The Part II thesis is examined by thesis and orally usually in 9th or 10th week of Trinity Term.
There are guidelines on what the Examiners are looking for in a Part II thesis. These guidelines were written by Professor George Smith, Chairman of Part II Examiners 1999-2000.
Guidelines for Preparation of Part II Thesis
Extract from the Examination Regulations for the Honour School of Materials Science Part II:
'Every candidate for Part II is required to submit a report on the investigations which he or she has carried out under the direction of his or her supervisor. The report on the investigations shall also include an abstract, a literature survey, a description of the engineering context of the investigation, and a special chapter to cover reflective accounts of project management, ethical and sustainability considerations, and health, safety and risk assessment. The report should be accompanied by a signed statement by the candidate that it is his or her own work. Candidates will be required to upload the coursework to the University approved online assessment platform not later than 4pm on the Monday of the seventh week of Trinity Full Term. The report shall be word-processed or typewritten on A4 paper (within a page area of 247 mm x 160 mm, using double line-spaced type of at least 11pt font size, printed on one side only of each sheet, with a left hand margin of at least 30mm). The main report should not normally exceed 12,000 words together with a maximum of a further 3,000 words for the final chapter covering reflective accounts of project management (max 1,500 words), health, safety and risk assessment processes (max 500 words), and the ethical and sustainability considerations relevant to your project and its outcomes (max 1,000 words). These word counts exclude references, title page, acknowledgements, table of contents and the three Project Management Forms. All other text is included in the word count, including the abstract, tables and the figure captions. Additionally, the main report should not normally exceed 100 pages in length. This page limit excludes references, title page, acknowledgements, table of contents and appendices. Every other part of the report is included in the page limit. All pages of the report should be numbered sequentially. Each submission must be accompanied by a declaration indicating that it is the candidate’s own work. Candidates seeking permission to exceed the word and/or page limits should apply to the Chair of Examiners at an early stage. Further detailed data, computer programs and similar material may be included in one or more appendices at the end of the main report, but appendices are not included within the limits of the word or page counts of the thesis and, entirely at the discretion of the Examiners for each report, may or may not be read.'
- Word limit: 12,000 words for the main body of the thesis, plus 3,000 words for the final chapter covering reflective accounts of project management (max 1,500 words), health, safety and risk assessment processes (max 500 words), and the ethical and sustainability considerations relevant to your project and its outcomes (max 1,000 words). Word counts exclude references, title page, acknowledgements, table of contents and the three project management forms. All other text is included in the word count, including the abstract, tables and the figure captions.
- Page limit: 100 pages. Page count excludes references, title page, acknowledgements, table of contents and appendices. Every other part of the report is included in the page limit. All pages of the thesis should be numbered sequentially.
- If you feel that you have an exceptional case for exceeding the word and/or page limit, and you wish to seek permission to do so, both you and your supervisor should contact the Part II Project Organiser who will put your case to the Chair Examiners. Such a case should be made at the earliest possible stage. The Examiners will enforce the word limit strongly, and any thesis submitted over the word limit may be subject to penalties.
- Appendices: the purpose of the above word and page limits is to prevent the excessive inclusion of material that is unnecessary for development of the key argument(s) of the thesis. Material which is additional to the main body of the thesis, e.g. further detailed data, may be included in appendices. However, whilst Examiners are required to consider the main body of the thesis, whether they read appendices is entirely at their discretion.
- The thesis must include:
- a one-page abstract;
- a literature survey;
- a brief account of the Engineering Context/Relevance of your project (a requirement of Accreditation);
- a final chapter containing an account of the project management aspects of the investigationm health, safety and risk assessment processes, and the ethical and sustainability considerations relevant to your project and its outcomes;
- a signed statement by the candidate that it is his or her own work and that it adheres to the previously described word and page limits
- The thesis must be uploaded to the University approved online assessment platform not later than 4pm on the Monday of the seventh week of Trinity Full Term.
- The thesis must be word-processed or typewritten on A4 paper. The text should fit within a page area of 247 mm x 160 mm (i.e. top and bottom margins totalling 50 mm, and left and right margins totalling 50 mm) with a left hand margin of at least 30 mm (for ease of reading after binding). The text should be double line-spaced. The typeface should be of at least 11pt size.
- The viva voce examination is normally held in 9th or 10th week of Trinity Term. Please keep these weeks clear in your diary.
The Part II contributes a maximum of 400 marks towards the maximum available of 1200 marks for the whole degree.
Your thesis will be read independently by two internal Examiners, or one Examiner and one Assessor, who will each allocate a provisional mark before the viva.
Those two marks are declared to all the Examiners just before the vivas begin.
Each thesis will be read by one of the two External Examiners.
After the viva the Part II Examiners discuss the marks from the two internal examiners/assessors and agree collectively a mark out of 400.
