Two students looking at an assignment

Looking at a course assignment

Understanding course assignments

Many of the writing assignments we do in class in my country, which is quite different in UK education system. - Huong

Assignments usually take the form of written pieces of work that are set by your course tutors. They also usually contribute towards your final course mark or grade. The types of assignment that you could be set depend on the course you are studying. The most common written assignments that students are asked to produce are essays or reports. However, it is also possible that you will be set other kinds of assignment such as a group project or an oral presentation in your subject area, which may also be assessed.

In these activities you will find out what your course assignments in the UK might be like and how these may be similar or different to those that you have previously done. You will also practise interpreting some essay titles that tutors in different subject areas might give to their students.

Activity 1What are assignments like in your country?

In this activity you are going to find out what assignment writing might be like at university in the UK by thinking about assignment writing in your home country first and then comparing them.

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Look at these statements and think about them in relation to academic writing assignments that you have done before. Move them into the appropriate box: either 'True about assignments in my country' or 'Not true about assignments in my country'. Then read the feedback to find out how they compare with assignment writing in the UK.

True about assignments in my country
Not true about assignments in my country
Assignments are normally prepared with the tutor in class.
I always need to attach a reference list to my written assignments.
I am expected to refer to books and journals in my assignments.
I do not need to limit myself to only discussing the issues raised in the title.
I need to show critical analysis in the assignments I write.
I sometimes have to work with other students on group assignments.
I usually make my own titles for assignments I write.
It does not matter how long my assignments are, provided that I answer the question.

Activity 2Understanding the essay question

The academic assignment titles or essay questions which university tutors set in the UK are often quite long and complex. They can also involve a number of questions rather than just one. For this reason, it is important to make sure that you understand what is required by an assignment question before you start working on it. In this activity you are going to check your understanding of essay questions by analysing some typical assignment questions set by tutors in different academic disciplines.

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Examine these different essay questions set by university tutors and decide whether the statements are true or false. Select the 'True' or the 'False' button for each of the six statements before reading the feedback. When you have finished, calculate your score and find out how good you are at analysing essay questions.

1. How are sixteenth century attitudes to love and marriage conveyed in Shakespeare's tragedy, Romeo and Juliet?
This question only requires the student to find and describe sixteenth century views of love and marriage in Romeo and Juliet.

2. What part do atmospheric pressure and stress analysis play in the design of the fuselage structure of aircraft?
An essay on this question will need to explain how pressure and stress affect the structure of an aircraft when it is flying.

3. Explore the concepts of leadership and management, using case studies to illustrate the differences between them.
This essay requires the student to argue that leadership and management are completely different.

4. Compare and contrast the advertising strategies of two major sportswear manufacturers, Nike and Adidas.
The best way to answer this question is first to discuss Nike's advertising strategies, and then to discuss Adidas's advertising techniques.

5. Study the pattern of government growth in the UK in the last decades and compare it with that of other countries. What, in your view, are the most convincing theories that have been put forward to explain this growth?
This essay question has three parts to it.

6. Identify key aspects of legislation relating to protection of the environment and identify those which require specific compliance from the business sector.
A complete analysis of environmental legislation is needed for this essay.

How well do you understand essay questions? When you have finished, click the 'calculate your score' button to find how many correct answers you have and then look at your score below to find out what your score shows.


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