Institute of Archaeology


13 Information on assessment

Information on assessment - published for 2023-24

13 Information on assessment

Please note that this information may be subject to change due to Covid-related regulations – please check the Students’ webpages for the most up-to-date information: 

13.1 How will students be assessed? 

During your studies, you will find that there is significant variation in the types and style of assessment you are required to undertake depending on the material covered and the module objectives. Alongside the traditional written essay and end-of-year unseen examinations, modules may use online tests, article reviews, field notebooks, laboratory notebooks, portfolios, presentations, and reports on readings and site/ museum visits. Assessed work is returned to the student  within four weeks of submission, with written feedback and guidance for improvement, so that the assessment process contributes to student learning. The forms of assessment for individual modules are detailed in the Module Handbook and on Moodle.

13.2 What are the marking criteria and learning outcomes? 



Grad Dip



First Class 




Upper Second 




Lower Second 






Condonable Fail (see Academic Manual for regulations)

39 and below


(see Academic Manual for condonement regulations)


(see Academic Manual for condonement regulations)


Students are marked on the following criteria:

  • Argument: Does the essay answer the question, use a clear structure and build to a relevant conclusion.
  • Understanding: Understanding of relevant issues and their broader implications
  • Sources: Use of an appropriate range of relevant sources, discrimination of relative value of different sources, (for 3rd year and MA/ MSc students: reading beyond the reading list)
  • Analysis: Critical reflection, thought, & conceptual framework, ability to recognise and evaluate own assumptions
  • Evidence: Empirical knowledge and use of case-studies or examples
  • Writing: Spelling, grammar, fluency; use of appropriate vocabulary
  • Visuals (where appropriate): Table, charts and illustrations (clarity, labelling, appropriateness), effectiveness in supporting argument
  • Referencing: Detail, accuracy and completeness of citations; bibliographic formatting

70+: A distinctive response that develops a clear argument and sensible conclusions, with evidence of nuance; thorough understanding of issues with some sophisticated insights; extensive reading and thorough understanding of literature consulted; evidence of innovative analysis; concepts deftly defined and used with excellent sense of theoretical context; impressive, highly relevant and detailed evidence used to support most claims; awareness of unresolved issues with the evidence; style and word choice show fluency with ideas & flashes of verve; visuals actively highlight points and contribute to argument; claims supported by accurate citations and bibliography. Marks in the higher 70s range are used for outstanding work which shows several of the following qualities: exceptional thoroughness and clarity; exceptional enterprise in reading, exceptional insight or originality in the use of primary sources and relevant evidence, unusually clear perception in suggesting future research.

80% and above: These marks are used for outstanding work of exceptional originality and insight. Marks above 85% are uncommon. A mark of 90-94% might be given to the best dissertation in a particular area over, say, a five to ten year period, and a mark of 95-98% for the best piece of work ever submitted on a topic, a piece of work that could hardly be bettered. 

60-69: A sound response with a reasonable argument and straightforward, logical conclusions; sound understanding of issues, with insights into broader implications; evidence of plentiful relevant reading and sound understanding of literature consulted; evidence of student’s own analysis; Concepts defined and used systematically and effectively; significant amount of quality evidence, used to support most claims; style & word choice rarely detract from conveying of ideas; visuals are generally presented effectively; citations and bibliography are generally accurate and complete.

50-59: A reasonable response with a limited sense of argument, poor structure & partial conclusions; reasonable understanding of the issues and their broader implications; evidence of relevant reading and some understanding of literature consulted; reasonable reproduction of ideas from taught materials; rudimentary definition and use of concepts; some use of evidence but limited in quality and not always effectively used to support claims; style and word choice sometimes detract from conveying of ideas; visuals occasionally distract from argument or are poorly presented (size, legibility); citations and bibliography are sometimes inaccurate and incomplete.

