Marking Criteria for Non-Language Modules

Guidance applies to students studying at Level 1, 2 and 4 

Marking criteria for coursework essays in non-language modules

The criteria below are generic to all essays, other than examination essays, written for non-language (‘option’ or ‘content’) modules in the Department of Modern Languages. This includes both assessed or ‘summative’ essays, where the mark counts towards the final mark for the module, and non-assessed or ‘formative’ essays which are awarded a mark but where the mark does not count towards the final mark for the module. The criteria are cumulative (a higher grade implies the possession of the skills described at lower grades, as well as the absence of deficiencies described at lower grades). At the same time, the grade profiles are necessarily general and typical: a candidate need not fit all aspects of a profile to fall into that grade band and there may be elements that do not apply to every form of essay.

In the context of these criteria, ‘text in the language of study’ means any writing in the language of study that is prescribed or recommended for the module, and includes works of literature, history and cultural history, linguistic examples and film dialogue. All film modules, and parts of modules in which film or other visual media are studied, require students to demonstrate skills in the analysis of images: this is assumed in references to ‘analysis’ below.

At all grades, marks will be deducted for the inappropriate use of internet sites: the College Taught Handbook gives advice as to what constitutes inappropriate use (See section on Plagiarism & Cheating).

High 1st 90+%

Outstanding in all respects. A sophisticated and rigorous argument which engages critically with all aspects of the question. Original thinking and independent analysis backed up by judiciously chosen examples. Shows strong evidence of wide-ranging preparatory reading and broad background knowledge. Demonstrates exceptional ability to analyse text in the language of study. Shows a critical awareness of the principles and practices of the discipline. Excellence of presentation, style, expression. Adheres rigorously to bibliographical conventions and formats footnotes correctly.

Good 1st 80-89%

Many features of outstanding quality; excellent overall. A rigorous argument which engages critically with all aspects of the question. Independent analysis backed up by well-chosen examples. Shows strong evidence of wide-ranging preparatory reading and broad background knowledge. Confident ability to analyse text in the language of study independently and in some depth. Engages with scholarly debate on the topic. Excellence of presentation, style, and expression, and an extensive critical vocabulary. Applies bibliographical conventions and formats footnotes correctly. Work which would be judged as excellent or very good at the next highest level of study.

Low first 70-79%

Excellent or very good in most respects. A well-structured argument which engages critically with all aspects of the question. Analysis backed up by well-chosen examples. Shows strong evidence of wide-ranging preparatory reading, including reading in the language of study, and broad background knowledge. Able to analyse text in the language of study independently. Awareness of scholarly debate on the topic. Evidence of ability to handle complex concepts. Excellence of presentation, style, expression, including a wide critical vocabulary. Applies bibliographical conventions and formats footnotes consistently.

2:1 60-69%

Competent discussion of the question, clearly organized argument, showing evidence of a good overall knowledge of the topic and considerable preparatory reading. Evidence of reading in the language of study (as a minimum, evidence that any prescribed text(s) have been read/viewed in the original language); evidence of competence in analysing text in the language of study. Generally a good standard of presentation and expression, with a sound critical vocabulary; a reasonably consistent use of bibliographical convention and footnotes. Work at the higher end of the range engages with most if not all aspects of the question and draws on preparatory reading for some independent analysis. At the lower end of the range, work may keep to a more routine set of ideas, and may not address all aspects of the question.

2:2 50-59%

Satisfactory overall, with a reasonable standard of presentation and expression, and a basic critical vocabulary. Shows evidence of a fair knowledge of the topic, as well as some preparatory reading. The work may, however, show an over-reliance on secondary sources and/or on English-language sources. Where examples in the language of study are presented, the analysis is fairly basic and/or there is some misunderstanding of the foreign-language text. The student may use quotation as a substitute for argument. Sources may not always be indicated in footnotes, and the format of footnotes and bibliography may not be consistent. Work at the higher end of the range attempts to address the question, though some aspects may not be touched on and not all material may be strictly relevant. At the lower end of the range there is a tendency towards narrative/description with little, if any analysis; work is likely to contain material which is irrelevant, and to show fewer signs of an attempt at structured argument.

3rd 40-49%

Takes a very basic approach to the question, using broadly appropriate material but lacking focus. Little evidence of preparatory reading. Little or no evidence of reading in the language of study; little or no evidence of an ability to analyse text in the language of study. The argument is largely unstructured, and some points are irrelevant to the question. Knowledge of the topic is limited or very limited, and, particularly at the lower end of the range, there may be evidence of basic misunderstanding or misinterpretation. Poor standard of presentation and expression. There is no evidence that the candidate possesses a critical vocabulary appropriate to the discipline. If bibliography and footnotes are supplied, they are likely to show inconsistencies in formatting, and in the information provided.

