School of Engineering and Informatics (for staff and students)

Marking criteria MSc IAS

Dissertations should demonstrate a mix of skills at masters level.  Depending on the project, different skills will have a greater weighting in the marking. For instance, some projects will involve large amounts of complex programming while others may be more focused on significant analysis of new data or the development of new mathematical models.  The criteria for evaluation include:

  • Application of or extension of MSc course skills, ideally beyond those taught in the relevant modules.
  • Engagement with the literature, including appropriate selection of papers and analysis of  concepts.  A dissertation which applies concepts from one field in another area, or combines concepts from two fields, may attract greater weighting for the literature aspect and for novelty.
  • Theoretical analysis and development of concepts.
  • Quality of programming, proofs and other practical development work.  Organisation, clarity, efficiency, application of advanced methods and novelty are the focus.  A large volume of code is not, by itself, sufficient.
  • Quality of critical evaluation,  including choice of methods, controls and conditions; rigour of their application, and analysis of data.
  • Novelty is not an absolute requirement of an MSc dissertation.  However, the work undertaken should engage with recent developments in the topic.  Where there is novelty, for instance modification of algorithms or development of new approaches or methods, this shall be acknowledged in the marking.
  • Good project management will be reflected in the outcomes of the dissertation.  However, examiners may wish to note appropriate selection of tools and methods and suitable management of time and risk, particularly where engaging with very new  tools/methods or making novel contributions.

General professional standards will be expected:

  • in matters of punctuation, vocabulary choice, standard English grammar, and the conventions of  academic discourse (including reference to sources);
  • in presentation of code (for programming projects): code for programming projects should be submitted  as an appendix to the main report;
  • in formal aspects of presentation (word-processing/typing, printing).

Guidelines to students and markers on standards expected at each level 

70% - 100% - Excellent

Shows very good understanding supported by evidence that the student has gone beyond what was taught by extra study, programming, or creative thought. Work at the top end of this range is of exceptional quality. Write-up: well structured, proper references, proper discussion of existing relevant work, neatly presented, interesting, clear, proper disinterested critique of what is good and bad about approach taken, thoughts about where to go next with such work. Program: code that executes efficiently, incorporates sophisticated programming features, is non-redundant, well-structured, properly commented and elegant, addresses the problem effectively for a non-trivial application. 

60% - 69% - Good

Very competent in all respects, substantially correct and complete knowledge but not going beyond what was taught. Program: code that executes, incorporates some complexity, is relatively well-designed and presented (eg separated into modules, commented), addresses a reasonably non-trivial problem. 

55% - 59% - Satisfactory

Competent in most respects. Minor gaps in knowledge but reasonable understanding of fundamental concepts. Program: code that executes, and addresses a simple problem. 

50% - 54% - Borderline

Significant gaps in knowledge but some understanding of fundamental concepts. Code that largely executes but is, for example, derived from exercise, lecture or textbook examples or minimally adjusts a program from a textbook or other source. 

30% - 49% - Fail

Inadequate knowledge of the subject. Work is seriously flawed, displaying major lack of understanding, irrelevance or incoherence. Code that does not execute, or is not coherent in terms of the problem being addressed or the methods to be employed in doing this.

Below 30% - Unacceptable (or not submitted) 
Work is either not submitted or, if submitted, so seriously flawed that it does not constitute a bona-fide script.


School of Engineering and Informatics (for staff and students)

School Office:
School of Engineering and Informatics, University of Sussex, Chichester 1 Room 002, Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9QJ
T 01273 (67) 8195

School Office opening hours: School Office open Monday – Friday 09:00-15:00, phone lines open Monday-Friday 09:00-17:00
School Office location [PDF 1.74MB]