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Marking Scales

20 Point Marking Scale

The University uses the '20 Point Marking Scale', which directly maps to the different degree classification, and it is now used to mark all undergraduate work. Some work may receive an overall mark that is a composite of several marks from the 20 Point Marking Scale.

Classification is a complex matter, requiring skill and judgement on the part of markers, and no brief list can hope to capture all the considerations that may come into play. There is no requirement that a piece of work would have to meet every one of the specified criteria in order to obtain a mark in the relevant class. Equally, when work displays characteristics from more than one class, a judgement must be made of the overall quality. In some respects expectations differ between essays, oral contribution, presentations, applied tasks, and exam answers. Presentation, style, grammar and spelling are important aspects of the ability to communicate ideas with clarity.

Class

Scale Mark Descriptor
First Excellent 1st 100 Work of original and exceptional quality which in the examiners’ judgement merits special recognition by the award of the highest possible mark.
94 Exceptional work of the highest quality, demonstrating excellent knowledge and understanding, analysis, organisation, accuracy, relevance, presentation and appropriate skills. At final-year level: work may achieve or be close to publishable standard.
High 1st 88 Very high quality work demonstrating excellent knowledge and understanding, analysis, organisation, accuracy, relevance, presentation and appropriate skills. Work which may extend existing debates or interpretations.
Upper Mid 1st 82
Lower Mid 1st 78
Low 1st 74
Upper Second (2.1) High 2.1 68 High quality work demonstrating good knowledge and understanding, analysis, organisation, accuracy, relevance, presentation and appropriate skills.
Mid 2.1 65
Low 2.1 62
Lower Second High 2.2 58 Competent work, demonstrating reasonable knowledge and understanding, some analysis, organisation, accuracy, relevance, presentation and appropriate skills.
Mid 2.2 55
Low 2.2 52
Third High 3rd 48 Work of limited quality, demonstrating some relevant knowledge and understanding.
Mid 3rd 45
Low 3rd 42
Fail High Fail (sub Honours) 38 Work does not meet standards required for the appropriate stage of an Honours degree. Evidence of study and demonstrates some knowledge and some basic understanding of relevant concepts and techniques, but subject to significant omissions and errors.
Fail 32 Work is significantly below the standard required for the appropriate stage of an Honours degree. Some evidence of study and some knowledge and evidence of understanding but subject to very serious omissions and errors.
25 Poor quality work well below the standards required for the appropriate stage of an Honours degree.
Low Fail 12
Zero Zero 0 Work of no merit OR Absent, work not submitted, penalty in some misconduct cases

More details of the marking scale are available from the Teaching Quality website.

History Specific Marking Descriptors

More detailed marking descriptors for history assignments can be found below. On this page you will find the general descriptors for written work (essays, exams, dissertations etc.) and for seminar contribution where that is assessed. Tutors will provide specific marking criteria for other types of assessment where appropriate. Please contact your module convenor if you are unclear about how an assignment will be marked.

Written Work (essays, exams, dissertations)

First Class (70+)

  • Persuasive and direct answer to the question, establishing the wider significance of the issues concerned.
  • Comprehensive coverage of the relevant material; accuracy in the details.
  • A direct and coherent argument, well supported by relevant evidence.
  • Critical analysis of relevant concepts, theoretical or historiographical perspectives or methodological issues.
  • Fluent and engaging writing style; persuasive presentation and structuring of arguments.
  • Work which, in addition, displays evidence of creativity, originality, sophistication and freshness of arguments will be awarded marks of 75+.

Upper Second (60-69)

  • Direct answer to the question, establishing the wider significance of the issues concerned.
  • Adequate coverage of the relevant material, accuracy in the details.
  • Skillful mobilisation of evidence in relation to the argument being presented.
  • Narrative and description taking second place to analysis.
  • Competent manipulation of relevant concepts, theoretical or historiographical perspectives or methodological issues.
  • Fluent writing style; effective presentation and structuring of arguments.

Lower Second (50-59)

  • Basically satisfactory answer to the question.
  • Limited coverage of relevant material; some inaccuracy in the detail.
  • Some attempt to mobilise evidence in relation to the argument being presented.
  • Analysis taking second place to narrative and description.
  • Limited understanding of relevant concepts, theoretical or historiographical perspectives or methodological issues.
  • Adequate writing style, presentation and structuring of arguments.

Third (40–49)

  • Barely satisfactory answer to the question.
  • Inadequate coverage of relevant material; major inaccuracies in the detail.
  • No understanding of relevant concepts, theoretical or historiographical perspectives or methodological issues.
  • Poor presentation and structuring of arguments.

Fail (less than 40)
One or more of the following:

  • Serious misunderstanding of the question.
  • Failure to provide any answer to the question.
  • Failure to show knowledge of relevant material.
  • Seriously muddled presentation and structuring of arguments.
Seminar Contribution

What is being assessed:

  • Oral Communication: clarity of expression; persuasiveness; respectfulness and inclusivity; asking useful/probing questions; contributions that extend the discussion.
  • Knowledge and Understanding: evidence of preparation of core and/or wider reading; demonstrates comprehension of the readings and/or seminar questions
  • Methodological Approaches: ability to discern, explain, or engage with historiographical or methodological issues raised by the readings and/or seminar questions
  • Analysis: engagement with and evaluation of readings; focus on meaning rather than description; evidence and argument-driven responses to seminar questions

Class

Scale

Mark

Generic Descriptor (20 point scale)

Seminar Contribution Descriptor

First

Excellent 1st

100

Work of original and exceptional quality which in the examiners’ judgement merits special recognition by the award of the highest possible mark.

