Word Lengths

In writing to a prescribed brief and set length, the arts of rigour and concision are developed. These are valuable transferable skills. Details of the required word length for each assignment can be found in the module delivery guide. It is the student’s responsibility to make sure they meet the requirements regarding word length. Policy on over-length work:

  • Students must declare an exact word count when submitting written assessments. Deliberately misrepresenting the length of an assessment will be treated as an act of dishonesty and will be noted as a disciplinary offence on the student’s record.
  • There are no penalties for under-length work. Work that is significantly under-length is likely to be self-penalising.
  • The penalties for over-length work specified below apply to all assessments for which there is a word limit, including postgraduate dissertations.
  • For assessments with a word limit of 1000 words or more there is a grace interval of 100 words. Students will not be penalised for exceeding the stated word count by 100 words. If a student exceeds the word limit by more than 100 words, the grace interval should be subtracted from the total word count before calculating the penalty to be applied (see 8).
  • For assessments with a word limit of less than 1000 words there is no grace interval. In these cases any piece of work which exceeds the word count should be subject to the penalties set out below.
  • The penalties for over-length work are as follows:

Up to 10% over-length: Deduction of 10 percentage points from the mark.

11-20% over-length: Deduction of 20 percentage points from the mark.

21-50% over-length: Mark will be capped at pass level (40% at Levels 4-6; 50% at Level 7).

More than 50% over-length: A mark of zero will be given.

  • In cases where the work is 50% over-length or less, if the application of a penalty for exceeding the word limit would reduce the mark of an assignment which would otherwise pass to a mark below pass level, then the mark for the assignment should instead be capped at pass level.
  • The above penalties are calculated after subtracting the grace interval (where this applies) if the student has exceeded the word count by more than 100 words. For example, in the case of an assessment with a word limit of 1000 words, a piece of work which is 100 words over the limit should receive no penalty because it is within the grace interval, but for pieces of work between 101 and 200 words over-length 10 percentage points should be deducted from the mark (1,101-1,200 minus the 100 word grace interval is equivalent to 1001-1100 words, i.e. up to 10% over-length).

9. The table below gives further examples of penalties to be applied:

 

10. The word limit on assessments includes all the main text including sub-headings, tables, and all referencing.

11. The word limit excludes the essay title, bibliography, graphs and images, and declarations. The word limit also excludes appendices. Appendices should only contain supporting material relevant to the main body of the assessed work and must not contain any additional analysis or argument.

Further information can be found in the following link: dur.ac.uk/common.awards/assessment.

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