Word Limit Policy for Online Examinations - 2023/24


This policy covers all standard 24 hour online exams for taught programmes which include substantial prose answers (e.g. essays but not short answer questions). 

(The policy for coursework is covered by the Submission of work for assessment taught programmes policy. In-person hand-written exams, online fixed duration exams and online fixed start, fixed duration exams do not have a specific word limit policy, although module organisers are free to set indicative or recommended word limits as appropriate for the exam).


1.    Setting word limits

Module Organisers are advised to set word limits for individual questions requiring an essay-type answer, typically more than 250 words in length. 

Word limits should include: 
•    a minimum length, where work shorter than this is unlikely to fully answer the question 
•    a maximum length, where text beyond this length will be disregarded by the marker

Module Organisers can also include a typical length. The word limit range should be reasonably generous in relation to the typical length expected (e.g. 1200-2000 words for a typical essay length of 1500 words). 

2.    Publishing word limits

The word limits will be published on exam papers, beside each question, where a limit is appropriate.

3.    Penalties

No specific mark deduction penalties should be applied to under- or over-length work submitted as part of an online exam, noting that text beyond the maximum will be disregarded by the marker.

Where the Module Organiser has not stipulated a min/max/typical word length, the whole answer should be marked.

4.    Declaring word counts

Students should add their word count to each of their answers but will not be penalised for missing word counts.