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Types of assignments

This guide will explain the types of assignment required at USW. Mae'r dudalen hon hefyd ar gael yn a Gymraeg


How to organise and   plan an assignment 
A short guide from USW Study Skills on organising and planning an assignment.

Further reading

Study skills reading list 
a wide ranging list divided into sections that highlight popular study skills books.

Understanding your assignments

There are a number of assignment types that you can be asked to produce at university.  They could be written, oral or visual but they all have the same basic purpose, which is to allow you to demonstrate your ability to:

  • Research a topic
  • Organise the research and evidence into a structured piece of work
  • Show your understanding and knowledge of the topic

The assignment brief:

  • Check any learning outcomes, marking criteria, word count information before you start.
  • Make sure you understand the type of assignment you are expected to produce. Is it a written assignment like an essay or an assessment that includes a practical, visual element, like a poster presentation?
  • Understanding what the assignment is asking you to do is key. Many assignments come in the form of an instruction, command or a task. It is essential that you understand the difference between these words before you start. See some links to terminology in the refence list below.
  • Identify the topic, by highlighting the keywords in the assignment. This will help you focus on the main elements and help with your structure and research.
  • Identify any limiting words that might be in the brief, these are words that will place restrictions on your assignment e.g. topic is limited to the UK or a specific time period.

Bangor University. (2020) Essay terms explained. Available at: (Accessed 11 July 2022)

McMillan, K. & Weyers, J. D. B. (2011) How to write essays & assignments. 2nd ed. Harlow: Pearson.

Staffordshire University. (2020) Terms and definitions. Available at: (Accessed: 11 July 2022)

Starting an assignment

Once you have worked out what you are being asked to do (see above), then you need to:

  • Allow sufficient time in order to carry out the research, plan the assignment and write it up. Check your course handbook for the submission date, so that you can estimate how much time you have to complete the work whilst factoring other work for other modules or other university, family or voluntary / paid work commitments.
  • Search for information and decide what is relevant whilst keeping a record of the sources you have found for your reference list. Don't forget the information that you have already, from your lectures or seminars. Don't forget the module reading list too.
  • Reading and note making, are are essential part of the research process. There is no right or wrong method, just one that suits you. Note making is a learning process in itself, as it helps you understand what you are reading and makes you concentrate on the important information.
  • The reading and note taking also generates ideas and links which helps with the creation of a plan.
  • Drafting and writing, is where you begin implementing your plan and roughly put your thoughts together. It is where you begin making your argument, working out your ideas and organising your thoughts. When you have a rough draft you can make your revisions, taking into consideration the shape and structure, whilst making sure the argument is clear and answers the original brief.  
  • Proof reading and editing, is where you check for errors be they spelling, grammatical or factual. This is also where you check your referencing is complete and correct, using the right referencing standard.

Academic integrity

The avoidance of plagiarism is an important aspect of Academic integrity. Plagiarism is when a person tries to pass off someone else's work as their own. It is essential that other people's work is acknowledged and referenced properly. 

The University has a page with information and guidance on Academic misconduct and Academic integrity, including information about plagiarism and good academic practice.