Basic study skills

Examination and assessment

Formative Assessment

Formative (non-assessed) coursework is designed to prepare you for the summative (assessed) work that you will complete later in the course.  Formative assessment might include essays, problem sets, presentations or mock examinations. The purpose is to provide you with an opportunity for feedback on your work. All courses include some kind of formative assessment and you will be given full information about the required piece(s) of work by the course convener and/or your Programme Administrator.

Summative Assessment

Summative assessment counts towards your final degree award. Summative assessment may take the form of a written examination, an essay, a presentation or a combination of two or three of these modes of assessment. The modes of summative assessment are set out in each course guide and you will be given full details of your summative assessment by the relevant Programme Administrator.


Many students spend a lot of unnecessary time and money on the external presentation of their summative coursework. For an essay, a stapled document is sufficient. Dissertations, however, should be bound (e.g. spiral, tape, or slide binding) since they are generally larger documents.  

You will not be given extra marks for external presentation – it is the content of your work that is being examined.

Plagiarism-What it is and how to avoid it

Plagiarism is the use of presentation of any work by others, whether published or not, and can include the work of other candidates. Any quotation from the published or unpublished work of other persons including other candidates must be clearly identified as such by being placed inside quotation marks and a full reference to their source must be provided in the proper form.
You can find out more about plagiarism, and how to avoid it here.


The Department of Social Policy has standard procedures for the submission of summative coursework for all of its courses (any course with the prefix SA). When submitting your work (essay, long essay, dissertation, project etc.) please ensure that you adhere to these procedures:

  • Ensure that your assessed work is anonymous.
    Your name must not appear anywhere on the coursework or the coversheet. Your five digit candidate number (available via LSE for You from mid-November) should be the only means of identifying your work. Administrative staff within the Department will not accept assessed work from you if it does not carry your candidate number.
  • Submit an electronic version of the coursework (Word or PDF format only) via Moodle before 12:00 (midday) on the given deadline date. 
    EXCEPTION: Dissertations will need to be submitted in hard copy as well as electronic format- please refer to the appropriate course Moodle page for further instruction.
  • Please refer to the instructions on the appropriate course Moodle page. The file name must be your five digit candidate number (e.g. 12345.doc)  and NOTyour name, LSE student number, the course code or the essay title.

The Declaration

The School considers academic integrity to be an issue of the utmost importance. Under the Conditions of Registration for your programme of study you consented to all of your summative coursework (essays, projects, dissertations, etc) being analysed by plagiarism detection software.

The Department of Social Policy submits all summative coursework to Turnitin UK (iParadigms) for textual similarity review and the detection of plagiarism. Copies of all papers submitted to this software will be retained as source documents in the iParadigms reference database solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism.

Plagiarism is the use of presentation of any work by others, whether published or not, and can include the work of other candidates. Any quotation from the published or unpublished work of other persons including other candidates must be clearly identified as such by being placed inside quotation marks and a full reference to their source must be provided in the proper form.
You can find out more about plagiarism, and how to avoid it here.

Students  have the option to submit their coursework to Turnitin themselves, prior to their final submission. This may be useful to make sure that you have not inadvertently plagiarised other work, for which you would still be held responsible.

Here is a student support guide on how to submit your work to Turnitin and how to interpret your Turnitin Originality report.

If you wish to submit your coursework to Turnitin yourself, make sure that you submit it
‘in draft’ on Moodle and NOT ‘for grading’. As long as you submit in draft, you will be able to finalise your coursework before submitting for grading. ONLY when you are sure that you want to finally submit your work for grading should you choose this option. Once your work is submitted for grading, you will not be able to change it.

When you submit the electronic copy in Moodle you will be asked to confirm, by submission that you understand the School's regulations on plagiarism and assessment, and by submitting your work on Moodle you are confirming that all work contained within your work is your own, apart from properly referenced quotations.


