Assessment criteria are provided below and you should refer to the assessment criteria and explanations when preparing the essay.
A summary of standards is provided on Moodle to assist students with feedback on assessment items.
Please contact the unit coordinator if you have any questions or are uncertain of what is required for the assessment. While the unit coordinator can not read and give comment on a draft assignment they can discuss with a student the arguments, ideas and theories used in the preparation of the assignment.
The following criteria will be used to grade the assignment (they are not of equal weighting):
Independent reading and research: You will be assessed on the extent, depth and relevance of your reading. You should make full use of the textbook and other readings, but it is essential that you do your own independent reading as well. This means making use of the library databases and catalogue and doing you own searches. Within the limitations of library resources, you should access the most relevant and most important works relating to your topic. It is difficult to provide exact requirements, but as a rough guide a major essay would contain at least ten references. These references should be mainly sociological books, book chapters, or journal articles; other sources may be used as appropriate to supplement these. In general the following types of sources should be avoided when writing essays—encyclopaedias, popular magazines, newspapers (except for providing up-to-date information or real life examples), introductory sociology textbooks, ordinary dictionaries (use the definitions in a specialist source; in some cases a sociology dictionary may be appropriate) and general internet sites (those containing information not peer-reviewed). You should rely mainly on specialist sources—avoid general or popular sources, except perhaps to provide evidence which is not available in the more specialist sources. Where possible use the original source, or an equivalent one.
Relevance and structure of your argument: Your assignments should be relevant to the question or task set, and should be structured in a logical and coherent fashion. The essay needs to contain an introduction, discussion, conclusion and reference list. In the essay your argument should unfold in a clear and logical manner, with appropriate signposts for the reader. Subheadings may be used in the essay to help structure your writing. An introduction sets out how you are going to approach the topic—that is, it is a statement of intent, rather than of content. You should stick to the required word length. Being under the word limit usually indicates insufficient research; being over means you are having difficulty in focusing on the most relevant or most important points.
Use of supporting evidence: Except for purely theoretical essays, it is important that you back up your arguments with appropriate and solid evidence. There is no point in simply asserting that something is true, you need to substantiate your major claims with relevant concrete information, statistical or other. In general, this would be evidence derived from sociological works that you have come across in your reading, although this may need to be supplemented with other kinds of evidence (from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, for example).
Sociological insight and understanding: You will be assessed on your ability to understand and to apply relevant concepts, theories and methodologies. Depending on the assessment task, you may only refer to one or two perspectives in a particular piece of work, but it is important to know how the perspective you refer to relates to other possible perspectives within the field. Theories do not develop in isolation. New perspectives develop through modification of previous ones, or as critical reactions against them. To appreciate any one perspective, you need to understand how it relates to the alternatives (e.g. Labelling Theory in relation to Parsons' Sick Role). Thinking critically is an important skill which follows on from such appreciation. This means being able to assess the adequacy of the theoretical models being used by the writers you refer to, as well as the adequacy of the evidence they present to support these models. Purely descriptive accounts will not be acceptable.
Originality: To get a distinction or high distinction, there needs to be evidence of critical thinking and original thought. You are encouraged to create original arguments by analysing and evaluating the works of other people in the literature. Regardless of the grade you are aiming at, you should put things into your own words as much as possible, and structure the assignment in your own way.
Presentation: There is a certain standard of presentation which is expected at this unit level. This includes correct spelling, grammar, punctuation and referencing. If there are typographical errors in your assignments, you will lose marks. You should not use sexist, racist or other forms of discriminatory language.
Referencing: All evidence and all ideas which are not your own must be adequately acknowledged at the appropriate point in the text through the Harvard system of referencing, whether you are quoting directly or paraphrasing. You should familiarise yourself with the University policy on plagiarism. Plagiarism is defined in the Undergraduate Handbook, and is explained on the University’s library website. It is essential that you know your obligations in relation to presenting well documented and original work.