your motivation for taking the course and your career plans you may like to follow options in project management or business and entrepreneurship.

After the examinations you will work full time on your individual project under the guidance of an academic supervisor. Projects are negotiated with staff during the spring term based on a list of published project topics. You can start work on your project as soon as you have come to an agreement with a supervisor, other study priorities permitting. 

The MSc Computer Science degree is, by nature, a very intensive programme of study. You will have to work hard, often with each other, to keep up with the pace of delivery. Most students find the first term in particular a great challenge, although not always for the same reasons. If you do feel under pressure, you can be confident that you are not alone in this, so do talk to your colleagues and your tutor about your work. You may find it reassuring to know that at the end of the year the overwhelming majority of students feel that their efforts and the very real substantial investments that they and often their families have made to enable them to take the course have been very worthwhile.

Course Structure

The basic element of the degree programme is compulsory and comprises the following courses:

Autumn Term:

Spring Term:



Three options are studied during the Spring term. Normally these three options are chosen from the standard list of MSc CS options with "COMPGC" codes, but note that the list may change as more (or less) courses become available.

These three options may include a maximum of one option from any MSc programme within the department subject to timetabling and other constraints below.

Popular options outside the standard "COMPGC" modules include:

A number of conditions apply to choosing a "non-standard COMPGC module" including:

  1. You need to discuss the module you wish to take with the module coordinator to ensure that you have the prerequisites and background for taking the option. A number of these modules will be from specialist MSc courses such as Web Science and Big Data Analytics, some may have implicit dependencies on compulsory Autumn term modules for the particular MSc, or implicit dependencies on having taking an undergraduate degree in Computer Science. You need to agree with the module coordinator that you have sufficient background for the particular non-standard option.
  2. Normally such a non-standard option should build on your first degree.
  3. You need to ensure that the non-standard option does not clash with any of your other options within the timetable.
  4. You should get agreement from the programme director to ensure there are no issues overall.

Select your options on-line by logging in with your UCL username and password at PorticoPlease ensure that you have no timetable clashes using the UCL online timetable "custom" tab before entering your selected options.



Summer Dissertation Project:

The individual project completes the programme.

Note that, the syllabuses linked to the list above are based on information supplied at the start of the academic year. For option courses, particularly those given by departments other than Computer Science, students should check details with lecturers for the courses before (say) purchasing texts.


Pastoral Care Tutorial System

A new approach to the personal tutor system, for pastoral care, will be tried this year. A time slot to meet all students in groups of 6 will be organized before the Portico deadline for options registration. This will give you a chance to discuss any questions or issues you have concerning option selection (and any other issues you may be encountering at the start of the course). The selection of timeslots will be made via the "MSC Computer Science / Financial Computing" Moodle site.

After this initial meeting with all student on the course, the personal tutorial system will work in a more "responsive-mode" where you will register via Moodle to meet up during particular time slots to ask questions or discuss any issues.

Of course, if urgent issues arise any time during the course, then please do email Dr Kevin Bryson to arrange a meeting to discuss these.

Special (or Extenuating) Circumstances

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.

For more serious problems that delay coursework, the following procedure should be followed:

i) In the first instance, tell the lecturer concerned that you have extenuating circumstances and that these will result in the coursework being late. Agree a suitable new deadline with the lecturer.

ii) Tell the Course Director that you have extenuating circumstances for this particular coursework and fill in an extenuating circumstances form. This should be done well before the deadline so that the extenuating circumstances can be checked and it can be assessed that they are sufficiently serious to delay the deadline. (Note that if circumstances are rated as not serious enough to delay the deadline then late penalities may be applied.)

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.

When the examiners consider graduation, 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 (doctors' certificates or letters for example). Such evidence should be provided to the Program Director as soon as is practical. Be aware that reports of illness which are submitted late tend to lose credibility and look like excuses.

Exams and Assessment Regulations

For students entering the programme in or after 2010/11, please see the Faculty Regulations for the award of MSc/Diploma in Computer Science.


The rules for late submission of coursework are described here.

Coursework is an integral part of the degree programme. Coursework is designed to help you apply knowledge associated with a course and to practice certain skills. This means that regardless of the assessment weighting associated with it, you are strongly advised to apply yourself to the work you are set.

For computer science subjects coursework is often a significant component of the assessment for most courses. You can find out how much of the assessment for a particular course is associated with coursework from links to course syllabi. For some courses it is considered essential that you make a serious attempt at the coursework to be eligible to sit for examination in that course. This information is also available for each course on its syllabus description.

All students are expected to be able to organise their time and behave professionally towards their studies. This means that deadlines for courseworks are firm deadlines, the department operates a consistent policy of penalties for late submission of coursework. 

If you are experiencing difficulties with any of your work for personal, health or other serious reasons you should inform the lecturer concerned as early as possible or discuss matters with your personal tutor or the course director in confidence. Medical certificates or other appropriate documentation must be submitted where deferred submission of work is sought.

Plagiarism is treated with the utmost seriousness at UCL generally, including here in the Department of Computer Science.

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. It is your responsibility to make sure you understand our procedures, if you have any doubt at all as to what we might construe as plagiarism in a particular situation you should discuss your work with the lecturers concerned or with your personal tutor.

Late submission of coursework

Deadlines for coursework submission will be applied rigidly. The College rules for late submission of coursework will be applied, as described on the Teaching Matters web page.

Wherever possible, a student should obtain agreement from the lecturer in advance if they have a good reason for submitting work late (i.e. Extenuating Circumstances). Otherwise the penalties detailed on the Teaching Matters web page will be applied.

Further detailed departmental information about coursework is given on the Teaching Matters web page.

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.

Past Exam Papers

Search using the UCL Library search system with the "Under Resources:" set to "UCL Exam Papers".

Put one of the course codes above (such as COMPGC04) to get PDF copies of the past exams for this course.

Note that some courses, such as COMPGC01 Introduction to Programming, are now 100% coursework and so the past exam papers are no longer relevant.