RMP: Marking Scheme

Marking Scheme

The following is the marking scheme used for assignments.

Please note that assessments cannot be assigned numerical grades other than those shown on the marking scheme except where penalties for late work or work that exceeds the word limit are applied. A mark of zero is applied where: (a) no work is submitted, (b) work is submitted more than 5 working days after the deadline, (c) the work contains plagiarism, (d) students fail to obtain ethical approval from the Psychology Ethics Committee (and Research Governance Office if required) before collecting data, (e) students obtain ethical approval but are deemed subsequently to have failed to adhere to the Academic Unit’s ethical standards, or (f) work is based on fabricated or misrepresented data.

Category Numerical Grade
Distinction 100
Pass (with Merit) 68
Pass 58
Fail 48
Special Circumstances 0


Criteria for Marking

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


(72+) An assignment that merits an A 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.

Arrangements for fair marking

All assessments are blind marked and then moderated, or double-marked as in the case of the research proposal and dissertation. For moderated work, a minimum 20% sample of the class and all fail grades are moderated. A moderator cannot amend individual grades but, if they have any concerns, they will raise these with the first marker. The concerns will be discussed and the marks adjusted for the whole cohort accordingly. If the moderator feels there is substantial inconsistency in the marking then double marking may be necessary. For double marked work, all coursework will be assessed by the first and second marker independently and any discrepancies between markers are then discussed and an agreed mark obtained.

A sample of all coursework assessments (which includes any fails and firsts) are sent to the external examiner for moderating. This is to ensure consistency with marks awarded for similar subjects elsewhere in the UK higher education sector.
All research dissertations are double marked (one of the markers is the dissertation supervisor). The two mark sheets and the dissertation go to the external examiner with the dissertation report who makes a final suggestion for the mark. Any cases of disagreement are resolved in a documented way.

Categories of mark for the dissertation module are: pass with distinction, pass, or fail with permission to resubmit. Internal markers will also give a numerical grade. An overall aggregate of dissertation and coursework marks of 70 or over will allow consideration for distinction.

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

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