The student engages in both large and small group discussions [and, if applicable, online] with exceptionally clearly expressed oral contributions that demonstrate excellent understanding of the readings and the wider significance of the seminar questions. The student is able to critically engage with historiographical and methodological issues raised by the reading or seminar questions. The student provides well-evidenced and persuasive arguments in response to questions or source analysis, and makes sophisticated and original contributions to knowledge. The student asks questions, or makes contributions, that extend the discussion and may be of professional standard. In discussion with others, the student takes on a leadership role with regard to respectfulness and inclusivity. [If applicable, the student is able to critically reflect on, and critically evaluate, their seminar performance]

94

Exceptional work of the highest quality, demonstrating excellent knowledge and understanding, analysis, organisation, accuracy, relevance, presentation and appropriate skills. At final-year level: work may achieve or be close to publishable standard.

High 1st

88

Very high quality work demonstrating excellent knowledge and understanding, analysis, organisation, accuracy, relevance, presentation and appropriate skills. Work which may extend existing debates or interpretations.

The student engages in both large and small group discussions [and, if applicable, online] with very clearly expressed oral contributions that demonstrate excellent understanding of the readings and the wider significance of the seminar questions. The student is able to engage with historiographical and methodological issues raised by the reading or seminar questions. The student provides well-evidenced and persuasive arguments in response to questions or source analysis. The student asks questions, or makes contributions, that extend the discussion. In discussion with others, the student demonstrates a high level of respectfulness and inclusivity. [If applicable, the student is able to critically reflect on and accurately evaluate their seminar performance]

Upper Mid 1st

82

Lower Mid 1st

78

Low 1st

74

Upper Second (2.1)

High 2.1

68

High quality work demonstrating good knowledge and understanding, analysis, organisation, accuracy, relevance, presentation and appropriate skills.

The student engages in both large and small group discussions [and, if applicable, online] with clearly expressed oral contributions that demonstrate understanding of the reading and the seminar questions. The student is able to identify, and may be able to explain, historiographical and/or methodological issues raised by the reading or seminar questions. The student provides evidenced arguments in response to questions or source analysis. The student may make contributions that extend the discussion. In discussion with others, the student demonstrates a good level of respectfulness and inclusivity. [If applicable, the student is able to reflect on and accurately evaluate their seminar performance]

Mid 2.1

65

Low 2.1

62

Lower Second

High 2.2

58

Competent work, demonstrating reasonable knowledge and understanding, some analysis, organisation, accuracy, relevance, presentation and appropriate skills.

The student may engage only in small group discussions [and, if applicable, online] with contributions that demonstrate understanding of the reading and the seminar questions. The quality of their oral expression may be limited. The student may be able to identify historiographical or methodological issues raised by the reading or seminar questions. The student provides answers in response to questions or source analysis that may be fact-based or descriptive rather than interpretive. In discussion with others, the student demonstrates a reasonable level of respectfulness and inclusivity. [If applicable, the student is able to accurately evaluate their seminar performance]

Mid 2.2

55

Low 2.2

52

Third

High 3rd

48

Work of limited quality, demonstrating some relevant knowledge and understanding.

The student may engage only partially in small group discussions [and, if applicable, online] with contributions that demonstrate some understanding of the reading or the seminar questions. The quality of their oral expression may lack coherence. The student provides answers in response to questions or source analysis that are fact-based or descriptive. In discussion with others, the student demonstrates limited respectfulness and inclusivity. [If applicable, the student is able to provide a limited evaluation of their seminar performance]

Mid 3rd

45

Low 3rd

42

Fail

High Fail (sub Honours)

38

Work does not meet standards required for the appropriate stage of an Honours degree. Evidence of study and demonstrates some knowledge and some basic understanding of relevant concepts and techniques, but subject to significant omissions and errors.

The student attends but does not engage in discussion [Online contributions, if applicable, are brief]. Contributions may demonstrate some understanding of the reading or the seminar questions. The student’s oral expression lacks coherence. Responses to questions may be inaccurate or incomplete. The student may be disrespectful of others. [If applicable, the student is unable to accurately evaluate their seminar performance]

Fail

32

Work is significantly below the standard required for the appropriate stage of an Honours degree. Some evidence of study and some knowledge and evidence of understanding but subject to very serious omissions and errors.

The student attends but does not engage in discussion. [Online contributions, if applicable, are very brief, inaccurate, or incomplete.] Responses to questions, when prompted, are inaccurate or incomplete. The student may be disrespectful of others. [If applicable, the student is unable to accurately evaluate their seminar performance]

25

Poor quality work well below the standards required for the appropriate stage of an Honours degree.

The student attends but does not engage in discussion or answer questions. [Online contributions, if applicable, are inaccurate or incomplete.] The student may be disrespectful of others. [If applicable, the student is unable to accurately evaluate their seminar performance]

Low Fail

12

Zero

Zero

0

Work of no merit OR Absent, work not submitted, penalty in some misconduct cases

Absent without authorisation. [No contribution to online element, if applicable].