Plymouth University Academic Partnerships cornwall college, Rosewarne Programme Quality Handbook

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Start with the introduction:

This should be a verbal sketch map in which you lead the reader into the subject by identifying the major issues to be raised and give some indication of how you intend to develop your material (e.g. evidence, arguments etc) in the main body. If appropriate, you will summarise the context (i.e. historical or theoretical) which underpins your answer. It is vital that your introduction actually addresses the question set, or topic to be outlined. A standard rule is that if you do not address the question in the introduction, then you are unlikely to address it in the rest of the essay.

The main body:

The main themes/key points that you identify will form the basis of the assignment. Each paragraph should have a theme, but should also follow on from the previous paragraph.

This can be difficult to achieve but can be done by carrying over an idea. (I have actually done that here by opening with the word, ‘This’, which refers back to the previous paragraph. For another example, in a discussion of research methods, one paragraph may end ‘….to detect truth or avoid error we need to use scientific methods.’ The next paragraph will then shift theme and go on to detail what is meant by ‘scientific methods’, but will link paragraphs by using a similar term at the start of the next paragraph as was used at the end of the first one…..’ Ruane (2005) suggests the scientific method is committed to a causal model of the universe….etc. The term, ‘scientific method’ used here links the paragraphs.

The conclusion:

This should draw together the main threads of your argument as you summarise the main points. You should not introduce new information at this stage but could look ahead to implications for the future and/or make recommendations

Section 9: Grammatical Mistakes

One of the most common grammatical mistakes is the unnecessary apostrophe.



What you should use


It is

Its (e.g the problem with this report is its length)


Belongs to the year 1980

1980s (e.g. the 1980s were a period of boom and bust)

As you should not be using abbreviated words (don't, can't, etc.) you can see that there are very few occasions when you actually need an apostrophe. Some people have great difficulties with apostrophes and stick them in almost every time they see an ‘s’. Please ensure apostrophes are used correctly.
e.g. and i.e.:

e.g. means for example "cars come in variety of colours (e.g. red, green, blue, etc.)"

i.e. means another way of saying "he came by automobile (i.e. a car)"
a and an:

an comes before words beginning with a vowel (aeiou - e.g. an elephant, an apple, etc.), a before consonants (a car, a zebra, etc.). On some rare occasions the rule is broken because of the way the word is pronounced. For example it is "an honour" but "a house" this is because honour is pronounced 'onour with a silent h. The same is true of abbreviations MRI is pronounced "em ar eye" and so is "an MRI" rather than "a MRI" whereas it would be "a microphone".

Affect and effect:

If it is ‘doing’ something it is a verb - affect, ‘this influence may affect sourcing decisions’


  1. To influence or change.

  2. To touch the emotions of.

  3. To put on a false or pretentious show of: affected a British accent.

  4. To fancy; like: affects dramatic clothes.

If it is a noun then use effect, ‘an’ or ‘the’ before it dictates this, e.g. this is an effect we have to consider, OR the effect of this…..


1. Something brought about by a cause or agent; result.

2. The power to achieve a result; influence.

3. Advantage; avail.

4. The condition of being in full force.

5. Something that produces a specific impression.

6. The basic or general meaning: words to that effect.

7. effects = Movable belongings.

8. To bring into existence.

9. To produce as a result.

10. In essence; to all purposes.
To affect something is to change or influence it; to effect something is a rather formal way of saying `to make it happen'. Confusingly, either may produce an 'effect' or result. ('An affect' is a technical term in psychology.)

The stability of the wall was affected by passing lorries.

The demolition of the wall was effected by the detonation of a charge of dynamite. The dynamite did not just 'affect' (influence) the demolition of the wall: it caused it.

AskOxford (2006) What is the difference between 'affect' and 'effect'?, (20/7/06)
Advertising might affect the sales of widgets (by causing them to increase), or it can effect sales (bring them about) if, for example, there were no sales at all to begin with.
Dictionary (2006) What is the difference between affect and effect?, (20/7/2006

Section 10: Assignment Length or ‘Word Count’.
Students should always ensure they are clear exactly what the word count for an assignment is. If you are unsure you must check with the module leader. You must make sure that you write the actual number of words you have used (excluding your alphabetical reference list but including references in the body of the text) at the end of your assignment
Please note, it is acceptable to go either 10% above or 10% below the word count.
A feedback sheet should be attached to the front of every assignment submitted, with the boxes at the top of the form completed by the student.

