Department of Computer Science and Technology

Warning: these pages are currently being updated for 2018/19


Candidates for Part II of the Computer Science Tripos are required to carry out a substantial piece of project work, and to submit a dissertation of about 10,000 words describing the project. The dissertation counts for about a quarter of the available marks in the Tripos.

In doing this, your objectives should be:

  1. To display a range of Computer Science skills involved in the design, implementation and testing of a significant computer system. Usually this is a piece of software but it could be hardware or even the assembly of a knowledge base or a mechanically-assisted proof.
  2. To demonstrate your ability to plan and carry out a large project in a coherent and effective way, adhering to the principles of design, quality and management required for good software engineering.
  3. To show an understanding of the context in which your selected project lies. This includes the relationship of the task to the broad surrounding areas of Computer Science and other project-specific fields as well as an awareness of known results and the literature that supports your particular specialist area.
  4. To select (and justify your selection of) suitable programming languages, techniques, algorithms, tools and data structures and convince the Examiners that you can learn new ones as necessary.
  5. To plan and organise the collection and presentation of evidence that will show that the end result behaves in the way intended.
  6. To prepare a formal report (the dissertation)in clear and concise expository formwhich will convince its readers that objectives 1-5 have all been achieved.

The project provides an opportunity to conduct a fairly detailed investigation of some area within Computer Science that particularly appeals to you. As long as the project meets the above formal criteria, you are free to suggest any project.

These notes are to give guidance about the selection, planning, execution and documentation of projects. They explain the arrangements that the Computer Laboratory makes to support and regulate project work, and comment about what the Examiners expect to find in dissertations. Since project work forms a substantial proportion of the year’s work all of this is fairly important, and there is a lot to be said about it. It is suggested that this document be kept and occasionally checked throughout the year, particularly when the dissertation is being prepared, since otherwise it will be hard to keep track of all of the points that are made.

Important information on projects, including a hypertext version of this document, is available at: