Assignment Presentation

This is an up-dated version of guidance notes which appeared as an appendix to the Handbook for the PGCE/Cert. Ed. programme at the University of Bedfordshire for many years. As long as they are attributed (and the notes show you how) feel free to edit for detail and to incorporate them in your own handbooks.

Latest on-line version 28 September 2012. The numbering is not the same as the Handbook's, or as earlier versions. This version includes some corrections and new paragraphs on internet referencing when the information is incomplete.

  1. Not all submissions will be written pieces, but most of them will be: these notes are intended as guidance for their composition andpresentation. They are not intended to present you with an additional burden,but on the whole, you have said that you welcome clear guidance and it is nomore effort to get it right (i.e. in accordance with academic norms) than to get it wrong. So:


  2. If a submission needs a binder, please use the slim plastic clear-fronted �project folders� or a single plastic sleeve with a staple in the top-left-hand corner of the papers if at all possible. Carrying around a load of ring-binders and even lever-arch files does not put the marker in an appropriate dispassionate mood!
  3. Please do not put each page in a separate plastic sleeve: taking them out to annotate them is a pain, and tutors have recently resolved not to do so. So if you do use plastic sleeves you will not get written feedback on the script.
  4. However, do put the submission for each unit in a different binder. There have been cases where work was overlooked, because it was included in the same binder as a piece for another unit (and perhaps even a different tutor).
  5. If you have a substantial amount of material in appendices, and especially if it is to be read alongside the main text, consider putting the appendices in a separate binder so that the reader or marker can have both of them open alongside each other, rather than continually having to thumb between the front and back of a single binder. In that case, of course, use an elastic band or document folder to keep the binders together.
  6. Sometimes, tutors may ask for two copies, for moderation, sampling or archive purposes. Technically, the copyright of any work you submit for assessment belongs to the University.


  7. Submissions should be double- or one-and-a-half spaced, (like this paragraph) with numbered pages, written on one side of A4 paper only with wide (at least 1��/4 cm/9 pica) margins. 12-point text (also like this paragraph) is a good standard size. To be really picky, a serif typeface such as Times New Roman, left-aligned rather than justified, is easier on the eye for solid text. It also helps if your name appears at the top or bottom of each page (in case the marker has to undo the binder and pages get separated).
  8. Submissions should be word-processed, because:
    • IT skills are relevant and transferable, and
    • it means that there is bound to be another copy available, so that tutors can write on the submitted copy.
  9. Personally, I am all for sub-headings for different sections of a submission, but this view is not shared by all lecturers. If you use sub-headings, please make them identifiable as such with bold type or similar, as in this document.
  10. Similarly, numbered paragraphs make for easy reference to particular sections on a marking sheet, but whether to use them or not depends somewhat on the nature of the submission. Some people actually cite the code numbers for the Outcomes in the margins: not all submissions lend themselves to this, but it is a useful device if you can use it. Note that the Outcomes do not have to be addressed in numerical order: let the sense of the work dictate their order.


  11. Quotations should be clearly separated from the rest of the text with quotation marks. They can be single-spaced, but anything longer than a single line should be indented and separated from the body of the text by a blank line.

    �So a substantial piece of quoted material will look rather like this, standing in the same relationship to the rest of the text as does this paragraph� (Atherton, 2008:88)

  12. All verbatim or paraphrased quotations need the source, date and page number (or at least the chapter reference) alongside them. See below for the conventions.
  13. Only use quotations when:
    • the author has made a point particularly well, and probably more concisely than you could say it and/or
    • you are going on to discuss in detail what she or he has said at this particular point.
  14. There is no point in quoting from standard textbooks; confine yourself to �primary sources�.
  15. Do not use quotations simply as a way of proving that you have actually read the book or article! Or for padding.


  16. The referencing conventions to be followed in written work (known as the Harvard or simply "author/date" system) are that sources are referred to (�flagged� or "cited") in the body of the text by author and date in parentheses, e.g. Jarvis (2006), with the page or chapter number cited if direct quotes or specific allusions to the author�s argument are used, e.g. Jarvis (2006: 50) or Jarvis (2006: ch. 4).
  17. Note Remember that the point of referencing is to enable a reader to go to the source material herself, so it is useless if it is not specific enough; if in doubt, use that as the guiding principle.that if you are referring to a textbook, which covers a wide range of material, it is not enough to flag the book itself: you must refer to the chapter, section or page. Simply flagging the source as a whole is only sufficient when that source is making a single point, as most academic articles do.
  18. The date in question is the date of the original publication, or of the edition you are working from: reprinting dates do not count. Remember that since much research and opinion progresses by a process of debate, the date of an article or book says a great deal.
  19. Academics are notorious for writing in droves. (What is the collective noun for lecturers? A �waffle� perhaps?) If there are three or more authors for a source it is usual to refer to the first author �et al.� (meaning �and others�) in the text, e.g. Zander et al. (2008), rather than Zander, Boustedt, Eckerdal, McCartney, Mostrom, Ratcliffe and Sanders (2008).
  20. At the end of the essay or dissertation full details should be cited (in alphabetical order of author): e.g.

