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School Assessment Criteria / Marking Scheme Undergraduate

Marking Criteria for Assessed Essays and Examinations at Level 1

Guidelines for marking assessed essays at level 1 are given to Teaching Assistants and
are published in the level 1 handbook for students.
In line with all other University Departments, Level 1 assessed essays and examination
scripts in this School are marked according to Level 1 teaching objectives rather than
Level 2/3 (degree) objectives.
This means that markers are looking for the
comprehension of taught materials and an understanding of basics as a preparation for
progression into Level 2. Students are not therefore penalised if they do not display to
the same extent the kind of critical evaluative powers that would be expected at Levels
2/3. The marking scale (40+pass, 80+excellent) remains the same as the table of
numbers, but marks awarded for assessment should not be regarded as indicating a
degree classification.

Marking bands for level 1 assessed essays

To be placed in a given class, work need not have all the required characteristics.
However, work with some of the characteristics of a given class will not necessarily be
located in that class. Work on the margins of a class may drop to the class below if
marred by poor presentation or referencing.
80%-90% This mark would be given to an outstanding piece of level 1 work. Work
shows a well-developed and critical understanding of concepts and theories,
with an excellent appreciation of competing arguments. The piece of work
shows an ability to evaluate complex concepts and ideas. A fluent, logical,
coherent essay, cogently structured and organised with a relationship
apparent between the stages of the argument, leading to an analytical
conclusion. Detail to be clearly related to the argument. It should represent
an in-depth answer to the question, with the answer located within a broader
framework/context. It should show a considerable awareness of the relevant
literature, with a strong commitment to scholarly work in evidence including
no deficiencies in referencing and bibliography.
There should be
considerable powers of synthesis.
70% -79% Work placed in this band would show signs of excellence. Work shows
developed understanding of concepts, and theories, competent selection,
interpretation and analysis of evidence and a substantial attempt to relate this
to theory. There should be the ability to evaluate arguments using evidence.
Some attempt at critical evaluation should be apparent. A clear discussion,
well-structured around the theme of the answer, showing a well-developed
line of argument. The answer should be either broad or in-depth, reflecting
considerable reading and awareness of differences between texts/authors,
and criticisms of them. Detailed analysis of relevant material. A clear and
concise conclusion/introduction written with fluency. Evidence of commitment
to the scholarly approach with no deficiencies in bibliography and referencing.
60% - 69% This would represent a very good mark for a Level 1 piece of work. Work
shows a sound understanding of relevant concepts and an ability to interpret
and analyse evidence. The writer should be able to compare and/or identify
some strengths and weaknesses in available sources, a reasonable number
of which have been consulted. Accurate recitation of authors/texts, some
evaluation attempted. There is a clear overall structure to the essay and it
contains no serious errors (in content or structure). There may be some
descriptive passages but these should be relevant, accurate and concise. A
clear introduction and conclusion written with some fluency. Minor
deficiencies in bibliography and reference may be evident.
50% - 59% This would represent a good piece of work. A generally sound and accurate
understanding of concepts and evidence. A basic attempt to organise
material. At times the text may lack structure but generally the essay is
written in a clear and appropriate manner. Some may tend to focus on
description, but the areas covered will be relevant to answering the question.
Any limited attempt at evaluation of ideas/concepts/empirical material will be
rewarded. There is evidence of some breadth of reading (i.e. three to four

sources) and an attempt to reference authors and construct a bibliography in


an accurate and academic manner.
40% - 49% This would be a satisfactory piece of work, but would show limited, partly
inaccurate understanding and representation of relevant material. Answers in
this band may contain some minor mistakes or the odd major mistake.
Answers in this band may be inclined to provide simplistic descriptions or may
be poorly linked to the literature. Poor structure, presentation or lack of clarity
due to poor use of English may drag an otherwise good answer down into this
band. A good answer which might have been in one of the bands above but
which is inadequately referenced may be put into this band. A mark of 4O43% indicates the need for serious improvement.
The pass mark is 40%
35-39%

