Interpretation of Grades

This Guide indicates 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 markers' comments. These comments will take account of the different standards likely to be achieved by Junior and Senior students and, among Senior students, by second and third year students.

85%+ (High Distinction)

  • The work demonstrates a deep and intelligent understanding of, and individual engagement with material;
  • presents a very close analysis of focal texts or issues;
  • addresses a specific issue and develops an independent critical or theoretical argument successfully;
  • indicates awareness of complexities and qualifications in argumentation;
  • demonstrates careful thought about the critical, historical and/or theoretical context of the texts or issues;
  • provides evidence of wide-ranging reading;
  • is properly referenced and well-presented.

The writing is characterized by creativity, clarity, and independent insight. A High Distinction is distinguished from a Distinction by the work's demonstration of awareness of subtleties, nuances, qualifications and a possible other case. Work which is awarded a mark of over 90% in Senior level units of study will often contain some publishable or potentially publishable elements.

75-84% (Distinction)

  • The work demonstrates an intelligent understanding of, and individual engagement with material;
  • analyzes focal texts or issues appositely;
  • addresses an issue and presents a well-argued, coherent case;
  • demonstrates careful thought about the critical, historical and/or theoretical context of the texts or issues;
  • provides evidence of reading beyond what is strictly required for the task;
  • is properly referenced and well presented.

The writing is characterized by individuality, clarity, and independent insight. A Distinction is distinguished from a High Credit chiefly by the quality of theoretical understanding and the range of intellectual enquiry it demonstrates.

70-74% (High Credit)

  • The work provides evidence of independent reading and thinking about focal texts or issues and their contexts;
  • shows some clear understanding of relevant critical and theoretical considerations and of the conceptual issues raised by a unit of study;
  • uses close critical analysis;
  • avoids summary;
  • indicates an intelligent attempt at a critical or theoretical argument;
  • is clearly and effectively written;
  • is well-referenced.

A High Credit is distinguished from a Low Credit chiefly by the extent of independent discussion of focal texts or issues, and by some obvious attempt to interpret the outcome of close analysis.

65-69% (Low Credit)

  • The work shows some understanding of relevant critical and theoretical considerations and of the conceptual issues raised by a unit of study;
  • demonstrates some independent reading and thinking about focal texts or issues and their contexts;
  • uses close critical analysis;
  • avoids summary;
  • attempts a critical or theoretical argument;
  • is clearly and effectively written;
  • is adequately referenced.

A Low Credit is distinguished from a High Pass by the extent of independent discussion of focal texts or issues, the clarity of the writing and the extent to which it attempts a more general critical and/or theoretical argument.

58-64% (High Pass)

  • The work gives some evidence of ability to attempt an independent argument and to structure material coherently;
  • demonstrates a genuine attempt at independent reading and thinking about focal texts or issues though the essay may contain some oversimplification or superficiality;
  • generally avoids summary, paraphrase or unsubstantiated assertion;
  • may sometimes present quotation for illustrative purposes merely, but does also present the outcome of some critical analysis;
  • is adequately expressed;
  • is adequately referenced.

50-57% (Pass)

  • The work provides clear evidence of having read and thought about focal texts or issues;
  • attempts a coherent argument though there may be ellipses in argumentation;
  • uses some close critical analysis;
  • may paraphrase fairly extensively;
  • tends to use quotation for illustrative purposes only;
  • may tend towards generality in answering a question;
  • may present simplistic comment or unsubstantiated assertions;
  • is adequately expressed though there may be some weaknesses in this area;
  • may contain some referencing errors.

Below 50% (Fail)

Work may fail for any of the following reasons:

  • no evidence of having read the prescribed material closely;
  • sloppy, inconsistent presentation;
  • preponderance of paraphrase, mere plot summary or listing of superficial characteristics;
  • excessive use of quotation for illustrative purposes only, without any attempt at analysis;
  • excessive level of generality in answering a question;
  • inappropriate or obscure expression;
  • incoherent general structure;
  • inadequate referencing;
  • late submission of work without extension.