Your mark and comment sheet will indicate if you have lost marks for poor scholarly presentation. The conventions which markers use for this are included as Appendix 4 to this handbook.
(e) Problems with English
There is a close relationship between quality of thought and excellence of expression. One of your goals should be to develop the clarity, vividness and elegance with which you use language as you increase the breadth of your knowledge and the depth of your understanding. A first aim must be to ensure correct usage in spelling, punctuation and vocabulary. Distinguished work presents interesting observations and arguments in a precise and pleasing style, but poor English will affect the level of success you achieve on the degree and will be detrimental to most job prospects. If your spelling is shaky, begin with the list of ‘commonly misspelt words’ at the end of this section. In addition, special care should be taken with the spelling of titles, characters and authors of works being discussed.
Do not rely on the ‘spell-check’ facility on your computer. These programs identify non-existent spellings but will fail to respond to typographical errors if the mistake results in an existing word – for example if you type ‘way’ for ‘was’. Students are expected to proof-read essays to eliminate such errors.
Whether or not your spelling is weak, use a dictionary regularly. An etymological dictionary and/or a thesaurus can sharpen your style. Certain words are misused with particular frequency. Before using the following, please check their meaning and their grammatical usage: ‘disinterested’, ‘due to’, ‘refute’, ‘imbue’, ‘infer’, ‘quote’ ‘elide’. Check also that you understand the difference between it’s (a contraction of ‘it is’ which you should avoid using in an academic essay) and its to indicate possession (as in ‘the production has its problems’); under the section ‘commonly misspelt words’ you will find other pairs of words often confused with each other.
(i) Tutors will indicate where you have made errors of grammar, punctuation and spelling. You are expected to find out why these are errors and not to repeat them.
If unsure, consult a grammar. Common faults in grammar include writing sentences with no main verb in them (if you don’t understand what this means, consult a grammar straight away), incorrect use of the colon and semi-colon and misuse of the apostrophe.
(ii) Also bear in mind the fact that logically structured argumentation cannot be properly achieved without dividing the different stages of your analysis into separate paragraphs. If you end up writing long passages of text which continue without any pause over several pages then you will fail to communicate your ideas effectively and convincingly.
Some of the information in this handbook is based on Joseph Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1984), the MHRA Style Guide (London: Modern Humanities Research Association, 2002), and R.M. Ritter, The Oxford Guide to Style (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002). We strongly recommend that you consult these sources if you have any further queries.
Vocabularies in film and television
Film and Television studies draw on many disciplines. Some of the language in your required reading may initially be daunting. If you come across concepts you do not understand, the following dictionaries are recommended:
Bottomore, Tom, Harris, Laurence, Kiernan, V.G., and Miliband, Ralph, A Dictionary of Marxist Thought (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1983).
Bullock, Allan, Stallybrass, Oliver, and Trombley, Stephen, The Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought (2nd edn.; London: Fontana Press, 1988)
Kuhn, Annette with Radstone, Susannah, The Women’s Companion to International Film (London: Virago, 1990).
Stam, Robert, Burgoyne, Robert, and Flitterman-Lewis, Sandy (eds), New Vocabularies in Film Semiotics: Structuralism, Post-Structuralism and Beyond (London: Routledge, 1992).
Williams, Raymond, Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society (London: Fontana Press, 1976).
The glossaries in the following books are also useful:
Bordwell, David, and Thompson, Kristin, Film Art: An Introduction (7th edn.; London: McGraw Hill, 2003).
Kawin, Bruce F., How Movies Work (Berkeley, Oxford: University of California Press, 1992).
Maltby, Richard, Hollywood Cinema (2nd edn.; Oxford: Blackwell, 2003).
COMMONLY MISSPELT WORDS
accommodate *(discreet pursue
accumulate (discrete portrayal
achieve divine *(practice
affective *(dual (practise
(effective) (duel precede
aggravate embarrass proceed
allusion emerge (immerse) *(principal
(illusion) empirical (principle
*(ante- existence privilege
(anti- extravagance professional
apparent fulfilment *(prophecy
appropriate goddess (prophesy
argument harass recurrence
aural (oral) heroes reminiscent
biased hierarchy repellent
blatant humorous repetition
*(climactic hypocrisy repress
(climatic incite (insight) rhythm
committee imminent stratum
commitment independent (strata pl.)
*(complement ideology suppress
(compliment infinite separate
conscious irrelevant simile
council irresistible subtly
counsel led (lead) subtlety
criterion lightning (lightening) succumb
(criteria pl.) loneliness supersede
crucifixion lose (loose) symbolic
deceive loth (loathe) tendency
definite medium (media pl.) transience
degradation metre (pentameter) truly
*make sure you understand the difference between pairs of words marked by an asterisk
ASSESSMENT CRITERIA: GUIDELINES
The criteria of assessment always relate to the purpose and content of specific assignments. However minimum requirements can be stated because there are some qualities common to all acceptable work in our subjects. These are, primarily:
Accuracy in accounts of texts and in references to historical events and circumstances. These references and accounts display consistency and accuracy of detail.
