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All assessment is via programme work. The modules employ a variety of assignments and assessment methods. These include:

  • presentations
  • group work and collaboration
  • essay assignments
  • poster presentations
  • viva
  • formative peer critique
  • research projects including writing research questions and literature surveys
  • case studies
  • technical application of computer-based tools

Assessed work on the MA in Photographic History and Practice has three purposes:

  • to be an integral part of the learning process for students to confirm and develop their knowledge and practice;
  • to allow staff a means to gauge the extent to which students have achieved the level of understanding and application of knowledge commensurate with Master’s level work;
  • To measure student achievement against the MA and particular module learning outcomes through a range of assessment tasks.

Details of the particular assessment methods of each taught module on the degree are outlined in the individual module details provided at the beginning of each module.

The Dissertation module is assessed by the final 15,000 - 20,000 word thesis, plus a 500 word abstract agreed by your tutor.

In all modules students will be informed of the assignment deadlines at the outset. These deadlines must be strictly adhered to or penalties will be incurred. However tutors and Module leaders are mindful of extenuating circumstances and personal situations which may affect progress and will endeavour to assist where possible and direct to learning support where necessary.

All assessment criteria for each module are outlined in the individual Module wiki pages and the assessment maps are set out in Appendix 1 & 2 below.

Assessment Criteria

Assessment criteria are outlined in each module assessment page which you will have access to throughout the year. Each module addresses a number of criteria drawn from the following list. Tutors will be looking for your ability to critically address the learning outcomes for each module and the programme learning outcomes. In addition all your work will be assessed using the following criteria:

  • Show a critically-informed understanding of the key themes and debates
  • Demonstrate fluent writing and presentation skills
  • Critically engage with primary source material
  • The extent of interpretation and evaluation of information
  • Practical application of research method skills

Grading of Programme work

All programme work will be graded in accordance with the marking scheme set out in the University’s Modular Scheme Handbook, and will directly relate to grading rubrics available for each module assessment. The pass mark for modules is 50% and distinction level work is graded at 70% or above. All Master’s level programme work will be internally moderated by the programme team and you will be given an initial grade for your work. Your work will then be passed to the external examiner for assessment. The external examiner reviews and moderates the programme and student work and is a vital part of ensuring the quality and standards of content and learning. The external examiner also provides an annual review which informs the review and development of the programme. The programme management board will then ratify your marks in January, June and October each year, when you will receive the mark for each piece of assessed work completed.

Some students may be required to defend their work orally and be required to attend an interview either in person or via telephone or skype. This is unusual but might occur in situations where, for example, the student has achieved a borderline fail or borderline distinction, or where there is a dispute about the final grade.

Overall award levels (distinction and merit) on the MA Photographic History and Practice are awarded by grade point average. Each module will be counted and weighted and your overall grade determines the level of the award.

Assessment feedback is considered an important part of the student's learning development on the MA, and all students are encouraged to assess their own performance. For further information about assessment regulations and the retrieval of failed or incomplete modules, please see the University’s Modular Scheme Handbook.

Guide to Presentation of Work

All work must contain a clear introduction to the topic and must be supported by references and footnotes or endnotes. Your bibliography should provide a full list of the sources that you have consulted. It is important that you show evidence, in your work, of having read and understood your sources. In particular, you should not just give a descriptive account of them but should critically evaluate them in relation to your argument. MA Photographic History and Practice aims to link theory and practice and it is expected therefore that you will include evidence from the field as part of your written work. You need to be careful, however, in how you do this, to ensure that the examples are relevant and that you do not derive universal explanations from limited observations. All work must be concluded in a way that demonstrates control of your topic, independence in your thinking and appreciation of the implications of what you have presented. All modules contain a mix of assignment tasks which are designed to support different learning styles and to test different aspects of a module’s learning objectives.

Presentation matters that you should note:

  • All submitted work MUST be word processed, and checked for spelling and grammar.
  • All submitted work MUST be turned in electronically, 12pt Arial, Garamond or Times New Roman, space and a half or double-spaced text, with name and page numbers.
  • Hand-written work will not be marked – The learning zone within the Kimberlin library offers laptop loan, pc and full printing facilities.
  • All work should contain a title page with a precise word count and all pages should be numbered.
  • Reports should also contain a list of the contents with page numbers.
  • Please ensure that you adhere to the stated word limits. For essays giving a ‘range word limit' the essay length should fall with the ‘range’. For stated word limits you are allowed 10% under or over a stated word limit
  • The bibliography, footnotes and/or endnotes are NOT included within your word limit
  • Specific assessment criteria will be applied to different pieces of work. You are encouraged to familiarize yourself with them and to seek clarification in case you are not clear on how they will be applied

Submission of Work

Your written work should be submitted via the wiki. If a hard copy is required, it must be submitted to Portland Building reception by 12 noon on the due date. You will be given a receipt as proof of submission. Work received after 12 noon on the deadline date for hard submissions or after 12 midnight for electronic submissions will be marked with a ‘LATE’ stamp, or noted as late and a penalty may be applied.

