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Assessment Criteria

Grade Descriptors

The categories below are based on the University of Warwick’s 17-point scale, which applies to all undergraduate work across the University. In UK institutions, the descriptors from 96 to 74 could be collapsed to constitute a 1st, from 68-62 a 2.1, and so on. In the United States the descriptors from 96 to 74 could be collapsed to constitute an ‘A’, from 68-62 a ‘B’, and so on.

96 (excellent 1st)


Awarded for outstanding merit, and exceptional command of subject-matter, concepts and techniques, including material that moves well beyond that on the syllabus. Work of exceptional insight, bringing new perspectives to bear on the material in question, and/or developing new knowledge or techniques. A completely seamless synthesis of practical and theoretical concerns. Work that could be credibly performed in public.


74, 81, 89 (low, mid, high 1st)


Work will demonstrate all the virtues of the 2:1 band with, perhaps, additional qualities of intellectual maturity, original research, felicity of presentation, and/or elements of exceptional insight in the engagement with the subject. Work in this category may feature one or more of the criteria for an ‘excellent’ first. A performance and viva in this category will meet all the criteria of the award of the 2:1 and will exceed them either in many of the ways indicated under the criteria for the 2:1 or by large margins under a few criteria, for example by:


  • Ambitious project carried out successfully
  • Outstandingly perceptive response to a number of details of the ideas presented in the module
  • Convincing and vivid presentation of an engaged response to these ideas
  • Particularly sophisticated handling of these ideas
  • Thorough and lucid engagement with difficult ideas
  • Outstandingly well-judged integration of these into performance/presentation of broader cultural, historical, and/or theoretical issues


62, 65, 68 (low, mid, high 2.1)


The best work will be highly competent in presentation, showing evidence of individual research and appropriate and intelligent uses of primary and secondary material. A 2:1 performance/viva will meet all the criteria for the award of the 2:2 and will exceed them in some of the following ways:


  • Incorporate understanding of well-chosen material
  • Offer a performance that leads examiners lucidly to conclusions
  • Be organised into an effective overall structure
  • Signpost its overall argument effectively so that the structure of the whole piece is clear to the examiner
  • Show good understanding of the impact of the biographical, historical and cultural circumstances of writing on the material being performed/discussed


52, 55, 58 (low, mid, high 2.2)


The lower category in the second-class degree. Work will be conscientious, and attentive to subject matter and title. In practice many 2:2 marks are the result of a mixture of perceptive work and a significant proportion of errors or irrelevancies.

A 2:2 performance and viva will:


  • Show an understanding of the ideas contained in the module and present a relevant response.
  • Show good knowledge of the material being discussed/performed.
  • Present an argument backed up with performance/discussion of appropriate detail.
  • Show some understanding of the historical and cultural circumstances in which the ideas represented exist.
  • Show good organization.


42, 45, 48 (low, mid, high 3rd)


Ranges from a barely adequate, to a severely limited, performance. Work may be brief, show only minimal knowledge of the subject matter, or show a lack of personal engagement or application to the question.


  • A third class performance/viva will fall short of one or more of the criteria for the award of 2:2, but not to a disastrous degree.
  • Third class work will be characterised by the inclusion of over generalised and unsupported material , or by a simplistic and unquestioning approach to issues.
  • There will be some knowledge of the material and ideas from the module and an attempt to offer a performance and a defence in the viva.


38 (high fail)


Work does not meet the standards required for the appropriate stage of an honours

degree, albeit with some basic understanding of relevant concepts and



12, 25 (fail, low fail)


The work fails to address and fulfil the criteria outlined. Little or no sign of

understanding, engagement or commitment to the task in hand. Ineptitude in

knowledge, structure, academic/professional practice. No evidence of basic

understanding of relevant concepts and techniques.


0 (zero)


Work of no merit. A mark of 0 will be awarded for non-submission. A mark of 0 may be awarded for plagiarism.