Extension 2 English Marking Criteria For Assignment

12.  Marking Criteria and Scales

12.1   Marking criteria are designed to help students know what is expected of them. Marking criteria differ from model answers and more prescriptive marking schemes which assign a fixed proportion of the assessment mark to particular knowledge, understanding and/or skills. Annex 1 provides definitions for: marking criteria, marking scheme and model answer.

12.2   Where there is more than one marker for a particular assessment task, schools should take steps to ensure consistency of marking. Programme specific assessment criteria must be precise enough to ensure consistency of marking across candidates and markers, compatible with a proper exercise of academic judgement on the part of individual markers. 

12.3   Markers are encouraged to use pro forma in order to show how they have arrived at their decision. Comments provided on pro forma should help candidates, internal markers and moderators and external examiners to understand why a particular mark has been awarded.  Schools should agree, in advance of the assessment, whether internal moderators have access to the pro forma / mark sheets completed by the first marker before or after they mark a candidate’s work.

12.4   Detailed marking criteria for assessed group work, the assessment of class presentations, and self/peer (student) assessment must be established and made available to students and examiners.

12.5   In respect of group work, it is often desirable to award both a group and individual mark, to ensure individuals’ contributions to the task are acknowledged. The weighting of the group and individual mark and how the marks are combined should be set out in the unit specification.

University generic marking criteria

12.6   The common University generic marking criteria, set out in table 1, represent levels of attainment covering levels 4-7 of study. Establishing and applying criteria for assessment at level 8 should be managed by the school that owns the associated programme, in liaison with the faculty and the Academic Director of Graduate Studies.

12.7   The common marking criteria are designed to be used for an individual piece of assessed student work. The descriptors give broad comparability of standards by level of study across all programmes as well as level of performance across the University. They reflect the QAA Framework for Higher Education Qualifications but need to be benchmarked against subject specific criteria at the programme level.

12.8   Faculties, with their constituent schools, must establish appropriately specific and detailed marking criteria which are congruent with the University-level criteria and, if appropriate, the level of study. All forms of programme-specific marking criteria must be approved by the Faculty.

Marking scales

12.9      Assessment must be marked using one of the sanctioned marking scales, as follows:

  •            0-100 marking scale
  •            0-20 marking scale

A five-point A-E marking scale is only available for programmes in the School of Education. This scale is currently being phased out.

Any mark on the chosen marking scale may be used.

12.10   Schools should utilise the marking scale that is best suited to the form of assessment. This and the marking criteria for the assessment should be established prior to its commencement.

Exceptions to the sanctioned marking scales

12.11   Neither the 0-20 nor 0-100 point scale is applicable to assessments where marks are not awarded; the student either passes or not. Such assessment may be employed, subject to approval by the faculty, when a student is required to demonstrate a minimum standard of competence for reasons related to professional accreditation requirements.

12.12   Highly structured assessments that are scored out of a total number less than 100 may be utilised where each mark can be justified in relation to those marks neighbouring it. In these cases, the mark must be translated onto the 0-100 point scale, mapped against the relevant marking criteria, and students informed of the use of this method in advance of the assessment in the appropriate medium (e.g. on Blackboard).

Reaching the ‘Unit Mark’ (see also Sections 28 and 37)

12.13   Marks gauged on the 0-20 scale should be translated to a point on the 0-100 scale so to calculate the overall unit mark for the purposes of progression and classification (see table 2).

12.14   The 0-20 point scale is a non-linear ordinal scale; for example, a mark on the 0-20 point scale IS NOT equivalent to a percentage arrived at by multiplying the mark by 5. Table 2 provides an equivalence relationship between the scales to enable the aggregation of marks from different assessment events to provide the overall unit mark which will be a percentage. This is illustrated below for a notional unit.

In this example, the MCQ uses all points on the 0-100 scale whereas all the other assessments use the 0-20 point scale.

To achieve the final unit mark each component mark needs to be adjusted as:

 Dissertation (25%)Unseen written exam (35%)


Oral exam (15%)Total unit mark out of 100
Actual score12 on 0-20 scale8 on 0-20 scale57 on 0-100 scale15 on 0-20 scale 
Adjusted to 0-100 scale62/10048/10057/10072/100 
Final weighted mark62 x 25 = 155048 x 35 = 168057 x 25 = 142572 x 15 = 10805735/100 = 57.35 (57)

12.15      The overall unit mark must be expressed as a percentage as the University’s degree classification methodology is based on the percentage scale.

12.16      The final programme or taught component mark will be calculated by applying the agreed algorithm to the unit marks (see Section 31 and Section 39).

