Review of current practice in Higher Education (HE) suggests that a

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Appendix 5
UEL Assessment Tariff and Equivalences

1. Rationale

Review of current practice in Higher Education (HE) suggests that a university-wide tariff for summative assessment promotes:

  • comparability and fairness in assessment practice

  • transparency of process for students and academic colleagues

  • a reduction in assessment load

  • students to bring their best efforts to bear on assessment tasks

Word count and examination length have been the focus for standardisation within HE to date. Since a diverse range of assessment approaches is key to inclusive practice, extending the focus to include definition of suitable equivalence for a wider array of activities constitutes the next task.
Assessment Tariffs at UEL were reviewed and compared to those across the sector. This mapping exercise revealed a range of issues and practices across Schools:

  • External Examiners have noted that some modules and programmes are over-assessed

  • Over-assessment results in increased workload for academics and students

  • Inconsistency exists across modules, programmes and schools with regard to:

word count a 20 credit module might be assessed by course work of 3000 or 6000 words

equivalence a 3000 word essay might be considered equivalent to a written examination of 60, 120 or even 180 minutes

levels word counts might be consistent across levels, or increase progressively.


This inconsistency is particularly apparent where students undertake modules across fields and schools as in Combined Honours programmes.

2. principles

  • A diverse menu of assessment approaches, flexibility and innovation are integral to good assessment practice

  • Choice of mode of assessment remains at the discretion of the module team

  • The tariff shall include ‘equivalences’ for the most commonly used assessment activities

  • Colleagues using modes of assessment not specified in the tariff will require a defined equivalence to be approved by a School Quality Committee.

  • In line with the sector, tariffs are proportionate to the credit weighting of the module. Since a mechanistic approach is to be avoided, level 0 need not be 50% less than levels 1-3 nor M level 50% more.

  • The maximum number of components permitted in one 20 credit module remains three, in accordance with the Academic Framework (UEL 2005)

  • For programmes with permission from Academic Board to operate outside UEL’s Academic Framework and carry different credits per module, the tariff will be calculated on a pro rata basis

  •  Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body requirements take precedence over stated tariffs but require the approval of the Director of Academic Practice and Student Experience.

3. MODES of assessment

1A varied diet of assessment might include some of the following:

  • Coursework: reports, essays, projects, portfolios, database/software/statistical activities, research proposals, critical reviews, annotated activities e.g. bibliography or module spec, reflective accounts, case studies, laboratory and fieldwork reports, creation of websites, blogs, wikis,

  • Written exams: essays, multiple choice questions, open book, seen questions

  • Practical exams: practical demonstrations, oral presentations, Viva Voce, Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), posters, performances.

4. summative assessment tariff

The summative assessment tariff comprises the maximum assessment load for a module, lesser loads may be preferable.


SUMMATIVE TARIFF: Maximum Assessment loads per module

Assessment Mode *

Level 0-3

(20 credits)

Level M

(30 credits)



4000 words

6000 words


Written Examination

180 minutes

270 minutes

(with no one component exceeding 180 minutes)


Practical (face-to-face) examination, viva, presentation or practical skills demonstration

60 minutes

90 minutes



6000 words

9000 words

* The above list is not exhaustive, and modes of assessment not represented will require a defined equivalence to be approved by a School Quality Committee.
Where more than one component of assessment is specified per module:

  • the tariff will be divided between components

  • the balance of the weighting applied to each component with the tariff will be consistent. E.g. two components at levels 0-3 (coursework and written examination) each worth 50% = coursework 2000 words, written examination 90 minutes i.e. each are reduced to achieve the total tariff.

‘Double modules’ will carry double the stated amounts e.g. a dissertation module of 40 credits at levels 0-3 will have a maximum word count of 12000 words.

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