This mark indicates a fail. Little relevant knowledge; poorly organised


discussion that fails to adequately address the question; no adequate
reasoned conclusion. Some relevant descriptive material but a tendency for
repetition, digression or "waffle"; tendency to incoherence with weak
structure, absence of logical development of argument; also perhaps
evidence of some confusion, major mistakes, or poor written English. Little or
no reference to literature. Generally the essay functions at a low level in
terms of understanding the question and how to answer it. However there
has to be enough of an answer to the question to distinguish this from the
band below. Major inadequacies or omissions in referencing and
bibliography.

20-34%

This is a bad fail. Little or no relevant knowledge, little or no reference to


literature; an incoherent essay, very disorganised, with material irrelevant to
question. Shows very limited or non-existent understanding of the question
and how to answer it. Inappropriately brief answers may be placed in this
band.

Marking bands for level 1 examinations

80%-90% This would be an outstanding exam answer for level 1. A well focused answer
that exhibits critical engagement with a range of relevant concepts and
theories. The answer has an excellent structure and presents a logical
argument coherently. An extensive range of appropriate sources and/or data
are referred to, and competently compared and evaluated in the script.
70-79%

Work placed in this band shows signs of excellence. Again a well focused
answer that exhibits engagement with the question and a range of relevant
concepts and theories. The answer has a very clear and coherent overall
structure and tackles the question in a highly competent and comprehensive
manner. A good range of sources and/or data are cited and evaluated in the
answer.

60-69%

This would be a very good level 1 exam answer. It would clearly engage and
exhibit some ability to interpret concepts, theories and data as appropriate to
the question. A well structured exam answer with a clear structure that shows
evidence and understanding of relevant cited authors and or data. The
answer may include some descriptive elements but these will be relevant to
the question.

50-59%

This would represent a good exam answer at level 1. A competent answer


that reflects adequate knowledge relevant to the question posed. Basic
concepts and theories will be described. On occasions descriptions or
explanations may not be clearly linked to the question but the answer will
display some evidence of relevant knowledge. An attempt to structure the
answer is evident but some inadequacies in organisation may be apparent. In
order to attain a mark of 55%+ it is expected that candidates include some
limited citation of key authors and/or sources of data.

40-49%

A satisfactory answer that may show limited and/or inaccurate understanding


and representation of relevant concepts and theories. Typically answers in
this band would be poorly structured and limited to simplistic description.
They may include some minor mistakes or the odd major mistake. Poor
presentation or poor use of written English affecting clarity may be evident.
No reference to relevant sources within the answer.

The pass mark is 40%


35-39%

This would be a fail. The answer would show little knowledge relevant to the
question posed. There may be a tendency for repetition digression or waffle.
A weak structure with an absence of a developed argument. Evidence of
confusion, major mistakes or poor use of written English. No reference to
relevant sources within the answer.

20-34%

This is a bad fail. All or a majority of the above deficiencies will be in


evidence. Inappropriately brief exam answers may be placed in this band.

Level 2

Marking Schemes for Level 2

To be placed in a given class, work need not have all the required characteristics.
However, work with some of the characteristics of a given class will not necessarily be
located in that class. Work on the margins of a class may drop to the class below if
marred by poor presentation or referencing.

Marking Bands for Level 2 Examinations

80%-90% Outstanding work. A rigorous argument is presented. There is detailed and


extensive engagement with the relevant material. Signs of originality could be
present. The structure is almost flawless.
70-79%

Excellent work showing a clear command and understanding of the issues.


Accurate recall of material pertinent to the set questions. Answers
demonstrate a thorough preparation of the chosen topic and the ability of the
candidate to demonstrate an independent mind. In particular the candidate
has managed to avoid standard (e.g. textbook) repetition and instead draws
upon material from other sources.

