Faculty of Law


Marks and Grades

Here is all the information you need to understand how your work will be assessed and graded within the Faculty of Law.

Grading: Research-based Work

The following table shows the relationship of marks to grades on the nine-point scale used by the Faculty of Law for research-based work (including coursework, Supervised Research, Papers in Lieu of Examination, Honours seminar papers, and Honours dissertations), as well as descriptors appropriate to the requirements of the course, corresponding to the level of attainment within each of the letter grades on the scale.  The descriptors are classified into four core learning skills which are assessed:

  • Comprehension: how well the student has understood the issues relating to the question or topic, and the applicable law and/or policy relating to these.
  • Synthesis and Analysis: how well the student has marshalled the relevant material to address the question, and analysed the relevant issues, topics and debates.
  • Evaluation: how well the student has critically evaluated the issues and competing arguments in light of a theoretical framework, undertaken comparative analysis (if relevant), and expressed his or her own opinions and insights.
  • Sources, Citations and Presentation: how well the student has identified relevant primary and secondary source material, the extent to which the work complies with the New Zealand Law Style Guide (where applicable), and the overall appearance of the work.

In relation to any given work, these four core learning skills are assessed in a holistic manner, rather than individually.  For example, the work may display excellent comprehension and excellent synthesis/analysis, yet the evaluation may be only good or sound, meaning that, holistically, the work does not achieve a grade in the A band.

Students will note that the descriptors are broadly banded in the grades of A, B, C, and D, with the finer gradings reflecting “shades” or “levels” of achievement within the broad bands.  

Grade

% value

Comprehension

Synthesis and Analysis

Evaluation

Sources, Citations and Presentation

A+

90-100

Work of exceptional quality showing excellence in, or advanced knowledge and understanding of, subject matter, and  appreciation of the issues.

In short, the “A+” student will have attained an “in-depth” knowledge and understanding of the subject matter, and may have undertaken extensive reading beyond that which is required.  

Holistically, across all four skills, the work is exceptional and even original or creative, which sets it apart from the “A” grade.

Outstanding marshalling and analysis of the appropriate legal rules, principles, legislation and/or policies relevant to the question or topic. 

Extremely well-formulated arguments based on strong and sustainable evidence and/or supporting authority.

Analysis shows high level of critical thinking, and will ordinarily exhibit creativity or originality.

Demonstrates exceptional critical evaluation of the issues or debates, and of the strengths and weaknesses of competing arguments or views.

The answer displays critical insight throughout. Sometimes generates original perspectives of topic area.

The student will have consistently demonstrated an exceptional level of proficiency in understanding and applying relevant tools and methodologies to the subject area and in addressing relevant debates in the area.

 

 

Identification of an impressive range of primary and secondary sources; full and accurate referencing of these sources in compliance with the New Zealand Law Style Guide.

Impeccable use of English. Free from grammatical or typographical errors.

Polished presentation in appearance, style and formatting e.g. in headings, sub-headings, paragraph numbering, and footnotes.

A

85-89

Work of excellent quality showing excellent knowledge and understanding of the subject matter, and appreciation of the issues. 

Holistically, across all four skills, otherwise meets many but not all of the requirements for an A+.

Excellent marshalling and analysis of relevant legal content, and excellent arguments based on strong and sustainable evidence and authority.

The analysis shows critical thinking but does not necessarily display creativity or originality.

Excellent critical evaluation of the issues / debates and competing arguments or views, and demonstrates excellent level of proficiency in understanding and applying relevant tools, methodologies, and addressing relevant debates. 

Excellent identification and referencing of relevant sources; full or nearly full compliance with the New Zealand Style Guide; and excellent presentation.

 

A-

80-84

Work of very good quality showing very good knowledge and understanding of the subject matter, and appreciation of the issues. 

Holistically, across all four skills, otherwise meets most of the requirements for an A.

Very good marshalling and analysis of relevant legal content, and very good arguments based on strong and sustainable evidence and authority.

Very good critical evaluation of the issues / debates and competing arguments or views, and demonstrates very good level of proficiency in understanding and applying relevant tools, methodologies, and addressing relevant debates. 

 

Very good identification and referencing of relevant sources; nearly full compliance with the New Zealand Style Guide; and very good presentation.

 

B+

B

B-

75-79

70-74

65-69

Work shows a good to sound grasp of subject matter and understanding of the major issues, although not necessarily of the finer points.

