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Woolf Marking Criteria, Definition of Marks, and Classification

What is Woolf's Grading System and What Does My Grade Mean?

Marking of student work keeps in view the scale of work that the student can reasonably be expected to have undertaken in order to complete the task. The Woolf marking scheme draws heavily from the marking scheme set out by the Faculty of History at the University of Oxford (cf. History Faculty Course Handbook 2016-2018).

The assessment of work for the course is defined according to the following rubric of general criteria:

Engagement:

  • Directness of engagement with the question
  • Range of issues addressed
  • Depth, complexity, and sophistication of comprehension of issues and implications of the question
  • Effective and appropriate use of historical imagination and intellectual curiosity

Argument:

  • Coherence, control, and independence of argument
  • Conceptual and analytical precision
  • Flexibility, i.e., discussion of a variety of views

Evidence:

  • Depth, precision, detail, range and relevance of evidence cited
  • Accuracy of facts
  • Understanding of historical and/or theoretical debate
  • Critical engagement with primary and/or secondary sources

Organisation & Presentation:

  • Clarity and coherence of structure
  • Clarity and fluency of prose
  • Correctness of grammar, spelling, and punctuation

Marks are defined according to the following rubric:

86-100

Work will be so outstanding that they could not be better within the scope of the assignment. These marks will be used rarely, for work that shows remarkable originality and sophistication in putting forward persuasive and well-supported new ideas, or making unexpected connections.

80-85

Work will excel against each of the four criteria. These marks will be used rarely.

75-79

Work will excel in more than one area, and be at least highly competent in other respects. It must be excellent for: a combination of sophisticated engagement with the issues; analytical precision and independence of argument; going beyond paraphrasing the ideas of others; quality of awareness and analysis of both primary evidence and historical debate; and clarity and coherence of presentation. Truly outstanding work measured against some of these criteria may compensate for mere high competence against others.

70-74

Work will be at least very highly competent across the board, and excel in at least one group of criteria. Relative weaknesses in some areas may be compensated by conspicuous strengths in others.

65-69

Work will demonstrate considerable competence across the range of the criteria. They must exhibit some essential features addressing the question directly and relevantly across a good range of issues; offer a coherent argument involving consideration of alternative interpretations; be substantiated with accurate use of primary evidence and contextualization in historical debate; and be clearly presented. Nevertheless, additional strengths (for instance, the range of issues addressed, the sophistication of the arguments, or the range and depth of evidence) may compensate for other weaknesses.

60-64

Work will be competent and should manifest the essential features described above, in that they must offer direct, coherent, substantiated and clear arguments; but they will do so with less range, depth, precision and perhaps clarity. Again, qualities of a higher order may compensate for some weaknesses.

50-59

Work must show evidence of some solid competence in expounding evidence and analysis. But they will be marred by weakness under one or more criteria: failure to discuss the question directly; irrelevant citing of information; factual error; narrowness in the range of issues addressed or evidence adduced; shortage of detailed evidence; or poor organisation and presentation, including incorrect prose. They may be characterised by unsubstantiated assertion rather than argument, or by unresolved contradictions in the argument.40-49Work will fall down on a number of criteria, but will exhibit some vestiges of the qualities required, such as the ability to see the point of the question, to deploy information, or to offer some coherent analysis towards an argument. Such qualities will not be displayed at a high level or consistently, and will be marred by irrelevance, incoherence, error and poor organisation and presentation.

30-39

Work will display a modicum of knowledge or understanding of some points, but will display almost none of the higher qualities described in the criteria. They will be marred by high levels of factual error and irrelevance, generalization and lack of information, and poor organisation and presentation.

0-29

Work will fail to exhibit any of the required qualities. Candidates who fail to observe rubrics and rules beyond what the marking schemes allow for may also be failed.

Viva Voce Examination Template

Viva voce examinations are conducted on the same format as tutorial discussions: written work is submitted in advance, and a discussion follows. For the viva voce examination, the submitted work is marked, and the mark is recorded prior to the oral examination. This provides students an opportunity to clarify and explain their written claims, and it also tests whether the work is a product of the student’s own research or has been plagiarised.

The viva voce examination acts to shift the recorded mark on the submitted essay according to the following rubric:

+3          

Up to three points are added for excellent performance; the student displays a high degree of competence across the range of questions, and excels in at least one group of criteria. Relative weaknesses in some areas may be compensated by conspicuous strengths in others.

+/- 0    

The marked script is unchanged for fair performance. Answers to questions must show evidence of some solid competence in expounding evidence and analysis. But they will be marred by weakness under one or more criteria: failure to discuss the question directly; appeal to irrelevant information; factual error; narrowness in the range of issues addressed or evidence adduced; shortage of detailed evidence; or poor organisation and presentation, including consistently incorrect grammar. Answers may be characterised by unsubstantiated assertion rather than argument, or by unresolved contradictions in the argument.

-3

Up to three are subtracted points for an inability to answer multiple basic questions about themes in the written work. Answers to questions will fall down on a number of criteria, but will exhibit some vestiges of the qualities required, such as the ability to see the point of the question, to deploy information, or to offer some coherent analysis towards an argument. Such qualities will not be displayed at a high level or consistently, and will be marred by irrelevance, incoherence, error and poor organisation and presentation.

0

Written work and the oral examination will both be failed if the oral examination clearly demonstrates that the work was plagiarised. The student is unfamiliar with the arguments of the essay or the sources used for those arguments.