Written assessments: Marking criteria

In the run up to assessments, I’m running two workshops in the coming weeks:

  • Essay Structure and Assessment Criteria (02/03/2017)
  • Presentations and Poster/Pitch (30/03/2017)

As examiners, members of staff will be marking your essays and presentations based on objective criteria.

Note: If you want to access the marking sheet in the LLM Programme Handbook, which can be accessed online via Blackboard. The LLM Handbook is a handy reference point because it gives you examples of dissertation title pages, permission form for the dissertation, and deadlines.

For written assessments, examiners are looking for 5 main elements, which you should bear in mind as a ‘checklist’ to see whether you are meeting all of the following criteria.

  1. Identification of the principal legal concepts and issues – i.e. what are the main legal problems or relevant laws?
  2. Understanding of the law – your ability to apply the law to the question/issue you’re examining.
  3. Critical analysis – Synthesis of the legal arguments, law, theories, ideas for reform and the wider context, as well as engaging with academic literature.
  4. Originality and creativity – Are you adopting an interesting stance or arguing in a persuasive way that reflects solutions/challenges with regards to the law?
  5. Research process and presentation – Spelling/grammar, use of OSCOLA, bibliography, structure of your essay, use of subtitles and clarity of your work.

Of course, the above is just a short summary of the marking criteria and feedback sheet, which is more detailed (see: LLM Programme Handbook). But it gives you a quick introduction as a starting point.



Plagiarism – and how to avoid it

It was brilliant to see some of you at the workshop on plagiarism yesterday. Here are the slides on plagiarism: Plagiarism and good academic practice

The key things to note are:

  • Plagiarism includes intentionally stealing someone else’s work, or unintentionally copying it without acknowledgement by not following good referencing guidelines
  • Collusion (working with another student, or copying their work with or without their knowledge) is an academic offence
  • It is also an offence to pay someone to write all or part of your coursework
  • You can self-plagiarise – never submit all or part of the same assessment more than once
  • Plagiarism can be avoided by the correct use of OSCOLA. This includes:
    • Knowing when to use quote marks or OSCOLA quote formatting (see the guide to Using Microsoft Word – Referencing)
    • Knowing when to put a reference in your text
    • Keeping a full Bibliography

There is further detail on all of these issues in the slides. For a full example of the use of referencing and good academic practice, see the Essay Structure guide.

Essay Structure

In this post, you can access an example of an LLM essay:  Example essay

This essay has been annotated to give an explanation of how essay structure has been used to answer the question. It must be stressed that there are many ways to structure an essay, and that a lot will depend on your personal writing style, the topic and the argument/s you wish to build. This example is intended only to show how structure may be used to form an answer, and illustrate the importance of structure within essays.

Please note: If you have problems downloading the essay, open the folder containing the download, right click on the file, and open with Microsoft Word.

If comments aren’t appearing on the right, you can click on the comment icon and this will open the comment bar.


Last week, the ASC LLM Team ran a workshop on referencing. This video is a brief overview of what was covered:

This post will particularly focus on how to cross-reference.

There will be a moment during the course of your work where you will want to refer back to an earlier citation. Bear in mind, that footnotes are numerically ordered e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 etc…

A long time ago, when I was an undergraduate student, I didn’t know this. I submitted a piece of coursework where every time I referred back to an earlier footnote, I would write 1, 2, 3, 1, 4, 5, 1, 2, 1. Of course this is wrong and it’s terribly confusing for marker!!!

Learning to cross-reference is an important skill. So, how do you go about it? Imagine that you need to reference the following piece of text:


Step 1)

In footnote 3, you would like to refer back to the citation you made in footnote 1. Type in the surname, brackets with an ‘n’ in them, plus page number that you want to refer to. For



In the space before closing the brackets, click the cursor (I’ve highlighted this in yellow above). This will be where you want your cross-reference.

Step 2)

Then you will need to navigate to the ‘insert’ menu at the top of Microsoft Word and choose ‘cross-reference’.

Screen Shot 2016-10-24 at 13.14.23.png

OR, if you navigate to the ‘Reference’ tab, and click the ‘cross-reference’ icon.

Screen Shot 2016-10-24 at 13.14.18.png


A small menu will appear. It should look something like this (note: this will vary a little bit depending on the operating system you use e.g. Mac or Windows).

Screen Shot 2016-10-24 at 13.42.40.pngWhere it says ‘Reference type’ at the top of this menu box, you need to make sure you choose ‘footnote’ from the drop down menu, otherwise you will not be able to see the list of footnotes generated (this is where the top red arrow is pointing!)

The menu box will then show you the footnotes that you have made. Choose the footnote that you want in this little menu bar. This will then be highlighted in blue, as you can see from the second red arrow above. If you then click ‘insert’, the cross reference number will be generated for you.

Step 3)

This is handy for a lengthy piece of work because when you need to insert new footnotes, the numbers for the cross-references will change for you. Please note that not all computers do this automatically. You may need to ‘force’ it to refresh by clicking ‘print’ or ‘print preview’. However, you do not need to print the item, as long as you receive the printing menu up, you can press ‘cancel’ but Word will refresh these cross-references for you.

It’s a really cool function, as it means you don’t have to go back and put every number in manually afterwards! Hypothetically, if I added a new sentence which needed a new reference, it would look like this.


With the cross-referencing function in Word, it will change the footnote numbering. It should then look something like this:

Screen Shot 2016-10-24 at 13.51.10.png

A Final Note:

I like to keep rough drafts of coursework saved as different files. That way I can track my progress with work. Or I sometimes use a clean Word document to write a separate section of my work to copy and paste into the longer file at a later stage. If using cross-referencing, you will need to be careful because Word doesn’t always recognise these points and it is not foolproof!!! Within your footnotes you may receive the notification ‘n error bookmark not defined’. If that is the case, you will need to revise and check the citation manually, as you may have accidentally deleted the original footnote you were referring to!

For further information on cross-referencing, see: