Assessment and Grade Descriptors

Assessments must be submitted to the SOPHI office by 4pm on due date (unless otherwise specified by lecturer). Students are required to sign and attach a cover sheet to all submitted work.
Download the Archaeology Department Cover Sheet

The following guide has been written with essays for senior Archaeology courses in mind. The same general principles are applied to essays for Junior courses and for formal and take-home exams with allowances made, as appropriate, for students having less experience in the discipline, fewer resources and less time than for the preparation of essays in Senior courses. The descriptions below indicate broadly the qualitative judgments implied by the various grades which may be awarded. A more precise evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of individual essays will be provided in the markers' comments.

Students in Archaeology can expect to do assessment tasks which are not in essay form involving, for example, fieldwork exercises (survey, stratigraphy, remote sensing etc.), laboratory exercises (artefact description, identification, analysis, archaeological science), visual tests and work with data in digital form (databases, images manipulation, web dissemination, mapping, GIS etc.). Grade descriptors for assessments of these types can be found in the relevant course-outlines.

Students who consistently achieve marks of 65% or better demonstrate the potential to complete successfully an Honours year in Archaeology.

High Distinction (85-100%)

An authoritative and highly effective response that engages with the full implications of the question. The issues and methodology are set out clearly, critical arguments are exceptionally well-developed, and there is a clear and complete understanding of the material and vocabulary/terminology. Case studies will relate directly to the question. Evidence is provided of wide-ranging and insightful use of relevant literature, some of which has been located by the student. A considerable degree of independent thought and interpretation is demonstrated, as is an understanding of the full nature and complexity of archaeological data, methodologies and interpretation. The conclusion expresses the candidate's independent judgment in a mature way. Expression is efficient and lucid, without unnecessary complication; in the highest range of this grade expression will be scholarly and elegant. Faultless presentation of citations and bibliography; judicious use of academic conventions.

Distinction (75-84%)

A sharply-focussed answer that engages with many of the implications of the question and maintains a sophisticated level of analysis throughout. The problem(s) and method of approach are set out clearly, and different arguments are presented critically, with a good understanding of the material and vocabulary/terminology. Case studies will relate clearly to the question. Critical use of relevant literature is made, showing ability to make comparisons between different secondary interpretations and to quote/reference aptly. A considerable degree of independent thought is demonstrated, and an understanding of the nature and complexity of archaeological data, methodologies and interpretation. The assignment concludes with a synthesis which is not just a summary, and shows some independence of view. Accurate and lucid English expression is evident, with very few errors of form or style. Appropriate use of citations and bibliography.

Credit (65-74%)

An essay that engages with the question effectively and concisely. The structure of the essay will be clear and will develop a critical argument, using an appropriate range of vocabulary. Case studies will be used and evaluated. Use of relevant literature will show an ability to make comparisons between different interpretations and to quote/reference aptly. The essay will demonstrate some intellectual independence, perhaps drawing on ideas from outside the course; it will show an awareness of the nature and complexity of archaeological data, methodologies and interpretation. The conclusion will summarise the position argued and show some critical awareness of relevant issues. A good standard of written English is maintained, with few errors of form or style. Appropriate use of citations and bibliography.

Pass (50-64%)

Sound and competent work which covers the basic subject matter and which understands the question. The structure of the essay will be evident and will show a critical argument, using an appropriate range of vocabulary. Case studies will be used and discussed. Use and reference of several sources, but mainly through summary rather than analysis and comparison. There will be limited evidence of original thought; the essay may suggest an awareness of the nature and complexity of archaeological data, methodologies and interpretation. The conclusion will summarise the position argued. Moderately good English expression, with room for improvement in matters of style and/or grammar and punctuation; some errors and/or omissions in citation and bibliography.

Fail (less than 50%)

An essay that may not fully understand the question, that may include factual errors and that does not use the appropriate vocabulary. Case studies may be inappropriate or not used. Limited use of secondary sources and no critical comparison of them. The essay will demonstrate no direct evidence of original thought, and little or no awareness of the nature and complexity of archaeological data, methodologies and interpretation. The assignment deals with some of the relevant issues but treats them superficially and is too descriptive. Unsophisticated writing with errors of grammar, syntax, spelling and punctuation; may use inappropriate or inaccurate language. Limited bibliography and/or inconsistent citation.