School of Mathematical Sciences

Teaching and learning menu

Teaching and learning

This page is obsolete and is superseded by the teaching and learning section of this QMplus page.

About coursework

  • The purpose of coursework is to help you to learn, not to accumulate a few marks for the assessment of the module.
  • You should read carefully the comments made by the markers and ask questions if you don't understand; this is your side of the contract.
  • Coursework may involve some questions on material that has not (yet) been taught, to help you develop independent learning skills.
  • Coursework may include both assessed and unassessed exercises; any coursework that counts towards your degree will differ from year to year.

Assessment deadlines

  • With the exception of project modules, all modules will have at least 5 coursework assignments (or at least 3 mini-projects). These will be regularly spaced throughout the semester and the exercise sheets will remain available until the end of the examination period. Module organisers will ensure that the marked coursework scripts are returned to you (or give you feedback on their progress in some other form) and marks entered in SID within two weeks (but usually sooner).
  • No submission deadline for assessed work will be in vacation time or week 7 and deadlines will not be informally extended into the vacation. For lecture modules, all coursework submission deadlines will be within the term in which the module is taught. For other modules, the deadline for submission of a large project or the last of several small projects may be deferred to the beginning of the second semester or the beginning of the examination period.
  • Most assessed coursework will be returned to you, or made available for you to collect, during the term in which a module is taught. Uncollected coursework will remain available for you to collect during the vacation following the term in which the module is taught. At most one piece of assessed coursework may be marked during the vacation following the term in which the module is taught and either returned to you or made available for you to collect at the beginning of the following term.
  • Uncollected coursework will be disposed of at the end of the examination period each year.
  • You may complain about coursework marking up to one week after the marked coursework is returned to you or made available for you to collect.

Extenuating circumstances

This includes reasons for missing assessments or exams. You must report all extenuating circumstances as soon as possible using an Extenuating Circumstances Claim Form.

  • If you miss an assessed coursework we will replace the missing mark by the average of your coursework marks for the module.
  • If you miss a test we will replace the missing mark by your exam mark.
  • If you miss an exam we will allow you to take the exam later with no penalty. (This is called a "first sit".)
  • If we are classifying you for a degree and you have substantial extenuating circumstances that have clearly affected your performance compared with other years and you are just below a degree class boundary then we may award you the class of degree above the boundary.
  • We will not increase your marks in any other way.

Extenuating circumstances will not normally allow you to progress if you would not do so without them, but they are necessary for approval of a retake (part-time or full-time).

Marking and grading criteria

Marking of assessed work in mathematical sciences is normally objective and specified down to a level of around 1–2% for an exam or around 5% for a test or coursework exercise. We award marks for knowledge (e.g. reproducing definitions, theorems and proofs), understanding (e.g. applying definitions and theorems and constructing proofs) and technical ability (e.g. completing calculations correctly). We normally award partial marks for partial answers, such as partly correct knowledge, partial understanding or partly correct calculations.

All elements of assessment will include an indication of the allocation of marks to questions or sub-questions (although not necessarily at the level of detail used to mark the work). All assessment will follow the Queen Mary Code of Practice on Assessment and Feedback.

Mark ranges and their corresponding grades broadly mean the following.

100–70%, A
Excellent knowledge base with perceptive understanding of mathematics. Able to calculate quickly and accurately. Outstanding comprehension and clarity of expression. Has the potential to operate effectively and independently as a mathematician.
69–60%, B
Good knowledge base and understanding of basic mathematics. Able to calculate quickly and accurately in most situations. Good comprehension and clarity of expression. Has the potential to operate effectively under supervision as a mathematician.
59–50%, C
Adequate knowledge base and understanding of basic mathematics. Able to calculate accurately in some situations. Acceptable comprehension and clarity of expression. May not have the potential to operate effectively as a mathematician.
49–40%, D, E
Does not show evidence of understanding or being able to apply basic mathematics. Unable to calculate quickly or accurately. Unable to construct a logical argument. Poor comprehension. Explanations lack precision and clarity.

(The above criteria were informed by the Institute of Health Sciences Education grading criteria.)

Discipline-specific level descriptors

Level-4 mathematics modules:

  • build mathematical competence and sophistication beyond that attained at A-level;
  • develop elements of computational and statistical skills;
  • begin the development of skills in abstraction, logic and proof.

Students' learning capability is extended by being taught theory illustrated by examples in a lecturing environment. This is enhanced by regular coursework for which the students have expert support, but which, nevertheless, includes an element of personal responsibility. Self-discipline and independent learning are important aspects of taking level-4 modules.

