Policy of Assessment

Students are required to:

  • attend lectures and tutorials (or seminars);
  • participate in class discussion;
  • complete satifactorily such written work, presentations and examinations as may be prescribed; and
  • meet the standards required by the University for academic honesty.

Grade Distribution

Departments within the School of Social and Political Sciences follow Academic Board and Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences guidelines in awarding a determined percentage of each grade.

General philosophies of assessment practice

  1. The School favours ‘deep learning’ over ‘shallow learning’. In other words, we are more interested in evidence that students have made conceptual developments in their ways of understanding and interpreting the world than in their familiarity with 'facts', figures and dates.
  2. Original and thoughtful argument is valued more highly than polished regurgitations of lectures or set reading.
  3. Evidence of a thoughtful response to the conceptual framework of any individual unit is valued more highly than pre-existing skills of, for example, debate and expression.
  4. Students are encouraged to explore areas of particular interest to themselves, and will be rewarded for initiative and ingenuity in discovering relevant material.
  5. An idea that cannot be expressed clearly probably has not been understood clearly. We therefore value evidence of logical, coherent thought, argument and expression in essays.
  6. While recognising that the political and ethical values of students vary widely, the School does not reward or condone unreasoned polemic or racism or sexism.

Marking Criteria

In assessing written work, academic staff within the School look for demonstrated effort, abilities and skills in the following areas. Note that individual units are likely to have additional and more specific requirements and criteria. These should be made clear to students by the coordinator in each unit.


  • extent of reading
  • accuracy of knowledge
  • breadth and depth of knowledge
  • relevance of information
  • sufficiency of evidence and documentation


  • understanding of problem or project
  • judgement of significance of material
  • awareness/understanding of different arguments in reading
  • recognition of implications of evidence
  • ability to think critically
  • grasp of relevant theory
  • understanding of ethics and values relevant to reading and subject matter


  • judgement and initiative in reading and research
  • originality in use and interpretation of evidence
  • development of argument
  • independence in use of concepts and language


  • correctness of grammar and scholarly documentation
  • organisation and presentation of material
  • clarity of writing style
  • originality and creativity of writing style