Return of marked work

The policy on the return of marked work sets out the University's expectations for all departments to follow to support the provision of timely and constructive feedback to students. The policy was last revised in September 2020.

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Policy statement

Coursework assignments

  1. Feedback and provisional grading on coursework for undergraduate and taught postgraduate students will be returned within 20 working days of the submission date for campus-based and distance learning programmes.
  2. The above period is defined as 20 working days from the published submission date of the piece of work, and will not include public holidays and days when the University is officially closed.
  3. There are certain campus-based programmes for which, for reasons to do with professional, statutory or regulatory accreditation, large numbers of external experts are involved in marking. Subject to approval, these may be permitted a longer turnaround time.
  4. Professional doctorate students should be provided with a provisional mark and associated feedback on submitted assessed components (excluding the thesis) within 20 working days from the date that the assessed component was submitted (DSocSci, EdD, and EngD degree programmes) or within 30 working days from the date that the assessed component was submitted (DClinPsy degree programme).
  5. In exceptional circumstances where it is not possible to meet the published turnaround time, the following actions should be taken:
    • Students should be notified in advance of the expected return date and the reasons for the longer turnaround time;
    • Where possible, staff should provide some interim feedback: for example in the form of generic feedback to the class regarding common errors and potential areas for improvement.
  6. In line with the University Feedback Charter methods and delivery of feedback should be designed to support student assessment literacy and understanding of the form and function of feedback.
  7. Students should be notified early in each module, through module handbooks or their equivalent, of both the submission dates and the return dates for all coursework. Schools are expected to provide students with a programme level schedule of all assessment deadlines for the semester or year at the start of the relevant period, in order to allow students to plan their work. This is of particular importance for students who may have a disability.
  8. Staff engaged in marking should be notified, well in advance, of the marking schedules, in particular the submission and return dates for each piece of work for which they will be responsible so they can plan their diaries accordingly.
  9. Submission and return of assignments within a module should normally be scheduled such that students receive feedback on one assignment before completion of further assignments of a similar format.
  10. Where there are co-requisite modules that are taken in parallel within a programme, there should be co-ordination between module convenors such that students receive feedback on one assignment before completion of a further assignment of a similar format. 
  11. The majority of marking of coursework will be completed online, and feedback will be returned to students online or via email by default.  There may be certain circumstances where hard copy submission of an element of assessment is necessary. It may not always be possible or appropriate to provide feedback online or via email.
  12. The returned work should incorporate appropriate feedback guidance to enable students to identify both where they have demonstrated particular strengths and how to improve their performance in future assignments. Further guidance regarding the provision of feedback is provided on the University website.
  13. Schools or individual tutors should make clear to students how they can discuss the feedback that they have received, for example through student hours or drop-in surgeries either in person or digitally.
  14. Heads of School (or their delegated representatives) should monitor the turnaround time of coursework and the provision of feedback for all their modules. Schools will be asked to comment in their Annual Developmental Review reports on their success in adhering to this policy.
  15. Departments should regularly review their methods of marking and assessment design in line with the University Assessment Strategy and Feedback Charter, incorporating a range of approaches as appropriate.


  1. Following the approval of the provisional results by examination boards, departments should make the results available to students within 14 days. Where appropriate this should include a breakdown at the level of the examination and coursework.
  2. Departments should arrange for feedback on examination performance to be provided. This can take the form of one of the proposed feedback schemes based on the pilot exercise undertaken in January 2014. The proposed schemes are set out below but departments are also encouraged to adopt other schemes, as appropriate.
  3. Students should have the opportunity to discuss their results with their personal tutor or adviser.

Feedback on examinations

Scheme 1

Generic feedback is written regarding overall performance on each paper, along with median marks, so students can see how they were placed in relation to the cohort. For essay papers, this includes the median marks awarded for each question and a brief commentary on common strengths and weaknesses. For SAQ papers this could take the form of a note of the question topic (not the full question) and the median marks along with identification of any specific common errors.

The feedback can be provided either in a face-to-face or online teaching session or be posted on BlackBoard.

Scheme 2

Students are invited to attend sessions when they will have the opportunity to view their scripts and marks awarded.  Following that students can complete a request form to meet with a personal tutor/module convenor to talk through any specific question(s) where they feel they need further explanation.

It is explicitly stated that this is not an opportunity to challenge the marks awarded. The viewing session is to be monitored by ‘invigilators’ and the students are not allowed to write on or remove any paper, or to take any photographic record etc.

This format is most likely to be appropriate for providing feedback on either unseen or time limited assessments and may not be easily applicable to open book examinations. Where students may have been studying remotely on a campus-based course this scheme should not be used unless additional provision can be made for students who are not able to attend on campus.

Scheme 3

The exam scripts are distributed to personal tutors and their tutees are invited to attend a routine tutor meeting to discuss their performance. This can be undertaken face-to-face or online.

Scheme 4

A short, generic checkbox template is drafted which can be completed for each question: this may be most applicable to essay papers. As the marker undertakes the marking of each essay they should complete the template which can be returned to the student. This template could take the form of 5 or 6 features of the essay, each of which would be scored on a 5 point scale. 

Introduction of the policy and history of revisions

The policy on the return of marked work was originally approved by Senate in July 2011, on the recommendation of the Academic Policy Committee. It was revised in July 2014 to incorporate Professional Doctorate programmes. Further revisions were approved by Senate in November 2014 departments to reflect the provision of feedback on examination performance and add action points for departments. The Policy was reviewed in the summer of 2020 at which point the turnaround time for campus based and distance learning programmes was harmonised.

  • Feedback and provisional grading on coursework for undergraduate and taught postgraduate students will be returned within 20 working days of the submission date for campus-based and distance learning programmes.

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