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MPhil Degree

An MPhil degree is taken in two years as a full-time student or in four years as a part-time student. The degree is awarded following the successful completion of a period of research which includes the submission of a thesis, and its subsequent oral examination, together with a series of Departmental reports and seminars. The thesis is expected to display a comprehensive particular knowledge of some part or aspect of the field of study, and to make some original contribution to knowledge or understanding.

The MPhil research degree involves five formally required assessments which are timetabled as follows, assuming full-time registration starting in October:

  1. 25-min Seminar
    Seminar followed by TAP: brief review discussion (after 3 months)
  2. Pre-progression
    TAP: preparation for progression panel 1 (after 9 months)
  3. Progression Panel 1
    Progress Board (after 11-12 months)
  4. Thesis Outline
    Review discussion (after 15 months)
  5. First Thesis Audit
    Review discussion (after 21 months)
  6. MPhil Continuation Year
    24-month TAP then 3 monthly reviews (24 - 36 months)

MPhil Degree could also be studied part-time.

In the following, each assessment is discussed in turn. Please note that the statements on this page are for guidance only and do not fully reflect the University's and the Department's examination rules.

25-Minute Seminar

The first milestone in a Computer Science research degree requires you to present a 25-minute seminar to other research students and staff.  

  • The seminar normally covers background and critical literature review in the chosen area of study.  
  • The supervisor(s) should be present, if possible.  
  • The Assessor, or an academic member of staff representing the assessor, must be present and provide feedback on the seminar.
  • The audience will ask questions at the end of the seminar.

You should assume that you are addressing a well-informed general Computer Science audience - even if this is not the case!

  • Your material and presentation should demonstrate critical engagement with background material and literature.  
    • For example, use comments such as 'this is the original method described in Smith's seminal paper of 1980';  'there are now three main approaches to the problem, described for example in the widely-cited papers by Green (1998), Brown (2005), and Black (2014)'.
  • It must be clear what material has been consulted, and from what date.  
  • Your seminar must go beyond the work of your research group and the work of York researchers.

To contextualise the seminar, you might need to talk about your research plans, but this is not part of the assessment of the seminar.

Thesis Outline and Review TAP

The Thesis Outline (TO) is a short, structured document designed to monitor your progress and focus attention on your plans to complete the write-up of your research.  

The TO should be structured as follows:

  1. Title page, abstract, table of contents
  2. Introduction
    • As for the Progress Report, your introduction needs to make sense to someone who did not read (or does not remember) your previous milestone reports.  
    • State succinctly any changes to the scope of your research since the Progress Report (if you have not changed anything, say so), and  reiterate the motivation for your research (e.g. the gap that it is intended to fill).  
  3. Thesis structure
    • This chapter must have one section for each proposed chapter of your thesis.  For each section:
      • Use a section title that would be a good title for the thesis chapter.
      • State clearly and succinctly what the chapter will cover, and why this is appropriate material, in an appropriate place, for your proposed thesis.
      • Where appropriate, state what research has been completed for this chapter.
      • State what, if anything, has been written for this chapter.
        • State clearly what, if any, material for the chapter has already been included in a publication
      • Briefly explain how you will complete any outstanding research, review work, or preparation of material for this chapter.  
  4. Plan
    • For each proposed chapter of your thesis, give a bullet summary of outstanding tasks for (a) research and (b) writing up; for each bullet state the estimated time required.
    • Provide a diagrammatic timetable that shows each task, and any publication proposals.  
    • Your timetable should match your time estimates
      • If you cannot create a reasonable plan for completion within the normal 3-year (fulltime) enrolment, and your work cannot be scoped down to fit, you need to be very clear why you need to use time in the permitted overrun year.
  5. References
  6. Publications

Thesis Audit and Review TAP 

The Thesis Audit (TA) takes place 6 months after the Thesis Outline, and, if necessary, is repeated at no more than 6-monthly intervals until you complete your Notification of intention to submit.

The TA and accompanying TAP meeting may be merged with the Thesis Seminar if these coincide within 6 months of the TO or a previous TA.

The TA is a very short and very structured report that reviews progress against the thesis structure and outcomes described in the TO. If your thesis structure is roughly as defined in the TO, the TA report comprises a very brief update on the progress of each chapter:

  • For every chapter that is now proposed, state:
  1. That the chapter has been completed in draft; or
  2. That the work for the chapter is complete and give an estimate of required writing time; or
  3. That the work for the chapter is incomplete, and explain clearly what needs to be done, estimating how much time is needed to complete and write up the work;
  4. Justify your estimates for points 2 and 3.

If you have changed the structure of your thesis since the TO, do one of the following, as appropriate:

  • If you have significantly changed the structure of your thesis since the TO, present the whole structure as if it were a TO, and add some commentary to your Introduction to justify and explain the restructuring.
  • If you have a new chapter, not proposed in the TO, present an outline of that chapter, using the section format described for the TO.  
  • If you have removed a chapter that was proposed in the TO, explain what is removed and why, and comment on the effect of this omission for your thesis.

Part-time MPhil

The normal period of registration for part-time MPhil students is four years. The literature review seminar is preferably given after three months, and the qualifying dissertation is due after 18 months. The thesis proposal should be submitted after three years, while the thesis seminar is normally given in the fourth year.

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Computer Science graduates