Assessment Requirements

Units of study vary within and across departments and faculties and you should consult individual convenors for each unit. Some units are available for independent study enabling you to explore a topic of special interest

For most units you can expect:

  • no formal examinations
  • a requirement to submit a total of 4,500 to 5,000 words - often divided between seminar presentations, short assignments, and/or a major essay, and
  • in some units you may be able to submit a creative or collaborative assessment.

Writing and Submitting Essays

General advice

If you have not written essays for some time, you will probably be feeling somewhat daunted by the task. We advise students:

  • to make sure you have a specific, concrete argument to make. State it in your opening paragraph – if you can’t state it in 2-3 sentences, you are not thinking clearly enough. We advocate explaining your argument to someone naïve, like a friend or family member. If you can’t explain your argument so they can understand it, you haven’t thought it through yet.
  • to start each paragraph with a topic sentence that tells the reader what the paragraph is about. This helps to structure your essay around a clear argument. Always ask yourself, ‘why I am telling the reader this’?
  • to avoid generalizations – big concepts sound empty without a lot of evidence to show how they’re actually operating and what they’re actually explaining.
  • to avoid over-use of quotations and paraphrasing. We want to know what YOU think about the topic.
  • to make sure you reference your work properly.

A useful resource is the Short Guide to the Writing and Presentation of Papers and Essays, 2000, prepared by the History Department (Fisher Special Reserve Call #808.06695C).

The Learning Centre offers support for students in research, writing and presentation skills.

See The Write Site for an online tutorial that you work through at your own pace to help with essay writing practice.


All assignments must be fully referenced. The Library has an online Citation and Style Guide and you can ask a librarian for help online, by email or in person.

Medical Humanities does not require you to conform to a specific referencing system. We DO require that you use a style consistently through any assignment, and that page numbers are given in your references.

Submitting your work

Please submit all your work in hard copy. Electronic submissions may be negotiated in special cases. Please ensure that your work is CLEARLY MARKED WITH YOUR NAME AND STUDENT ID, preferably in a header on each page, along with a page number and the title of your essay.


It is your responsibility to ensure that you use appropriate sourcing and understand the rules relating to academic misconduct. Plagiarism means presenting another person’s ideas, findings or work as one’s own by copying or reproducing them without due acknowledgement of the source. Recycling means the submission for assessment of one’s own work, or of work which is substantially the same, which has previously been counted towards the satisfactory completion of another unit of study, and credited towards a university degree, and where the examiner has not been informed that the student has already received credit for that work.

Essays should be accompanied by a statement of compliance with the University's policy on plagiarism.