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Undergraduate

Marking Criteria

Because there are fewer ways to produce good work than there are to produce bad work, it is easier to stipulate the criteria for a First Class essay than it is to stipulate the criteria for essays that do not meet this high standard. 


Because different essays may combine different strengths and weaknesses, these have to be weighed against one another. An essay that is very good in one regard and only competent in another may merit an overall assessment of “good”.


First (75%)
An excellent essay: Clearly written, well-argued answer to the question, and originally presented.

  • 80 to 85% for essays that are outstanding. Such essays demonstrate unusual sophistication or originality. (Relatively rare.)

  • 90% for brilliant essays. Such essays constitute publishable work. (Extremely rare, if ever.)


Upper Second (70% to 74%)
A very good essay: Possesses most of the attributes of a First Class essay, but is sufficiently deficient either in clarity, the quality of argument or the originality of presentation not quite to deserve a First.

  • 74% for essays that very narrowly miss a First. 

  • 72% for comfortable Upper Seconds.

  • 70% for essays that barely meet the standards of an Upper Second. 


Lower Second (60% to 69%)
A good essay: Demonstrates a good understanding of the material, is a reasonably well-argued answer to the question and demonstrates some originality in presentation. 

  • 69% for essays that very narrowly miss an Upper Second

  • 65% for comfortable Lower Seconds.

  • 60% for essays that barely meet the standards of a Lower Second. 


Third (50% to 59%)
A competent essay: Demonstrates a passable understanding of the material and a minimally competent argument. May often lack originality of structure (but cannot be so bad as to constitute plagiarism). 

  • 59% for essays that very narrowly miss a Lower Second

  • 55% for comfortable Thirds.

  • 50% for essays that barely meet the standards of a Third.


Fail (<50%)
An incompetent essay: Does not demonstrate a passable understanding of the material or a minimally competent argument, or is irrelevant.

  • 45% to 47% for essays that approximate a pass. 

  • 5% to 44% for failing essays with fewer or more redeeming features

  • 0% for essays that are either plagiarised or without any redeeming features.