Self Marking your Essay

You are the first marker of your essay on the social science history courses at Middlesex University, because we want you to understand the kind of qualities that gain good marks in assessed work. You should prepare a draft self assessment to submit with your draft essay, and revise this when you submit your final work.

Feedback on your essays will mainly be comments on the points you mention in your self-assessment.

You should assess your own work using the Essay Marking Guide

Your Self Marking must have three sections, clearly labelled, with at least a paragraph to each


Your assessment of the main strengths of your essay, using the concepts from the Essay Marking Guide, and covering such points as as understanding and the knowledge of the subject you have shown, your use of English, the structure of your essay, its focus and sequential flow, evidence of reading and understanding recommended sources, including primary sources, referencing and strength of argument.

Clicking on one of the links above will take you to one part of the Marking Guide that uses the concept. Scroll up and down from that point to see how the concept fits in. In the Marking Guide clicking on a coloured link will usually take you to an explanation of the concept. You can use "Back" button on your browser to come back to this point.


Your assessment of the main weaknesses of your essay, using the concepts from the Essay Marking Guide. Describing your weaknesses is as important as describing your strengths. You may find that you have both strengths and weaknesses in each of the areas. There may, for example, be aspects where you feel you fully understand an issue (and have demonstrated it) and other aspects you feel you do not understand. You should mention any weaknesses in English, and any tendency to be discursive. It is a weakness if you have not got a good introduction, or if your introduction does not outline and summarise your essay. Bear in mind weaknesses in English may be offset by a good introduction. Any deficiencies in referencing should be noted. If you have an argument it should be noted in the strengths. If you are aware of any deficiencies in the argument these should be mentioned in the weaknesses.

The technical terms like argument and structure that are used in Self Assessment are called Benchmarks. You should use benchmarks in your Self Assessment in such a way that the staff marker can clearly see (from the Marking Guide) why you are suggesting a mark.


Your assessment of the grade the essay deserves, based on the benchmarks you have identified from the marking guide. Suggest your mark. Then give reasons from the Marking Guide for suggesting it. You must suggest a precise mark with clear reasons if you want your essay to be graded. If you suggest more than one mark (10 or 11 for example), give the reasons for each.

These points should be born in mind when using the Essay Marking Guide to suggest a grade for your essay.

We provisionally fail

    essays with titles not on our list

    essays without Harvard references and a bibliography

    essays with less than two references per page

    essays where the marker cannot trace references (because they do not have page numbers, for example.

If you think you are deficient in one of these areas, explain why.

We expect the best first year first semester History essays to be around the borderline of a lower second/upper. The best marks are usually 9, 8 and (sometimes) 7. This is because in the first semester of the first year we expect strong students to write competent essays, but to need guidance on how competent essays can be developed into clear upper seconds.

Usually the best essays submitted for the first year second semester are sixes. A five is very exceptional. Higher grades require such a command of the theoretical principles involved that they are unlikely to be achieved by first year students.

The clearest cases of a strong argument are often when the argument is developed by the student out of her (demonstrated) understanding of primary sources. But an exceptionally good use of an argument taken from a secondary source, if it is effectively used to strengthen your own argument, would also qualify.

For an essay to achieve a 5 it would have to show some indication of originality in its explanation, discussion or treatment of the primary texts. Before you even think of suggesting a 5, make sure that you have read and pondered on the academic meaning or originality.

You get no credit for putting in a poor essay and suggesting a high mark, or for putting in a good essay and suggesting a low mark. Use the Marking Guide to make a realistic estimate of your mark and show how your suggested mark relates the essay to the Marking Guide.

The staff marker will second mark your essay in the light of your comments. He or she gives you feedback on your assessment of yourself.


Self-assessment is compulsory for the history courses. Students taking other courses with Andrew Roberts are also encouraged to submit a self- assessment as you should find it beneficial.