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Marking Criteria

  BA MA MPhil
A (70-80) First Class  Distinction  Pass
B (60-69) Upper Second  Merit  Pass 
C (50-59) Lower Second  Pass  Condonable Fail
(see handbook
D (40-49) Third  Condonable Fail
(see handbook
Fail 
E (39 and below) Fail  Fail  Fail 

(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.

(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).

(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.

(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. 

(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.