Table of Contents
The assessment philosophy for this course is that you should focus on activities that will help you learn and explore the subject and connect it to your interests, and the assessment should follow straightforwardly from the work you are already doing to learn. Learning in this course is structured around a wide variety of lectures, discussions, readings, writing prompts, and other resources and activities to support your developing relevant skills and perspectives. These will be shared and explained in connection with the weekly themes for the course, and you will have opportunities to discuss them with your tutor and receive feedback during the semester.
The number and kind of activities you do will depend on your own learning goals and the mark you hope to attain in the course. We will signal what kinds of activities to focus on if your goal is to learn something new and obtain a passing mark, as well as what to do if you are taking the course for a numerical mark and your goal is to work toward higher marks.
The course is designed to be challenging but not difficult: we want you to think in new ways and build new skills, and this can be done in many different ways. All the work you do for the course, whether you are engaging at a baseline level or diving in depth, should be worthwhile and should respond to your needs and goals.
At the end of the semester you will submit a portfolio of your work from the semester along with a self-evaluation demonstrating how you met the learning outcomes and accomplished your personal learning goals for the course. We will build systematically to this evaluation during the term, so as long as you are consistently engaged with the course you will be ready to go with a minimum of extra effort. (We also know that some people fall behind for all sorts of reasons, and there will be plenty of room to catch up.) We will discuss more of what this involves during weeks 1-2, and it will also become clearer simply by participating in the course and attempting the learning activities.
The work you do to learn in this course is the work that is needed for your assessment. You will have the chance for feedback on a portion of your draft work during the term from your assigned tutor.
Most of you will be ready to submit your portfolios shortly after the end of classes, at the start of April. We encourage early submission if possible, and we will mark portfolios as we receive them. The final day to submit your portfolio is Tuesday, 25 April. This gives enough flexibility that extensions should not be needed under most situations. In the rare case that they are needed, please use the university's Extensions and Special Circumstances process.
Update: the submission dropbox will open about two weeks before the deadline. If you would like feedback on part (or all) of your portfolio before the deadline, please be in touch with your assigned tutor and they will give you as much feedback as they can as time and workload permits.
Submission Components and Template
Your portfolio comes in three parts (follow the links to learn more):
Only the middle section (Proofs of Learning) counts toward your word limit.
Please use this template (docx) for your submission. Refer to this annotated version for guidance on how to use the template. Please do not use the default cover sheet that you may see referenced in guidance from SSPS.
Here are some generic writing resources and references that may be useful:
- Purdue University's Online Writing Lab
- The School of Social and Political Science's essay writing guide
- Using English for Academic Purposes, by Andy Gillett, a linguist specialising in how people write in UK universities
- The Citation Project is a resource mainly aimed at teachers and focused on citation as an element of academic writing that often gets misunderstood in discussions of plagiarism.
- Edinburgh's Institute for Academic Development has a number of resources and trainings to support your writing, especially if you plan ahead and explore these well before the deadline
The philosophy of this course is that students are basically honest and interested in learning, and if we are doing our job as instructors you will not be interested in cheating and there will be nothing much to gain from it. If you ever feel tempted to submit work that you haven't actually done for yourself for this course, we'd rather you just talk to us about time management, study skills, or making the assignments more interesting so that you can actually learn from the course!
We also think it is our responsibility to teach you good habits of reading, writing, and referencing. These are lifelong skills that go beyond slogans like “write in your own words” and “cite your sources”. As long as you take these lessons seriously and follow the assignment guidance there is no need to stress about “plagiarism rules” or “accidental misconduct”.
Rule-based and policing-based approaches to writing are not just often ineffective; they can be fundamentally contradictory or confused, often in ways that reinforce pernicious forms of inequality and injustice in academic settings.
If you are struggling in the course or do not know how to do something you think you should be doing, we would always rather have a conversation with you about it and try to help, even if the deadline is near.
With that in mind, and with a commitment to take the most humane and constructive approach to these as we possibly can, the course is still subject to the policies set by the School of Social and Political Science at this website.