Late submissions will be accepted in only limited circumstances – loss of work due to disk failure, problems with printing, late running buses and similar problems will not be amongst them. Work submitted late will be penalised in line with Faculty policy. PLEASE back up your work regularly.

Return of Work and Feedback

All staff aim to return work within three weeks of submission of standard assignments. The Dissertation will be returned within six weeks of submission. All work will be marked by the Module tutor and be subject to second marking. A sample of work will be further scrutinised by the Programme external examiner prior to the ratification of marks. The programme team will provide written feedback for each assignment, and you may request face to face feedback, in order that you can learn from each piece of work completed. It is essential that you are aware of the assessment criteria for each piece of assessed work. Formal arrangements for return through seminars will be used but for work submitted at the end of a module this mechanism is not available. In such circumstances you are invited to book a tutorial to collect and discuss your work.

Guide to Referencing

Accurate and consistent referencing is integral to good research methodology and there are many referencing systems available. This programme uses the Chicago Manual of Style system of referencing. The Chicago manual of Style allows for the flexibility of citing in the Humanities (also called numeric or footnoting) style, with the bibliographic information, or in an Author/Date system (similar to Harvard). Knowing how both systems work is important in this programme, as you will be expected, in professional circles and at the research level, to have a working knowledge of at least two methods of citation. The footnote style has in the past been the most frequently used in history subjects like the history of photography because of its flexibility in rendering primary sources in the bibliography. Recently, the author/date system has become more popular, not least due to the ease of citation of this sort in online texts (where superscripted footnotes are problematic). You are required to familiarise yourself with both the Humanities footnote-based style and the Author/Date style that are appropriate to published research in the area of photographic history. The Chicago Style should be applied to all assignments, the Author/Date system for web-based publications, and the Humanities system for essays. The MA thesis will normally be submitted using the Humanities style.

Chicago Style Examples

Book with one author

Humanities Style:

1. Wendy Doniger, Splitting the Difference (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999), 65.


(Doniger 1999, 65)

the record in the bibliography should look like this:

Doniger, Wendy. Splitting the Difference. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

Book with two authors

Humanities Style:

6. Guy Cowlishaw and Robin Dunbar, Primate Conservation Biology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 104–7.


(Cowlishaw and Dunbar 2000, 104–7)

the record in the bibliography should look like this:

Cowlishaw, Guy, and Robin Dunbar. Primate Conservation Biology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Chapter or Other Part of a Book

Humanities Style:

5. Andrew Wiese, “‘The House I Live In’: Race, Class, and African American Suburban Dreams in the Postwar United States,” in The New Suburban History, ed. Kevin M. Kruse and Thomas J. Sugrue (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), 101–2.


(Wiese 2006, 101–2)

the record in the bibliography should look like this:

Wiese, Andrew. “‘The House I Live In’: Race, Class, and African American Suburban Dreams in the Postwar United States.” In The New Suburban History, edited by Kevin M. Kruse and Thomas J. Sugrue, 99–119. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.

Article in a Print Journal

Humanities Style:

8. John Maynard Smith, “The Origin of Altruism,” Nature 393 (1998): 639.


(Smith 1998, 639)

the record in the bibliography should look like this:

Smith, John Maynard. “The Origin of Altruism.” Nature 393 (1998): 639–40.

More extensive guidelines covering most types of sources can be found online.

Chicago also provides a helpful (and often entertaining) question and answer (Q & A) forum about grammatical and bibliographic queries.

For a comprehensive worksheet on the Author/Date system we also recommend the introductory guide produced by Curtin University.

Referencing Software

You may also wish to obtain a copy of referencing software. If you use Word, you will want to use EndNote as your referencing software. To install EndNote on your own PC/Mac you need to purchase a copy.

There are also specialised writing programs like NotaBene, used by many humanities scholars. This must be purchased privately, and includes an integrated bibliographic database system. It is supported only on PC, not Mac, although it may be run in conjunction with BootCamp or Parallels. For more information about NotaBene see their website.

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