Grading + Evaluation Criteria


Grading is pass/fail, but, as with all required courses in our program, students must complete ‘B’-level work in order to pass the course.

Why is this course pass/fail?       

Because this course is about exploration and trial: of possible trajectories within Media Studies, of various academic conventions and modes of expression, of collaborative practices. It’s all but impossible (and not terribly helpful) to quantify “success” in exploration. The skills you develop in UMS are meant to serve you throughout your graduate study, and throughout your career. Thus, your work here is necessarily work-in-progress.[1]

In addition, we expect that you, as graduate students, don’t always require external motivation to put in your best effort, especially when the potential rewards are proportional to the effort you expend.

Academic Honesty

All students are expected to familiarize themselves with the University’s Academic Honesty policy. Any acts of academic dishonesty will result in automatic failure of the course.


All assignment deadlines are listed on the syllabus. Late work will be penalized, and extensions will be granted only rarely, and only after consulting with your instructor well in advance of the assignment deadline.

A student who has not submitted all assigned work by the end of the semester does not receive an “Incomplete” by default. “Incompletes” are assigned only in extreme circumstances, and require that the student consult with his or her Instructor before the end of the semester and sign a contract obligating him or her to complete all outstanding work by a date that we agree upon.

[1] These skills that develop over time – outside the timeframe of a single semester’s coursework – are what educational researcher Peter Knight calls “wicked competencies.” As Tight et. al. explain:

“Wicked” competencies have quite a lot in common with the so-called “soft skills” that are valued by employers (such as the application of emotional intelligence in teamworking and other situations). Knight (2007) described them as:

achievements that cannot be neatly pre-specified, take time to develop and resist measurement-based approaches to assessment.

Such achievements often take longer than an individual module of study to develop, and may more appropriately be assessed over a complete study programme. …Assessments are…judgments rather than measurements (which, in reality, are no more than quasi-measurements at best). In Knight’s (2006) terms such judgments are “local,” and hence cannot be force-fitted into a specified list of assessment criteria. Grades can signal in only broad terms the strengths and weaknesses of such multi-faceted achievements, and an overall grade might obscure a significant weakness. A pass/fail approach to grading, supported by a commentary on strengths and weaknesses, may be more appropriate” (Malcolm Tight, Ka Ho Mok, Jeroen Huisman, Christopher G. Morphew, Eds., The Routledge International Handbook of Higher Education (New York: Routledge, 2009): 218).