60-69%

There is evidence of a precise recall of material. The answer is clearly


structured, and there is also evidence of a logical argument that is clear and
concise. The candidate has managed to avoid using irrelevant material by
carefully preparing for the subject beforehand. There is some indication of
standard repetition, although this is combined with other sources.

50-59%

The candidate demonstrates a capability of answering the question in a clear


and coherent manner. However, the candidate also draws too heavily upon
standard summaries for the main point. Thus there is a lack of breadth of
reference to other sources.

40-49%

The candidate relies in the main upon standard summaries and this is
combined with a misunderstanding of aspects of the question. For example,
the candidate tries to fit a standard summary of some ideas to the question.
As such depth is lacking in his/her argument. Correspondingly it may be
evident that the candidate has not properly prepared the set topic, or that
he/she is attempting to twist the question to fit his/her knowledge. The
candidate may have missed significant aspects of the question but there
should be sufficient use of little knowledge to address basic issues. There
could be poor presentation, organization of material, poor referencing and
style.

Pass mark is 40
35-39%

Very little breadth of reference even in relation to summarising passages from


various sources. Indeed the exam reads too much like a rushed summary of
lecture notes. In addition there is extremely inaccurate recall, and/or
significant misunderstanding.
There is a lack of structure and little
understanding of the question.

20-34%

There is inadequate and superficial recall of relevant material. While some


key words or phrases may be evident, much of the argument will be
incoherent and disorganised.

Marking Bands for Level 2 Assessed Essays

80%-90% Outstanding work that demonstrates independent scholarship. The candidate


has used a wide variety sources and presents an imaginative and innovative
argument. Signs of originality could be present. The structure is almost
flawless.
70-79%

Excellent work. A clear command and understanding of the issues can be


noted along with independent thinking. The essay contains a wealth of
relevant information, and demonstrates wide reading of appropriate literature.

60-69%

Work showing evidence of a good knowledge and understanding of the


material, put together in a way which is, for the most part, clearly argued,
well-written, and relevant to the task set. Answers are thoroughly competent
and accurate even if they may contain repetition of standard summaries of
ideas as found in textbooks.

50-59%

Work which is competent and broadly relevant, but somewhat lacking in


focus, organisation, or breadth of reference. Lack of structure obstructs the
argument presented and the candidate seems to have misunderstood
aspects of the essay question. One or more of the main sources may have
been overlooked, and there may be over-reliance on one or two items in the
literature.

40-49%

Work showing some knowledge of the material, but having serious


shortcomings. Insufficient knowledge and/or understanding of the material is
evident. The essay may be too short and relies almost exclusively upon a
poor summary of standard accounts as found, for example, in textbooks. The
candidate may have missed significant aspects of the question but there
should be sufficient use of little knowledge to address basic issues. There
could be poor presentation, organization of material, poor referencing and
style.

Pass mark is 40
Fail

34-39% This mark indicates a fail. Little relevant knowledge; poorly organised
discussion that fails to adequately address the question; no adequate
reasoned conclusion. Some relevant descriptive material but a tendency for
repetition, digression or "waffle"; tendency to incoherence with weak
structure, absence of logical development of argument; also perhaps
evidence of some confusion, major mistakes, or poor written English. There
is likely to be little reference to literature. Generally the essay functions at a
low level in terms of understanding the question and how to answer it. Major
inadequacies or omissions in referencing and bibliography. However there
has to be enough of an answer to the question to distinguish this from the
band below.

20-34%

This is a bad FAIL. Little or no relevant knowledge, little or no reference to


literature; an incoherent essay, very disorganised, with material irrelevant to
question. Shows very limited or non-existent understanding of the question
and how to answer it. Inappropriately brief answers may be placed in this
band.

Level 3

Marking Criteria for Assessment Essays and Examinations Level 3

To be placed in a given class, work need not have all the required characteristics.
However, work with some of the characteristics of a given class will not necessarily be
located in that class. Work on the margins of a class may drop to the class below if
marred by poor presentation or referencing.

Marking Bands for Level 3 Examinations

80%-90% Outstanding work that demonstrates independent scholarship. The candidate


has used a wide variety sources in a thoroughly original manner. Thus the
candidate goes beyond an accurate recall of information to present an
imaginative and innovative argument. The structure is almost faultless and
recall of arguments nearly reaches a postgraduate level.
70-79%

Excellent to outstanding work showing a breadth of knowledge, clear


command and understanding of the issues. Evidence of independent thinking
and accurate recall of material pertinent to the set questions. Answers, while
not necessarily long, are nevertheless well-structured and demonstrate a
thorough preparation of the chosen topic. For example, the candidate has
drawn upon a wide range of sources and has managed to integrate material
learnt from other related modules in an original manner.

60-69%

Work that demonstrates a good understanding and precise recall of material.


Overall the answer is clearly structured, and unrelated material is mostly
avoided. Essays are intelligently written. The candidate has obviously
prepared for the subject and this is shown in the answer given. In addition
the candidate has drawn upon a range wide of material as well as the
standard textbooks. The answer fits the question.

50-59%

The candidate provides a competent answer which is, in the main, relevant to
the question set. However it lacks some focus and breadth of reference to
relevant material. This might be seen in inaccurate recall of material and a
misunderstanding of some ideas. In addition some parts of the answer may
be inadequately related to the question and may seem rushed and badly
organised.

40-49%

While the candidate shows some knowledge of the material, there are
nonetheless serious weaknesses. Knowledge and understanding of the
question is unsatisfactory, and in parts there is inaccurate recall. In addition
the answer provided may be much too short, and there is a lack of depth,
unfocused, and poorly organised. It may be evident that the candidate has
not properly prepared the set topic, or that he/she is attempting to twist the
question to fit his/her knowledge. The candidate may have missed significant
aspects of the question but there should be sufficient use of little knowledge
to address basic issues.

Pass mark is 40
35-39%

Some very basic knowledge is evident, but with very little breadth of
reference, extremely inaccurate recall, and/or significant misunderstanding.
The answer may be confused and unstructured, and it may be clear that the

candidate has stopped short of providing a clear understanding of the


question.
20-34%

Work which shows a thorough lack of clarity and understanding. Work is


incompetently presented and largely disorganised. Inaccurate recall of
information may also be present.

Marking Bands for Level 3 Assessed Essays

80%-90% Outstanding work that demonstrates independent scholarship. The candidate


has used a wide variety sources in often with a degree of originality and
presents an imaginative and innovative argument that demonstrates an
excellent grasp and deployment of relevant concepts and theories. The
structure is almost faultless and recall of arguments nearly reaches a
postgraduate level.
70-79%

Work shows well-developed understanding of concepts and theories, with an


appreciation of competing arguments. Sophisticated selection, interpretation
and analysis of evidence and a high level ability to relate this to theory. There
should be a well-developed evaluation of various arguments. A fluent, logical,
coherent essay, cogently structured and organised with a relationship
apparent between the stages of the argument, leading to an analytical
conclusion. Detail to be clearly related to the argument. It should represent
an in-depth answer to the question, with the answer located within a broader
framework/context. It should show a considerable awareness of the relevant
literature, with a strong commitment to scholarly work in evidence. There
should be considerable powers of synthesis.

60-69%

Work shows developed understanding of concepts, and theories, competent


selection, interpretation and analysis of evidence and a reasonable attempt to
relate this to theory. There should be the ability to evaluate arguments using
evidence. A clear discussion, well-structured around the theme of the answer,
showing a well-developed line of argument. The answer should be broad or
in-depth, reflecting considerable reading and awareness of differences
between texts/authors, and criticisms of them. Detailed material generally
connected well with the whole.

50-59%

Work shows a sound understanding of relevant concepts, if generalised or


uneven at times; ability to interpret and analyse evidence. The writer should
be able to compare/identify some strengths and weaknesses in available
sources, a reasonable number of which have been consulted. Accurate
recitation of authors/texts, some evaluation attempted. There is a clear overall
structure to the essay, if poorly co-ordinated at times. Some descriptive
passages but these are accurate and precise. Some attempt to tackle theory
but at a rather more basic level than for an upper second. A concise
conclusion written with some fluency.

40-49%

Work shows limited, partly inaccurate understanding and representation of


relevant material some material of tenuous relevance. Some interpretation
of evidence and occasional critical points. Basic attempt to organise material.
Limited use of sources; essay is poorly linked to literature; contains some
mistakes. Inclined to simplistic descriptions; little on more conceptual areas.
Essay may be marred by poor structure or presentation, inadequate
bibliography or weak written English. There is some, if limited, understanding
of the question and awareness of relevant authors/texts, on the basis of which
some sort of conclusion is reached.

Pass mark is 40
Fail

34-39%This mark indicates a fail. Little relevant knowledge; poorly organised


discussion that fails to adequately address the question; no adequate
reasoned conclusion. Some relevant descriptive material but a tendency for
repetition, digression or "waffle"; tendency to incoherence with weak
structure, absence of logical development of argument; also perhaps
evidence of some confusion, major mistakes, or poor written English. There
is likely to be little reference to literature. Generally the essay functions at a
low level in terms of understanding the question and how to answer it. Major
inadequacies or omissions in referencing and bibliography. However there
has to be enough of an answer to the question to distinguish this from the
band below.

20-34%

This is a bad fail. Little or no relevant knowledge, little or no reference to


literature; an incoherent essay, very disorganised, with material irrelevant to
question. Shows very limited or non-existent understanding of the question
and how to answer it. Inappropriately brief answers may be placed in this
band.

Marking criteria for dissertations

The marking criteria for dissertations is similar to that for third year essays. However,
each marker will also take into account the scope and different approaches to
dissertations and will mark for originality and outstanding independent scholarship.
80%-90% Outstanding work that demonstrates independent scholarship. An original
research question that is well rooted in sociological or social policy debates.
Excellent research skills that shows highly advanced selection, interpretation
and analysis of evidence and an ability to relate this to complex theory and
debates. Faultless structure and based on a wide variety sources in often
with a degree of originality and presents an imaginative and innovative
argument that demonstrates an excellent grasp and deployment of relevant
concepts and theories. Comparable to postgraduate level.
70-79%

An excellent and scholarly piece of work that shows a sophisticated selection,


interpretation and analysis of evidence and a high level ability to relate this to
theory and debates. A well structured, logical and fluent argument that is
based on a good range of literature leading to an in-depth analytical
conclusion. It should represent a critical and in-depth answer to the research
question.
There should be considerable powers of synthesis and
commitment.

60-69%

A dissertation that has a clear research question as well as a structured and


clear line of argument and a developed understanding of concepts and
theories. Analysis of evidence and data/research shows competent selection,
interpretation and a reasonable attempt to relate this to theory. The answer
should be broad or in-depth, reflecting considerable reading and awareness
of differences between texts/authors, and criticisms of them. Detailed
material generally connected well with the whole and a good argued
conclusion.

50-59%

Dissertation shows a sound understanding of relevant concepts, if


generalized, descriptive or uneven at times; ability to interpret and analyse
evidence in a systematic way. The writer should be able to compare/identify
some strengths and weaknesses in available sources, a reasonable number
of which have been consulted and write with some fluency. Accurate
recitation of authors/texts, some evaluation attempted but only a basic grasp
of theory. There is a clear overall structure to the essay, if poorly co-ordinated
at times and a basic conclusion.

