UCL Philosophy
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BA Programmes


BA Courses

Careers Guide

Past Exam Papers

Portico Guide & Course Registration Guide

Marking Criteria

Philosophy Guidelines for Marking of Course Essays and Examination Scripts

Alphabetical marks are for (i) non-assessed course work, (ii) provisional marks for assessed course work.

Grade Mark Degree Class    
 A+  75 - 80 First
A 70 - 74 First
B+ 65 - 69 2:1
B 60 - 64 2:1
C+ 55 - 59 2:2
C 50 - 54 2:2
D 40 - 49 Third
Fail 39 and below  

First class (A = 70-74; A+ = 75-80)

Characteristics: exceptional thoroughness and clarity; exceptional insight or critical ability; originality; clarity and rigour of argument; extensive reading; demonstrated ability to formulate responses to questions in novel and relevant ways. Answers which address the question directly and proceed lucidly from one paragraph to the next throughout the essay. Answers need not be 'perfect': first class marks may be awarded either to work which, though not faultless, exhibits exceptional intellectual qualities (sophistication; originality; judiciousness), or, conversely, to work which, though not exhibiting any truly exceptional intellectual qualities, possesses virtues of composition and clarity to a markedly high degree. An A+ mark is reserved for work which shows an obviously superior understanding of the complexities of the issues involved and which the examiner considers distinctive in its excellence.

Upper Second (B = 60-64; B+ = 65-69)

Characteristics: well organised, clearly expressed; direct and relevant response to the question; evidence of good analytical skills, critical thinking and wider reading; effective grasp of concepts; relevant use of illustrative material. Answers which show a good command of the subject and use this knowledge to construct a soundly structured and argued piece of work, though which may also display some faults (missing certain aspects of the question, containing patches of weaker material, or holding back from giving voice to the writer's own views).

Lower Second (C = 50-54; C+ = 55-59)

Characteristics: shows a general understanding of the question; relevant but limited reading and use of examples; competent reproduction of ideas and concepts from lectures and textbooks with little evidence of independent, critical appraisal, or of wider reading; illustrative material of general relevance but not fully integrated with the text. Answers which show a sound knowledge of basic facts and arguments, but which present facts outside an analytical framework, fail to cover some key aspects of the topic, and/or make insufficient reference to the question.

Third (D = 40-49)

Characteristics: shows an understanding of the question and the broader subject area, but little evidence of detailed knowledge or reading; contains serious mistakes or misunderstandings, unsupported assertion, and/or irrelevant material; failure to cover many key aspects of the topic; poor organisation; poor expression; wholly uncritical approach; unsupported assertion. Answers where there is some grasp of the topic and some evidence of basic knowledge – of taking notes and reading basic textbooks – but little beyond that.

Fail (F=39 and below)

Characteristics: fails to provide an answer to the question set; shows no more than a very general acquaintance with the field; absence, or near absence, of organisation; complete, or almost complete, lack of relevance; errors or incoherence revealing failure to absorb basic material taught on the course; consists only of notes making isolated points.

Undergraduate Prizes

The department awards the following prizes to undergraduate students:

  • Richard Murphy Memorial Prize (£150) for the best performance in the final year
  • AJ Ayer Scholarship Fund (£100) for the best performance in the second year
  • Seasonal Prize, Dawes Hicks Prize (two prizes) and AJ Ayer Prize (£30 each), for excellent performance in the first and second years.

In addition, we recommend outstanding students for the faculty medal (Rosa Morrison prize) and for inclusion in the Dean's List.

2014 BA Information




Can you issue me a confirmation of registration or attendance?

If you require proof that you are a student at UCL then you need to go to the Student Centre (Ground Floor Chadwick Building) where they can produce a document for you while you wait

Can you issue a letter for my visa application?

The Department is unable to produce any documentation pertaining to visas.

Can you offer me information and advice on my fees?

The Department does not have any dealings with fees.  Please contact the Student Finance Section of the Registry: Room G19, South Wing, Main Building – Tel: 020 7679 4125 or email fees@ucl.ac.uk

I would like to have my UCL mail forwarded to my Hotmail/Yahoo/etc account - how do I do this?
Although you are strongly advised not to do this as UCL cannot be held responsible for the consequences of any messages that you have not read or if messages were lost or delayed when automatically forwarded to a personal e-mail address (e.g. Hotmail, Yahoo, etc).

How do I confirm the course I want to take?

I have registered on Portico but I wish to change a course.  How do I go about this?

You should have already chosen your courses with your personal tutor at the meeting held in May. In August you are required by UCL to register those same choices in Portico. If for any reason whatsoever you wish to change these choices you will need to meet with the departmental tutor during their office hour(s). Only when you have completed the application form will you be able to make changes.

What are the restrictions on taking courses 'outside' the Department?

Can you issue confirmation of my address?