Example 1 : Essay descriptors

Key words used in essays:

Account for

Give an explanation of why something is the way it is


Examine the subject in detail, breaking it down into sections to identify how and why


Make the case for something


Evaluate something, using evidence to support assessments

Comment on

Write explanatory notes, giving a view on


Consider the similarities (and sometimes differences) between two things


Put two things in opposition to expose the similarities and differences between them


Make judgements about the merits of theories, supported by evidence


Give the exact meaning of a word, phrase or concept


Provide a full and detailed account of something


Investigate and explore the arguments for and against something


Make an appraisal of the worth of something, supported by evidence


Interpret and account for something


Use a figure or diagram to explain or clarify, or make clear by using examples


Give reasons for decisions and conclusions


Give the general principles of a subject


Demonstrate or establish the truth or accuracy of something, using evidence


Give a concise account of, omitting details and examples


Follow the development or history of a topic

Example 2

Few would deny the importance of practice in the development of good skills. Like playing a musical instrument, writing is something that cannot be taught by directions or example alone. Practicing writing, and receiving constructive criticism on these attempts, is an integral part of the learning process. Furthermore, the quality of an essay is regarded as one of the best measures of the author’s knowledge of the topic. Writing essays requires more thought than many other forms of testing, such as multiple-choice exams, since the students must construct their own coherent answers and justifications therefore. Well-developed and appropriately scored writing assessments can test not only students’ prowess with language, but also their ability to synthesize and analyze information; to find new connections between ideas and to explain their significance (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1987).

Miller T. (2004) ‘Essay Assessment With Latent Semantic Analysis’, Journal of Educational Computing Research, Vol. 29(4), 495-512.

Appendix 2


Assignments must all be word-processed – though original, written feedback can be included where required. If you are providing feedback in writing, or acting as a note-taker for one of your peers, please ensure that your written feedback is legible and comprehensible
Portfolios for Study Skills and Professional Development may contain more hand-written pieces – though these should always be legible and well-presented.

Since the advent of the word-processor and the availability of information through the internet, higher education establishments have become very aware of the scope for plagiarism. Like other establishments, Plymouth University, in the interests of fairness, have taken steps to identify plagiarism where it occurs and to use computer software for this purpose.

Students agree that by taking this course all required papers may be subject to submission for textual similarity review to iParadigms for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers will be included as source documents in the iParadigms reference database solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of such papers. Use of the Turnitin UK service shall be subject to such Terms and Conditions of Use as may be agreed by iParadigms and the Institution from time to time and posted on the Turnitin UK site.


Your word-processed work should be 1.5 spaced and have margins on right and left.
A standard covering-sheet should be completed for each assignment. This is referred to as the assignment brief. These should be issued by your module leader and may be contained in the module handbook.
Work should be neatly presented and organised. Work which is assembled over time and produced in portfolio form can easily become untidy if steps are not taken to keep the work safely from week to week.

Style of writing and Referencing
Much of the writing you are asked to do in this course has a personal content which is less formal in style than more objective academic writing. You will consider this in your Study Skills module. However, remember that you should be providing evidence of your wider reading.
Hand-in dates
Below you will find a list of hand-in dates for assignments. These dates have been arranged in order to spread your work-load as far as is possible.
Dates and times must be honoured in order to be fair and just to all students.
There can, of course, be exceptional circumstances which might prevent you from meeting the deadline. There is an ‘Exceptional Circumstances Procedure’ for this. However, if you leave submission of your work to the very last minute and your word-processor breaks down, or the bus doesn’t turn up, this is unlikely to be regarded as sufficient. You are strongly advised to timetable yourself in order to submit work comfortably before the final deadline.
All results provided by your tutors are provisional in the sense that they have to satisfy the External Examiner appointed by the University of Plymouth. Results are decided at the Award Board which will meet three times per year. Once results have been confirmed by the university students will be advised by letter. Where someone has failed to satisfy the examiners or has been granted extenuating circumstances, it is usual for the Award Board to fix a date for later submission of the work in time for the Re-sit Board to consider the work before the start of the next academic year.

It is an important part of college policy that students should be supported through tutorials – and this is, of course, very much in keeping with the ethos of this course.
If you feel that you need a tutorial, please, ask for one – though it is important that you should have taken responsibility for resolving any problems as far as you can so that you are clear about the information, advice or guidance you might be seeking from your tutor. Please, consider checking out with peers or with your mentor informally beforehand.

Tutorials for everyone will be held during the autumn term as part of Study Skills programme and in the summer term as part of Personal Development. Tutors will arrange a time with you. You are of course welcome to contact tutors for additional tutorials at any time during the year.


