You will have formative assessment and summative assessment. For the formative assessment, you receive a mark and feedback, but it does not count towards your grade for the course. The summative assessment determines your grade for the course.
The IR department uses a variety of assessment mechanisms at both the individual course level and the programme as a whole. Assessments are usually written exams and/or essays, but they can also be seminar presentations, group projects, blogs, videos/films, and/or dissertations.
Different forms of assessment are linked to the material covered in a particular course and its learning outcomes. In some cases, this will take the form of an unseen examination at the end of the year. These encourage you to develop the ability to synthesize a significant amount of material, developing concise, effective arguments in your own voice. Examinations develop the ability to write and argue concisely, a set of transferable skills that will prove valuable whatever career path you choose.
In other cases, this will take the form of summative assessed essays or a dissertation. These require you to pursue guided research projects, formulating research questions and developing your ideas and arguments, marshalling the relevant evidence to sustain your argument. This form of assessment offers a greater reward for originality and creativity than in an unseen exam.
Some courses entail collaborative projects, films and videos, or writing blogs. In each case, the nature of the assessment is linked to the particular learning outcomes for that course – as well as developing transferable skills that you will draw on and make use of after completing your degree.
All of these forms of assessment are complemented by formative assessment. These are usually short essays (about 1,500 words in length) which are marked but the marks don’t count towards your final degree.
Formative work allows you the opportunity to explore and experiment in developing your ideas and arguments, and to make and learn from mistakes without the adverse consequences of the work counting towards your final grade. They provide the basis for detailed feedback on how far you have come in terms of the learning objectives of an individual course. Whether a course makes use of unseen exams and/or assessed coursework, formative assessment allows you to develop ideas and arguments that you will make use of in summative assessments.
As part of your assessment, all BSc IR students can choose to write a 10,000 word dissertation in their third year (IR398). The dissertation is a piece of research that must be entirely the candidate's own work, but you will get advice and feedback from a supervisor and the IR398 Course Co-ordinator. Further information regarding the Dissertation is provided in the IR398 Course Guide and the School Calendar.
The combination of these methods within individual courses and across the degree as a whole is designed to provide feedback to you on your learning, help you improve your academic performance and develop transferable skills. It also allows the department to gauge your achievements – what you have learned, what you know, your critical analytical skills - and assists the department and School in making decisions about progression from one year to the next, and as well as forming the basis for decisions on final degree classification.