skip to primary navigationskip to content

Part III - Assessment criteria

Assessment criteria for projects

The project report will be independently assessed by at least two internal examiners and one external examiner. It counts for 40% of the marks for Part III Earth Sciences. The report is likely to be a focus of the oral examination with the external examiner, and to be particularly influential in decisions about candidates who fall on the borderline of two classes.

In marking reports, the examiners are looking for evidence of:

  • The intellectual ability to plan and execute a piece of independent research work, and in particular to formulate a scientific problem and a program of investigation that will address it.
  • The technical skill to make observations competently and safely in the field or the laboratory, or to abstract and collate information from existing documentary sources or databases.
  • An aptitude for displaying data on appropriate graphs and charts, and for using appropriate statistical methods for data analysis.
  • An ability to interpret observations and results in terms of realistic geological processes.
  • An appreciation of previous work in the area in the research area and the critical ability to assess how it compares with the new research.
  • The discipline and flair to write concise and lucid prose, to draft neat figures, and to integrate these into a well-designed report.
  • The organisational skill and motivation to keep the project on schedule and to deliver the report on time.

The examiners will not be looking for any preconceived ‘correct’ answer to the chosen geological problem. Rather, they will reward evidence of original innovative analysis or thought, so long as this is rigorously based on the available data and clearly explained in working notebooks and the final report.


Marking criteria for written answers

% Class Written answers





  • Brilliant answer
  • Exceptional understanding of subject and relevant literature
  • Outstanding critical analysis, full of insight
  • Excellently organized, expressed and illustrated
  • Excellent understanding of subject
  • Answer goes well beyond lectures
  • Effective critical analysis and grasp of relevant literature
  • Well organized, expressed and illustrated
  • Very good understanding of course material
  • Sound evidence of outside reading
  • Some critical analysis
  • Well organized, expressed and illustrated
60-69 2.1
  • Sound to good understanding of course material
  • Limited use of extra-course material
  • May contain minor factual errors or omissions
  • Well organized, coherent and adequately illustrated
50-59 2.2
  • Based entirely on course material
  • Lacks some detail in content
  • Contains significant factual errors or omissions
  • Some deficiencies in organization, style or illustration
40-49 3
  • Based imperfectly on course material
  • Contains numerous factual errors or omissions
  • Answer has merit but lacks a sound structure
  • Concepts poorly expressed and illustrated




  • Inadequate content, some maybe irrelevant
  • Poorly organized, expressed and illustrated
  • An attempt at the question, but lacking most relevant content
  • An answer with only isolated glimpses of relevant content
  • A nearly worthless or irrelevant answer
Expectations of appropriate ‘critical analysis’ and ‘relevant literature’ will vary from year to year of the Tripos