Application for Extenuating Circumstances Affecting Late or Non-Submission or Non-Attendance of Assessment

Full Name:

Student Number:




Assessment Affected:

Module Code

Module Leader

Is this group work?

Type of assessment affected e.g. exam, coursework, presentation

Assessment deadline

*Request – please indicate the type of consideration you would like e.g. extension to deadline, non-submission of work, non-attendance of exam or test

*possible outcomes are explained in the guidance notes:

Description of Circumstances:

Please continue on a separate sheet if necessary.

Date of circumstances




Please list the independent corroborative evidence you have attached or state if you are applying for self-certification. If you wish your evidence to remain strictly confidential please enclose in a sealed envelope marked confidential with your name and student reference number.

Declaration: I confirm that all information completed on this form is honest and accurate to the best of my knowledge. I confirm that I have read and understood the extenuating circumstances guidance notes .

Signed: Date:





Form received and checked



Does student have Long Term Health Condition status? (If so please attach)



Previous claims (If so please attach)



Is this claim self-certified? If yes check this is the first SC claim of the year (nb only 1 SC claim allowed per year)



Does student have DAS status or SSD



Logged on to database









Request Further Information



Further information received:









Reason for INVALID decision:


Module Code

Original Submission Deadline

Revised Submission Deadline



Refer to DAS YES / NO



Send Long Term Health Condition form YES / NO



Fitness to study SSM required YES / NO



Student Notified



Informed Module Leaders



Entered onto UNITe



HES Only: Refer to OH YES/NO





For the most part students will undertake modules and progress through their studies without any problems. Unfortunately there are times when a student will face difficulties that affect their academic progress. The difficulties experienced by students can be broadly categorised as follows:

  • On-going disability supported by Disability Assist e.g. sight impairment, dyslexia, mental health problems

  • Chronic Ill health e.g.Cystic Fibrosis, Bipolar Disorder

  • Temporary acute conditions e.g. broken wrist

  • Short term health or personal problems e.g. hospitalisation, bereavement causing significant impact

Students with a disability or a chronic condition should refer to Disability Assist for further information by visiting the Learning Gateway, 011 Roland Levinsky Building, Tel:  +441752587676 Email: 

In many cases Disability Assist are able to provide specific teaching and learning support, details of which will be provided in a Teaching and Learning Support document which is passed to module leaders and also to examination scheduling (if additional time in formal examinations is required). For the most part extenuating circumstance provision should not be required for conditions supported by Disability Assist; however there may be occasions when issues arise and a student requires additional consideration. On these occasions the extenuating circumstance policy will apply.
Students who have a temporary or acute condition should refer to the procedure contained in “Students with disabilities or other temporary injuries and conditions” both in terms of providing additional support for study and to put in place an appropriate arrangement to address difficulties with assessment. Again, it is anticipated that the extenuating circumstance procedure will not be required unless other issues have arisen or the support in place did not sufficiently address the problem.
Extenuating circumstances policy

If an examination or assessment has been affected by a serious matter, then a student can ask the University to take this into consideration. The aim of the policy is to ensure no student is disadvantaged by circumstances beyond their control whilst maintaining academic standards.

There is an expectation by the University that, whilst an assessment may be delayed because of extenuating circumstances, it should not be missed altogether. It is essential that an Award Assessment Board should have as complete a profile as possible so that a decision on progression or award can be made.
You can submit a claim for extenuating circumstances to cover late submission of work, non- submission of work or non-attendance at a time specific assessment, e.g. examination, test or field-trip.
Valid extenuating circumstances will not result in an adjustment to a mark. Improvement to marks can only be achieved by reassessment. Details of how extenuating circumstances may be taken into account are given later in the policy.
The University Regulations on Late Coursework and Extenuating Circumstances are available on the student portal. This document should be read in conjunction with those regulations.

What is an extenuating circumstance?

Extenuating Circumstances are circumstances which:

  • affect your ability to attend or complete an assessment or a number of assessments

  • are exceptional

  • are outside your control

  • can be corroborated by independent evidence

  • occurred during or shortly before the assessment in question

Examples of circumstances which might be considered valid

  • Hospitalisation, including operations

  • Health problems

  • Personal or psychological problems for which the student is undergoing counselling or has been referred to a counsellor or other qualified practitioner

  • Childbirth (including a partner in labour)

  • Bereavement causing significant impact/effect

  • Major accident or injury, acute ailments or conditions which coincide with an assessment deadline or an examination or test, or are sufficiently long-lasting to impact on a significant part of a term

  • Clinical depression or other mental health problem

  • Recent burglary/theft/serious car accident

  • For part-time students in full-time employment, exceptional pressure of work or permanent change of employment circumstances

  • Late diagnosis of, for example, dyslexia, resulting in no support or examination provision.