TABLE 1:   Generic Marking Criteria mapped against the three marking scales

TABLE 2: Relationship between the three marking scales


Undergraduate assessment in the School of English

This page provides information for undergraduate students and staff in the School of English at the University of Sheffield concerning various aspects of the assessment process. It is under continuous review and revision. To find out more about any aspect of these processes get in touch with the relevant member of the assessment team. Students wanting to know more about assessments on a particular module should also feel free to consult the module tutor or convenor. Personal tutors can also provide guidance.

The information on these pages should be read in conjunction with the University Calendar and Undergraduate Examination Conventions available on the University webpages at https://www.shef.ac.uk/ssid/exams/ugexams. Important general information about examinations is available at https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/exams. Theatre students should also refer to the online Theatre and Performance programmes handbook which also contain assessment information.

Types of assessment

The types of assessments for a module and their relative contribution to the final module mark will be stated in the module outline. Coursework is any piece of work set and marked within the teaching part of the semester. It will usually be formative and it may contribute to the final module mark. Final assessments are pieces of work due at the end of the module, usually within the examination period: the three week period at the end of each semester, with an additional resit period in the summer. Precise dates for the examination period are available at https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/exams/exdates). Assessments may take a number of forms, eg. essays, tests, exams, presentations, group work, and will contribute to the overall grade of the module. The date and time of submission and the length of the assessment will be stated in the assessment rubric.

Submitting assessed work

Standard practice is that all written assignments are submitted online. There may be instances where you have to submit in another format or submit a paper copy too. You will be notified via the assessment rubric when this is the case. Unless otherwise stated, submission times will be 12 noon on the day of the deadline. Computer problems will not be accepted as an excuse for missing a deadline. If you have any technical difficulties with your submission, you must email english@sheffield.ac.uk quoting the module name and code (e.g. Lit 234 Renaissance Literature). When your assignment is marked, you can expect to receive comments on the following: your general performance in the assignment; presentation and style; areas to improve.

Any hard copies of work being handed in must be accompanied by a printout of the barcoded coversheet available from https://coversheet.group.shef.ac.uk/, stapled to the front or the assignment. Instructions on submitting assessments via Turnitin can be found in a document in the "Downloads" box to the right of this page. Students should include their registration number in the "Submission title" box on Turnitin. Where work has to be submitted electronically via Turnitin as well as in hard copy, both versions of the work must be identical and must be submitted by the required deadline. If either version is submitted after the stated deadline then the whole assignment will be considered to be late and will be penalised accordingly. Students must obtain a receipt for hard copies of work and Turnitin submissions. Both Turnitin and the barcoded scanning system will email a receipt to the student shortly after submission. For the paper copy submission students should print a bar-coded cover sheet and staple it to the front of their assignment.

In the event of work being submitted by post it is the student's responsibility to make sure that it reaches the relevant programme office before the deadline. Essays received by post are dated when they arrive in the relevant office, not by postmark, so the use of Special Delivery is therefore recommended.

Students should keep copies of all their work submitted for assessment for the duration of the degree.

Lateness and non-delivery

Unless an extended deadline is agreed by an Assessment Officer (see also the section on extensions), late work is subject to a 5% deduction for every working day it is late. For example, someone who handed in an essay four days late, which was marked at a 70, will only receive a final mark of 56 (on the basis that it be penalized at 3.5 marks per day). If an extension has not been granted work will be accepted for up to five working days after the due date and penalized as above. Assessments submitted more than five working days after the official submission date will be accepted but not awarded a mark unless sanctioned by the Extenuating Circumstances Committee, and only then if the student has lodged an application with the Extenuating Circumstances Committee. (See also the section on the Extenuating Circumstances Committee.) For non-submitted scripts NA (Not-Assessed) may be awarded if a satisfactory application has been made to the Extenuating Circumstances Committee, and the student may be permitted to take the assessment at a later date as a first attempt. Otherwise, a mark of 0 (zero) may be awarded. If a student has a zero mark they may be able to retake the assessment for a mark no higher than 40 for the whole module.

Assessments cannot be delivered late without penalty because of technical problems such as computer failure. Students should be sure to (a) save work to their university network account, (b) keep copies of work on external storage and (c) leave enough time for printing.

Exceeding word limits

For written work, a word limit must be included following the guidelines set out on the assessment rubric. The word count does not include footnotes but footnotes should normally only be used for references in accordance with discipline-specific conventions. Bibliographies are not normally included in the word count, though in-text citations are.  If a word limit is exceeded by more than 5% a fixed penalty of 5 marks is deducted from the assessment grade. Note that students should always aim for the stated word limit rather than the upper limit: the additional 5% is there to allow students to finish a sentence or an idea, not to encourage students to aim to write more than the word limit from the outset.

