The progress of the students is continuously monitored during the practical sessions (Michaelmas Term) and by means of the reports of the course supervisors (part of the Cambridge supervision system). Their performance on the two written assignments offers another opportunity for assessment, approximately half way through the course calendar (February).
Mid-term progress review
Although project supervisors continuously monitor the students during the 6 months of the research project, students are expected to hand in a first draft of their dissertation approximately half-way through the project period (third week of May).
The draft should have a skeleton of the dissertation (in terms of chapters), an almost complete literature review and some preliminary results. The drafts are made available to an assessment committee (composed by the Course Director and project supervisors) ahead of a day (in the last week of May) of 10-minute presentations (including questions) by the students to the committee. Members of the committee assess progress of the projects by means of a two-page pro forma. Feedback is given to the students during appraisal sessions by the Course Director or the research project supervisor. This process ensures that the students are on track to submit their dissertations and also helps to ensure that the projects are of consistently high research quality.
Guidelines for the interim progress assessment
The purpose of the interim research project assessment is to provide each student with the opportunity to deliver an interim written and oral report on the work in progress towards their Master’s Dissertation. In many cases the work will not yet be complete and so the exercise should generate a useful review of what has been achieved so far, and any general discussion which is stimulated may help to provide a useful steer for the final writing up of the thesis. For this reason it will be understood if conclusions are loosely drawn at this stage.
The main aims of the dissertation presentation are:
- To communicate effectively on a chosen research topic
- To demonstrate the ability to defend a presentation in public
- To provide evidence of satisfactory progress with the Master’s Dissertation
Submission deadline of the interim progress review
The submission deadline for the progress report is 12:00 noon on Thursday 25 May 2017). Two versions of each report should be submitted: one printed, stapled, to the CSC Admin, and one electronic, to individuals' CamTools DropBox.
Structure of the mid-term progress presentation
On the presentation day, students will be required to provide an oral presentation of their research work to date, not exceeding 10 minutes. This time will be strictly adhered to, and students exceeding 10 minutes will be asked to stop. Afterwards, 5 minutes will be used for questions and a general discussion of the work with the audience. The final programme for the day will be generated shortly before the day and made available online at the course website.
Data projection facilities will be available, together with an overhead projector. Special requirements will have to be communicated to the Course Administrator at least one week before the presentation day.
If using PowerPoint presentations, students can either use their own lap-top, provided they make sure that the presentation can be started on time, or load their file onto a laptop provided by the course at least two days in advance of the presentation.
Assessment of the presentation
The dissertation presentation represents a mandatory contribution to the overall dissertation requirements. Characteristics of a good presentation are:
- Clarity of delivery (organisation of material, engagement with audience, effective use of visual aids)
- Technical depth (relevance of material, critical awareness and grasp of the problem, nature of conclusions)
- Response to questions (factual probity, depth of reply, understanding of issues.