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Assessment Design Guidelines

This policy should be read in conjunction with: 

  • The University's Learning and Teaching Handbook, and in particular the Principles of Assessment. 
  • Our glossary, which provides an explanation of many of the key terms below. 

The additional information below provides further clarification in the context of the Common Awards programmes. 

Choosing assessment types 

Theological Education Institutions (TEIs) can choose any of the patterns of assessment set out in our Assessment Parameters guidance for a module of the relevant size, provided that they have taken the following guidelines into account. See our Assessment Types- Guidance ans Marking Criteria section for information the forms of assessment that we currently recognise under the Common Awards Framework. 

The pattern chosen must allow students to demonstrate that they have met all the learning outcomes for the module (which can be found in the module outlines). TEIs should think about which learning outcomes are covered by which assignment, and whether that assignment will genuinely allow students to display the learning described. (This does not mean, of course, that there will always be a neat division of outcomes between assignments.) If you think that the learning outcomes for a module are unnecessarily restrictive, contact the Common Awards Team. A revision may well be possible. 

TEIs should also, when making their choices, bear the overall balance of assessment types across the programme in mind, in the light of the programme learning outcomes (which can be found in the programme specifications). Meeting the programme learning outcomes in full will normally require a balance of different assignment types. 

TEIs should consider progression when making their choices – e.g., reflecting students increasing levels of independence, or the increasing levels of depth that they are expected to reach. 

Although the parity of word-count across the different patterns goes some way towards ensuring parity of workload, TEIs should note that the number of different assignments set is also an important factor. A small number of larger assignments is normally more manageable than a large number of smaller assignments, even when the overall word-count is identical – especially when the tasks for the various assignments are independent of one another. See our page on Assessment Parameters for guidance on setting word-counts.  

Wherever a range is given for duration or word length (e.g., 2,000–2,500 words), the TEI should choose from that range the word length it wants to set as a limit, and record this in the relevant Module Overview Table.

The workload can also be reduced if assignments are linked. Assessments can be linked in many ways. For instance, if an entire cohort of students is taking two compulsory modules, each with its own pattern of assessment, it would be possible for all of those assessments to be linked as components of one large project. Students would need to understand that they would receive distinct marks for each component, and that each module mark would reflect only part of this project, but the modules could still be designed so as to give students a sense of coherence and progression uniting all the assessed work involved. Written theological reflections or learning journals will often be tied to another element in the same assessment pattern, for instance, and provide a space for reflection on the learning undertaken in relation to that other element. 

When deciding how to implement the chosen pattern for any given module, TEIs should think carefully about the audiences that each component should address, in the light of the module learning outcomes. Is an essay addressed to a specialist audience what is needed, or an article for a church blog? 

TEIs can propose patterns that fall outside these assessment parameters guidelines, or a TEI can decide that different cohorts of students on the same module should have different assessment patterns. The TEI will, however, need to offer a pedagogical justification in such cases – that is, one based on the different needs, resources, and opportunities of the students involved in relation to the programmes of study. 

See our Curriculum Development page for more information on how to document the assessment patterns chosen for modules, or for guidance on how to make changes to these.

Visit the TEI Programme Documentation page to see the assessment patterns currently approved at each TEI