Assessment Grades

The following marking criteria and example feedback guide for assignments are used to guide grading of students work.


(72+) An assignment that merits a Distinction grade represents an outstanding performance. All the basic requirements will be fulfilled and there will be no major errors of fact or reasoning. In addition it will show evidence of the ability to interpret, conceptualise, and critically evaluate a) evidence and theory from the literature, b) data collected and analysed for the assignment, and c) where appropriate to integrate from a) and b) – it will demonstrate the ability to synthesise models and research findings. Furthermore, it will display a knowledge and understanding of the literature and research methods that goes beyond the content of lectures and required reading, and may present a convincingly-argued original viewpoint. It may establish links with or make comparisons between different areas of psychology or other disciplines. It may ask questions as well as answer them, revealing an appreciation of the limits of our current knowledge.

Pass (with Merit)

(62-68) While this answer may not demonstrate all the features which merit a higher grade, it is nevertheless a very competent piece of work. There will be no major omissions from the requirements or errors of fact or reasoning. It will show evidence of wide reading, independent thought, and competence in evaluating theory and data (such evaluations may derive from lectures, standard readings, or research carried out for the assignment). Where appropriate there will be a reasonable attempt to integrate evidence and theory from the literature with data collected and analysed for the assignment. The work will be well-organised, focused on relevant material, and develop arguments directly relevant to the assignment.


(52-58) A typical answer in this category may not fulfil all of the requirements and there may be some errors of fact and reasoning. However, a piece of work in this category gives a mainly accurate summary of relevant material which has been presented in lectures and required reading and/or data collected and analysed for the purposes of the assignment. However, relevant information will be mostly set out clearly and some relevant thoughtful discussion of issues, theories, concepts, and research will be included.


Please note: Essays with a mark below 50% are deemed to have failed

(45-48) An answer in this category will demonstrate some knowledge and understanding of relevant issues but may contain at least one of the following weak features: major requirements may not have been fulfilled; there may be major errors of fact or reasoning; key points of information may be missing; assertions may not be supported by appropriate evidence; it may be too simplistic or brief.

(38-42) In this category, insufficient knowledge is presented to show that the student has a general familiarity with the subject-matter of the programme. The answer may contain two or more of the following weak features: major requirements may not have been fulfilled; there may be major errors of fact or reasoning; key points of information may be missing; assertions may not be supported by appropriate evidence; it may be too simplistic or brief; it may contain considerable irrelevant material; it contains incoherent or confused statements.

(30 or below) This grade indicates evidence of insufficient academic study. It fails for one or more of the following basic reasons: it fails to demonstrate a fund of knowledge or understanding related to the question; it reveals basic misunderstanding; it is incoherent; much of the material presented is irrelevant.

Example of the template feedback/marking guide for assignments used by most lecturers:


Good:  Includes a range of appropriate relevant and important information from a wide variety of sources.

Acceptable: Includes a reasonable range of content from the most significant sources.

Poor: Only a limited range of content from very few sources; important subject matter omitted.

Use of Concept and Ideas

Good: Key concepts clearly explained and demonstrates a complete understanding of major concepts and ideas. Uses concepts in an interesting manner; generalities are carried by specifics which are apt and appropriate.

Acceptable: Handles most of the major concepts adequately which includes some examples in an attempt to interpret general ideas.

Poor: Misunderstands some important ideas and concepts, uses them incorrectly.

Critical Thinking

Good: Clearly integrates previously unintegrated material and demonstrates an ability to critically appraise the literature reviewed. Demonstrates an ability to explain or incorporate discrepant findings or theories into the review. Demonstrates a good knowledge of research methods.

Acceptable: Attendance to most of the above including some explanation of discrepant findings or theoretical approaches.

Poor: Includes only generalities and well-known text book illustrative material. Repetition of material from references with only minor modifications. Fails to demonstrate knowledge of research methods.


Good: Well developed and logically sequenced initial orientation, body and final summary. Writing demonstrates a clear progression between points.

Acceptable: Introduction and final summary adequate, and evidence of continuity between points.

Poor: Unconnected comments, rambling, lack of continuity in the writing.

Style and Communication

Good: Written in a style that is clear and concise. Excellent sentence construction and choice of words. Correct use of spelling and abbreviations. Correct referencing format.

Acceptable: Generally communicates ideas clearly, without too much that is superfluous, in language that is grammatically acceptable.

Poor: Obscure and confused style of writing that is difficult to follow and/or often ungrammatical. Poor referencing

In the event of a student failing any assessed piece of work, the student is required to liaise with the Programme Director. In modules where there are 2 assignments, it may not be necessary to repeat the failed assignment, if the weighted mark ensures that you have passed the module. Resubmission of work is in the referral period from August – September. Students can only take the assessment for a module once, and  work is capped at a pass. Your university transcript will show the mark that the resubmitted work would have been awarded had it been a first submission.


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