In short, the “B” student will have attained a “good” to “sound” knowledge and understanding of the issues relevant to the task.

 

 

Good to sound marshalling of the relevant material and application of the appropriate legal rules, principles, legislation and/or policies relevant to the task. 

Arguments are generally well developed and based on sound evidence and/or legal authority. 

 

 

Attempts to evaluate the issues / debates, and the strengths and weaknesses of competing arguments or views.

Shows familiarity with the major academic debates, and the ability to apply relevant methodologies, and conceptual tools to the subject area.

 

Good to sound identification and referencing of relevant primary and secondary sources; high level of compliance with the New Zealand Law Style Guide.

Generally good use of English. Few grammatical or typographical errors.

Very good presentation in appearance, style and formatting e.g. in headings, sub-headings, paragraph numbering, and footnotes.

C+

C

C-

60-64

55-59

50-54

Work shows a basic knowledge of subject matter and appreciation of the main issues, albeit with some lapses and inadequacies.

In short, the “C” student will have attained an “adequate” or “basic” knowledge and understanding of the issues relevant to the task.

Adequate to basic marshalling of the relevant material and application of the appropriate legal rules, principles, legislation and/or policies relevant to the task.

Some attempt to develop arguments and support these by evidence and/or legal authority, but work is often descriptive and non-analytical.

 

 

Evaluates some major and some minor issues.  Makes only a limited attempt to evaluate competing arguments or conclusions.

Demonstrates only limited familiarity with the major academic debates, approaches, methodologies and conceptual tools to the subject area.

 

Adequate to basic identification and referencing of relevant primary and secondary sources; average level of compliance with the New Zealand Law Style Guide.

Generally adequate use of English.  Some grammatical or typographical errors.

Adequate presentation in appearance, style and formatting e.g. in headings, sub-headings, paragraph numbering, and footnotes.

D+

D

45-49

40-44

Work lacks breadth and depth, generally has gaps of a significant nature, and may state incorrect or contradictory propositions and/or conclusions.

In short, the “D” student shows an “unsatisfactory” knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. 

No or very limited marshalling of the relevant material and application of the appropriate legal rules, principles, legislation and/or policies relevant to the task. 

Work is largely descriptive and non-analytical - no or very limited attempt to develop arguments and support these by evidence and/or legal authority.

Generally makes no attempt to evaluate any major or minor issues.  Generally does not evaluate competing arguments or conclusions.

Demonstrates a lack of familiarity with the major academic debates, approaches, methodologies and conceptual tools to the subject area.

Limited or inadequate identification and referencing of relevant primary and secondary sources; limited or inadequate compliance with the New Zealand Law Style Guide.

Below average or inadequate use of English.  Many grammatical or typographical errors.

Below average or inadequate presentation in appearance, style and formatting e.g. in headings, sub-headings, paragraph numbering, and footnotes.

D-

0-39

Unsatisfactory or unacceptable work which shows a profound or serious lack of knowledge and understanding of the subject matter throughout.

In short, holistically across all four skills, the “D-” student will have attained “highly deficient” knowledge and understanding.

Fails to marshal the relevant material and apply the appropriate legal rules, principles, legislation and/or policies relevant to the task. 

Does not make any attempt to develop arguments and support these by evidence and/or legal authority.

 

Generally fails to evaluate any major or minor issues. Fails to evaluate competing arguments or conclusions.

Demonstrates no, or hardly any, familiarity with the major academic debates, approaches, methodologies, and conceptual tools of the subject.

 

Poor or no identification and referencing of relevant primary and secondary sources; lack of compliance with the New Zealand Law Style Guide.

Poor use of English. Significant grammatical or typographical errors.

Untidy or poor presentation in appearance, style and formatting e.g. in headings, sub-headings, paragraph numbering, and footnotes.

Grading: Examinations and Problem-based Work

The following table shows the relationship of marks to grades on the nine-point scale used by the Faculty of Law for examinations and problem-based work, as well as descriptors appropriate to the requirements of the course, corresponding to the level of attainment within each of the letter grades on the scale.  The descriptors are classified into four core learning skills which are assessed:

  • Comprehension: how well the student has understood the issues arising from the question, and the law and/or policy relating to these.
  • Analysis: how well the student has analysed how the relevant law and/or policy apply to the facts and/or the issues raised by the question
  • Evaluation: how well the student has critically evaluated the issues and/or theories, undertaken comparative analysis (if relevant), and evaluated the competing arguments on each issue.
  • Referencing: the extent to which the answer is supported throughout with reference to relevant case law, legislation and academic writing (as appropriate).

