Assessment Guide

What is assessment?

Assessment is designed to demonstrate that you have achieved the module for which you are studying, through testing of the module ‘learning outcomes’.

Achievement will normally be demonstrated through completion of a piece of coursework assignment, such as an essay, report or piece of practical work, or by sitting a formal examination or time-constrained assessment.

How does assessment work?

Each piece of assessment for a module will be given a weighting. This tells you how much each piece of assessment contributes towards the overall module mark.

  • Some modules may have only one piece of assessment. This would be weighted at 100% of the overall module grade.
  • Other modules may have two pieces of assessment weighted at, e.g. 50% each. The marks you would get for each of these two pieces of work would each contribute 50% of the overall module grade.
  • A number of modules will have assessments which are not given grades but are instead marked as either "Pass" or "Fail" only.

You can find details of the assessment weighting for each piece of work on your assignment briefs.

What kind of assessment can I expect on my course?

The following is a list of assessment activities that are used at Bucks. The type of assessment you will be asked to do will depend on the course you are taking. Your Programme Handbook will give you more information on the specific assessment activities you may encounter.

An exam or examination is a formal type of assessment that takes place under timed conditions and in a controlled environment.

During an exam you will be asked a question or set of questions relating to your area of study. These may take the form of essays, short answer questions, problems, or multiple-choice answers. Exams may be ‘seen’ – where you are aware in advance of the question(s) that you will be expected to answer – or ‘unseen’ – where the questions are only revealed on the day.

In an ‘open-book’ exam you will be allowed to use a limited selection of reference materials during the assessment. Otherwise, you may only bring in permitted items to the exam venue.

See the dedicated exams page for more information on preparing for an exam.

TCAs can take a number of different forms. A TCA may be a test which you would have a limited time to complete on Blackboard, a piece of coursework to be written in classroom time, or an in-class test / examination.

An essay is one of the most well-known types of written exercise. Written assignments will ask you to write in depth about a particular topic or question and you will be expected to draw upon and reference a wide range of evidence or sources (e.g. reference books, journal articles etc.) to support your answer.

This is a description, summary or other account of an experience or activity.

There are many different types of report and you may need to prepare your report to match a prescribed format or template. You may be asked to complete a report after participating in practical activity, such as fieldwork, work experience or a placement.

This is an extended piece of written work, which is normally completed at the end of your course or programme. Most Honours degree courses and Master's qualifications will expect you to produce a dissertation.

A dissertation is a substantial piece of writing based on independent research on a subject of your choice that you will have undertaken under the direction of a supervisor. It is designed to show that you can work independently to research and analyse a subject in depth.

You will be allocated a supervisor who will support you while you undertake your dissertation. They will advise you on suitable topics and the research methods you may need to use.

This is a collection of work related to a topic or theme which has been produced over a period of time.

A portfolio will consist of a number of pieces of work (often practical in nature). You will be expected to organised the collection and support it with other work such as a reflective account.

This will be the output of a project (other than a dissertation or written report) and will often be of a practical nature, especially in creative disciplines. Examples may include the staging of a play or other performance, a piece of artwork, a new product or a poster.

A presentation or conversation on a particular topic, including an individual contribution to a seminar or ‘crit’, or a debate. This will also include the ‘viva’ or 'viva voce' which is used under various circumstances to support or clarify assessment decisions reached via other means, e.g. in support of a piece of major project work.

You may be asked to deliver a presentation individually, or as part of a group of students.

Assessment of your practical skills or competence.

This form of assessment will focus on how well you can perform a specific practical skill or technique. This may include clinical skills, or demonstration of practical skills learned in a workshop environment.

Questions or tasks designed to assess your application of knowledge, analytical, problem-solving or evaluative skills.

This might include data interpretation and data analysis exercises and problem-based or problem-solving exercises.