40-49%

Dissertation lacks an clear research question, argument and critical analysis


and is based on a limited use of sources and shows limited, partly inaccurate
understanding and an over simplistic representation of relevant material.
Structure is weak and may contain some mistakes on conceptual areas. As
well as inadequate bibliography or weak written English.

Pass mark is 40

Fail 34-39%
This mark indicates a fail. The dissertation shows little relevant
knowledge or systematic research; no clear research question and a poorly
organised discussion that fails to adequately address the question; no
adequate reasoned conclusion. Some relevant descriptive material but a
tendency for repetition, digression or "waffle"; tendency to incoherence with
weak structure, absence of logical development of argument; also perhaps
evidence of some confusion, major mistakes, or poor written English. There
is likely to be little reference to literature.
20-34%

This is a bad FAIL. Little or no relevant knowledge, little or no reference to


literature; an incoherent essay, very disorganised, with material irrelevant to
question. Shows very limited or non-existent understanding of the question
and how to answer it. Inappropriately brief answers may be placed in this
band.

Markers are encouraged to use the full range of marks, in particular to ensure that
excellent attempts are justly rewarded in comparison with lesser attempts.
Marking Criteria for Poster Presentations
80%-90% Outstanding work that demonstrates independent scholarship. The content of
the poster including the relevance, accuracy and depth of the material
demonstrate that the candidate has used a wide variety sources often with a
degree of originality and presents an imaginative and innovative poster that
demonstrates an excellent grasp and deployment of relevant concepts and
theories. The clarity of the visual poster will be exceptional. The depth and
accuracy of answers to questioning on the presentation will be outstanding.
70-79%

Work shows well-developed understanding of concepts with an appreciation


of competing positions. Sophisticated selection of materials demonstrating
interpretation and analysis to a high level ability. The clarity of the visual
presentation will be excellent. The depth and accuracy of answers to
questioning on the poster will be excellent.

60-69%

Work shows developed understanding of concepts, and theories, competent


selection, interpretation and analysis of materials with evidence of
independent research and thinking. Detailed material generally connected
well with the whole. Visual presentation will be very good. The depth and
accuracy of answers to questioning on the poster will be on the whole strong
but with limited room for improvement.

50-59%

Work shows a sound understanding of relevant concepts, if generalised or


uneven at times; ability to interpret and analyse evidence. Content of poster
may be more descriptive than evaluative, although there should be evidence
of some independent research. The visual presentation should be good.
Although answers to questioning on the poster should be largely accurate
they may tend to be descriptive, although there should be some attempt at
evaluation.

40-49%

Work shows limited, partly inaccurate understanding and representation of


relevant material some material of tenuous relevance. Some interpretation
of evidence and occasional critical points will be evident. There should be a
basic attempt to organise material into a coherent poster but the visual
presentation may be poor. Answers to questioning on the poster should
demonstrate familiarity with the literature although they will be descriptive.

Pass mark is 40
Fail

34-39%This mark indicates a fail. Little relevant knowledge; poorly organised


presentation. Major inadequacies or omissions in the use of sources and
references. Visual presentation will be poor and responses to questioning will
display little knowledge. However the poster suggests sufficient knowledge of
the topic to distinguish this from the band below.

20-34%

This is a bad fail. Little or no relevant knowledge, little or no reference to


literature; a disorganised poster using irrelevant material. The visual
presentation will be poor. There is no evidence of independent thinking and
sparse use of relevant sources. Answers to questioning on the poster show
very limited or non-existent understanding.

Marking Criteria for Tutorial Participation Submissions All Levels


Weekly tutorial participation submissions will be marked pass or fail
In order to achieve a pass, 500 words weekly submissions must adhere to the following
criteria:
1
2
3
4
5
6

relevant to the tutorial topic


Be written in the student's own words
Not exceed the word length
Include a bibliography
Indentify strengths and weaknesses in any argument
Identify at least one issue suitable for tutorial discussion.