Guidelines on failure to comply within 10%
of the word limit for assessments
Guidelines for Good Assessment Practice 160
Guidelines on failure to comply within 10% of the word limit for assessments.
1. Guiding principle on wordage / volume of assessment
It is an expectation that all students can demonstrate achievement of the learning outcomes for an
assessment within the defined word limit. The upper limit may be exceeded by up to 10% without penalty.
There is no lower limit but failure to include demonstration of the requisite learning outcomes will lead to a
i) Essays, Reports and dissertations
The word count will include the body of the work (i.e. the main text), within which all the learning
outcomes should be demonstrated, but will exclude:
Tables and the title of tables
N.B. Quotations should not normally be more than three lines of text, and are included in the
wordage. Appendices should only be included where necessary and should not be used as an
alternative location for the demonstration of learning outcomes, as the main body of the work should
The same principles apply as for essays, reports and dissertations, but evidence supporting the
portfolio will not be included in the word count. However, the module team should give advice to
students as to the nature and length (if possible / appropriate) of the evidence to be provided, along
with an indication of the broad number of items which may be appropriate.
1.2. Guidelines on presentations
The length of presentations should be proportionate to the number and complexity of learning
outcomes which need to be demonstrated. For parity, up to a 10% time excess should be permitted.
A student who has answered more examination questions than required will be marked on the number
of answers indicated by the rubric, in the order the questions are attempted as listed on the cover
1.4 Other forms of assessment
It is acknowledged that other forms of assessment exist that may not fall within these guiding
principles e.g. music performance, art exhibition and posters. It is intended that these guidelines would
only apply where time / wordage/ volume limits are given.
2. Application of the guidelines
2.1 The guidelines on wordage for written assessment / length of presentations exist both to enable
the student to see the scale of the item and to establish an upper parameter within which it should be
2.2 Where the assignment / presentation has a defined upper limit, notification must be given to
students at the outset of the module via the Module Handbook, which must be congruent with the
Validation document. Students should also be advised clearly of the consequences of breaching this
(see also 3.2 below).
2.3 Unless otherwise detailed in the module handbook, to enable broad visual inspection, students
should submit work double spaced, using 12 point font preferably Tahoma, with standard margins and
should paginate the text. They should declare on the cover sheet: the word count (see 1.2 above) and
the number of pages. The table below shows an approximate figure for word count per number of
pages based on the font size, type, spacing and margins cited above.
Words 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 3500 4000 4500 5000
Pages 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20
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3.1 Where the wordage / time span reflects a defined parameter / limit, previously notified, students
may exceed this by up to 10% without penalty. Any excess beyond 10% will not be marked. In the
case of presentations, the presentation will be guillotined when the 10% leeway has been reached.
Students should therefore be advised in the Module Handbook that should the demonstration of any
LOs occur only in the excess text which is not marked, they will risk failing the module (1.3 above).
3.2 Students who falsify the word count will be subject to a penalty of 20% of the mark total for the
assessment e.g. 10 marks for an assessment worth 50 marks, 20 marks for a 100 mark assessment.
3.3. Tutors will demonstrate the point at which the work exceeded the word count by in excess of 10%,
by a clear line in the work, to show the point at which they ceased to mark
3.4 A comment will be made on the coversheet regarding the sanction made in cases where the work
exceeds the assessment word count plus 10%.
Teresa Abramson, Tony Ewens, David Lee, Gill Marshall
22 May 2006 Amended post ARSC.
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