School of Mathematics and Statistics


As an Honours student, you are required to present a seminar on your dissertation topic.

Each seminar is scheduled for 30 minutes. You should aim to speak for about 20-25 minutes of this period, leaving some time for questions.

Helpful advice on seminars is given in the Scientific Communication Course.

Honours seminars are usually chaired by the Honours Co-ordinator.

Grading criteria

The criteria according by which an Honours seminar is graded are as follows:

Mathematical and Statistical level and content  (40 per cent)

  • Material selected should be accessible to fellow honours students.
  • There should be some mathematical/statistical substance. For example, an outline of a proof, a discussion of the mathematical/statistical techniques employed or why one algorithm or model is used in preference to another. It is not acceptable to simply show lots of data, graphs, and the like with no explanation of the mathematics/statistics involved.
  • Explanations
    • Does the student explain ideas and concepts, for example by using an example, or by giving formal definitions?
    • Is the student able to distill the ideas and leave out the details?
    • Does the student demonstrate a thorough understanding of the presented material?

Structure of the Talk  (30 per cent)

  • Opening/body/conclusion.
    The talk should include a clear statement of the problem/topic looked at in the dissertation and also a clear statement of the results obtained and their significance. Some mention needs to be made of the context in which the problem arises, why it is important or interesting, and what is already known.
  • Motivation and organisation of mathematical/statistical material
    • Did the student select a coherent body of material from the thesis?
    • Is the progression of the material well motivated and well organised?
    • Did the punchline come accross?

Presentation  (20 per cent)

  • Material: blackboard (Is the writing legible?  It is a good layout?); slides/computer (Is the font size readable?)
  • Preparation
    • Speed: Is the student within the allocated time?
    • Style: Does the student talk to audience?

Questions  (10 per cent)

  • Does the student respond to audience questions well?   We are talking about straightforward factual questions relating to the content of the talk. Students will not be judged on how they handle higher level questions from staff who are familiar with the dissertation topic.

School of Mathematics and Statistics

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Last updated:
Tuesday, 14 February, 2012 3:10 PM