Many specific aspects of your work are important (as identified in the following standards), but it is the overall quality of the completed work that is important. Assignments will be assessed holistically. The following bands are ‘ideal types’: lists of the features of typical examples of assignments at each level.
The standard of each assignment is obviously important - good grades demonstrate that your work is competent, proficient or excellent. But from a learning perspective, it is equally important to look at your own work developmentally: to look for gradual improvement, deepening insight, and broadening competency. Grades for assignments assess the standard of your work. Comments on assignments are intended to be helpful developmentally: indicating what you have achieved, and how you could improve your work.
For a grade of High Distinction (>= 85%)
- use and synthesis of a variety of high quality sources not mentioned in class or on reading lists;
- considered use of dictionary and technical terms, diagrams and/or other sources to define and set the topic in context;
- incisive and decisive specification of the key issues;
- prioritisation and exposition of the key issues in a clear and logical sequence;
- relevant contrary arguments are identified and effectively dealt with;
- discussion forms a sound basis for clear, justified and comprehensive recommendations and conclusions;
- independence of thought and obvious originality;
- demonstrated ability to weigh arguments and form clear, considered personal viewpoints;
- proficient use of the English language;
- references presented at ‘publishable’ standard.
Overall, your work demonstrates, in an interesting or challenging way, originality based on proficiency in all the learning objectives.
For a grade of Distinction (75-84%)
- use and synthesis of some high quality sources not mentioned in class or on reading lists, and reference to some others;
- adequate use of dictionary and technical terms, diagrams and/or other sources to define and set the topic in context;
- clear specification of the key issues;
- key issues generally presented in a logical sequence;
- relevant contrary arguments raised but might not be fully resolved;
- discussion leads to clear and justified recommendations and conclusions;
- independence of thought and significant originality;
- general ability to weigh arguments and form personal viewpoints;
- clear use of the English language;
- references largely error free.
Overall, your work demonstrates a comprehensive awareness and understanding of the topic of the assignment.
For a grade of Credit (65-74%)
- use and synthesis of some high quality sources, and reference to some additional good quality material;
- use of dictionary and technical terms to define and contextualise the topic;
- overall awareness of the key issues;
- the selected key issues generally presented in a logical sequence;
- some contrary arguments raised with inadequate appreciation of their significance;
- a clear statement of conclusions and recommendations;
- some independent thought but limited originality;
- difficulties in weighing arguments and presenting personal viewpoints;
- sometimes proficient and always passable use of the English language;
- some errors of omission or detail in presentation of references.
Overall, your work demonstrates the ability to use and apply fundamental concepts and skills.
For a grade of Pass (50-64%)
- limited use and synthesis of good quality sources;
- use of dictionary or vernacular definitions in an attempt to identify and set the topic in context;
- some awareness of the key issues;
- some attempt to order the argument, but flaws in logical discipline;
- few contrary arguments raised and little appreciation of their significance or resolution;
- a generally clear statement of conclusions and recommendations;
- little independent thought and minimal originality;
- little weighing of argument and lack of clarity in personal viewpoints;
- passable use of the English language;
- some errors of omission or detail in presentation of references.
Overall, your work satisfies the basic learning requirements of the assignment.
For a lower grade of Fail (26-49%)
- lack of awareness of sources or what the question is about;
- confused definitions;
- general inability to identify the key issues;
- inability to order the argument;
- few, if any, contrary arguments raised and no appreciation of their significance or resolution;
- inadequate statement of conclusions or recommendations;
- no independent thought or originality;
- no ability to weigh arguments or form personal viewpoints.
For a grade of Serious Fail (< 26%)
- no reference to suggested sources, generally inappropriate use of materials;
- no attempt at definitions;
- no awareness of key issues, such that the paper fails to address or answer the question;
- arguments unformulated, many errors, unsupported assertions, unjustified generalisations;
- contrary arguments impugned or ignored;
- inconclusive outcome to the paper;
- no independent thought, any originality likely to be illogical;
- inability to weigh arguments, personal viewpoints absent or inadequate.
Source: Neil DT, Wadley DA, and Phinn SR 1999, 'A generic framework for criterion-referenced assessment of undergraduate essays', Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 23(3) pp. 303-325. See also: Neil DT, Wadley DA, and Phinn SR 1998, Assessment Guidelines, School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, The University of Queensland.
Used with permission. This text is a very minor adaptation of an excerpt from Neil, Wadley and Phinn (1998). See the full text in either version for further very useful background on these standards, and the criteria they reflect.
It is a fundamental principle that all staff and students act with integrity in the creation, development, application and use of ideas and information. This means that:
- all academic work claimed as original is the work of the author making the claim
- all academic collaborations are acknowledged
- academic work is not falsified in any way
- when the ideas of others are used, these ideas are acknowledged appropriately.
All students should familiarise themselves with Macquarie University's Academic Honesty Policy. The Department recommends that students familiarise themselves with the explanation of plagiarism on the Georgetown University Honor Council website which discusses plagiarism in an easy to understand and comprehensive manner.
If you are struggling to complete an assignment, please contact the Unit Convenor, or make a Special Consideration request via ask.mq.edu.au.
References are not included in the word counts set for each assignment. A tolerance of plus or minus 10% is allowed for, on the set lengths. So for example, a 1,000 word essay could be anywhere from 900 to 1,100 words long. If you submit assignments that are shorter or longer than this, you may be penalised for length.
Submission of Assignments
Write assignments are to be submitted electronically via iLearn before midnight on the due date. Written assignments will be reviewed by Turnitin, which helps us check whether sources are properly acknowledged, and whether assignments submitted are each student's own work.
Extensions & Late submissions
To request an extension, make a request for Special Consideration through ask.mq.edu.au, providing a clear explanation and providing supporting documentation where needed (e.g. a Macquarie Professional Authority form). Unless a Special Consideration request has been submitted and approved, (a) a penalty for lateness will apply – two (2) marks out of 100 will be deducted per day for assignments submitted after the due date – and (b) no assignment will be accepted more than seven (7) days (incl. weekends) after the original submission deadline. Please plan your work for your units at the start of the Session, and keep track of how much time you have available for each assignment. Please get help if you are having trouble completing work on time. Visit a doctor, a Campus Wellbeing service (https://students.mq.edu.au/support/wellbeing), talk to the Unit Convenor for academic help, or whatever else is appropriate.