There is not normally a lower word limit, but where students prepare assessments which are significantly shorter than the stated limit they should consider whether the task has been adequately addressed.

Extensions to assessment deadlines

Deadlines can only be extended by the relevant assessment officer: module tutors, personal tutors or other members of staff are not permitted to grant extensions. The process for seeking an extension and the grounds on which an extension may be granted are described in detail at https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/english/current/late.

Arrangements for formal examinations

Formal examinations at the end of semester are usually arranged by the University. The examinations timetable is published at https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/exams/timetables. Important information concerning all aspects of examinations is available from https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/exams. Especially relevant are the notes on invigilated examinations available at https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/exams/notes. The University provides a team of invigilators for the examination. These examinations are scheduled by the University, not by any member of the School of English. Students should take into account the possibility that a formal examination can be scheduled at any time in the assessment period when making travel plans. The periods during which centrally-arranged examinations may be scheduled are listed at https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/exams/exdates). International students can find information about taking examinations overseas at https://shef.ac.uk/ssid/exams/exabrinf.

Additional support in examinations may be available for disabled students and students with Specific Learning Difficulties: see http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/disability/exams. With the exception of examinations which require all students to use a computer, or where a student has a disability or needs verified by DDSS, students will be expected to complete examinations by hand. It is the student's responsibility to ensure that the work handed in is legible.


Students normally need to pass all modules to progress from one level to the next (i.e. from level 1 to level 2; from level 2 to level 3). This includes any modules taken outside a student's home department. Where a mark of less than 40 has been given for a module the module mark is recorded as 'Fail'. Students are expected to take all the assessments on all modules. If a student does not take all the assessments a result of 'Not Completed' may be given for the module. Where Fail or Not completed has been given it may be possible to resit the relevant assessment: see the section on resits.

Following an unsuccessful resit attempt the School may allow a student to progress to the next level with Fail or Not Completed recorded for up to 20 credits. This is at the School's discretion. For example, a student would not normally be allowed to progress if a core module is recorded as Fail or Not Completed, if the student has not tried to complete all the assessments, or if the student has been given a mark of less than 30 for a module at level 1.


If a student has a result of Fail or Not Completed recorded for a module without any extenuating circumstances, the student will normally be allowed to resit all assessments on the module which have received a mark of less than 40 or which have not been attempted. A further attempt (three attempts in total) may be allowed for level 1 assessments with the final attempt in the following academic year, though students must note that this will delay progression to level 2 and may have financial implications: see the advice at http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/exams/external.

Resit arrangements and instructions will be communicated to students towards the end of the academic session by the relevant assessment secretary and/or the University: important information may arrive via either route. The period in which resits take place is set out at https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/exams/exdates.

Aside from where the Extenuating Circumstances Committee judge that a student should be considered 'Not Assessed' and allowed to resit a component for the full range of marks, if a resit of any component is required the maximum mark which can awarded for the module is 40.

Aside from where the Extenuating Circumstances Committee judges appropriate, students cannot resit components where a mark of more than 40 or more was awarded for the module.

Assistance for students in assessments

Students whose first language is not English may be permitted the use of a dictionary for timed examinations: see https://shef.ac.uk/ssid/exams/dictionary.

Options such as extra time are available for formal examinations. Alternative arrangements are put in place on the basis of the recommendations made during a needs assessment arranged by contacting the dedicated Disability and Dyslexia Support Service (DDSS): https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/disability. Responsibility for initiating these arrangements lies wholly with the student. It is recommended that the student also complete a Special Needs Disclosure Form and return this to the School's Disability Officer: details of who this is can be found at https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/disability/useful-info/dlo. Where alternative arrangements have been put in place by DDSS, it would be helpful if students could alert tutors/convenors on modules with in-class assessments (e.g. timed tests) to ensure that appropriate adjustments are made to assessments run within the School as well as those scheduled centrally.

Students with a specific learning difficulty (such as dyslexia), an autism spectrum condition or a hearing impairment have the option of attaching a yellow sticker to any piece of written work submitted including exam scripts. Further details can be found at https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/disability/useful-info/yellow-stickers.