    Jarvis P (2006) Towards a Comprehensive Theory of Human Learning London; Routledge

  21. If the reference is to an article or a paper within an edited volume, the article title should be �in quotes� and the name of the journal underlined or (preferably, nowadays) in italics. The volume and part of the journal (or its specific date) should also be cited:

    Zander C, Boustedt J, Eckerdal A, McCartney R, Mostrom J E, Ratcliffe M and Sanders K (2008) �Threshold Concepts in Computer Science� in R Land, J H F Meyer and J Smith (eds.) Threshold Concepts within the Disciplines Rotterdam; Sense Publishers (pp. 105-118)

    Kinchin I and Hay D (2005) �Using concept maps to optimize the composition of collaborative student groups: a pilot study� Journal of Advanced Nursing 51(2) July pp. 182-187

  22. Ideally, there should be two lists of references at the end of the work: one called �References� which sets out those works cited or referred to in the text as set out above, and another called �Bibliography�, which includes:
    • The actual sources for the references. E.g. if an article was included in a collection of articles gathered into a book, although originally published in another journal, or was cited by another author, the bibliography should include the information about the work you actually read, in which it was included or cited. E.g.:

    BECKER H (1963) �A school is a lousy place to learn anything in� reprinted in R J Burgess (ed.) Howard Becker on Education Buckingham; Open University Press, 1998

    • Any other books or articles which you read in support of the submission, but did not refer to directly in the text.
    • After all, how many of you have actually read BLOOM B S (ed.) (1956) Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, the classification of educational goals � Handbook I: Cognitive Domain New York: McKay?
    • That would be in the �references�, but the Bibliography would contain REECE I and WALKER S (2007) A Practical Guide to Teaching Training and Learning. (6th revised edition) London. Business Education Publishers. (Which is what you actually read.)
    • Note that this dual system is not always necessary when the referencing is uncomplicated.

    Citing the Internet

  23. Increasingly, you may wish to cite material from the Internet, particularly the World Wide Web. There are two major things to note:
    • There is a lot of rubbish out there: the freedom of the Internet is both its glory and its biggest liability from an academic viewpoint. Do not rely on it for authoritative statements on anything � always back up from printed sources.
    • The changeability and impermanence of the net means that you would be well advised not to cite Wikis (including Wikipedia), and should store a copy of the page in question on your machine for future reference.
  24. Pages can be up-dated in minutes. If the tutor wants to check your source, it may not say the same thing as it did when you wrote the submission, so it is important to cite the date of access (or "retrieval"). If you think it likely that the page might change (e.g. a news report) copy the page or print it as an Acrobat document, and keep it so that you can produce it if requested. It is not usually necessary to print out such material or to append it, but feel free to check with the marking tutor if in doubt.
  25. The standard form of citation is to use the usual Name (Year) flag in the body of the text and then, for the full version at the end:

    [Author,] (Year) [Title,] Retrieved [date of retrieval] from: [url]

  26. (The round brackets for the date are actually used, the square brackets simply indicate "insert relevant information here")

  27. Examples of referencing from the internet are:
  28. However, many websites do not have clear authors or dates of publication, so this poses problems for the in-text flag;
    • In the absence of a date, simply use "(n.d.)"�without the quotation marks�for "no date".
    • In the absence of an author use a version of the organisation's or website's name�shortened if necessary�in its place, and be consistent with its use in the reference list at the end. More detail here.
    • So flag that reference in-text as "(APA, 2010)" [the date is in the footer in this case], and list it as:
    • American Psychological Association (2010) "How do you reference a web page that lists no author?" retrieved 22 August 2010 from , or

      APA (2010) "How do you reference a web page that lists no author?" retrieved 22 August 2010 from

    • This is still fairly fluid!

