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.

High Distinction (85-100%)

An exam or essay which achieves a High Distinction grade displays a combination of excellences which may include the following:

  • Clarity of exposition
  • Accuracy of understanding
  • Attention to argument and reasons
  • Originality
  • Structural integrity

These excellences can be combined in different balances; so that to some extent they trade off against each other. But a High Distinction essay exhibits a better overall balance of them than an essay at any other grade. In the long run, and on average, about 7% of essays or exams in a unit get this grade. The High Distinction level of achievement, if regularly achieved, is evidence of an aptitude for honours and graduate study in this field.

Distinction (75-84%)

An exam or essay which achieves a Distinction grade displays a combination of excellences which may include the following:

  • Clarity of exposition
  • Accuracy of understanding
  • Attention to argument and reasons
  • Originality
  • Structural integrity

These excellences can be combined in different balances; so that to some extent they trade off against each other. But a Distinction essay exhibits a better overall balance of them than an essay at Credit or Pass level but not as good as the High Distinction level. In the long run, and on average, about 20% of essays or exams in a unit get this grade. The Distinction level of achievement, if regularly achieved, is evidence of an aptitude for honours and possibly graduate study in this field.

Credit (65-74%)

An exam or essay which achieves a Credit grade displays a combination of excellences which may include the following:

  • Clarity of exposition
  • Accuracy of understanding
  • Attention to argument and reasons
  • Originality
  • Structural integrity

These excellences can be combined in different balances; so that to some extent they trade off against each other. But a Credit essay exhibits a better overall balance of them than an essay at Pass level, but not as good as the Distinction or High Distinction level. In the long run, and on average, about 30% of essays or exams in a unit get this grade. The Credit level of achievement, on average, is a prerequisite for Honours entrance.

Pass (50-64%)

An exam or essay which achieves a Pass grade displays a combination of excellences which may include the following:

  • Clarity of exposition
  • Accuracy of understanding
  • Attention to argument and reasons
  • Originality
  • Structural integrity

These excellences can be combined in different balances; so that to some extent they trade off against each other. But a Pass essay exhibits a balance which means that the student has gained intellectual benefit from the unit and it can be counted towards their degree, but the balance of excellences is not as good as the other merit grades level. In the long run, and on average, about 35% of essays or exams in a unit get this grade.