If you have good cause not to meet a summative assessment deadline because of illness/injury, bereavement or other serious personal circumstances, you should first discuss the matter with the course teacher and seek a formal extension from the Chair of the appropriate Sub-Board of Examiners.  This must be done as early as possible.  Extensions will be granted only where there is good cause backed by supporting evidence (e.g. medical certificate), and where the circumstances are unforeseen and out of the student's control.  All evidence must be in English, or accompanied by a certified translation.

Exceptional Circumstances

Exceptional circumstances are those which you feel may have had a significant impact on your academic performance during an exam or other summative assessment. Such circumstances might include, but are not limited to, illness, injury, or bereavement. If you wish to make the Sub-Board of Examiners aware of your circumstances and how these have affected your performance, please complete the Exceptional Circumstances form (available from the Student Service Centre). The form should be accompanied supporting evidence of your circumstances (such as doctor's letter, hospital note, death certificate or police report). 

This and supporting documentation must be submitted to the Student Services Centre on the ground floor of the Old Building within seven days of your last exam or your dissertation/coursework submission deadline.

Penalties for the late submission of Summative Coursework

If you fail to submit a piece of summative assessment by the set deadline (or extended deadline as appropriate), the following penalty will apply. Five marks (out of 100) will be deducted for coursework submitted within 24 hours of the deadline and a further five marks will be deducted for each subsequent 24-hour period (working days only) until the coursework is submitted.  After five working days, coursework will only be accepted with the permission of the Chair of the Sub-Board of Examiners.

Exceeding the word limit

Written work must not exceed the word limit. If it is clear that a piece of coursework exceeds the set word limit, the markers will make a judgement based only on the content up to the word limit. 

Further queries?

If you have any questions or queries about the general requirements for submitting your summative coursework, please contact the course administrator.

For information about a specific assignment (e.g. content, structure, format and length) students should refer to the relevant course guide, course Moodle pages or contact the course director/administrator.


Examinations for all courses take place during the summer term (May/June). There are a few exams held outside this period and you will be informed if this applies to any of your courses.

The examination timetable will be available at the end of the Lent Term. You must be available to sit your examinations and answer any queries about your script up to the end of the Summer Term (early July). You can obtain your unique candidate number and personal examination timetable via LSE for You from the end of the Lent Term.

To help you prepare effectively for your examinations you should make yourself fully aware of the format and syllabus to be covered in the examinations. Specimen examination papers (or appropriate examination-type questions) are provided for (i) any new course or (ii) an existing course where there have been significant changes to the syllabus in the current academic year. Permitted materials are also specified early in the year.

Past papers can be access via the Library web pages (access restricted to LSE network only).

All assessed work (coursework and examination scripts) must be anonymous and distinguished only by candidate number. Names and candidate numbers are not matched until after the final Examination Board.

Marking schemes

Assessment and feedback-what to expect

Assessment Aims

Social Policy is an interdisciplinary and applied subject concerned with the analysis of different societies' responses to inequality and social need. The Department’s teaching and assessment approach builds on LSE’s commitment to connecting theory with empirical research, and the application of research to ‘real world’ policy problems.

Learning outcomes:

Upon successful completion of their studies, students will be able to:


  • Outline and evaluate contemporary concepts and empirical evidence in relation to the main areas of social policy formulation and implementation
  • Critically evaluate the suitability, implications and effects of social policies in different social sectors and across different national contexts
  • Construct persuasive, theoretically informed oral and written arguments in relation to key debates in contemporary social policy
  • Apply a comprehensive understanding of social policy as a multi-disciplinary field of study to the analysis of social problems
  • Understand and deploy basic qualitative and quantitative research skills in the study of social policy problems

Taught postgraduate:

  • Explain and evaluate the main theoretical positions in the field of social policy formulation and implementation
  • Integrate theory from different disciplinary backgrounds into the analysis of social problems
  • Construct persuasive oral and written arguments in relation to key issues of social policy theory and practice
  • Conduct and design rigorous research projects using a range of methodologies and epistemologies
  • Apply theoretically informed approaches to the analysis of social problems

Each degree programme also has specific learning outcomes linked to QAA standards.[1]

Each programme has a conceptual “spine” of core courses which, in combination with option courses, ensure the full range of learning outcomes.

