Argument and Critical Understanding

Argument and Critical Understanding

The following marking rubric provides a guide to the way your assignment is assessed according to four major criteria: your analysis and critical understanding; the clarity and structure of your essay; written expression; and use of referencing. For each criterion, there is a summary of the elements that might characterize work at each grade level.

Please note: each of the marking categories below is meant as a guide, there is not necessarily a direct correlation between the sum of your ‘grades’ for each criteria and your final mark. For example, an assignment that consistently scores in the ‘C’ range for each might end up with a result in the high 60s or even 70s if it presented some original ideas, or used some excellent sources. An assignment that receives one or more ticks in the ‘F’ box is unlikely to pass overall.

The rubric is intended not only to provide a guide as to the mark assigned, but should also help you identify the areas you might need to work on in order to improve your work for your later assignments.

Analysis, Argument and Critical Understanding?

  F No discernible analysis; does not clearly address the question, or does not fully answer the question; no understanding of course materials, readings or assignment.
  P Shows lack depth in understanding of unit material and concepts; significant factual and/or conceptual errors; does not respond directly to the question as set; confuses some significant ideas.
  C Attempt at offering independent analysis; shows an understanding of the basic ideas and information involved in the assignment; may have minor factual, interpretive, or conceptual errors.
  D Clear analysis of factors central to understanding digital culture and everyday life; good understanding of concepts; goes beyond the obvious; is conceptually coherent.
  HD Presents cogent analysis directly responding to the set question; sophisticated interpretive and conceptual approach; insightful ideas often going beyond those presented in the unit materials and reading.

Concise, Clear and Coherent?

  F Lack of effective structure, no transitions; incoherent paragraphs; lack of clear introduction and conclusion; indicates little or no planning or revision.
  P Ineffective structure; may wander from one context to another; ineffective introduction / conclusion; illogical arrangement of ideas.
  C Partially effective structure for answering the question; some awkward transitions; arrangement may not appear entirely natural; makes attempt at functional introduction and/or conclusion.
  D Effective structure; clear introduction and/or conclusion; good use of paragraphs to delineate points; clear transitions between logically arranged paragraphs that are internally cohesive.
  HD Very effective structure for answering the question; appropriate, clear and smooth transitions; arrangement of paragraphs seems particularly apt; highly effective statement of analysis in introduction and conclusion.

Written Expression, Language and Grammar?

  F Major problems with written expression; numerous grammatical errors and stylistic problems which seriously distract from the argument and / or make meaning unclear.
  P Some problems with written expression; some major grammatical or proofreading errors; language marred by clichés, colloquialisms, inexact word choices.
  C Good written expression; may contain some unclear or awkward sentences; imprecise use of words; one or two major grammatical errors.
  D Very good written expression; stylistically consistent; may make occasional problematic word choice or syntax error; minimal or no spelling or punctuation errors or clichés.
  HD Excellent written expression; uses sentences effectively; usually chooses words aptly; observes conventions of written English and manuscript format; makes few if any minor or technical errors.

Referencing and Secondary Material?

  F Uses no references to support points; fails to cite sources or plagiarises; unclear or incorrect referencing style is used.
  P Simplistic presentation of ideas as simple narrative or generalization with little use of sources to support points; insufficient or awkward use of critical material; incorrect or mixed referencing style.
  C Effort to use sources to support points; some ideas and generalisations unsupported; effort to present quotations appropriately; referencing style may have errors.
  D Presents clear major points supported with appropriate critical material; effective use of sources and quotations to support points; correct use of referencing style.
  HD Well-chosen examples; very effective use of sources and quotations to support points; correct use of referencing style.

(Adapted from UC Irvine Humanities Core Course Rubric; Accessed at )

Word length and directness of answer:

  Below the word limit
  Above the word limit
  Close to (within 10%) of the word limit (2000 words; 2500 for postgrads)
  Does not answer question as set
  Partially answers the set question
  Answers the set question directly

Marker’s Comments:


I recommend you seek further help to improve your written English and academic writing. Please see:

Final Mark & Grade:

HD 90-99 (High Distinction)

An assignment graded at or above 90% is clearly superior to the vast majority of work that is normally presented at this level of university study, over a number of years and is already suitable for public presentation, excepting editorial amendment. Grades above 90% are rarely awarded.

HD 80-89 (High Distinction)

An assignment graded at this level, is in all but a few respects, outstanding work for university assignments at the year level of the unit; such assignments exceed in at least some respects, the expected level of work for students at this level. Such assignments would, with minor additional work, be suitable for public presentation. Only a few students completing a particular assignment will obtain grades above 79%. Students who regularly perform at this level re those who would be expected to proceed comfortably to completion of an honours degree and thence to postgraduate research/creative degrees at master and doctoral levels.

D 70-79 (Distinction)

An assignment graded at this level is, on the whole, very good work for university assignments at the year level of the unit; such assignments meet all of the main criteria against which the assignment is being marked and, at the upper percentage range may show outstanding performance in some respects. A distinction assignment is one that, with substantial additional work would be suitable for public presentation. Students who receive such grades are doing very well at their studies, noting that consistent results above 70% indicate superior performance to the majority of students in a class.

C 60-69 (Credit)

An assignment graded at this level is creditable and clearly acceptable work for university assignments at the year level of the unit; such assignments meet the main criteria against which the assignment is being marked, or meet some criteria very well and not others so well. Students completing such assignments are doing reasonably well at their studies, especially if their work is consistently at the higher end of the percentage scale. Such assignments would, with limited revision, be capable of achieving a distinction. A 65% average is one sign of the ability to progress to more advanced study at honours level.

P 50-59 (Pass)

An assignment graded as passing is broadly acceptable for university assignments at the year level of the unit; such assignments meet, to some extent, the main criteria against which the assignment is being marked, or met a few criteria and not others. Students who receive passing grades have a basic grasp of the subject matter and/or are making some effort at the assignment.

F 00-49 (Fail)

Such an assignment fails, in major respects, to achieve the minimum standard for university assignments at the year level of the unit and has failed to address the main criteria against which the assignment is being marked. Students who receive failing grades are either not grasping the subject matter, or not making a suitable attempt at the assignment or both. Such work is poor and even substantial revision would not enable it to achieve a distinction result. Students should immediately discuss their academic progress with staff.

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