Assessment and Grade Descriptors

This guide indicates broadly the qualitative judgements 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 examiners’ comments. Evaluation is made with due consideration of the different standards likely to be achieved by students in junior and senior units.

85%+ (High Distinction)

Work of exceptional standard.
Written work demonstrates initiative and originality in research and reading; clear, critical analysis of the examined material; and innovative, insightful interpretation of evidence. Interdisciplinary work at this level effectively incorporates different perspectives to develop a rich and thorough analysis of its object of study. It makes an important contribution to debate, engages with the values, assumptions and contested meanings contained within original evidence, and develops abstract or theoretical arguments on the strength of detailed research and interpretation. The work is properly documented, and the writing is characterised by creativity, style, and precision.

75-84% (Distinction)

Work of a superior standard.
Written work demonstrates initiative in research and reading, complex understanding and original analysis of subject matter and its context. The work takes a critical, interrogative stance and makes a good attempt to move beyond the underlying assumptions of a topic, recognizing key concepts, theories and principles. Interdisciplinary work at this level successfully integrates differing perspectives. The work is properly documented and the writing is characterised by style, clarity, and some creativity.

70-74% (High Credit)

Highly competent work, demonstrating clear capacity to complete Honours successfully. This level of work is considered “above average”.
The work shows evidence of extensive reading and initiative in research, a sound grasp of subject matter and appreciation of key issues and context. The work engages critically and sometimes creatively with the question or task, and attempts an analytical evaluation of material. It makes a good attempt to critique various interpretations, and shows evidence of the ability to conceptualise and problematise issues and to go beyond the face value of core concepts. It demonstrates some evidence of the ability to think theoretically as well as in concrete terms. Interdisciplinary work at this level has a reasonably strong awareness of the fields and contexts that inform the work. Well written and properly documented.

65-69% (Low Credit)

Very competent work though not necessarily of the standard to complete Honours
Written work contains evidence of comprehensive reading and some evidence of independent thought. It offers a synthesis and critical evaluation of material and takes a position in relation to various interpretations. It makes a coherent and sustained argument, drawing on relevant concepts from readings. Interdisciplinary work at this level demonstrates some awareness of the fields and contexts that inform the work. Well written and properly documented.

60-64% (High Pass)

Work has considerable merit, though Honours is not automatically recommended.
Written work contains evidence of a broad and reasonably accurate command of the subject matter and some sense of its broader significance. It offers some evaluation and synthesis of material and demonstrates an effort to go beyond the essential reading. The work contains clear focus on the principal issues, understanding of relevant arguments and diverse interpretations, and a coherent argument grounded in relevant evidence, though there may be some weaknesses with regard to clarity and/or structure of the argument. Clearly written and properly documented.

Note that roughly 45-50% of students in junior levels of study and 25-50% of students in senior level units of study will receive marks within the Pass range each semester.

55-59% (Medium Pass)

Work of a satisfactory standard.
Written work meets basic requirements in terms of reading and research, and demonstrates a reasonable understanding of subject matter. Offers a synthesis of relevant material and shows a genuine effort to avoid paraphrasing. The work has a logical and comprehensible structure and acceptable documentation, and attempts to mount an argument, though there may be weaknesses in particular areas.

50-54% (Low Pass)

Work of an acceptable standard.
Written work contains evidence of minimal reading and some understanding of the subject matter, offers descriptive summary of material relevant to the task, but may have a tendency to be purely descriptive, to paraphrase or rely on polemical assertion rather than careful analysis and argumentation. The work makes a reasonable attempt to organise material logically and comprehensibly and to provide scholarly documentation. There may be gaps in any or all of these areas.

Below 50% (Fail)

Work not of an acceptable standard.
Work may fail for any or all of the following reasons: unacceptable levels of paraphrasing; irrelevance of content; polemical assertion without evidence or analysis; presentation, grammar or structure so poor it cannot be understood; submitted very late without extension.