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MSc Project FAQ for Students 2020/21


Q. What about COVID-19... ?
A. See the guide.


  1. Q. When is the deadline for submitting the dissertation?
    A. Friday, 13. Aug. 2021: 12 noon. See timetable.

  2. Q. When is the deadline for submitting proposals for self-poposed project?
    A. Friday 15. Jan. 2021.

  3. Q. When is the deadline for the MSc project selection phase?
    A. Friday 5. Feb. 2021.

  4. Q. When can I see the list of project proposals?
    A. Students will only see the list of project proposals after the proposal submission deadline.


  1. Q. Can I get an extension for the 13. Aug. 2021 dissertation submission deadline?
    A. Only if there is a very good reason. The MSc project mgr. can neither handle nor grant extensions. For information on extensions see here. Short extensions (up-to 7 days) are requested via Student Support Team (see link above). Longer extensions require a special circumstances form. You need to contact your PT to file a special circumstances form.

  2. Q. Are there any extensions for other deadlines (project proposal, project selection, etc.) ?
    A. No.

Self-proposed Projects

  1. Q. How can I do a self-proposed project?
    A. See the guide.

  2. Q. Can other students be assigned to my self-proposed project?
    A. No. Self-proposed projects by students can only be taken by its original author.

  3. Q. In what circumstances will I fail to get my self-proposed project?
    A. If your intended supervisor is overloaded for some reason, you may fail to get your self-proposed project. It is good to discuss with your intended supervisor as soon as possible if you want to work on a self-proposed project. Even if you self-propose a project, you still need to be marked suitable (or very suitable) for at least 5 projects (including yours), just like every other student.

  4. Q. I want to do a self-proposed project with an external/industrial collaborator. How is this organized?
    A. External/industrial people can (co-)supervise student self-proposed MSc projects. If the supervisor is fully external (i.e., not staff at the UoE) then the project also needs an Informatics staff member as internal co-supervisor. It is your responsibility to find both supervisor(s) for your self-proposed project (both internal and external in this case). After you have filed the project proposal in DPMT, the supervisors need to register as supervisors for it in DPMT; see the guide here. (Note that external/industrial people can also propose topics for MSc thesis, but in this case the topic is open to all students, and not reserved for one particular student.)


  1. Q. Who owns the work that I do in my MSc thesis? What about agreements with industrial partners?
    A. You own your own work. See the University policy. Obviously, this only applies to your own work, and not to the work of others that you just discuss or cite. If you have an industrial partner, you can make a agreement with them (but discuss with your internal supervisor first). If the topic is really important, then you (and your internal supervisor) might want to discuss commercialisation with the experts at the University. You might also agree to some limited confidentiality with an industrial partner, but you cannot keep your thesis a secret, since it has to be marked. Again, discuss it with your internal supervisor first.

Project selection and allocation

  1. Q. How should I proceed to select possible MSc projects?
    A. See this helpful page.

  2. Q. How may suitable projects should I have?
    A. You have to be marked "suitable" (or "very suitable") for at least 5 projects (including you self-proposed project, if you have one). Aim for a number between 5 and 7. Do not go much higher, because you'd be wasting your time and the time of the faculty.

  3. Q. What happens if I have less than 5 "suitable" (or "very suitable") projects?
    A. If you have less than the required number of 5 suitable projects, then you get de-prioritized in the allocation. This means a significantly higher chance that you don't get assigned to any project, and will have to choose from whatever projects are left over at the end.

  4. Q. What happens if I don't contact the supervisor of the project for which I have registered interest in DPMT?
    A. It is your responsibility to contact the supervisor. If you don't do this, then your bid will remain unresolved until the end and then be marked as "unsuitable" by the supervisor. I.e., you won't get the project.

  5. Q. Can I un-register interest in a project?
    A. Yes, but only if you have not been marked "unsuitable" for it. Otherwise, the "unsuitable" decision has to stay on record to prevent useless repeat-registrations. It does not matter for how many projects you are "unsuitable". However, you need to be "suitable" (resp. "very suitable") for at least 5 projects (see above).

  6. Q. How are MSc projects allocated?
    A. The allocation of projects according to the preferences of all students is a complex optimisation problem. Projects are not assigned on a first-come first-served basis so there is no advantage in submitting your preferences early; assignment of students to projects begins only after the deadline for submission of preferences by students has passed. The assignment is the responsibility of the project coordinator, not individual project supervisors. Do not expect necessarily to get your first choice, or even one of your top few choices; there will usually be multiple first choices for the same project or a supervisor may be over-committed. For more details see here.

Student attendance and conduct

Q. Do I need to stay in Edinburgh while working on my dissertation?
A. In 2020/21 special rules apply, due to COV-19. See the guide. (In normal years, Yes. Students are expected to stay in Edinburgh for the duration of their degree programme. This includes during the writing of the MSc dissertation until the submission deadline. If you are on a Tier 4 visa and leave the country for an extended period of time, the School is obligated to contact Student Immigration Service who will notify UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI).)

Problems during project work

Q. What if I cannot solve a difficult research problem? What if my project turns out to be much harder than expected?
A. This happens fairly often, particularly with hard/ambitious projects. The key is communication with your supervisor. If it turns out that a project is too hard (or too large) to be completed in the given timeframe, then discuss fallback options with your supervisor. The solution depends on the specific project, but typical remedies include the following: consider a smaller/easier subproblem, work on a meaningful subset of the original questions, or consider an easier related question. Remember that some projects can shift focus during the work, depending on what they discover, including the discovery that certain methods/tools do not work as anticipated.

The thesis: format and style

  1. Q. What is the length of an MSc thesis?
    A. The maximal length is 40 pages for normal 60-credit MSc dissertations, excluding frontmatter and bibliography. This does not apply to EPCC, DSTI Dissertation (Distance Learning), Masters Dissertation (Design Informatics), and CDT thesis. See the relevant section of the course guide for rules on the length and style of your dissertation.

  2. Q. Is the title of my dissertation the same as the title of the MSc project proposal?
    A. It will often be so, but it is not required. What you work on in your MSc project is up to you and your supervisor. The project proposal is the starting point, but the focus might shift, depending on what you discover. If the focus shifted, then choose a title for your dissertation that reflects its content. (The title of the project proposal in DPMT will always stay as it is, however. But this does not affect you any more.)


  1. Q. Where can I submit my dissertation?
    A. See the relevant section of the course guide.

  2. Q. Can/should I submit auxiliary material with my dissertation?
    A. It is possible/expected to submit auxiliary material with your dissertation if it is relevant for the assessment. The submission form contains an extra section to upload this auxiliary data. Typically, this is program code, experimental data, etc. However, keep the size reasonable. This auxiliary material is just to help the markers assess your work. It is not meant as a complete archive of everything you did. So if your data is very large, then make a meaningful selection. If you think that large amounts of data are inevitable for the assessment, then consult with your supervisor to make a reasonable selection.

Project demos

  1. Q. Will I need to do a project demo?
    A. Probably not. Project demonstrations are not compulsary and actually very uncommon. However, students should check with their supervisor whether a demo will be required. See also the relevant section of the course guide.