Word Limits


Word limits are set for every piece of assessed coursework including the Dissertation. Word limits are there for a reason. They reflect the scope of the assessment exercise and adherence to the word limit is part of the assignment. Learning to write to a specific word limit is a valuable skill to acquire. You are expected to produce a highly effective piece of work with well-structured arguments, expressed in clear and economical prose without exceeding these limits.

Word limits include footnotes but exclude front and end matter (e.g. bibliographies, abstracts, appendices, title page, contents page, abbreviations page, and acknowledgements).

Some non-standard assignments may be exempt from this general rule (for example, annotated bibliographies).

Standard word limits

  • 30 credit modules: 6000 words
  • Directed Reading: 4000 words
  • 15 credit modules: 3000 words
  • Dissertation: 15,000 words

Please note that while most modules require the word limit to be met with one standard essay, some modules have multiple assignments and you should always consult the individual module pages for full information.

Students should declare the word length on all pieces of coursework (see Presentation of Assessed Work).


Word Limit Penalties

Penalties will apply where the word limits are exceeded, as follows:

  • 5-15% over the word limit: deduction of 5% of the mark awarded.
  • 15% or more over the word limit: deduction of 10% of the mark awarded.

Work below 5% over the word limit will not incur a penalty.