Level-5 mathematics modules:

  • develop understanding of mathematical concepts and abstraction;
  • develop the ability to construct mathematically rigorous arguments;
  • develop analytical skills;
  • extend understanding and knowledge already developed;
  • develop the ability to apply mathematics to modelling.

Students acquire knowledge of more advanced mathematics and develop problem-solving skills in level-5 modules. Students' learning capability is extended by being taught theory with examples in a lecturing environment. This is enhanced by regular coursework for which the students have some expert support (less than in level-4 modules, thereby increasing self-discipline) with a strong element of personal responsibility.

Level-6 mathematics modules:

  • introduce further topics which extend and mix the major themes of the undergraduate curriculum at lower levels;
  • require levels of mathematical skill, experience, sophistication and understanding expected of students by the completion of their degree.

Students acquire knowledge of more advanced mathematics and develop problem-solving skills in level-6 modules. Students' learning capability is extended by being taught theory with examples in a lecturing environment. This is enhanced by coursework for which the students typically have less support than in level-5 modules with a very strong element of personal responsibility encouraging further self-discipline and independence.

Level-7 mathematics modules:

  • involve studying advanced topics containing material that is a precursor to research in the mathematical sciences or applications of advanced mathematics in a professional context;
  • may consist of lectures, directed reading, several mini-projects, or a single project assessed by a dissertation.

Students acquire knowledge and understanding that is founded upon and extends that typically associated with earlier levels, and that provides a basis for originality in developing and applying this knowledge, for example within a research context. In lecture and reading modules, students acquire learning skills that allow them to continue to study in a manner which is largely self-directed or autonomous. In project modules, students acquire skills of analysis, synthesis and presentation that allow them to put together coherently knowledge acquired from different sources and to communicate their conclusions clearly and unambiguously.

Policy on module clashes

We avoid clashes among compulsory modules and we try to avoid clashes between options and compulsory modules, but we can't avoid clashes among options – we just don't have the flexibility to do that, given the large number of modules and programmes we offer and the flexibility within those programmes.

Week-7 timetable policy

This policy applies to week 7 of both semesters and to all mathematical sciences modules, but not to any service modules that we teach, for which the policy is determined by the host department.

  1. There is no teaching for Essential Mathematical Skills during week 7.
  2. Projects and project-based modules may continue as normal but supervisors and module organisers should avoid setting deadlines in week 7.
  3. For other modules at levels 4, 5 and 6, week 7 is used for tests, revision and consolidation, but not for teaching new material. No regular lectures or support-teaching classes will be held during week 7 and there will be no coursework submission deadlines during week 7. The coursework schedule should operate as if week 7 does not exist and any deadlines that would have fallen in week 7 should be postponed to the same day of week 8.
  4. Whether a module has a test in week 7 is determined by the module specification, as stated in the module details published each year on the web, or by the module organiser if the module specification allows flexibility.
    1. If a module has a test then it is recommended (but not required) that the module organiser gives one revision lecture before the test; the test and revision lecture will be timetabled by the Executive Officer for Teaching and Research and may be at different times from those used by this module in other weeks.
    2. If a module does not have a test then the module organiser should offer individual or group revision and consolidation activities, such as one or more assignments for students to work on, either privately or in organised classes (provided they do not clash with timetabled revision lectures or tests), which should illuminate the general content of the module, help students consolidate their understanding of the subject and revise the material covered so far, but not introduce any new examinable material. The assignments should not be assessed and may consist primarily of directed reading.
  5. Modules at level 7 may continue as normal and should follow the policy of the MSc programme for which the module is primarily offered. Nevertheless, level-7 module organisers are encouraged to use week 7 for revision and consolidation.

Week 6 is module evaluation week!

In order to ensure that the modules we teach are running smoothly and working well for you, we need your input, so we ask you to complete one evaluation questionnaire for each Mathematical Sciences module that you are taking each semester. We do this in week 6 so that there is time to try to fix any major problems that emerge.

The main part of the questionnaire is standardized across the College and the main data is processed statistically. We also invite free text comments where you can explain in more detail what is good and what is bad.

We produce a statistical summary and publish it on our Mathematical Sciences QMplus site. We use the questionnaire data both to try to resolve short-term problems with modules and also for our longer term planning. For example, it has led to a lot of syllabus changes over the years. Queen Mary puts a lot of resources into processing and analysing module evaluation data, so please think carefully about your views of each module before you complete the questionnaires.