Coverage - The work shows familiarity with the range of texts prescribed for study and appropriate to the project.
Understandingof texts and arguments, shown sometimes by restating or summarising them in the writer’s own terms, and sometimes by offering the writer’s own views and applications of them.
Argumentation - The work presents the grounds of its understandings in forms that allow the reader to engage with its claims.
Relevance to the topics under discussion is made clear in the presentation of particular arguments and observations.
Expression is clear, and the writing is correct in its grammar, syntax and spelling. Vocabulary is adequate to the needs of the discussion; the central terms are used clearly and with consistency.
Organisation within the prescribed length and format is effective; the presentation has an appreciable shape and development.
Scholarly presentation - The work is acceptable to the community of scholarship. So that its data may be reliably checked its references are presented in a consistent form. Sources are identified for all material used, whether through reference, paraphrase, or direct quotation. Whenever material is quoted, quotation is acknowledged in one of the received forms. (For details of scholarly conventions, see ‘guidelines for the writing of essays’ in this handbook.)
Satisfactory workmeets these requirements and has only minor lapses. It is likely to be awarded a mark in the mid-fifties. Work which is adequate in several of the above respects, but weak or defective in some of them, or work which is partially satisfactory but damaged by significant lapses, is marked on the scale which extends downwards from the low fifties to a bare pass at forty per cent.
Good and very good work is awarded marks (in the high fifties to mid sixties) that declare the extra range and individuality of its achievements. The qualities that carry it beyond the scale of the satisfactory are most often those of thoroughness and penetration in the grasp of the subject, with liveliness of expression and lucidity of organisation. Clarity is attained while more complex approaches to the topic are embraced and a more ambitious range of material is brought under discussion. Intellectual skill is shown in comparing and co-ordinating disparate sources.
Excellence is recognised when work meets the above criteria fully but surpasses them so as to display remarkable strengths in terms of industry and insight, and distinguished skills in argument and expression. (The grades run from the high sixties to the seventies.) Some aspects of excellence can be further specified in relation to the criteria stated above:
Coverage becomes enterprise in going beyond the prescribed texts or previously explored instances to discover new material, or new relevance in familiar material. The work has taken on a research dimension in which initiative and imagination are combined with discipline and a consciously systematic investigation.
Comprehension is developed so that the work makes individual use of the concepts and arguments derived from the scholarly literature. It shows command of the topics by its shrewd location and negotiation of conflicting positions; its choice and development of examples shows the sharpness of its insight. It demonstrates an awareness of the wider consequences of its own choices in interpretation and evaluation.
The argumentation remains clear and plausible but also achieves originality through the vigour in its exploration of texts and topics. The work shows a grasp of the interest of problems, an awareness of the range of ways in which its issues might be negotiated, and both an ability to identify and a readiness to confront instances and arguments that may pose difficulties for its own approaches.
Correctness of expression gives way to eloquence. The critical vocabulary is wide, varied and precisely nuanced. A balance is achieved between clarity and force on the one hand and complexity, roundedness on the other. Concepts are presented and ideas are expressed as plainly as their depth allows.
Evidently the above qualities are attained to differing degrees. Some work submitted for assessment has all the above strengths and no significant weaknesses; it makes a distinctive contribution to our fields of scholarship. More often excellent work shows particularly fine quality in some rather than all of the above respects and a judgement has to be made of the relative weight of its most and least impressive aspects. It is in order to lessen the risk of arbitrariness in making these assessments that the final determination of all grades is made through the system of double marking and the consensus reached at the examination boards with the assistance of external examiners.
A numerical grade is necessarily a blunt way of stating the outcome of the process of judgement, and of relating very different achievements to one another qualitatively. One essay might be awarded a mark of 65% because its generally competent discussion, with no serious defects, is enlivened by passages of particularly stimulating insight; another might receive the same mark in recognition of a strikingly original approach with minor flaws or with passages of clumsy argument. The percentage mark represents an attempt, guided by experience and consultation, to aggregate the merits and weaknesses of your work in fair comparison with the achievements of others. In this respect it mirrors the aggregation of marks from different sources that yields the overall result for a module, as well as the final classification of a degree.
The university does not allow students to challenge the academic judgement of the examiners once a numerical grade has been given for a piece of work. The only ground for any questioning of a grade is if there is evidence of irregularity in the procedures by which the mark was determined.
UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK
DEPARTMENT OF FILM AND TELEVISION STUDIES
ASSESSED WORK COVER SHEET
Please check that you have followed these rules of presentation:
1. You have submitted TWO copies
2. Essay is double spaced
3. One side of paper only
3. Page numbers
4. At least 12 point font
8. Your essay has been proof-read
Student ID No.:________________________________________
Short Title of Essay_____________________________________
Length of Essay as set _______________ words
Length submitted____________________ words
I am aware of the note on plagiarism in the Department handbooks and of Regulation 11B in the University Calendar concerning cheating in a university test. The attached work, submitted for a university test, is my own.