Extenuating circumstances committee

The Extenuating Circumstances Committee is a sub-committee of the relevant programme Examination Board and meets before the final board at the end of each semester to consider all cases where an extenuating circumstances form has been submitted. Details of how to submit a form are available from https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/forms/circs. Note that forms should only be submitted where assessments have been affected and not to explain absences from class: these should be dealt with by direct communication with the tutor concerned. While the form allows students to indicate what action they would like the committee to consider, this does not mean this action will be taken. Students should discuss with their personal tutors whether they should make an application before submitting a form to discuss whether it is appropriate to submit a form, how it should be completed, and whether any further documentation (e.g. a medical note) should be provided. The assessment team can advise on this too, though they can't provide the ongoing support which might be provided by a personal tutor. The University provides explanatory notes which should be read carefully before making an application: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/forms/circsnotes.

Study abroad

Methods for converting marks gained during periods of study abroad to the University of Sheffield scale will be explained to relevant students by the study abroad tutor.

Use of unfair means

The School of English takes the use of unfair means very seriously. Use of unfair means includes plagiarism, double submission (self-plagiarism), submitting bought or commissioned work, fabrication and facilitating the use of unfair means by another student. Students should consult the University of Sheffield's guidance for students on the use of unfair means in assessment available via https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/exams/plagiarism. Students will be asked to sign a plagiarism declaration form with assessments to demonstrate a clear understanding of those materials.

Guidance primarily for staff - but useful for students too - setting out action to be taken around the suspected use of unfair means and giving indications of penalties for the use of unfair means is available at https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/lets/design/unfair. Penalties applied may include the reduction of marks by a fixed amount, the requirement that work be redone (in some cases redone in its entirety) in order to be given a mark for a module, which in some cases may be capped at 40, and referral to Student Services for action under the University's discipline regulations.

The School of English consults Turnitin reports as a matter of course when dealing with written work. However, this is not the only means for detecting and dealing with plagiarism: experience shows that Turnitin reports do not always give the full story where use of unfair means is concerned.

It is not uncommon for students to receive penalties for use of unfair means which could have easily been avoided through improved study skills such as appropriate referencing, quotation and paraphrasing. The University library provides excellent resources to help with this via https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/library/services/infoskills. Of particular relevance to students in the School of English are the resources (style guides, referencing tutorials, etc.) linked to from https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/english/current. Course tutors and personal tutors are available to advise on these issues too.

Marking criteria and scale

The 100-point marking criteria and scale used in assessments across the School of English is available via a link on https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/english/current. The marking criteria and marking scale is designed to assess students against the knowledge and skills outcomes described in the School Of English programme specifications which can be found at https://www.shef.ac.uk/calendar/progspec/ell.html. The marker will use individual judgement in applying the appropriate criteria to each different form of assessment. Markers may also supplement the standard criteria with further discipline-specific requirements relevant to a particular mode of assessment.

Feedback charter

The School of English provide a feedback charter, setting out some of what students in the School of English can expect of staff, and what staff expect of students in relation to the assessment and feedback process. The charter is available via a link on https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/english/current.


In addition to being marked, all assessments worth more than 40% of the mark for a module which counts towards final degree classification are moderated. (Where no single component is worth more than 40%assessment officers will identify the assessments to be moderated.) Moderating involves reading 20% of the whole batch or a minumim of 6 scripts, whichever is greater. The moderator may request to review all scripts if there are concerns about marking standards, and is required to write a brief report which will be made available to the assessment team and External Examiners. In addition to essays and exams, moderators may also be required to moderate other forms of assessment (e.g. MOLE postings, performance, presentations) if assessment officers consider it is appropriate. If a moderator has significant concerns these should be raised in the first instance with the module convenor and with the appropriate assessment officer.

Collecting work

Where marked work is to be handed back in hard copy via the School of English Reception, Reception staff will advise students by email when it is ready for collection. Students should bring their student ID card with them to collect work. It may be possible to collect work on behalf of another student but this must be arranged with Reception staff in advance. Exceptional requests for work, feedback or marks to be returned by email cannot be granted.


All marks are subject to confirmation by the Examination Board and may be subject to later revision. Work may be returned without marks having been deducted for lateness or to reflect other penalties (e.g. rubric violations).

External examiners

External examiners are appointed from outside the University of Sheffield to provide independent validation of our assessment practices. At present there are three External Examiners for English Literature covering different periods covered in the undergraduate programme, and one External Examiner for Theatre. There are External Examiners for English Language and Linguistics and for English Language and Literature. External Examiners play a very important role in overseeing the whole assessment process in the School of English. Their annual reports are submitted in the first instance not to the School of English, but to the University.

External Examiners are consulted on assessments and procedures throughout the year. They review assessment rubrics and view samples of work on all modules counting towards the final degree. They attend the final examination board each summer, where final degree classifications are considered.

More about the role of External Examiners can be found at https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/lets/pp/assessment/external.

Assessment team

Assessment officers (members of academic staff):

Assessment secretaries:



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