40-49: An indirect response to the task set, with a gesture towards a relevant argument and conclusions; rudimentary, intermittent understanding of the issues with confusions; significant omissions in reading with weak understanding of literature consulted; analysis relying on the partial reproduction of ideas from taught materials; some concepts absent or wrongly used; evidence is limited in quality and quantity; claims rarely backed up; style and word choice seriously detract from conveying of ideas; visuals are missing or seriously detract from argument; citations are limited in accuracy.

30-39: A response that may attempt to answer the question but exhibits some or all of the following failings: either no argument or argument presented is inappropriate or irrelevant; conclusions absent or irrelevant; general misunderstanding of the issues under discussion; very limited or irrelevant reading; erroneous analysis or misunderstanding of the basic core of the taught materials; no conceptual material; evidence absent or irrelevant/ inaccurate; no evidence to support claims made; style and word choice seriously interfere with comprehension; visuals absent or irrelevant/ inaccurate; bibliography/ citations missing or inaccurate.

  • 30-39:   Work that fails to meet the criteria for a pass and exhibits several distinct failings.
  • 20-29: Work that, although failing seriously, does show some reason and structure and an attempt to address the question. 
  • 5-19: attempts to address the question which are largely incoherent or irrelevant, and show limited understanding of the topic. 

13.3 What marking scale is in use on the programme? 

Undergraduate and Graduate Diploma
70 and above = First Class
60-69 = Second Class, Upper Division
50-59 = Second Class, Lower Division
40-49 = Third Class

Masters Degrees
70 and above = Distinction
60-69 = Merit
50-59 = Pass

Students should note that the scale used in the UK is different from that used in some other countries.  In particular, marks above 75 are very rare.

13.4 What is feedback, and how will students recognise it (questions in lectures, emails etc.)? How and when will students receive feedback on their work and what will it look like? 

Students can expect to receive written feedback on formally-assessed coursework, usually within a maximum of four weeks from the submission deadline. If there are delays in providing feedback for individual modules, students will be notified of this before the four weeks have passed. Feedback will usually be provided electronically via Moodle on Turnitin. Please visit Guidance for students collecting marks and feedback from Turnitin for a detailed walk through on the electronic feedback. Additionally, students may receive verbal or written feedback in class or on non-assessed coursework. Feedback methods are described in individual Module Handbooks.

Feedback on individual assessments can be discussed with module co-ordinators by appointment.

13.5 UCL Standard turnaround time for feedback  

UCL Feedback Turnaround Policy 
Regular feedback is an essential part of every student’s learning. It is UCL policy that all students receive feedback on summative assessments within one calendar month of the submission deadline. This feedback may take the form of written feedback, individual discussions, group discussions, marker’s answers, model answers or other solutions (although students should note that UCL is generally unable to return examination scripts). Students writing dissertations or research projects should also expect to receive feedback on a draft on at least one occasion. 

If, for whatever reason, a department/division cannot ensure that the one calendar month deadline is met then they will tell students when the feedback will be provided - it is expected that the extra time needed should not exceed one week. Where feedback is not provided within the timescale, students should bring the matter to the attention of their Departmental Tutor or Head of Department. 

Further information: 

13.6 Written Examinations

13.6.1 Examinations 

Students must ensure that they are aware of the regulations governing written examinations detailed in the UCL Examination Guide for Candidates on the Examinations and Assessment website. 

Further information:  

13.6.2 Intercollegiate Exams  

UCL students taking examinations at other colleges as part of the University of London’s intercollegiate module sharing scheme should refer to the Student Policy outlined in the Academic Manual, Chapter 8 (Annexe 11: “Intercollegiate Module Sharing with other University of London Colleges – Student Policy”).

Further information: 

13.7 Coursework submission

During your studies, you will find that there is significant variation in the types and style of assessment you are required to undertake depending on the material covered and the module objectives. Alongside the traditional written essay and end-of-year unseen examinations, modules may use online tests, article reviews, field notebooks, laboratory notebooks, portfolios, presentations, and reports on readings and site/ museum visits. You are expected to submit work on time as required and in return you can expect to receive your work back promptly.

