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MA marking conventions and criteria

Essays are double-marked. Students will normally receive feedback from the markers and the agreed mark. Comments will be returned via Tabula, the University’s online submission system. Students may wish to ask their tutor to discuss feedback with them. Markers have twenty working days from the original submission deadline to return feedback and marks to students.

In marking, examiners will reward cogency of argument, the use of appropriate material, stylistic excellence and good presentation. Candidates must also satisfy examiners that they have carried out the work required by the module. All essays are marked by two members of staff. You will receive feedback from the first marker, and the agreed final mark. All marks awarded by examiners are provisional, until confirmed by the Exam Board in October. The pass mark for the MA in English is 50, with a Merit being marked at 60 or more and a Distinction being marked at 70 or more.

Marking descriptors are as follows:

80+: (Distinction): Work which, over and above possessing all the qualities of the 70-79 mark range, indicates a fruitful new approach to the material studied, represents an advance in scholarship or is judged by the examiners to be of a standard publishable in a peer-reviewed publication.

70-79: (Distinction): Methodologically sophisticated, intelligently argued, with some evidence of genuine originality in analysis or approach. Impressive command of the critical / historiographical/theoretical field, and an ability to situate the topic within it, and to modify or challenge received interpretations where appropriate. Excellent deployment of a substantial body of primary material/texts to advance the argument. Well structured, very well written, with proper referencing and extensive bibliography.

60-69 (Merit): Well organised and effectively argued, analytical in approach, showing a sound grasp of the critical/historiographical/theoretical field. Demonstrates an ability to draw upon a fairly substantial body of primary material, and to relate this in an illuminating way to the issues under discussion. Generally well written, with a clear sequence of arguments, and satisfactory referencing and bibliography.

50-59 (Pass): A lower level of attainment than work marked in the range 60-69, but demonstrating some awareness of the general critical/historiographical/theoretical field. Mainly descriptive or narrative, rather than analytical, in approach. An overall grasp of the subject matter, with, perhaps, a few areas of confusion or gaps in factual or conceptual understanding of the material. Demonstrates an ability to draw upon a reasonable range of primary material, and relate it accurately to the issues under discussion. Clearly written, with adequate referencing and bibliography.

40-49 (Fail/Diploma): This work is inadequate for an MA award, but may be acceptable for a Postgraduate Diploma. Significant elements of confusion in the framing and execution of the response to the question. Simple, coherent and solid answers, but mainly descriptive or narrative in approach. Relevant, but not extensive deployment of primary material in relation to the issues under discussion. Occasional tendency to derivativeness either by paraphrase or direct quotation of secondary sources. Some attempt to meet requirements for referencing and bibliography.

39-(Fail): Work inadequate for an MA or Diploma award. Poorly argued, written and presented. Conceptual confusion throughout, and demonstrates no knowledge of the critical/ historiographical/theoretical field. Failure to address the issues raised by the question, derivative, very insubstantial or very poor or limited deployment of primary material.

Exam board

Mitigating/extenuating circumstances

Plagiarism and academic misconduct

Late submission and word count policies