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How am I assessed?

You will encounter a variety of methods of summative (for credit) assessment during your studies. This page will give you an overview of some of the key types of assessment that you will be required to complete, and their purpose.

You should always refer to the KEATS module area to make sure you understand exactly what is required of you in your assessment for a particular module. If you are uncertain, you should speak to the module tutor.

Study skills sessions for coursework and presentations are available from the English Language Centre.

Types of assessment

Coursework and assessed essays

Throughout your degree, many modules will require you to complete assessed essays.

An essay should represent your own informed response to the topic set. Your aim when writing an essay should be to produce a reasoned argument which directly addresses the terms of the question, proceeding in a clearly structured manner to a conclusion. As such, it is important to plan your work thoroughly.

Lecture notes and secondary literature may well be used in preparing an essay, but always in ways which show that you have assimilated – and so are able to modify and apply – what you have heard or read. Re-cycling of class notes or slavish reproduction of lecture material or critical reading is to be avoided.

You should ensure your coursework conforms to the relevant style guide; more details can be found on Philosophy essay guide page.


Some modules may include an assessed presentation as part of the assessment. Presentation work may be individual or group-based. It is designed to enable you to practice your skills at orally delivering your work to an audience: a very important transferable skill.


Many modules, particularly at undergraduate level, contain examinations as part of their pattern of assessment. These take place during one of the College's examination periods, of which there are three during the year (January, May and August; the latter is typically reserved for resit/ replacement examinations).

Many examinations will be designed to test the range of your knowledge, as in many cases you will not be told the questions in advance. Generally, however, the skills required to do well in an examination will be similar to those you will have practised during your coursework. Be sure to read the examination paper rubric, and remember to make sure that your answers are well structured and address the specific question(s) being asked.

For advice on how best to prepare for your examinations, you are advised to consult with your personal tutor, the module tutor, and to review past papers and Examiners Reports where available. 

Further important guidance for examination candidates can be found on the Examinations & Awards Office website.  


A dissertation is your opportunity to research a specific topic in greater depth. You will typically work independently, albeit under the guidance of a member of staff.

A key element in succeeding with your dissertation will be to build on the skills and techniques you have learned when researching and writing other essays. Nevertheless, it is essential that you are prepared to direct your own study to a great extent (though your supervisor will be on hand to offer general guidance) and it is vital that you manage your time carefully.

Further details on dissertations are available on the dissertations page. 

Formative work

Formative assessment is not-for-credit; your final mark for the module will rest solely on your summative assessment. But formative assessment nevertheless constitutes an essential part of the overall learning process, so should be taken seriously.

The purpose of formative work is to enable you to get feedback on module material and essay writing.

For undergraduate students, the process should help you understand topic areas and improve your essay writing for each module.There may be some overlap between the topics on which you write for the summative essays, or very little. The reassurance that marks from the formative work don't count towards your final grade should mean that you feel confident enough to take risks in trying out various ideas.

NB: undergraduate formative essays are NOT a 'draft' of summative essays. You will be provided with separate essay questions for formative and summative coursework and a summative essay explicitly titled with a formative essay question will receive a mark of zero.

Undergraduate students are not, however, penalised for using material from formative assessment in summative assessment, if the content is relevant to the question being answered.

For postgraduate taught students, you will go on to use the material you've developed within the framework of your formative essays when it is time to produce your summative work. The reassurance that marks from the formative work don't count towards your final grade should mean that you feel confident enough to take risks in trying out various ideas. And then the feedback you get should tell you which are working and which aren't, and suggest avenues down which you might usefully pursue your ideas further.

Marking Criteria

Generic marking criteria for undergraduate and taught postgraduate modules in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities can be found on the marking criteria for assessment page.

Certain modules may have components of assessment with specific marking criteria. If specific marking criteria are employed for any of your assessments you will be able to find them in the KEATS module area.

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