School of Social and Political Science

Exam information


Examination periods

All courses in SPS are assessed in the semester in which they are taught, exams for first-semester courses take place during the December examination period, exams for second semester courses take place during the April/May examination period. This includes end-of-semester take-home exams. 

You will automatically be registered for the exams for your courses. More information on accessing your exam timetable can be found on the Examinations FAQs website. Please note it is the student's responsibility to ensure they attend their exam at the correct time and location. You may not be individually notified about exams. 

For on-campus exams, the dates, times and venues of examinations are posted on the University website. Notices are placed around SPS premises advising students when this information becomes available.

Re-sit exams (Pre-Honours only)

For those failing or missing the exam, a resit examination is held in August. It is the student's responsibility to check the resit timetable on the Exams website, find the time and location of the resit exam and ensure they are present for that resit. No formal registration is necessary.

NB: Students may not be individually notified of the resit date and location of resit exams.

Honours Students

There are no re-sit exams at honours level, so it is especially important that you communicate with your Personal Tutor or Student Support Officer as soon as possible if you foresee a problem with an exam, or encountered difficulties during the exam. 

Past Exam Papers

Past examination papers can be accessed through the online library.

Exam script retention for Year 1 and 2 courses

Please note that uncollected exam scripts for Year 1 and 2 courses with a centrally arranged examination will be destroyed according to the below schedule:

December examination diet - Destroyed after the 30 April
April/May examination diet - Destroyed after the 31 October 

Criteria for grading exam answers

Exams require more concise and focused answers, with less emphasis on the literature incorporated, or on sophisticated expression and presentation.

A1 (90-100%)

An answer that fulfils all of the criteria for ‘A2’ (see below) and in addition shows originality and independent thought, together with flair and an ability to present and analyse things from different perspectives.

A2 (80-89%)

A comprehensive answer that remains focused on the topic and provides an authoritative response to the question. It should be fully conversant with the main issues and literature and able to incorporate these into the analysis while showing awareness of their complexities and wider ramifications. It should display strong critical and analytical skills, mindful of other interpretations but not afraid to challenge them. A high level of quality should be sustained throughout.

A3 (70-79%)

A sharply-focused answer of high intellectual quality, which adopts a comprehensive approach to the question and maintains a sophisticated level of analysis throughout. It should show a willingness to engage critically with the course material and move beyond it, using the sources creatively to arrive at its own independent conclusions.

B B- (60-63%) B (64-66%) B+ (67-69%)

A very good answer, showing qualities beyond the merely routine or acceptable. The question should be addressed fully and directly within a coherent and well-structured discussion that demonstrates awareness of the main issues and reading. The answer should have a clear focus and engage with the topic in an analytical rather than descriptive way. There should be no significant errors of fact or interpretation of concepts or data. Within this range a particularly strong answer will be graded B+, a more limited one B-.

C C- (50-53%) C (54-56%) C+ (57-59%)

A satisfactory answer with elements of the routine and predictable. It should be generally accurate and show awareness of the main issues and/or evidence of independent reading, which will be presented accurately, if rather descriptively. There may be some errors of fact or interpretation, but the materials included should be relevant, and there should be evidence of basic understanding of the topic in question. It should attempt to engage critically with the question, though with some possible unevenness. Within this range a stronger answer will be graded C+; a weaker answer will be graded C-.

D D- (40-43%) D (44-46%) D+ (47-49%)

A passable but superficial answer which understands the question and displays some learning, though with omissions and inaccuracies and scant evidence of reading. There should be a discernible structure, although the answer may lack focus or coherence. There will be few signs of insight or critical awareness and the approach will be overwhelmingly descriptive rather than analytical. This could also be the mark for a short answer that at least referred to the main points of the topic. Within this range a stronger answer will be graded D+; a bare pass will be graded D-.

E (30-39%)

An answer that attempts to address the question, but contains serious inaccuracies, omissions and/or misunderstandings. The structure will be weak, and the focus vague. There will be no or very little evidence of reading or critical awareness and a tendency to descriptive narrative, some of dubious relevance, rather than analysis. It might also be a short and fragmentary answer with merit in what is presented but containing serious gaps. Within this band, an answer conveying the sense that with fuller analysis it might have achieved a pass should be marked between 37% and 39%. More substantial fails should receive a mark of 30-36%.

F (20-29%)

An answer showing no awareness of the relevant issues or reading and seriously inadequate knowledge of the subject. The structure will be incoherent and lacking in logical development, with no evidence of critical awareness or insight and major omissions and/or inaccuracies in the material presented.

G (10-19%)

An answer that falls far short of a passable level by some combination of short length, irrelevance, lack of intelligibility, factual inaccuracy and lack of acquaintance with fundamental concepts or issues.

H (0-9%)

An answer with no academic merit, conveying little sense that the course has been followed or of the ability to develop a coherent argument.


Student category