The examiners in the Department of Materials for 2021-22 are expected to be as follows:
Examiners for the Part II Examination: Prof. Simon Benjamin, Prof. Sergio Lozano-Perez, Prof. James Marrow, Prof. Pete Nellist, Prof. Keyna O'Reilly and Prof. Jason Smith (Chair). The external examiners are Prof. Peter Haynes, Imperial College London, and Prof. Geraint Williams, Swansea University.
It must be stressed that in order to preserve the independence of the Examiners, you are not allowed to make contact directly about matters relating to the content of the exams or the marking of coursework. Any communication must be via the Senior Tutor of your college, who will, if he or she deems the matter of importance, contact the Proctors. The Proctors in turn communicate with the Chair of Examiners. If you have any queries about the Examinations or anything related to the Examinations, for example, illness, personal issues, please don’t hesitate to seek further advice from your College tutor, or one of the Department’s academic support staff.
Extract from FHS Examination Conventions for Materials Science 2021-22
3. PART II
The Part II project is assessed by means of a thesis which is submitted online to the Examiners, who will also take into account a written report from the candidate’s supervisor. The marking criteria are published in the Part II Course Handbook.
The Supervisor’s report is divided into Parts A & B: Part A provides simple factual information that is of significance to the examiners, such as availability of equipment, and is seen by the two markers before they read and assess the thesis. Part A does not include personal mitigating circumstances which, subject to guidance from the Proctors, normally are considered only in discussion with all Part II examiners thus ensuring equitable treatment of all candidates with mitigating circumstances. Part B of the supervisor’s report provides her/his opinion of the candidate’s engagement with the project and covers matters such as initiative and independence; it is not seen by the examiners until the discussion held after the viva.
The project is allocated a maximum of 400 marks, which is one third of the maximum available marks for Parts I and II combined. Two Part II examiners read the thesis (including the final chapter with the reflective accounts of project management, health, safety & risk assessment processes, and ethical and sustainability considerations), together with Part A of the supervisor’s report, and each of them independently allocates a provisional mark based on the guidelines* published in the course handbook. In addition, normally the thesis will be seen by one of the two external examiners.
A viva voce examination is held: the purpose of the viva is to clarify any points the readers believe should be explored, and to ascertain the extent to which the work reported is the candidate’s. Any examiners who have supervised the candidate’s Part II project or are their college tutor will not be present at the viva or the subsequent discussion. Normally four individuals will have specified examining roles: Two examiners, or one examiner and an assessor, who have read the thesis entirely; the external examiner to whom the thesis was assigned; and an examiner acting as the session Chair who will complete any necessary documentation for that viva. Other examiners beyond these four individuals will be present to the extent possible given the existence of parallel sessions. A discussion involving all examiners present is held after the viva, during which Part B of the supervisor’s report is taken into account. The outcome of the discussion is an agreed mark for the project. In arriving at the agreed mark the Examiners will take into account all of the following, (i) the comments and provisional marks of the original markers, (ii) the candidate’s understanding of their work as demonstrated during the viva and (iii) the opinion of the external examiner who has seen the thesis.
If the two provisional marks allocated in advance of the viva differ significantly (that is, normally by more than 10% of the maximum available for a Part II project) this will be addressed explicitly during the discussion after the viva. In the majority of other cases, the viva has only a small influence on the agreed mark awarded to a Part II thesis.
Where a candidate or candidates have made a submission, under Part 12 or Part 13 of the Regulations for Conduct of University Examinations, that unforeseen circumstances may have had an impact on their performance in an examination, a subset of internal examiners will meet to band the seriousness of each notice in advance of the Part II vivas and prior to sight of any preliminary marks awarded by the internal examiners. When reaching these decisions on MCE impact level, the subset of examiners will take into consideration, on the basis of the information received, the severity and relevance of the circumstances, and the strength of the evidence. The banding information will be used at Part B of the meeting of Part II internal examiners, which is held after the vivas, at which the marks agreed following the discussion after the viva are reviewed and recommendations to the Finals Board formulated regarding any action(s) to be taken in respect of each MCE.
Further information on the procedure is provided in the Examination and Assessment Framework, Annex E and information for students is provided at www.ox.ac.uk/students/academic/exams/problems-completing-your-assessment.
It is stressed that it is the scientific content of the project and the candidate’s understanding of their work that is being considered in the viva.
* An updated version was circulated by email from Prof. Keyna O'Reilly, Part II Organiser, on 14th February 2022
Part II Prizes
Part II Talks
There is a prize of £450 and a medal from The Worshipful Company of Ironmongers for the best talk.
The Armourers and Brasiers’ Company award a medal and a prize of £250 for the best MS Part II project.
The award is based on the recommendation of the Part II examiners, after the examination of the Part II thesis is completed.
The Armourers like to award the prize and medal at a formal presentation by one of their senior people, on a public occasion.