Students should approach the Student Centre in the Chadwick building with their ID card where they can obtain a Statement of Registration. This will not detail their address (as the Registry is not prepared to certify this). If you require confirmation of your address for bank account purposes, you should contact your Landlord / Landlady or Bursar in Halls of Residence as appropriate for this confirmation (don't forget that you could present a mobile phone agreement or utility bill to the bank in lieu of this). The student centre does provide advice for international students (only) about opening a UK bank account.

I'm from outside the Philosophy department but I want to take a philosophy course, what should I do?



When does the examination period begin?

The Examination Period runs from 1 May 2014 until 30 May 2014 (undergraduate).  To see term 3 dates click here.  We always advise students not to make plans until after the end of term.  There is a compulsory meeting for all students with their personal tutors in the penultimate week of term.

If, however, you decide that the risk of not being here in the (albeit unlikely) event that an examination will have to be rescheduled is worth it, then that is your decision and any consequences must be borne by you.

What happens if I am ill during the Exam Period?

If you are absent from an exam for any reason, you must inform the Examinations Officer or the Departmental Tutor as soon as possible. If you are absent from an exam because of illness or accident, you must submit medical documentation. Your certified illness will be notified to the Board of Examiners. You must do this as soon as possible after the exam(s) in question, and in any event BEFORE the final meeting of the Board of Examiners (17 June 2014 for all undergraduate degrees except French/Philosophy).

N.B. Any circumstances likely to affect your examination performance should be notified to the Departmental Tutor, (see staff list), or Ann Higginson, Departmental Administrator. Notification should be made in writing (with medical documentation if appropriate). These circumstances will be considered in strict confidence. (Circumstances which have already been brought to the attention of the Board of Examiners and for which allowance has already been made - e.g. extra time allowed because of dyslexia - should not be notified in this way as the Examiners will be aware of these circumstances.) You will need to complete an ‘Extenuating Circumstances’ form.

The above extenuating circumstances form should also be used for the late submission of coursework.

When and how do I get my exam results?

Final Year Students (except French/Philosophy degree). Provisional results for single honours finalist students are displayed on the Departmental notice board by candidate number after the meeting of the Philosophy Board of Examiners (normally the week after the third term ends).

Provisional results for combined honours students are displayed on the Departmental notice board by candidate number after the meeting of the Combined Board of Examiners (normally about a week after the end of term).

These results are subject to approval by the relevant College authorities.  Confirmed results are accessed via Portico in late July.

If you are required to provide confirmation of your provisional results for the purpose of employment, post-graduate study or sponsorship before official transcripts are issued please fill in this form.

Non Final Year Students: The department will post provisional results on a password protected webpage. This is usually available to view two weeks after term ends. A link with instructions will be sent to all students this applies to when ready to view.

When will I receive my transcript (in the case of finalists)?

Transcripts for finalists will be dispatched to students by the Registry, normally in late July/August.

Do you provide past exam papers and course solutions?

Past exam papers are available from the Library.

How do I get a copy of my results transcript?

Examination transcripts are available from the Registry:

Do I have anything scheduled after my exams are finished and when is the end of the summer term?

There is a compulsory meeting for continuing students with their personal tutors in the penultimate week of term to decide course choices for the next academic year. You should not make holiday or travel arrangements for the first few days of the summer vacation, without first confirming that you will not be expected to attend for examinations on those days. In the event of an emergency it MAY be necessary to re-schedule some examinations and, although every effort will be made to ensure that they take place during term-time, you should be aware that they may need to take place after them.

Can the Philosophy Department issue me a letter with my predicted grades that I can present to a potential employer?

The Department does not issue predicted grades. If an employer asks for such, in making your prediction you should be realistic, bearing in mind that if your Personal Tutor is asked to backup your prediction (or to make one his/her self) that you should come to the same conclusion. As a result, it may be sensible to chat with your Personal Tutor first before stating what you believe you are capable of.

What are the coursework deadlines and penalties for late submission?

Essays for first term courses have to be submitted by the first working day of the second term. Essays for second term courses have to be submitted by the first working day of the third term. Strict penalties are applied when an essay is submitted late. These are normally waived only for medical reasons, provided that documentary evidence is submitted.

Finality of marks

All marks are provisional until the Board of Examiners has met, by which time marks will have been moderated by a second examiner and confirmed by the external examiner. There is no appeal against academic judgement.


I wish to get in contact with my Personal Tutor/Course Lecturer/. How do I go about this?
Feel free to approach members of staff during their office hour(s) by going to their room at the appointed time.  If you think your query will take some time or you wish to discuss something in depth then it would be wise to e-mail first to arrange a suitable alternative time.

How do I find out the time of the appointment with my Personal Tutor?

You will have been sent an e-mail with this information.

I need a reference, who should I approach?

Your Personal Tutor is the person to approach if you require a reference.  If you require more than one referee, or you wish to use another tutor as a referee, you can approach another member of staff to act for you but you must ensure that you approach the individual first before giving their name to ensure that they are willing to do so.  If at all possible, please refrain from asking the Departmental Tutor, since he gets inundated with reference requests and should only be contacted in ‘emergencies’.

Page last modified on 24 jul 13 15:37