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Appendix 2 - Faculty Marking/Grade Criteria for Masters Level Assignments
These guidelines are intended to spell out the criteria that are used to assess written work. The criteria show the features we expect to see in work of a given mark or grade. To achieve a given grade, students do not have to have met all the criteria listed; however, they must have demonstrated a preponderance of those qualities in their work. Although modes of assessment vary (essays, dissertations, other forms of written output) the principles by which markers arrive at their judgements remain the same. Below is a list of aspects of students’ work which may be taken into account during assessment, as appropriate.
Criteria for the award of marks
70 + (distinction)
A piece of written work in the 70+ range is one of exceptional quality, requiring a high level of conceptual ability and an extremely thorough and conscientious approach to study. Work in this range will clearly demonstrate the capacity to proceed to a higher research degree. It is distinguished by:
Marks within this classification may vary due to–
A piece of written work of a good to very good standard requiring clarity of thought and expression. It will display an ability to handle the relevant literature in an analytical manner. It will be more than a good description of the various theories and/or studies relevant to the question – it will demonstrate a marshalling of relevant information by means of analysis and interpretation. It will not necessarily have a water-tight argument, but it will be clearly structured and its conclusions will not take the reader by surprise. Such a piece of work will generally show less independence of thought and mastery of detail that is required for a mark of 70 or over. There may be some errors or misjudgements with regard to issues which are not central to the argument. Work in this range will normally demonstrate the capacity to proceed to a higher research degree.
Marks within this category may vary due to–
A piece of written work of a moderate to good standard. It will be descriptively strong. It is distinguished from the 60-69 piece by the level of analysis displayed and by the coherence with which the material is organised. There may be some significant errors, misjudgements or omissions of important details. A mark in this range would not normally demonstrate the capacity to proceed to a higher research degree. It is characterised by:
Marks within this category may vary due to–
40- 49 (Fail - with the possibility of condonation in accordance with the Faculty regulations.)
A piece of written work in this category shows signs of engagement with the question or topic, but has inadequacies at Master’s level. It signals a failure to give sufficient thought to the work in hand, displaying inconsistent argument, unsubstantiated assertions, and a patchy acquaintance with the relevant literature. It may lack a convincing conclusion and it is likely to include significant errors, omissions and misunderstandings. It is characterised by:
Marks within this category may vary due to–
Marks below 40 (Fail - without possibility of condonation)
Marks in the 30 - 39 range indicate that the piece of written work is inadequate in every respect with pronounced errors and misunderstandings. It is characterised by:
Using the full range of marks
Departments are encouraged to make use of the full range of marks available, including using marks of below 30% and of above 80% where this is appropriate.
Marks above 80 (High distinction)
Marks above 80% will given to work that demonstrates the strengths listed for marks above 70%. In addition, it will show original thinking going beyond that in the existing literature and backed up by appropriate evidence and reasoning. Marks above 90% will be given to work that is of a quality suitable for publication in an international refereed journal.
Marks below 30 (A poor Fail)
A mark below 30 means that the student has not given sufficient attention to study, has a lack of basic knowledge, and an inability to tackle the question or topic. It is characterised by –
Marks of below 20% will be given to work demonstrating almost no knowledge or understanding of the literature and of the subject area. Any knowledge displayed will be completely misinterpreted.
Marks of below 10% will be given to work demonstrating almost complete incoherence and irrelevance.
FASS507d: Introduction to the Philosophy of the Social Sciences (distance learning)
The standard Faculty marking criteria apply.
FASS510d: Qualitative Methods in the Social Sciences
Marks will be reached in accordance with the FASS marking scheme (see above). Marks in the following range can be achieved:
70% + (Distinction)
The Faculty’s marking scheme is supplemented by consideration of the particular learning outcomes of FASS510:
At the end of the module students are expected:
This means that the learning outcomes will be used as additional criteria to assess what mark a specific essay will achieve. However, given that each essay is specific and taking account of the particular essay title agreed with the tutor, the criteria will need to be specified and are not fully fixed. For example, for students who write about one specific method, the second and third learning outcomes (familiarity with different qualitative research methods and ability to identify the advantages and challenges of different methods) do not fully apply. The fourth learning outcome (to have an idea about how research questions and your underlying theories relate to research methods) will apply to some essays only, depending on the specific essay title that was agreed. The fifth learning outcomes (to be able to describe in writing the methods they use in their own research and to discuss their strengths and weaknesses) usually applies to all essays, regardless of their specific content.
With regards to the band of marks, in addition to the criteria listed in the General section above, the following points apply:
Evidence of independent research may or may not be required, depending on the essay topic.
In order to achieve a distinction the argument made regarding the specific methods that are examined needs to be clearly expressed and convincing. It needs to be well grounded in existing discussions about the method(s). It needs to show exceptional ability to evaluate different arguments about specific methods. Depending on the essay topic, the assignment will also show the writer’s exceptional ability to comment critically on their research, whether planned or already in progress.
Marks in the 60 to 69 range will display a good ability to handle the relevant literature on the methods examined. They will show the writer’s ability to present different methods and to evaluate different arguments about specific methods. If applicable to the essay topic, some insightful comments on the student's own research are expected.
Essays achieving a mark in the range of 50 to 59 will show knowledge and understanding of different research methods as they relate to the specific topic in question, but less ability to describe these clearly and evaluate them critically. Essays will display less ability to think critically about the students’ own research.
Essays in the 40 to 49 range may show some signs of engagement with the methods specific for the topic, but overall the discussion of these methods is poor in terms of argumentation and structure and often shows significant gaps in the student’s understanding of the methods and their ability to describe and discuss them in writing. If an essay comments on the student's own research, there tends to be a lack of understanding of how specific methods can be applied to the research in question and what potential problems might arise.
Marks below 40 show serious errors and misunderstandings with regards to the research methods discussed and how they apply to the topic in question.
FASS512d: Quantitative Research Methods 2 (distance learning)
Students to be graded via three assignments (2 x 1,500 words; 1 x 2,000 words) based on analysing and interpreting data from real studies in the social sciences and humanities. The assignments will assess students' ability to input and analyse a data set in “R”, choose appropriate methods for the given data set, and interpret the output from “R”, having applied the chosen methods correctly and with relevance to the specific questions of interest.
Assessment one (20% of total mark):
Assessment two (40% of total mark):
Assessment three (40% of total mark):
Mark categories and associated classifications of ability:
70% and over
60 to 69%
50 to 59% (Pass)
40 to 49%
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