What is NOT an Extenuating Circumstance?

It is not possible to lay down hard and fast rules in every case. The key issue is whether the claim meets the criteria above. For instance, the University would not normally accept claims relating to travel delays which you might be expected to have planned for, but if the delay were exceptional, a claim would be considered. Similarly, a cough, cold or throat infection during a term would not normally be a valid extenuating circumstance, since you would be expected to plan your work taking into account the likelihood of minor disruptions.

Medical certification will not automatically be accepted in cases where it verifies a minor illness which within the regulations would not normally be deemed valid for, e.g. coursework submission, or simply reports a claim that you felt unwell.

This means claims supported by medical notes will be deemed invalid if it is for a minor ailment as these would be considered not exceptional e.g. unspecified anxiety, mild depression or examination stress, cough, cold, upper respiratory tract Infection, sore throat, minor viral infection, unless the illness was at its peak at the time of an examination, end-of-module test or in-class test and the corroborating evidence refers to the impact on your performance.

Procedure (see flow chart and form)

Students who wish to claim extenuating circumstances should obtain a claim form from their Faculty or School Office. The form should be submitted to the Faculty Office accompanied by independent corroborating evidence.

It is essential that you complete the details of dates and module codes accurately on the claim form. Failure to do so may mean your circumstances are not fully taken into account. Circumstances are only valid for the period covered by the evidence.

Extenuating circumstances claims should be submitted as soon as feasible. In the case of assessed coursework/major project/dissertation or equivalent, extenuating circumstances claims should be submitted as soon as possible, and normally no later than ten working days after the deadline for the submission of the work. Extenuating circumstances claims with respect to formal examinations should be submitted no later than the Monday after the end of the formal examination week.

Retrospective claims

The University regulations state that retrospective claims of extenuating circumstances will not normally be considered unless there were the most exceptional reasons for not doing so. This would normally only be because you were unable to disclose the circumstances in advance because a medical condition has only just been diagnosed. Appeals against Award Assessment Board decisions based on retrospective extenuating circumstances will normally be rejected unless they fall into

this category.
Corroborating evidence

Unless a Chronic Ill Health form has been validated, all claims must be accompanied by independent corroborating evidence.

The evidence must be specific about the nature, timing and severity of the problem and if possible provide an independent assessment of the effect the problem may have had on you.

Evidence from family and/or friends will not be accepted. Self-certification for illness is not accepted

Consideration of extenuating circumstances claims

Forms are considered as a matter of priority and the majority are considered soon after submission. However, occasionally some forms can take a little longer to assess. You will be informed of the outcome by email (sent to your University email address). If the claim is deemed invalid you will receive an explanation for this decision.

Please submit your work, as a final submission, within 10 days of the original deadline. Do not wait for a decision before submitting your work. If you are not able to submit within this timeframe you should await instructions from the next Award Assessment Board which will make a decision on what action to take.
Student Extenuating Circumstances Claim Procedure - Flowchart

Circumstance that has affected assessment occurs

Collect claim form from Faculty Office

Complete claim form

Attach independent corroborative evidence

Can be submitted in a sealed envelope if confidential

Submit claim to Faculty Office

Claim logged, checked and decision made

Valid Decision

Invalid Decision


Confirmation email to student PU account

Confirmation email to student PU account

Email to PU account requesting further information

Confirmation email to relevant Module Leaders

Confirmation email to relevant Module Leaders

For late work*, actual mark will be recorded. For non-submission circumstances will be forwarded to Award Assessment Board for consideration

For late work submitted within 24 hours, mark will be capped at pass mark. For work submitted more than 24 hours after deadline, a mark of zero will be recorded.

Marks profile considered at Award Assessment Board

* Normally 10 working day extension given, Module Leader may confirm something different to this.

Transcript published online and posted to home address

Unhappy with outcome, can appeal if meet appeal criteria

1 This Programme Specification contains no information pertaining and/or referring to any individual and is therefore appropriate for dissemination as a public document.

2QAA, 2011, Chapter A3: The Programme Level, UK Quality Code for Higher Education: , last accessed 28th July 2014 [n.b. this includes ‘Appendix 2: Working with programme specifications: A leaflet for further education colleges’]

3 If required please contact Academic Partnerships Programme Administration for assistance.

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