Coursework assessment is sometimes ‘formally assessed’, which means that it contributes a percentage to the final mark of the course. All coursework assessments are compulsory and must be completed. Failure to complete assessed coursework may result in your being barred from examinations being deemed ‘incomplete’. Not all coursework contributes to the final percentage of a course mark: ‘formative’ coursework offers you the opportunity to develop your skills and receive feedback.

Further details on completing IoA assessments are available on the module's Moodle page. If you are taking a module in another department or college please refer to their guidelines.


The dates for coursework assessment deadlines are determined at the start of the year and are clearly set out in the Handbook and course materials made available at the start of the module.

Electronic Submission

An electronic copy of each assessment must be submitted via the Module Moodle page by 11:59 PM on the day of the deadline. By submitting on Moodle, you will be confirming your agreement with the UCL Plagiarism Statement. Submission through Moodle also submits the assessment to Turnitin.

If you encounter difficulties submitting your assessment electronically, you should contact ioa-turnitin@ucl.ac.uk straight away and attach a copy of your assessment. This will constitute a formal record of your attempt to upload your work.

Routine computer problems such as viruses, disk corruption, and short term network problems are not acceptable grounds for lateness or for requesting an extension to the submission deadline. You are expected to take proper precautions and make back-up copies of your data or ensure adequate time for electronic submission.

13.8 Information about penalties for late submissions  

13.8.1 Coursework Late Submission Penalties 

Planning, time-management and the meeting of deadlines are part of the personal and professional skills expected of all graduates. For this reason, UCL expects students to submit all coursework by the published deadline date and time, after which penalties will be applied. 

If a student experiences something which prevents them from meeting a deadline that is sudden, unexpected, significantly disruptive and beyond their control, they should submit an Extenuating Circumstances (EC) Form. If the request is accepted, the student may be granted an extension. If the deadline has already passed, the late submission may be condoned i.e. there will be no penalty for submitting late. 

Further information: 

13.9 Information about absence from assessment  

13.9.1 Absence from Assessment 

Any student who is absent from an assessment without prior permission will receive a mark of 0.00%/ Grade F unless they formally request to defer their assessment to a later date by submitting a claim for Extenuating Circumstances with appropriate supporting evidence.  If Extenuating Circumstances are not approved, the mark of 0.00%/ Grade F will stand and the student will be considered to have made an attempt.   

Further information: 

13.10 Information about word counts and penalties 

Word Counts 
Assignment briefs will include clear instructions about word counts, the inclusion of footnotes, diagrams, images, tables, figures and bibliographies etc. Students are expected to adhere to the requirements for each assessment. Students exceeding these parameters may receive a reduction in marks. 

The faculty has one unified policy, covering all programmes and modules, governing the penalties for work that is submitted over the published word count. The full policy can be found on the Joint Faculties’ Student Intranet, but the key points are:

  • For work that exceeds the maximum length by less than 10%, the mark will be reduced by 5 percentage points, but will not be reduced below the pass mark. 
  • For work that exceeds the maximum length by 10% or more, the mark will be reduced by ten percentage points, but will not be reduced below the pass mark. 

The following should not be included in the word count of coursework and dissertations: title page, contents pages, lists of figure and tables, abstract, preface, acknowledgements, bibliography, captions and contents of tables and figures, appendices.

Further information: 

13.11 Information about the consequences of failure  

Students are permitted a maximum of two attempts at any given assessment. If a student fails an assessment at the first attempt they might: 

  • Be eligible for Condonement 
  • Need to Resit or Repeat the assessment 
  • Apply for a Deferral or other support under the Extenuating Circumstances procedures 

Condonement allows a student to progress from one year to the next and/ or to be awarded a qualification where they are carrying a small amount of failure, as long as their overall performance is of a good standard and the requirements of any relevant Professional, Statutory or Regulatory Bodies are met. Students who meet the Condonement Criteria will not be reassessed. 

A student’s eligibility for Condonement in any given module is determined by the programme on which they are enrolled - some modules may be ‘Non-Condonable’ i.e. students must pass them. Condonement applies to module marks falling within a certain range, and students will need to meet defined criteria to be eligible for Condonement. 

