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Marking Criteria

Arts Faculty Marking Desciptors for Taught MA Assessments

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 studies, represents an advance in scholarship or is judged by 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 in the 60-69 range, but demonstrating some awareness of the general critical/historiographical/theoretical field. Mainly analytical, rather than descriptive or narrative 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 [although some departments may wish to set the pass mark for a diploma at a higher level than this]. 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.

History Department Additional Assessment Criteria

80+ (Distinction)

Knowledge and Understanding: Exceptional and/or outstanding comprehension of the implications of the question and sophisticated, creative and original, nuanced and critical understanding of the theoretical & methodological issues not only pertaining to the subject, but to the field as a whole. Technical vocabulary, where appropriate: accurate and exceptionally sophisticated usage. According to the judgement of the examiners may be of publishable standard in a peer-reviewed journal

Argument: A critical, analytical and sophisticated argument that is logically structured and extremely well-supported with elements of originality. Outstanding evidence throughout of independent thought and ability to ‘see beyond the question’, suggesting a thorough grasp of the broader field and wider concepts. Evidence of reading exceptionally widely beyond the prescribed reading list and creative use of evidence to enhance the overall argument; demonstrates the ability to synthesise appropriate principles by reference, where appropriate, to primary sources and knowledge at the forefront of the discipline.

Presentation: Exceptionally well presented: no grammatical or spelling errors; written in a fluent and engaging style; exemplary referencing and bibliographic formatting. Very extensive and detailed knowledge with impressive conceptual understanding and analytical skills. Extensive evidence of coherence, creativity, originality, autonomy, imagination and the ability to deal with complexity, contradictions or gaps in the knowledge base and ability to synthesise appropriate principles by reference to primary sources and knowledge at the forefront of the discipline.

70-79 (Distinction)

Knowledge and Understanding: Excellent comprehension of the implications of the question and critical understanding of the theoretical & methodological issues. Technical vocabulary, where appropriate: accurate and sophisticated usage.

Argument: A critical, analytical and sophisticated argument that is logically structured and well-supported. Evidence of independent thought and ability to ‘see beyond the immediate question’, suggesting a burgeoning grasp of the broader field and wider concepts. Evidence of reading widely beyond the prescribed reading list and creative use of evidence to enhance the overall argument; demonstrates the ability to synthesise appropriate principles by reference, where appropriate, to primary sources and perhaps some knowledge at the forefront of the discipline

Presentation: Extremely well presented: minimal grammatical or spelling errors if any; written in a fluent and engaging style; exemplary referencing and bibliographic formatting.

60-69 (Merit)

Knowledge and Understanding: Generally well written, with a clear sequence of arguments, and satisfactory referencing and bibliography. Very good comprehension of the implications of the question and fairly extensive and accurate knowledge and understanding, showing a sound grasp of the critical/historiographical/theoretical field, well organised and effectively argued, analytical in approach. Technical vocabulary, where appropriate: used with reasonable ease and success.

Argument: 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. Very good awareness of underlying theoretical and methodological issues, though not always displaying an understanding of how they link to the question. A generally critical, analytical argument, which shows attempts at independent thinking and is sensibly structured and generally well- supported. Clear and generally critical knowledge of relevant literature; use of works beyond the prescribed reading list; demonstrating the ability to be selective in the range of material used, and the capacity to synthesise rather than describe

Presentation: Very well presented: no significant grammatical or spelling errors; written clearly and concisely; fairly consistent and satisfactory referencing and bibliographic formatting

50-59 (Pass)

Knowledge and Understanding: Generally clear and accurate knowledge, though there may be some errors and/or gaps and some awareness of underlying theoretical/methodological issues with limited understanding of how they relate to the question. Technical vocabulary, where appropriate: attempted use, but not always successful, not always a full understanding of concepts/theory/method used.

Argument: Demonstrates an ability to draw upon a reasonable range of primary material, and relate it accurately to the issues under discussion. Some attempt at analysis but a tendency to be descriptive rather than critical and analytical. Tendency to assert/state opinion, view or ‘feeling’ rather than argue on the basis of reasoned arguments and evidence; arguments not sustained by choice of evidence; structure may not be entirely clear or logical. Some attempt to go beyond or criticise the ‘essential reading’ for the unit; but displaying limited capacity to discern between relevant and non- relevant material.

Presentation: Adequately presented: writing style conveys meaning but is sometimes awkward; some significant grammatical and spelling errors; inconsistent referencing, but generally accurate bibliography; bibliography may be too short.

40-49 (Fail/Diploma)

Knowledge and Understanding: Work inadequate for an MA or PG Diploma award. Limited knowledge and understanding with significant errors and omissions and generally ignorant or confused awareness of key theoretical/ methodological issues. Technical vocabulary, where appropriate: attempts use, but only with partial understanding and/or success.

Argument: Largely misses the point of the question, asserts rather than argues a case; underdeveloped or chaotic structure; evidence mentioned but used inappropriately or incorrectly. Relevant, but not extensive deployment of primary material in relation to the issues under discussion. Very little attempt at analysis or synthesis, tending towards excessive description. Limited, uncritical and generally confused account of a narrow range of sources

Presentation: Poorly presented: not always easy to follow; frequent grammatical and spelling errors; limited attempt at providing references (e.g. only referencing direct quotations) and containing bibliographic omissions.

39- (Fail)

Knowledge and Understanding: Work inadequate for an MA or PG Diploma award. Unsatisfactory level of knowledge and understanding of subject; limited or no understanding of the oretical/methodological issues. Technical vocabulary, where appropriate: little and/or inaccurate usage

Argument: Very little comprehension of the implications of the question and lacking a coherent structure . Lacking any attempt at analysis and critical engagement with issues, based on description or opinion. Little use of sources and what is used reflects a very narrow range or is irrelevant and/or misunderstood

Presentation: Unsatisfactory presentation: difficult to follow; very limited attempt at providing references (e.g. only referencing direct quotations) and containing bibliographic omissions.