Department of Computer Science and Technology

Course pages 2019–20

Research Skills Programme

Taken by: MPhil ACS, Part III
Code: RSP
Hours: 24
Prerequisites: Fluency in English (reading and writing)


To provide advice on and training in a variety of practical skills required for research. To provide training in a subset chosen from the diverse set of skills that will be useful in the other research-led modules, in the individual project, and in the student's future career.


Core Units

All students must take the following core units:

  • Online introduction to writing: What is academic English; Achieving Clarity in English; Studying in English
  • Introduction to Academic Writing in the UK
  • How to nail your literature review: Finding what you need
  • How to nail your literature review: Bringing it all together
  • Practical Writing Exercise (focusing on how to write a good abstract)
  • Scientific typography using LaTeX and BibTeX
  • One-Minute Madness: project 'elevator pitch'
  • How to prepare a research presentation

Optional Units

Students may choose from a list of units that are most relevant to their research plans, and supplementary to their previous experience. A full list of units can be accessed from Moodle. Each student must participate in at least 7 optional units. Those CPGS students who completed the M.Phil in Advanced Computer Science previously will choose a minimum of 12 optional units. Students may attend further sessions, subject to availability of spaces. No credit is given for attendance greater than the minimum requirement.


On completion of this module, students should have improved their ability in the practical aspects of research, including specific skills relevant to their individual research plans and career aspirations, as chosen from the selection of optional units.


Course work for the core unit on academic writing will include a submitted written exercise.

Students will need to submit a copy of their powerpoint slide for the one-minute madness presentation.

Optional units will not require coursework to be completed or submitted beyond participation in the session itself.

Practical work

Some options will involve practical work, which will be carried out during the session. This will provide an opportunity for students to practice specific skills, but will not be formally assessed.


An informal assessment exercise will be included as part of the Introduction to Academic Writing unit. However, this will not be a formal assessed exercise, and will not contribute to the final examination of the MPhil.

Students are required to participate in a minimum of 7 optional units (12 for those who completed the MPhil previously) as a course requirement. Because units are chosen according to individual need or interest, students should assess for themselves whether their choices have been appropriate and sufficient to meet their individual needs. Based on this self-assessment, students are encouraged to discuss with their course adviser any further practical research skills that might be needed for completion of their individual project. Module convenors and project supervisors will be able to offer further advice.

Students will be issued with a log book to record units they have attended.

Recommended reading

Reading suggestions will be made, if appropriate, by presenters of individual options. Note that all students are expected to complete the online introduction to academic writing.