Further information: 

Student Guides to  Condonement 

Depending on the amount of failure, Reassessment may take the form of either a Resit, which usually takes place in the Late Summer, or a Repeat in the following academic session. The marks for modules successfully completed at the second attempt will be capped at the Pass Mark – 40.00% for modules at UG Level/ Levels 4, 5 and 6; 50.00% for PGT modules at Masters Level/ Level 7.  

Taught Postgraduate students: 
Students who fail a Masters dissertation/ research project will normally resit by 31 January (30 April for January-start programmes). Exceptionally, the Exam Board may decide that the extent of failure is such that the student needs to repeat the dissertation with tuition and fees. 

Further information: 

Deferred Assessment 
If an assessment has been affected by Extenuating Circumstances (ECs) students may be offered a Deferral i.e. a ‘new first attempt’ or a ‘new second attempt’. If the student successfully completes a Deferral of their first attempt, their module marks will not be capped. If the student successfully completes a Deferral of their second attempt (i.e. they have ECs on a Resit or Repeat), their module marks will be capped at the Pass Mark (i.e. the existing cap will not be removed). 

Further information:

13.12 Academic Integrity 

High academic standards are fundamental to ensuring continued trust and confidence in UCL’s world-leading research and teaching, as well as the individuals who work and study at UCL. UCL takes Academic Integrity very seriously, and expects students to familiarise themselves with UCL’s referencing and citation requirements. A good starting point is the UCL Library Guide to References, Citations and Avoiding Plagiarism. Students should also ensure that they are familiar with the specific referencing requirements of their discipline, as these may vary. 

Candidates for controlled condition examinations should also familiarise themselves with the requirements set out in the Academic Manual, Chapter 6, Section 9.2 (weblink provided below). It is also very important that students are aware of what items they are permitted to bring into the Examination Halls, so they can ensure they do not unintentionally breach the examination rules.   

UCL has a zero tolerance approach to the use of essay mills and contract cheating, as they go against every principle that UCL stands for. These types of service disadvantage honest students and devalue standards in our universities. 

The vast majority of students at UCL will maintain their Academic Integrity throughout their studies, but it is important to be aware that UCL may consider breaches to your Academic Integrity as an instance of Academic Misconduct. When Academic Misconduct occurs there can potentially be penalties imposed, and it is important to note that repeated breaches will be taken very seriously and could result in exclusion from UCL (see Academic Manual, Chapter 6, Section 9.3, web-link provided below). For students who are unsure of what may be considered as Academic Misconduct, the procedures in Chapter 6 of the Academic Manual define all such behaviour and how this is taken forwards. UCL also has online tools available to help students identify what behaviours may be considered as Academic Misconduct. 

Further information: 

13.13 Information about academic integrity and accepted referencing methods in the discipline 

One of the most fundamental skills in any piece of academic writing – whether a book, conference paper, article, essay, project, report or dissertation – is the ability to provide clear and appropriate references and citations. Whenever you quote from or paraphrase work written by another author, you must acknowledge that you have done so, even if you do not quote the source directly. This acknowledgement is known as a citation. It consists of brief details of the publication and is given in the body of your text. You also have to give a complete list of these citations at the end of your assignment in a list of references or bibliography. It is vital that you are both consistent and accurate in your referencing. The Institute of Archaeology uses the Harvard referencing system. Full details can be found here: https://libguides.ioe.ac.uk/harvard

13.14 Information about academic integrity and how to avoid academic misconduct in the discipline 

Academic misconduct
Academic misconduct is as any action or attempted action that may result in you obtaining an unfair academic advantage.

Obvious examples of academic misconduct include various kinds of cheating in exams, but it extends more generally to a failure to maintain academic integrity, that is to say, failing to properly acknowledge where your work draws on the work of others. Those ‘others’ might be fellow students, staff whose lectures you have attended, published scholars, authors of web pages, or even a chatbot: in fact, any person or software that produces or revises content.

