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Assessment: Coursework and Examinations



Assessment Aims

Upon successful completion of your studies, you will be able to demonstrate specific learning outcomes:

Undergraduate 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 students will be able to:

  • 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 Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) standards.

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

Forms of Assessment

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

Formative assessment develops the knowledge and skills that you acquire at LSE. Formative assessment is a compulsory part of every programme and may include: class/seminar discussions and presentations; essays; problem sets; dissertation proposals, mock examinations or quizzes. Formative assessment does not count towards your overall degree classification but is designed to prepare you for the summative (assessed) work that you will complete later in the course. The feedback you receive from your formative work will help prepare you for your summative work.

Summative assessment tests whether you have acquired the learning outcomes described above. This is achieved through a variety of methods including closed book and take-home assessments, presentations, coursework and dissertations. Summative assessment counts towards your overall degree classification. Individual courses may be assessed by one piece of Summative work or by a combination of different types of summative work.

Whatever the form of assessment on your Social Policy courses, you will find our short but comprehensive guidance documents here, which will answer questions you may have. 



If your course involves an element of coursework, all information (including details of assessment weightings, submission dates etc.) can be found via the course's Moodle page.

Presentation and Content

You will submit summative coursework via Moodle in electronic format only; no hard copies of your work are accepted. 

In the Department of Social Policy, we operate strict word limits for assessments. Written work must not exceed the word limit set out in the assessment details. If it is clear that a piece of coursework exceeds the set word limit, markers will only mark strictly up to the word limit for each of your answers.

If you are taking a course from an outside Department, you should make sure to check their policy regarding word limits as different Departments may have different guidance.


The Department of Social Policy has standard procedures for the submission of summative coursework for its courses (any course with the prefix SP). When submitting your work (essay, long essay, dissertation, project etc.):

  • Ensure that your assessed work is submitted anonymously. Your name must not appear anywhere on the work or coversheet. Your five-digit candidate number (available via LSE for You in AT) should be the only means of identifying your work. Your candidate number should be on the coversheet. Please do not share details of your candidate number with anybody. The Department will not accept assessed work from you if you have not included your candidate number.
  • All the information you need regarding submitting your assessment is available via the relevant course's Moodle page.         

Penalties for the late submission of Summative Assessment                                     

Every piece of assessed work has a clear deadline. The submission deadlines are to be taken seriously, since penalties may be applied in the case of late submissions.

If you have a summative assessment and circumstances outside of your control may prevent you from meeting the deadline (e.g. you become ill) make sure you talk to the Department as there are some options you can explore, depending on the circumstances. These include applying for an extension or a deferral.

If you don’t successfully apply for either of these, and you submit your work late,  penalties will be applied   as follows:

Summative Essays

  • Five marks will be deducted for an essay submitted within 24 hours after the deadline
  • A further five marks will be deducted for each subsequent 24 hour period (not limited to working days) until the essay is submitted.
  • Essays more than five days late will only be accepted with the permission of the Chair of the Sub-Board of Examiners. These penalties apply immediately after the deadline time for submission on the submission date.

Online Assessments (within a 24 hour window): A penalty of 1 mark will be deducted for each minute beyond the deadline up to 15 marks beyond the deadline. Any work received after this will receive a zero mark.

Online Assessments (within either a 48-hour, 72-hour, one-week, two-week or three-week window):

  • For the first 24 hours after assessment submission deadline: Five percentage
    marks will be deducted for every half-day (12 hours), or part of a half day the
    assessment is received late. This will result in a maximum penalty of ten
    percentage marks for the first 24 hours.
  • For the period beyond the first 24 hours after assessment submission deadline: Ten
    percentage marks will be deducted for the first 24 hours as above then five
    percentage marks will be deducted per 24 hour period (not limited to working
    days) the assessment is late, or 24 hour period, thereafter

In-person Exams and online assessments

In Person Exams take place during the Spring Term (May/June) and are timetabled by the School. There is also a January exam period which takes place just before the start of WT. The Course Guide for the relevant course will state when the in-person exam is expected to take place. i.e (January/Summer)

Social Policy courses do not have in-person exams, but if you are taking a course outside the Department, you should check if the course(s) you are taking  require(s) you to sit an in-person exam.

Please note that Online Assessments are similar in format to traditional exams, but they are (with the exception of 24 hour take-home assessments) timetabled by the Department rather than the School and you will be informed of their deadlines separately from the School’s in-person exam timetable.

The School's exam timetables are published ahead of the exam periods, either in late Autumn or early Winter Term.

You can obtain your unique candidate number ahead of any assessments, and your personal examination timetable via LSE for You ahead of any in-person exams.

To help you prepare effectively for your exams and online assessments you should make yourself fully aware of the format and syllabus to be covered in the exam/assessment.

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

Specimen exam papers (or appropriate exam-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.

All assessed work (coursework and exam scripts) must be anonymous and identified only by candidate number. 

Plagiarism- What is it and how to avoid it?

Plagiarism is the attempt to use the work of others as though it is your own work. This applies whether the work is published or not, and can include the work of other students.

Self-Plagiarism is the re-use of your own work without appropriate referencing. The Department is clear that students cannot submit previously assessed, or elements of, their own work (whether work from their time at LSE or another institution) for assessment- this constitutes self-plagiarism. 

The Department ensures that the School’s rules on Plagiarism are clearly communicated. 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.

The Department is clear that Plagiarism and Self-Plagiarism are unacceptable, and will be treated seriously according to the School’s regulations. There are sessions which cover avoidance of plagiarism as part of Programme Dissertation workshops. For additional guidance on how to avoid Plagiarism, you are encouraged to contact your Academic Mentor and LSE Life.

