School of GeoSciences

Feedback and marking

We aim for set turnaround times for feedback and marking, with clear guiding principles and standards.

Feedback Guide


“Making the most of feedback, for your future”

Assessment and feedback are two key aspects of your learning and teaching experience. The terms are often used in a related context but they mean different things.

Assessment is the process used to determine the extent to which you have attained the required level in a piece of work or course. Ways of doing this include, for example, multiple choice tests, examinations, course work. Assessment will usually generate a grade for the piece of work, based on your performance as compared to a set of prescribed criteria.

Feedback is the process of giving constructive criticism to you so that you can improve your performance in future assignments and assessments. Feedback indicates areas for improvement and hence gives you the opportunity to learn from errors. Good feedback will of course also acknowledge and praise things that are done well.

What forms of feedback can I expect?

Type Outline of Feedback
Tutorials, classes and workshops In these classes, you will be actively involved in problem solving, critical thinking, and enhancing your understanding of concepts relevant to your degree. These are skills that will be assessed in examination or course assessments, so you will receive direct feedback from lecturers, tutors and demonstrators both verbally and through demonstration by example.
Examination Scripts Examination scripts are available for inspection during examination feedback sessions, but cannot be taken away. Staff will be present to discuss. It is important you make use of these opportunities.
Essays and Dissertations Written comments highlight both strengths and weaknesses. The final mark awarded will correlate with the assessment criteria described in the course documentation.
Group Projects Feedback is provided on the content and presentation of projects, and also the effectiveness of teamwork skills. Peer feedback (student to student) may be a feature and can be particularly useful.
Laboratory Reports Verbal and written comments highlight both strengths and weaknesses in your organisation and the way you present data, interpretation, and discussion. In particular, these comments identify areas for improvement, where marks were lost, and how those mark could have been gained.
Personal Tutor Individual and group meetings are opportunities for you to discuss how to utilise your feedback, particularly, if a pattern is spotted.
Field courses Field courses are important opportunities for feedback from academic staff, fieldwork demonstrators and peers. Feedback will take place not only when working in the field but also during evening discussions on residential field courses.
Verbal Verbal feedback given by your Personal Tutor, lecturers, tutors and demonstrators, and peers can be just as useful as written comments.

Promptness of feedback

You will find all course assessment deadlines on the Learn course page and in paper form in your local Teaching Office.

Prompt feedback on course work allows you to act upon it in future assessments. The School operates a three week turnaround time for assessment and feedback of course work (i.e not exam scripts). Staff will endeavour to return work to within this time frame. However, there are times due to commitments, fieldwork or extreme circumstances this is not possible. In these situations Course Organisers will email all students to advise an alternative date on which assessment and feedback will be available. Exam scripts are scrutinised by exam boards before being made available to students via the exam feedback sessions, normally held early in the following Semester.

If you have concerns regarding the promptness of feedback please contact Sarah McAllister, Head of Student Services.

Marking Criteria

The University Marking Criteria acts as a guide to academic staff. Each course should provide a clear marking criteria for course assessment.

Honours   Non-Honours  
Honours Class Mark (%) Grade Non-honours Description
1st 90-100 A1 Excellent
1st 80-89 A2 Excellent
1st 70-79 A3 Excellent
2.1 60-69 B Very Good
2.2 50-59 C Performance at a level showing the potential to achieve at least a lower second class honours degree
3rd 40-49 D Pass, may not be sufficient for progression to an honours programme
Fail 30-39 E Marginal Fail
Fail 20-29 F Clear Fail
Fail 10-19 G Bad Fail
Fail 0-9 H Bad Fail

How can you make the most of feedback?

First and foremost, ensure that you collect your assessments and feedback from the teaching office or via Learn. You should fully read, absorb and act on any feedback provided. Ensure that you utilise feedback fully, and never ignore it. It is very easy to be overly concerned about your grade on a piece of work without looking at the detailed feedback that accompanies it. The latter will assist you continued improvement long-term. Without consideration of the feedback, you are unlikely to understand where your strengths and weaknesses lie, or unlikely to understand how to improve your grade.

If I don’t understand or want further help?

All you need to do is ask! Personal Tutors, Course Organisers, Degree Programme Convenors, tutors and demonstrators are all happy to help. Taking your assignment to them and asking for more information is welcome, though make sure you have a reasonable expectation of how much time you’re asking for, and how soon it can happen.

You can organise a face to face meeting with the relevant person, or contact them via phone or email. In some cases you could talk with your Personal Tutor or Student Support Coordinator, particularly if you having difficulty with workload, or with assignments.

The School of GeoSciences tries to ensure students engage in their studies as much as possible, from all angles. In response, our staff deliver feedback to students, enabling the development of good practice as a life-long skill. It is up to you how much you use this; it is after all, for your own benefit.

If you would like any more information, or if have questions or comments, please contact Sarah McAllister, Manager of the Teaching Organisation.

Susan Orr

Head of Student Services

Contact details



Grant Institute Kings Buildings James Hutton Road

Post Code

This article was published on Mar 22, 2018