[1] More information

Assessment process

The Department provides a combination of different assessment methods within each programme. This approach ensures students develop the relevant knowledge and skills, and allows the Department to test their learning effectively.

Formative assessment develops the knowledge and skills that students come to LSE to acquire. Formative assessment is a compulsory part of every course and includes: class/seminar discussions and presentations; essays; problem sets; dissertation proposals and mock examinations. Formative assessment does not count towards the calculation of a student’s overall degree classification.

Summative assessment tests whether students have acquired the learning outcomes that are described above. This is achieved through a variety of methods including closed book and take-home examinations, presentations, coursework and dissertations. Summative assessment counts towards the calculation of a student’s overall degree classification.


A marking framework is used by markers for all summative and formative assessment. The relevant framework is included in each programme handbook and is also discussed in classes/seminars.

BSc programmes marking framework

MSc programmes marking framework

For the majority of courses, each piece of summative work is double-blind marked. The first and second internal examiners then agree the final internal mark. An External Examiner also receives a sample of scripts and other assessed material from the top, middle and bottom of the range in order to confirm that internal marking has been consistent and of an appropriate standard. This provides a third level of assessment scrutiny.

For a small number of courses (mainly those of a quantitative nature) a system of single-marking with moderation is used for summative work.  Each script is marked by a first marker, and a selection of scripts is then ‘moderated’ by a second marker to ensure marking standards are consistent. If the moderator finds inconsistencies, scripts are re-marked. Scripts that are single-marked are also reviewed by the External Examiner as described above. Course Convenors will inform students if single marking with moderation applies to a particular course.

Extremely careful consideration is given to ensuring that appropriate methods of assessment are used on each individual course. Once reviewed and approved by the teaching cluster, the proposal is reviewed by the Departmental Teaching Committee. Once approved, final consideration is given by the School’s Undergraduate or Graduate Studies Sub-Committee. 


The Department ensures that the School’s rules on plagiarism are clearly communicated to all students. Each programme handbook clearly sets out the Department’s policy on plagiarism, signposts students to the School’s guidance, and provides examples of what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it. There are additional sessions that cover plagiarism in SA349 and SA4C1.


What is feedback?

  • Feedback is information about students’ work that they can use to make improvements.
  • Feedback is an integral part of the teaching and learning process.
  • Feedback is a two-way process which is most effective when students engage with it fully.

The Department is committed to providing timely, regular and constructive feedback to students and promotes ‘feedback literacy’ among all its teachers and students. We ensure students understand the full range of feedback methods and opportunities available to them. This encourages them to engage actively with feedback, by learning to recognise when feedback is being given, the different forms it takes, and by understanding how best to use it.

When and how is feedback given?

Formative: Feedback on formative work is normally provided within two term-time weeks of submission. It is primarily provided to prepare students for summative work. Assignments are returned to students with constructive commentary and guidance for future progress. Feedback is provided in two main forms: in writing (normally using the standard form, including a mark), and orally (students are expected to take notes).

Students are also provided with additional feedback opportunities at Academic Adviser meetings and Advice and Feedback Hours.

Summative: Feedback on summative work is normally provided to students within four term-time weeks of submission, and where possible, prior to future summative assessment. Along with written feedback, a provisional mark is provided.

Once provisional overall marks for a course have been confirmed by the External Examiner, these marks will be released on the School’s provisional results page on LSE for You. The period during which this page is available is set by the School and is usually between August and October each year.


Students are informed of the guidelines on assessment and feedback through the following platforms:

  • This Departmental Assessment Strategy document is included in each programme handbook.
  • This document is also circulated to student representatives at the MT SSLC meeting (the minutes of which will be available to all students); and is also provided to External Examiners.

The main opportunities students have to receive and discuss feedback are

  • Tutorial meetings
  • Advice and Feedback Hours
  • Via email
  • Via Moodle

Students are expected to

  • Understand when feedback is being given and what it means
  • Ask the person giving feedback for clarification it if is not clear
  • Discuss feedback with fellow students – peer review can also be useful feedback