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Durham University

Department of Mathematical Sciences

Expectations of and for students

General expectations:

The department will:

  • Provide students with a research-led education in mathematics, training them as part of a community of professional practice.
  • Provide opportunities for students to develop further their general skills in communications, problem-solving and critical thinking and the ability to work independently.

Students are expected to:

  • Engage actively with the learning opportunities provided for them.
  • Take responsibility for their own learning, working to understand material through independent study and practicing skills through assigned exercises.

Lectures, tutorials, problems classes etc:

  • The department will ensure that all lecturers, tutors, markers etc have appropriate training or experience and are prepared for their teaching responsibilities.
  • Lecturers will provide information on-line on the planned content of lectures, and provide suggestions for appropriate further reading to deepen students’ understanding.
  • Lecturers and tutors will respond positively to student questions and encourage participation in discussion.
  • Lecturers will be available to answer questions outside of lectures, and will communicate clearly to students when they are available.
  • Tutors will guide students to enable them to solve problems for themselves as much as possible.

Student are expected to:

  • Attend and participate appropriately in lectures, tutorials, practical and computer classes etc1, respecting the learning environment of others and not engaging in distracting behaviour.
  • Prepare for level 1 Core tutorials by attempting assigned problems in advance of the tutorials, and being ready to present their work in the tutorial.

Assigned coursework:2

Lecturers will:

  • Set out a schedule for submission of assigned coursework at the beginning of their teaching. For level 1 and 2 courses, work is normally set on a weekly basis. At levels 3 and 4, lecturers will set a minimum of four pieces of formally assessed work per term, and are encouraged to set additional problems for students to attempt independently. A schedule of assignments for all courses can be viewed here
  • Ensure students have suitable time to complete assignments: assignments should be due no sooner than one week from the date on which they are set or the material to be assessed is covered, whichever is later.
  • Ensure marked work is returned to students promptly. At level 1 and 2, work should be returned within two weeks from the date of submission. At level 3 and 4, work should be returned before the next assignment is handed in.
  • Ensure work is marked in accordance with the department’s marking guidelines, and that appropriate feedback on the nature of errors is provided.
  • Make full solutions for set problems available to students shortly after the work is returned.
  • Clearly communicate reasons for deviations from these expectations to students.

Students are expected to:

  • Make a satisfactory effort on assignments; marked work forms part of the department’s progress monitoring system.
  • Respect the university policy on plagiarism, cheating and collusion, and only submit work that they have done themselves. Group working is allowed, but the final piece of submitted work should be prepared independently.
  • Submit assigned work on time. Late work can only be accepted if evidence of illness or other extenuating circumstances is submitted to the department.

Project supervision:

Supervisors will:

  • Schedule regular meetings with students.
  • Provide appropriate support and guidance.
  • Provide clear feedback on students’ progress.

Students are expected to:

  • Attend scheduled supervisory meetings.
  • Study the project topic independently, and critically assess their own understanding.

Student engagement:

The department will:

  • Actively seek input from students on all aspects of their learning experience.
  • Use student feedback to improve programmes, and clearly communicate its response to feedback to students.3

Students are expected to:

  • Provide constructive feedback through student representatives and questionnaires.


  1. Note attendance at lectures is not compulsory, but is strongly encouraged. Attendance at tutorials, practical classes and computer classes is compulsory and forms part of the department’s progress monitoring system.
  2. These expectations apply to both formative and summative work. The department also has formal policies on the assessment of formative and summative work.
  3. The department also has a formal policy on student feedback.