In any given answer, these four core learning skills are assessed in a holistic manner, rather than individually.  For example, the work may display excellent comprehension and excellent analysis, yet the evaluation may be only sound or satisfactory, meaning that, holistically, the answer does not achieve a grade in the A band.

Students will note that the descriptors are broadly banded in the grades of A, B, C, and D, with the finer gradings reflecting “shades” or “levels” of achievement within the broad bands.

Note: where the examination or coursework question involves an essay-based answer, it will be assessed in accordance with the “Research-based Work” Guidelines, adapted appropriately. 

Grade

% value

Comprehension

Analysis

Evaluation

Referencing

A+

90-100

Accurately identifies all of the relevant issues, and demonstrates exceptional knowledge and understanding of them.

Holistically across all four skills, the answer is exceptional and even original or creative, which sets it apart from the “A” grade.

Exceptional and perceptive argument about how the relevant law and/or policy applies to the facts.

Shows critical thinking throughout, and will ordinarily show creativity and originality.

Evaluates competing arguments and/or theories with flair and in depth, and draws appropriate conclusions. Makes useful comparisons (if appropriate).

Shows insight throughout and may express original views or opinions.

Supports answer throughout with exceptionally accurate reference to relevant case law, legislation and academic writing (as applicable).

A

85-89

Accurately identifies all of the relevant issues, and demonstrates excellent knowledge and understanding of them.

Holistically across all four skills, meets many but not all of the requirements for an A+.

Excellent argument about how the relevant law and/or policy applies to the facts, and shows substantial critical thinking. 

Evaluates competing arguments and/or theories to an excellent standard, and draws appropriate conclusions. Shows substantial insight throughout. 

Supports answer throughout with very accurate reference to relevant case law, legislation and academic writing (as applicable). 

A-

80-84

Accurately identifies all or nearly all of the relevant issues, and demonstrates very good knowledge and understanding of them.

Holistically, across all four skills, meets most of the requirements for an A.

Very good argument about how the relevant law and/or policy applies to the facts, and shows some critical thinking. 

Evaluates competing arguments and/or theories to a very good standard, and draws appropriate conclusions. Shows some insight throughout. 

Supports answer throughout with accurate reference to relevant case law, legislation and academic writing (as applicable). 

B+

B

B-

75-59

70-74

65-69

Identifies most but not all of the relevant issues, and displays a sound but not excellent level of knowledge and understanding.

 

 

Analyses most of the relevant issues to a reasonable standard, and satisfactorily discusses how the law applies to the facts.

Evaluates competing arguments and/or theories in a sound or satisfactory way and mostly draws appropriate conclusions.

 

Generally supports answer with reference to relevant case law, legislation and academic writing (as applicable).

C+

C

C-

60-64

55-59

50-54

Identifies some of the relevant issues, and displays an adequate or basic (but incomplete or limited), knowledge and understanding.

Analyses some of the relevant issues to a less than average standard, and makes some attempt to discuss how the law applies to the facts.

Makes some or a limited attempt to evaluate competing arguments and/or theories and draw appropriate conclusions.

 

Makes some or a limited attempt to support answer with reference to relevant case law, legislation and academic writing (as applicable).

D+

D

45-49

40-44

Identifies very few relevant issues (or may misidentify the relevant issues) and displays unsatisfactory knowledge and understanding throughout.

Highly unsatisfactory analysis of the relevant issues and/or highly unsatisfactory discussion of how the law applies to the facts.

Makes some or a limited attempt to evaluate competing arguments and/or theories and draw appropriate conclusions.

 

Makes a very limited attempt to support answer with reference to relevant case law, legislation and academic writing (as applicable).

D-

0-39

Identifies none of the relevant issues and/or misidentifies the relevant issues, and displays a profound or serious lack of knowledge and understanding throughout.

Fails to analyse the relevant issues and/or contains no or very limited discussion of how the law applies to the facts.

Fails to evaluate competing arguments and/or theories and fails to draw any appropriate conclusions.

 

Makes no attempt, or hardly any attempt, to support answer with reference to relevant case law, legislation and academic writing (as applicable).