Marks are awarded for examinations and coursework in the range 0 – 100, consistent with
marking system and classes of degrees adopted by the Faculty of Law and Management:
70 – Upwards 1st (First)
60 – 69 2.1 (Upper Second/ 2:1)
50 – 59 2.2 (Lower Second/ 2:2)
40 – 49 3rd (Third)
0 – 39 Fail
There is no comprehensive list of assessment criteria. Module aims are different and these
different aims are likely to be reflected in marking criteria. However, the following are the sort
of criteria that would normally distinguish between grade classifications:
A First Class answer is an excellent, but not a perfect, answer and should reflect
‘originality’ of thought. Numerical answers will be expected to be complete and free of
errors. GTAs should expect a First Class answer to have the following features:
Clearly written, well organised and signposted.
Very strong relevant structure; sections follow a logical order.
Comprehensive coverage of issues in relation to question; good exposition.
Unusually wide reading.
Outstanding and thorough understanding of a wide range of literature or, if
question calls for more detailed analysis of limited literature then a very
thorough understanding of this.
Creative and sophisticated theoretical analysis.
An original and refreshing argument, something that surprises in the depth of
analysis, knowledge and understanding.
Display of unusual lines of argument that are well backed up.
Evidence of reflection and own analysis of the literature together with an ability
to see how lessons learned could be applied to other contexts/examples
Critical evaluation of a wide range of material; may make reference to other
Outstanding depth of discussion. Repetition of standard information to facilitate
this is acceptable.
Clearly original conclusion.
Upper Second (2:1)
This is a very good answer, which demonstrates a good level of knowledge. However,
answer does not necessarily show originality. Numerical answers will be complete and
almost free of errors (excepting minor mistakes).
Clearly written, well organised and signposted.
Well-structured; sections follow a logical order.
Covers all the major issues and some minor ones. Completes tasks set in
question and displays clear understanding of the main issues.
Substantial coverage of relevant literature and comprehensive knowledge of
topic; attempt to answer the question explicitly.
Ability to describe and analyse issues in relation to the question.
Thorough understanding and clear critical argument; directly addresses
Critical discussion and presentation of an argument, or problem using material
to illustrate points made. Taking 'control' of the topic and dealing with it in own
terms, rather than letting the material speak for itself!
Showing evidence of an independent perspective, more than a literature
Critical commentary and clear conclusion. A certain degree of selfreflectiveness
and attempt to contribute own thoughts.
Lower Second (2:2)
A Lower Second answer is a good one that commands a considerable mass of material
but does not integrate it very well. Faithfully reproduces a good deal of what has been
taught in class, but contributes little from independent reading or thinking.
Not very well expressed, just addresses question.
Poorly structured. Jumps about from topic to topic without any clear structure
or signposting to the essay. There is, however, some kind of order with
references and introduction and conclusion.
Completes most major tasks expected in question, but either too simplistic or
lacking some co-ordination/structure.
Understanding of lecture material & basic reading. Answers question
Reasonable coverage of relevant literature but the sources are not always fully
referenced. Introduction of irrelevant material will pull down to low 2:2.
Covers the basic reading, but summarising the literature rather than engaging
critically with it. Descriptive and lacking an analytic form.
Ability to grasp main issues, but not in any great depth.
Some understanding but lack of critical thought.
Descriptive rather than analytic focus.
This is an acceptable but weak answer. Has some knowledge, but it tends to be
superficial, incomplete, non-integrated or poorly understood. Numerical answers will be
relatively complete but with some errors.
Poorly written and expressed.
Badly structured and lacks co-ordination. No introduction; just a set of bits of
reading, not in order, not much range.
Fails to address question or misses an important aspect of the question. Shows
confusion but some basic knowledge and relevant discussion.
Thinly researched. Shows knowledge of the major issues, but mostly not strictly
relevant to the question.
Poor or no reference to the literature; just rambles around the general theme of
the question giving opinions without any organisation or substantiation. Shows
intelligence but little knowledge of the module.
Major gaps in analysis.
Demonstrates no widespread knowledge or analytical grasp of issues.
Very superficial grasp of issues.
Patchy knowledge of topic. Descriptive and sketchy in style of structure. Thin
on quantity as well as quality but enough grasp to merit honours.
A poor answer that neither meets key criteria nor provides an adequate level of work.
Numerical answers will contain substantial errors or be incomplete.
An attempt at an answer (for example, one that is clearly very rushed or barely coherent,
or one that largely misses the point of the question) should normally not receive less
than 20%. Marks below 20% would normally be appropriate for extremely brief and/or
wildly inaccurate answers. Non-existent answers should receive a mark of zero.
Poorly written. Random shuffling of points.
Fails to address question.
Reveals little or no evidence of familiarity with relevant literature.
Misunderstands question or does not make distinction between giving an
answer to a question and throwing in anything one knows on a topic.
Misunderstandings of concepts and major issues.
Irrelevant or uninformed or "lazy" answers.
Assertive, unsubstantiated arguments.
Incoherent, unread, illiterate. Too short, given the time available. Incomplete.
The Key Criteria
1) Answering the question
2) Producing a coherent, clear argument and analysis
3) Revealing knowledge, reading and evidence
4) Demonstrating a critical ability
5) Writing lucidly
6) Providing clear frameworks, structures and signposts
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