Criteria for MA Written Work

For University criteria the full marking scheme, grades and criteria can be found in Section 4 of the University’s Taught Postgraduate Masters Assessment Procedures in the TQA Manual.

70% and above

Distinction - Work of exceptional standard reflecting outstanding knowledge of material and critical ability.

60-69%

Merit - Work with a well-defined focus, reflecting a good working knowledge of material and good level of competence in its critical assessment.

50-59%

Pass - Work demonstrating adequate working knowledge of material and evidence of some analysis.

40-49%

Condonable fail - Limited knowledge of core material and limited critical ability.

39% and below

Fail - Lacking in basic knowledge and critical ability.

Departmental criteria, intended as a supplement to the University criteria

High distinction (80% and above)

Work which has these characteristics:

• an outstanding depth and breadth of research, showing exceptional and thorough knowledge of the relevant field
• exceptional insight, critical analysis and originality, such as might make the work of comparable quality with published work in its field
• an excellent and well-defined focus, clear structure and outstanding quality of argument
• clearly presented and finely written, with no significant errors of syntax or expression
• referencing and bibliographical conventions accurately followed, to the professional standards of the discipline

Distinction (70-79%)

Work which has these characteristics:

• an outstanding depth and breadth of research, showing thorough knowledge of the relevant field
• outstanding insight, critical analysis and originality, showing the potential to make a real contribution to the field of study
• an excellent and well-defined focus, clear structure and very good quality of argument
• clearly presented and well written, with no significant errors of syntax or expression
• referencing and bibliographical conventions accurately followed

Merit (60-69%)

Work which has these characteristics:

• a good range of research, showing a good level of knowledge of the relevant field
• a good level of insight and critical analysis
• a well-defined focus, clear structure and cogent argument
• clearly presented and comprehensible throughout, with very few significant errors of syntax or expression
• referencing and bibliographical conventions adequately followed

Pass (50-59%)

Work which has these characteristics:

• a sufficient range of research, showing a competent knowledge of the relevant field
• some evidence of insight and critical analysis
• an identifiable focus and structure, with some argument
• presented with sufficient clarity to be comprehensible throughout, though there may be some errors of syntax or expression
• material used is referenced and a bibliography supplied, but disciplinary conventions may not be fully observed

Condonable Fail (40-49%)

Work which has these characteristics:

• evidence of relevant research, but with a limited or flawed knowledge of the relevant field
• little evidence of insight and critical analysis
• lack of clarity of focus and structure, and an inadequate argument
• presented with sufficient clarity to be generally comprehensible, though there may be errors of syntax or expression
• material used is referenced, but disciplinary conventions may not be fully or properly observed

Fail (0-39%)

Work which has these characteristics:

• insufficient research, and a very limited or flawed knowledge of the relevant field
• insufficient evidence of any insight and critical analysis
• lack of focus, structure, and argument
• the prose may be unclear and difficult to comprehend, and there may be serious and frequent errors of syntax or expression
• insufficient acknowledgment and referencing of material used