Description and Options
There are two choices available to MSc students: the thesis options (12 or 6 credit thesis) and the essay option (3 credit essay). The choice between the two options depends on what the student hopes to achieve with the MSc degree, and whether the student wants to pursue a PhD degree. Each choice has its own advantages.
There are two types of MSc theses: the 12 credit and the 6 credit thesis. Either type allows the student to learn how to do research. In choosing to write a thesis, a student will have a better understanding of what goes on in a research establishment. If the student continues on to the PhD program, the thesis option provides valuable experience in performing research and writing it up appropriately. Since PhD work is judged by external examiners, choosing the thesis option provides valuable experience in preparation for the PhD. For students who have not decided on whether to pursue a PhD, the choice of the thesis MSc option will provide a taste of performing and writing up research. The 6 credit thesis is available, but not encouraged, since it typically will require substantially more than half the work of the 12 credit thesis for both the student and the supervisor.
Choosing the essay option gives the student a broader perspective on computer science. It allows the student to sample many areas and see research without becoming overly specialized. If the student is going on to the PhD program, this route can be a fast-track to the MSc degree without doing the extra work of writing a thesis. Since the comprehensive course requirement is also a requirement for the PhD program, completing the essay option for the MSc will give the student a head start in that some of the course work for the PhD program will have already been done. Newly accepted PhD students can get into research straight away, but these students will not have had the experience of performing research and writing up a thesis.