skip to primary navigationskip to content

Taught Element

Taught element overview

The taught element comprises core lecture courses on topics of all aspects of scientific computing, and elective lecture courses relevant to the topic of the research project.

The student submits his/her choice of core and elective courses to the course administrator in writing (using the relevant form), by 12:00 noon on the Wednesday of the first week of Michaelmas Term, for approval by the academic committee. Amendment of the list at a later date is allowed, as long as it meets the course requirements, but any changes have to be sanctioned by the supervisor and the academic committee.

The structure of the taught element is summarised in the following table.

Table of lecture courses

Core lectures

The core lectures are on topics of high performance scientific computing numerical analysis and advanced numerical methods and techniques. They are organized by the Centre for Scientific Computing and are taught and examined during the first five months (October-February). Their purpose is to provide the students with essential background knowledge for completing their dissertation and for their general education in scientific computing.

In particular, their objective is to introduce students to the simulation science pipeline of problem identification, modelling, simulation and evaluation - all from the perspective of employing high-performance computing. Numerical discretisation of mathematical models will be a priority, with a specific emphasis on understanding the trade-offs (in terms of modelling time, pre-processing time, computational time, and post-processing time) that must be made when solving realistic science and engineering problems. Understanding and working with computational methods and parallel computing will be a high priority. To help the students understand the material, the lecturers will furnish the courses with practical coursework assignments.

The lectures on topics of numerical analysis and HPC are complemented with hands-on practicals using Linux-based laptops provided by the course (students may bring their own), as well as on the University’s High Performance Computing Service.

Elective lecture courses

Appropriate elective lecture courses are selected from Master’s-level courses offered by the Departments of the School of Physical Sciences, Technology or Biological Sciences. The choice of courses will be such as to provide the students with essential background knowledge for completing their theses and for their general education in the materials science application of the project. They are decided in consultation with the project supervisor. While every effort is made within the Departments to arrange the timetable in a coherent fashion, it is inevitable that some combinations of courses will be ruled out by their schedule, particularly if the choices span more than one department. A list of links to the participating Master’s-level courses is given in Appendix B: Elective Courses.


The taught element is examined by means of two written assignments amounting to 6 credit units and unseen written examination papers also amounting to 6 credit units, i.e. the students must accumulate a total of 12 units for examination credit (24 hrs course = 4 units, 16 hrs course = 2.5 units, 12 hrs course = 2 units, 6 hrs course = 1 unit).

The unseen written examination papers

Students will be expected to take the majority (if not all) of the examination credit units from unseen written examination papers offered by the MPhil in Scientific Computing. These currently are:

Paper 1: Fundamentals in Numerical Analysis (12hrs, 2units).

Paper 2: Numerical Integration and ODEs (12hrs, 2units).

Paper 3: Numerical Differentiation and PDEs (12hrs, 2units).

Paper 4: Linear Systems (12hrs, 2units).

Paper 5: Electronic Structure (24hrs, 4units).

Paper 6: Atomistic and Quantum Mechanical Modelling of Materials (12hrs, 2units).

Paper 7: Machine Learning (12 hours, 2 units).

Students may take written examination papers from other Master’s level courses in the University, but this has to be approved by the Course Director and sanctioned by the Course Academic Committee. The form and timing of those papers will be dictated by the structure of the corresponding Master’s programme.

The written assignments

The written assignments will be directly relevant to the student’s dissertation and will have to be submitted by the 22nd March 2017. The objective of the assignments is to provide the student with suitable background training on the underlying numerical methods and techniques which are necessary to complete the research project. The lecturers of the core courses or the research project supervisors, will offer a choice of assignments (with detailed instructions of what is expected) on the lectured topic. The students may propose an assignment theme of their own choice (which may be better suited to their research project), which has to be of similar standard to the assignments proposed by the lecturer (who may suggest modifications to this end). 

Students have to write the assignments in the LaTeX typesetting language using a research journal template (will be provided by the course organisers), so as to resemble an article submitted for publication. This is part of their training for communicating their research in the scientific literature and in conference proceedings.

Each candidate is required to submit one soft-bound copy of the written assignment, together with one completed cover sheet, and one electronic copy.

The submission deadline for the two written assignments is 12:00 noon on Wednesday 22nd March 2017 and any candidate who fails to meet this deadline without advance permission from the Course Directors will normally get no credit for this part of the assessment. Permission to defer submission will be granted only in exceptional cases, and candidates are asked to note in particular that computer-related problems will not normally be considered as grounds for deferral. Any application to defer submission must be made in writing to the Course Directors in advance of the deadline and must be accompanied by a supporting letter from the candidate’s College Tutor.

The written assignments are marked by suitable assessors, who could be the lecturers of the course or the research supervisors, but the marks are subject to moderation by the Examiners of the course. The assessors’ reports will be released to candidates. The written assignments will be made available to the research project dissertation examiners.

In response to growing concerns over plagiarism in all University courses, each piece of submitted work must be accompanied by a standard cover sheet, including a signed declaration to the effect that the work is the student’s own unaided effort and meets the University’s guidelines and regulations on plagiarism which are outlined in the relevant page of this site.

Core Lectures

List of the lecture courses offered by the MPhil in Scientific Computing.

Core Lectures - Read More…

Elective lecture courses

Links to the web pages of Part III & MASt courses at the University. Attending lectures or taking examination papers from these courses should be sanctioned by the project supervisor and the MPhil course director.

Elective lecture courses - Read More…