Fail 26-39%

Inadequate, with very limited evidence of relevant knowledge or preparatory reading, and little attempt to answer the question. No sense of an underlying argument, unstructured, and contains basic misunderstandings or misinterpretation. Poor standard of presentation and expression, bibliography and footnotes may not be supplied at all.

Lowest fail 0-25%

Only the barest attempt, or no attempt to answer. Fails to demonstrate any appropriate knowledge.

Marking criteria for examination essays in non-language modules

The criteria below are generic to all examination essays written for non-language (‘option’ or ‘content’) modules in the Department of Modern Languages. The criteria are cumulative (a higher grade implies the possession of the skills described at lower grades, as well as the absence of deficiencies described at lower grades). At the same time, the grade profiles are necessarily general and typical: a candidate need not fit all aspects of a profile to fall into that grade band and there may be elements that do not apply to every form of essay.

In the context of these criteria, ‘text in the language of study’ means any writing in the language of study that is prescribed or recommended for the module, and includes works of literature, history and cultural history, linguistic examples and film dialogue. All film modules, and parts of modules in which film or other visual media are studied, require students to demonstrate skills in the analysis of images: this is assumed in references to ‘analysis’ below.

Although students are expected to demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the prescribed texts in their examination answers, there is no expectation that they learn long quotations by heart. Short quotations (or linguistic examples) can be used to make a point, but marks will be deducted for any quotation that does not strengthen the argument. Similarly, while students will be rewarded for showing a broad knowledge of any scholarly debates surrounding their chosen topic(s), including, where appropriate, the names of those scholars who hold particular views or take particular approaches, they are not expected to memorize quotations from critical literature or the publication details of critical works.

High 1st 90+%

Outstanding in all respects. A sophisticated and rigorous argument which engages critically and concisely with all aspects of the question. Shows strong evidence of profound and detailed knowledge, original thinking and independent analysis backed up by judiciously chosen examples. Demonstrates exceptional ability to analyse text in the language of study. Excellent style and expression. Shows a critical awareness of the principles and practices of the discipline.

Good 1st 80-89%

Many features of outstanding quality; excellent overall. A rigorous argument which engages critically and concisely with all aspects of the question. Shows evidence of detailed knowledge; independent analysis backed up by well-chosen examples. Confident ability to analyse text in the language of study independently and in some depth. Refers, in broad terms, to scholarly debate on the topic and engages with possible critical positions. Excellent style and expression. Work which would be judged as excellent or very good at the next highest level of study.

Low first 70-79%

Very good in most respects. A well-structured argument which engages critically and concisely with all aspects of the question. Shows evidence of good knowledge of the subject, backed up by well-chosen examples. Able to analyse text in the language of study independently. Refers, in broad terms, to scholarly debate on the topic. Evidence of ability to handle complex concepts. Very good style and expression, including a wide critical vocabulary.

2:1 60-69%

Competent discussion of the question, clearly organized argument, showing evidence of a good overall knowledge of the topic. Evidence of competence in analysing text in the language of study. Generally a good standard of expression, including a sound critical vocabulary. Work at the higher end of the range engages with most if not all aspects of the question and may demonstrate some independent analysis. At the lower end of the range, work may keep to a more routine set of ideas, may not address all aspects of the question, and may even introduce irrelevant points.

2:2 50-59%

Satisfactory overall, with a reasonable standard of expression and a basic critical vocabulary. Shows evidence of a fair knowledge of the topic. Where examples in the language of study are presented, the analysis is fairly basic and/or there is some misunderstanding of the foreign-language text. The student may use quotation as a substitute for argument. Work at the higher end of the range attempts to address the question, though some aspects may not be touched on and not all material may be strictly relevant. At the lower end of the range there is a tendency towards narrative/description with little, if any analysis; work is likely to contain material which is irrelevant, and to show fewer signs of an attempt at structured argument.

3rd 40-49%

Takes a very basic approach to the question, using broadly appropriate material but lacking focus. Argument is largely unstructured, and some points are irrelevant to the question. Little or no evidence of an ability to analyse text in the language of study. Knowledge of the topic is limited or very limited, and, particularly at the lower end of the range, there may be evidence of basic misunderstanding or misinterpretation. Poor standard of expression can make it difficult to follow argument. There is no evidence that the candidate possesses a critical vocabulary appropriate to the discipline.

Fail 26-39%

Inadequate, with very limited evidence of relevant knowledge and little attempt to answer the question. No sense of an underlying argument, unstructured, and contains basic misunderstandings or misinterpretation. Poor standard of expression makes the argument difficult to follow.

Lowest fail 0-25%

Only the barest attempt, or no attempt to answer. Fails to demonstrate any appropriate knowledge.