Further information about Plagiarism.

Turnitin- plagiarism detection software

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 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 reference database solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism.

You have the option to submit your coursework to Turnitin yourselves for checking, prior to the final submission of your work. We strongly encourage this practice to make sure that you have not inadvertently plagiarised other work, for which you could still be held responsible. Here are some Turnitin FAQ's

If you wish to submit your coursework to Turnitin yourself, prior to submitting your final piece of work, 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 final submission. 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, at the point of submission, that you understand the School's regulations on plagiarism and assessment, and by submitting your work on Moodle you are confirming that the work you are submitting is your own.

What is feedback?

Feedback is information about your work that you can use to make improvements, and it is an integral part of the teaching and learning process.

Feedback is a two-way process which is most effective when you engage with it fully.

You are informed of the guidelines on assessment and feedback through your programme handbook and the LSE Academic Code.

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

The main opportunities you have to receive and discuss feedback are through Classes and Seminars, in Advice and Feedback Hours with your Academic Mentor or another member of Faculty, or via Moodle.

You are expected to understand when feedback is being given and what it means, and to ask for clarification it if is not clear. You may wish to also discuss feedback with fellow students – peer review can provide useful feedback and aid understanding.


When and how is feedback given?

Formative: Feedback on formative work is normally provided within three term-time weeks of submission. It is primarily provided to prepare you for summative work. Assignments are returned to you 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 may also be provided with additional feedback opportunities on their formative work at Academic Mentor meetings.

Summative: Feedback on summative work is normally provided within five term-time weeks of submission, and where possible, prior to future summative assessment for summative work submitted in AT and WT.
NB.There will be no written feedback for Summative work submitted in the Spring Term (but feedback will be provided for the Dissertation).


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 Department has a general marking framework for both BSc and MSc students which can be found below.

BSc programmes marking framework 

MSc programmes marking framework 

A number of courses have their own versions of the above marking frameworks, adapted to reflect the specific requirements for that course. These can be found on the Moodle page for these courses.

There are three forms of marking which the Department uses. 

For courses which use ‘double-blind’ marking, first and second internal examiners marks each piece of summative work separately, and without any identification of the candidate. The two markers then agree the final internal mark.

Some courses use a method of ‘Sighted double marking’, where all work is examined anonymously by two examiners (as with double-blind marking), but the second marker has sight of the first markers’ marks when reviewing the work.

Some courses use 'single-marking with moderation', where each script is marked by a first marker, and then a selection of scripts are 'moderated' by a second marker to ensure marking standards are consistent. If the moderator finds any inconsistencies, scripts are re-marked.

Careful consideration is given by both the Department and School to ensure that appropriate methods of marking are used on each individual course.

External Examiners receives a representative sample of scripts and other assessed material from every course to review and confirm that internal marking has been consistent and is of an appropriate standard

Marking Schemes for the Award of a Degree:

Classification scheme for the BA/BSc degrees

Scheme for the award of a taught Masters degree (four units)

Taught Masters examination sub-board local rules

What if I need support? Extensions and Exceptional Circumstances

You are encouraged to speak to your Academic Mentor as early as possible if you are experiencing any challenges which are affecting your work. You are also encouraged to speak to your Programmes Support Team who may be able to help.

Requesting an Extension.

Summative work

If you find yourself unable to meet a summative assessment deadline because of illness/injury, bereavement or other serious personal circumstances, and you need to request an extension to the submission deadline, you should do so as early as possible and in advance of the deadline. Useful information outlining the School’s Extension Policy is available here

If you would like to request an extension for SUMMATIVE work on a course based within the Department of Social Policy, the following process will apply. Please send your request to:

BSc level courses: complete our BSc extension request form

MSc level courses: complete our MSc extension request form


Supporting evidence must be provided with your request, and all evidence must be in English or accompanied by a certified translation. Please refer to our ‘Standards of Evidence’ table before submitting your supporting evidence. 

In the Department of Social Policy, the Programmes Support team act as the designated contacts for all matters relating to your extension request. Please note that the Department practices anonymous marking, and so the extension process is separated from your course teachers. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact (for UG enquiries) and (for MSc enquiries). Please do not contact course convenors directly with any extension or deferral request. If you do have any questions, please contact the relevant Programmes Support team.

Once your extension request and evidence is received, it will be considered by the Chair of the Sub-Board of Examiners . Your Programmes Support team will email you with the outcome of your request, and inform the relevant marker(s). Please note that the final submission of your assessment must still be made via Moodle, regardless of the outcome of your request.

Formative Work

To request an extension on Formative work, please email your Programmes Support team ( or in the first instance, with an outline of what extension you are requesting; the reasons why; and any supporting evidence. 


Exceptional Circumstances

Exceptional circumstances (ECs) concern issues which are unforseen, out of your control and proximate to the timing of an assessment/s you have taken and which you feel may have had a significant impact on your academic performance during an exam, online assessment 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 in an assessment/s, please complete the Exceptional Circumstances form (available here). The form should be accompanied by supporting evidence of your circumstances (such as doctor's letter, hospital note, death certificate or police report).

Your EC form and supporting documentation must be submitted according to the details available via this webpage.



Under certain circumstances, if you are not in a good position to be able to sit an assessment (i.e., your are not ‘fit-to-sit’, you might be permitted to postpone either one or more assessments to the next appropriate assessment opportunity. This is known as deferral.

You may, for example, experience circumstances which are sudden, unforeseen and outside of your control around the time of one or more assessments. In such a case, you may wish to consider deferring the assessment/s to the next appropriate assessment period.

You can find out more about deferrals here.



Further queries?

If you have any queries please contact (BSc students) or (MSc students).