Mark scheme for workshop and project presentations


Rather than the usual "5 marks for doing this calculation, 2 marks for saying 'Gaussian elimination'" style of mark scheme, I will be marking questions in the following way. There are three categories

Below, I will explain how these will be judged.

The reason I am marking this way is because I want you to focus on your explanation skills, learning to present coherently and correctly, rather than worrying about "ticking boxes".


Who am I aiming my presentation at?

Not me! Primarily your classmates. For workshop presentations, your aim should be that if they didn't try the question you're solving, they should understand how to solve it by the time you're done. For project presentations, you should aim to explain to them what you did in language they'll understand.

Should I attend a workshop if I'm not presenting

Yes! This may give you a chance to see complete solutions to questions that you didn't attempt. It will also guarantee that your classmates have an audience for their talks (which is a courtesy they will hopefully extend to you in turn). Altogether too much of your time is spent listening to me: these presentations give you a chance to reclaim the subject for yourselves!

How do I sign up to give a workshop presentation?

After you have received your feedback from each question sheet, I will post a message on Teams asking for people to volunteer to present in the next workshop. The first six people to respond will be given slots in the next workshop.

Which question should I present?

You may present your solution to any question in any workshop (not necessarily from the most recent question sheet). I recommend you present the solution to a question which you have already had marked, as then you can focus on explaining it rather than on worrying about whether you got it right.

Can multiple people present the same question?

Yes, it is possible for multiple people to present solutions to the same question, but this may get boring for everyone to watch. I recommend (for everyone else's sake) that you pick a question which hasn't already been claimed or presented.

Do I need a fancy graphics tablet?

No: your presentation can be very rudimentary: you're being assessed on your ability to explain stuff, not on the snazziness of your technology. If you just scan an image of your working and take us through it, that is OK. If you have a tablet with a pen like me and want to write stuff down as you go, that's also OK. I will try and not be swayed by such things.

This question is hard to present because it's a mess

If you're presenting something with a lot of calculation, or a very difficult proof, think hard about which bits you'll focus on instead of trying to plough through the whole thing.

  • Maybe you have some nifty way of organising the terms in the BCH formula to keep track of them.

  • Maybe you can get away with saying "X simplifies to Y" without going through all the intermediate steps: your choice of which details to omit will show whether you have good judgement!

Note that although you have limited time, if you skip steps that are really important for our understanding then you have not made judicious choices about what to include.

I haven't had chance to present yet!

If necessary, I'll hold a workshop in week 10 for anyone who hasn't already presented to present.


Clarity of exposition

Here are the criteria I will use for assigning a mark out of 5 for clarity of exposition:

  • (1/5) It is not clear from your presentation whether you understood the solution you were presenting.

  • (2/5) You have emphasised unimportant or "surface" features rather than getting to the heart of the solution. Alternatively, you blasted your classmates with terminology they had no chance to absorb or understand, even if it was technically correct.

  • (3/5) You have managed to give a sense of how you solved the question, but some points were unclear. Maybe you used unfamiliar concepts without giving adequate explanation/intuition.

  • (4/5) You have successfully communicated your solution. There was some redundancy and maybe some points where the explanation could have been improved. You showed good judgement about which details to include and which to omit. Your explanation was comprehensible to someone who took this module without further reading.

  • (5/5) You have successfully communicated the key points of your solution. This was done clearly and efficiently. You illustrated your solution with reference to illuminating examples (if appropriate) and showed excellent judgement about which details to include and which to omit. Your explanation was comprehensible to someone who took this module without further reading.

I must in all honesty point out that most of the time, when I explain something to somebody, I would score at most 3/5 on a first pass. On a second pass, I might bump this 1 point up the scale. If I spend significant time preparing an explanation (e.g. for a seminar or a video lecture) I try and get it up to a 5, but don't always succeed. For this reason, I recommend that you spend some time preparing your presentation, rather than just hoping it will go OK just because you understood the solution.

Mathematical accuracy

Here are the criteria I will use for assigning a mark out of 5 for mathematical accuracy:

  • (0/5): Your presentation contains essentially no correct mathematics.

  • (2/5): Your presentation contains inaccurate statements or reveals misunderstandings about results from the course. For example, you may be applying a theorem in a context where it doesn't apply, or assuming some matrices commute when they don't.

  • (3/5): Your presentation has a mix of correct and incorrect mathematics, but it is clear that you have some of the right ideas even if some of what you write requires tweaking.

  • (4/5): Your presentation may contain small "slips of the tongue" or easily-corrected mistakes which don't affect the overall solution. Any gaps or omissions are easy to fill.

  • (5/5): Your answer is mathematically flawless (modulo any steps which you explicitly chose to omit). There are no incorrect things written. Any gaps or omissions are easy to fill in, or made for pedagogical reasons.


Here are the criteria I will use for assigning a mark out of 5 for completeness:

  • (0/2): You overran the 10 minute limit.

  • (1/2): You had to rush to finish within 10 minutes.

  • (2/2): You finished comfortably within 10 minutes.