    You may also come across the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) System, which appends a unique link to the end of a citation, and provides the most direct access to the source. This is of course only really useful on the net itself, and at the moment does not matter for references in hard-copy works.

    Diagrams and pictures

  29. Diagrams can be very effective ways of succinctly conveying complex information, and there is value in developing your skill in presenting information visually, so they may be a useful adjunct to the text.
  30. However, there is no need to reproduce diagrams of, say, Maslow�s hierarchy of needs or Kolb�s learning cycle, which are already likely to be familiar to the marker.
  31. Diagrams may be self-explanatory to you, but they may need a commentary for a reader coming upon them for the first time.
  32. Generally speaking, other illustrations such as photographs should be placed in appendices. Only use pictures which add something to the work: clipart decoration for its own sake may have its place in handouts, but is not appropriate here.


  33. Plagiarism is not merely the unattributed insertion of substantial pieces of other people�s material into your work, but any attempt to pass off someone else�s work as your own, and it is a serious offence. (Plagiarised work may be automatically failed and even lead to exclusion from a course. Your college or university will have a formal policy on plagiarism and probably some informal guidance, too. Read it.)
  34. Since, however, it makes good educational sense for students to make use of all resources available to them, including tutors, mentors and colleagues in preparing their work, the safest course is to be punctilious about acknowledging any assistance received as well as citing sources as above. Such acknowledgement should also include an indication of its nature, such as:
    • �Thanks to Fiona Bountiful (Mentor) for information on the implementation of competence-based assessmentfor politicians;
    • and to Bill Gates for Microsoft Word�s spelling checker.�
  35. It is not usually necessary to acknowledge the tutor him- or herself.

    Non-written Submissions

  36. If you are submitting material on CD or DVD (or of course as a computer file� in which case follow these instructions virtually, as it were), then:
    • Ensure that it is clearly marked with your name (or ID number in the case of anonymous marking) and the title of the module or assignment. Use the special pens for marking CDs, which do not rub off.
    • Enclose the media with any accompanying written material in a plastic wallet, and note the contents when you sign the submission in.
    • Do not rely exclusively on sending files electronically; there should be a physical object which can be receipted and tracked like any other submission.
    • Discuss with your tutor whether equipment is available to access the material (some DVD formats, for example, will not run on all DVD players).
    • Computer media submissions should include a run-time version of the application used to generate the data, unless you have already checked that we have access to the application.
    • Accompany the media with a brief note of instructions and contents, such as where to find the bits you want to use as evidence. Devoted as the staff are, we still do not want to plough through three hours of a video to get at three minutes of evidence. If using a DVD, make sure you have incorporated a menu system to allow direct jumps to the important bits.


  37. When you submit a portfolio, you will need to include a lot of appended supporting evidence. This can be put in plastic sleeves at the back of a project binder, or in a separate folder (one item, rather than page, per sleeve), but only use sleeves if you have to. (See paras. 3 and 5 above)
  38. A clear table of contents should be supplied, and each item clearly identified for cross-referencing with the main text.
  39. Do not include things we already know about, such as handouts from the course itself.
  40. If there is a lot of material (such as for a claim for accreditation of prior learning), book a tutorial session to go through it and get the tutor�s advice as to what to include and what to leave out. If you use a questionnaire, for example, we do not need every completed copy, nor every single cross-tabulation that your statistics package has generated.


  41. (This is a course-specific point and practices differ considerably.) Word limits (3-5k) are for your guidance. Don�t waste your time counting words individually: tutors don�t and all word-processors have a word-count utility anyhow. If you need rough guidance, there are about 400 words to a 1�-spaced A4 page. Appendices do not count as part of the word limit on this programme, but sometimes they do on other programmes; check local regulations.
  42. It is not that we are inclined to refuse anyone credit for presentational solecisms, although sloppy presentation implies a �couldn�t care less� attitude towards the work which may correlate positively with poor results: it is more that you presumably want to impress us with your command of the subject, and like yourselves we are easier to impress if our lives as markers are not made more difficult. We listen to what you say rather than being distracted by how you say it.

Quick and dirty introduction to referencing:

(Please ensure that sound is turned on; by default the slides progress according to the sound.)

up-dated 26 July 2013

Presentation is not the whole story!
On content, see:

On baking an essay Writing at Master's Level How to structure a Dissertation

To reference this page copy and paste the text below:

Atherton J S (2013) Doceo; [On-line: UK] retrieved from

Original material by James Atherton: last up-dated overall 10 February 2013

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