3. Assessment

3.1 Examination Conventions and marking criteria

The Examination Conventions for each of the graduate taught degrees are an essential complement for this handbook, and the relevant document should be read in detail. The full Examination Conventions are available at https://www.anthro.ox.ac.uk/examination-conventions-and-marking-criteria.



Examination Conventions are the formal record of the specific assessment standards for the course or courses to which they apply. They set out how your examined work will be marked and how the resulting marks will be used to arrive at a final result and classification of your award. They include information on: submission requirements, marking scales, marking and classification criteria, scaling of marks, progression, resits, use of viva voce examinations, penalties for late submission, and penalties for over-length work.


Details of the marking criteria used by examiners in assessing coursework and examinations can be found as the Appendices of the Examination Conventions. These guidelines are definitive, however in the event that any alterations become necessary, details of these changes will be circulated to all students  well in advance of the examinations.


The marking criteria refer to the qualities of work required to achieve particular marks, which are in turn awarded the grades of Pass, High Pass, Pass with Merit and Pass with Distinction. Note that the listed criteria are distinct from the threshold marks required for passage from the first to second year of the MPhil (60) or from any master’s degree to PRS/DPhil (67).


In order to pass a degree the student must pass all its assessed components. If one or more components are failed, the student will be given the opportunity to re-take them once, though this may result in award of the degree being delayed until the Examination Board next meets, which may not be for up to three terms. Full details of the rules regarding re-sits appear in the Examination Conventions.


3.2 Past examination papers and examination reports

Past examination papers going back a number of years are available on the University website, under the code word OXAM: https://weblearn.ox.ac.uk/portal/site/:oxam

NB: subjects (‘Social Anthropology’, ‘Medical Anthropology’, etc.) may only be listed once (under MSc or MPhil) in cases where they have more than one degree: search accordingly. Examiner’s reports on examinations taken in previous years are also available on Weblearn.


3.3 Additional regulations regarding supervision of theses and coursework

1) Coursework supervision. Not permitted in the case of take-home essays. This provision also applies to all MSc theses within SAME, with the exception of consultation on the topic and title, and brief advice given at the planning stage; however, MSc drafts are not read by the supervisor. This does not apply to the longer theses, i.e. those for the MPhil, MLitt or DPhil degrees, drafts of which are read by the supervisor(s).

2) Feedback on coursework. Feedback is given on submitted MSc and MPhil theses after they have been examined and given a final mark. Feedback is a normal part of supervision in the case of MPhil, MLitt and DPhil theses. Feedback is not given for essays and other coursework or for theses for which the permitted maximum is less than 5,000 words. The -Social Sciences Division has issued a protocol for formative (i.e. during teaching) and summative (i.e. relating to the final degree result) feedback. See below, Appendix 1.


3.4 Academic good practice

Guidance on academic good practice and skills such as time management, note-taking, referencing, research and library skills, and IT literacy can be found at



Students writing theses especially should be aware of issues surrounding sensitive and confidential information, such as any that falls under data protection legislation, was given to the student under conditions of confidentiality, or that might endanger the safety or reputation of an informant or other third party. A thesis containing such information may need to have access to it restricted once it has been deposited in a library (such restriction is normally limited to five years in the first instance). If in doubt, consult your supervisor or go to http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/ora/oxford_etheses/copyright_and_other_legal_issues/sensitive-content.


For guidance on correct citation formatting please see Appendix 3.


The Bodleian library also subscribes to an online resource that gives guidance on citations and referencing: https://www.citethemrightonline.com/ Cite them right online shows how to reference a variety of different sources, including many less common ones, using different styles including Harvard, Vancouver & MLA amongst others. It can either be browsed by categories listed in the toolbars at the top of the Cite Them Right webpage or searched by keyword e.g. “EU Directive”. It then provide examples of the in text and full citations and a box with the reference format which then can be overtyped and copied and pasted into a document. It also has a Basics section that provides information and tutorials about why to reference, avoiding plagiarism, setting out citations and creating bibliographies.

Use of third party proof-readers

Students have authorial responsibility for the written work they produce. Proof-reading represents the final stage of producing a piece of academic writing. You are strongly encouraged to proofread your own work, as this is an essential skill in the academic writing process. For pieces of work with a word-limit of 10,000 words or greater it is considered acceptable for students to seek the help of a third party for proof-reading. If you make use of a third party proof-reader (i.e. if proof-reading is carried out by anyone other than you) this must conform with the University Policy on the Use of Third Party Proof-readers: http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/edc/policiesandguidance/policyonproofreaders/ otherwise it will compromise the authorship of the paper and could therefore be subject to academic penalty. It is your responsibility to provide any proof-reader with a copy of the policy statement to be found at the above address. Within the context of written work, to proof-read is to check for, identify and suggest corrections for errors in text (such as typographical, spelling, layout, formatting, punctuation and grammatical errors). A proof-reader should mark up your work with suggested changes which you may then choose to accept or reject. In no cases should a third party proof-reader make material changes to your writing (that is, check or amend ideas, arguments, structure or translation into English), since to do so is to compromise the authorship of the work.


3.5 Plagiarism

Generally speaking, plagiarism is copying or closely paraphrasing the work of others, even if published, as one’s own without acknowledgement or proper citation. For examination purposes especially, but also if committed as part of the learning process, this constitutes a serious offence punishable by academic or other penalties. For good referencing practice, see http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/edc/policiesandguidance/pgexaminers/annexef.


There is clear information and advice on how to avoid plagiarism in the Study Skills section of the University website.


3.6 Prizes

A central list of all prizes can be found here. In addition, the School’s Awards Committee administers the following awards, following examination of dissertations each year:


Prof. David Parkin Prize in the best use of Ethnographic Material. In the presence of suitable candidates, in honour of Prof. David Parkin, the School of Anthropology & Museum Ethnography annually awards prizes for the best use of detailed ethnographic materials to advance anthropological arguments in an MSc dissertation (£200), an MPhil thesis (£300), and a DPhil thesis (£500) submitted for examination within the School in the preceding academic year.


Dr Nicola Knight Prize in the best use of Quantitative Methods. In the presence of suitable candidates, in memory of Dr Nicola Knight, the School of Anthropology & Museum Ethnography annually awards prizes for the best (i.e. most appropriate and competent) use of quantitative methods in an MSc dissertation (£200), an MPhil thesis (£300), and a DPhil thesis (£500) submitted for examination within the School in the preceding academic year (in the event that no MPhil award is made two MSc awards may, at the discretion of the awards committee, be made).