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Assessing seminar participation

Guidelines for Assessing Student Participation in Seminars or Classes as part of Honours-level work within an Undergraduate Degree

This page sets out the basic parameters within which Arts and Social Studies departments might develop their own rules for including an element of seminar participation/ performance/ practical work/ class presentations and other work as part of the assessment of modules which count towards the classification of an Honours degree. These are elements that cannot easily be moderated (e.g. by external examiners), and they should, therefore, comprise NO MORE THAN 10%* of the overall mark for a given module.

It is suggested that these guidelines would apply to modules that carry 12 credits or more.

Departments may establish rules for assessing seminar participation, and it is strongly advised that they take into account the following:

  • Consultation with the relevant SSLC(s) in advance.
  • Departmental Guidelines: Departments are advised to draw up guidelines stating what is being expected and assessed, the method by which it will be assessed, the percentage (10% or less) of the module that will be assessed in this way. It must establish procedures for recording marks and comments by seminar tutors (in cases of group work, these must nevertheless be individually recorded for each student), and for giving formative feedback to the students about the mark awarded. In cases of joint degrees, these must be agreed by all departments involved. Once these are approved, they must be published to students.
  • Formal approval: The change of assessment method must be approved by the Faculty Undergraduate Studies Committee (or Committees in cases where a joint degree straddles two faculties). The change must be approved and communicated to students before the module begins. Changes to the assessment regime must not be made after a module has begun.
  • Monitoring and evaluation: The Department should consult students about the operation of this assessment system, normally through SSLCs and through end-of-module questionnaires. Once this kind of assessment has been introduced, they should also inform and consult external examiners about its fairness and effectiveness.

Prof. Roger Leng

Chair, Board of Undergraduate Studies
*As part of the 50% rule, the University requires that at least 80% of a module mark must be from work (coursework or exams) for which there is a record. In theory, this means that up to 20% of the module might be assessed by other means. It is my view, however, that 20% is too high a percentage, and that 10% is fairer