There are strict penalties for academic misconduct, potentially culminating in exclusion from the university, but you can avoid it by always being honest and transparent about the sources used in your work, as well as any assistance obtained from other people or software. You must avoid the following:

Plagiarism is defined as the presentation of another person's thoughts or words or artefacts or software as though they were a student's own.

Plagiarism constitutes an examination offence under the University Regulations and it important that you understand what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it. UCL regulations governing plagiarism apply to all student work, including examinations, assessed coursework and non-assessed coursework.

All UCL students are required to read the UCL guidance on plagiarism as well as the IoA Study Skills Handbook which includes advice on presentation and referencing. All assessed coursework is required to be submitted to Turnitin®, a sophisticated detection system which scans student work for evidence of plagiarism by matching text from student assessments to billions of sources worldwide, including websites and journals, as well as work previously submitted to the IoA, UCL and other universities.

Please refer to the UCL website and the Institute of Archaeology Study Skills Guide for information on plagiarism and how to avoid it. 

Self-plagiarism is an examination offence involving the reproduction or resubmission of your own work in full or in part, which has already been submitted for assessment to UCL or any other institution. There may be certain circumstances in which this is permissible, but you must first check with the relevant member of staff and you should always acknowledge the re-use. 

Commissioning coursework from others
You may be approached by companies or individuals offering to sell you ‘guaranteed plagiarism-free’ coursework, but the very act of submitting their work as if it is yours is plagiarism!  Do not be tempted: you won't learn anything and the penalties for this type of academic misconduct are very severe

Inappropriate or unacknowledged use of software assistance
The ready availability of generative AI chatbots (e.g. ChatGPT) along with more long-standing software such as Grammarly means that there is now a variety of powerful tools which you might be tempted to use to help you write your coursework. UCL's policy regarding the use of AI and other software is evolving and may change as you progress through your degree programme. Please refer to the UCL website for information about the use of AI, but note that your lecturers will tell you what is and is not permissible in their particular courses (be sure to ask them if they do not). 

To maintain your academic integrity always describe your use of software assistance in the boxes provided for this purpose on the coursework coversheets.

13.15 Research Ethics and Approvals

The Institute of Archaeology takes research ethics very seriously and has produced the following guidelines for Institute staff and students to adhere to:

Any enquiries may be directed to the Chair of the Institute's Ethics Committee (currently Dr Rachael Sparks) at IoA.ethics@ucl.ac.uk It is essential that students planning to undertake dissertation topics which involve human subjects seek and obtain approval through the Ethics Committee before embarking on the research.

Further Information:

13.16 Information about Marking, Second-Marking and Moderation

Marking, Second-Marking and Moderation 
All work that is submitted for summative assessment is marked by a UCL Internal Examiner or Assistant Internal Examiner. All UCL programmes also include second-marking and internal moderation processes to ensure that marking is consistent and fair. Second-marking can take a number of different forms depending on the type of assessment, but the overall aim is to ensure that marking is as accurate as possible. Internal moderation also helps UCL to ensure that marking is equitable across different modules, pathways, options and electives. 

13.17 Information about the External Examiner process and how to access reports via Portico  

External Examining at UCL 
External Examiners are senior academics or practitioners from other universities who help UCL to monitor the quality of the education we provide to our students. In particular, External Examiners scrutinise the assessment processes on each programme, helping UCL to ensure that all students have been treated fairly, that academic standards have been upheld and that the qualifications awarded are comparable with similar degrees at other UK universities. 

Each External Examiner submits an on-line annual report. Faculties and departments are required to reflect on any recommendations and address any issues raised in a formal response. The report and response are discussed with Student Reps at the Staff-Student Consultative Committee, and are scrutinised by faculty, department and institution-level committees. Students can access their External Examiner’s report and departmental response via the “My Studies” page through their Portico account either through ‘Module Assessment’ or ‘Summary of Results and Awards’ or by contacting their Departmental Administrator in the first instance. On the same “My Studies” Portico page, students can also access UCL wide External Examiners reports for the last three years. For central queries relating to External Examining, please contact Student and Registry Services at examiners@ucl.ac.uk