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Framework for the Design and Use of Grade Descriptors


Well-written grade descriptors are an essential tool in helping students to understand the marks that they have been awarded and why they have been awarded them.  They also help inform what students need to do in order to achieve higher marks in future assessment.  The language used in grade descriptors therefore needs to be clear, consistent, helpful and unambiguous.  

Grade descriptors, along with intended learning outcomes and formal and informal feedback, are cornerstones in helping to articulate students’ learning and progression and are also helpful to external stakeholders such as potential employers.  An assessment and its intended learning outcomes should therefore be designed and written with grade descriptors in mind and, in turn, the language and terminology used in grade descriptors should be consistent with that used in any feedback given to a student on their performance.

This document sets out the principles for designing and using grade descriptors in order to facilitate the award of appropriate and consistent marks.  It is not a guide on how to give feedback and should not be used for that purpose.  These principles should be used flexibly to accommodate, fairly and transparently, the diverse nature of the programmes that the University offers and should complement tailored individual feedback that is designed to help students improve and progress academically.  For example, when feeding back on a piece of work that contains elements that are of a higher standard than the overall mark would merit, those particular elements might be described using a language that would normally relate to the higher overall mark.

For full details, please see below: