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School of Communications - Student Handbook dcu writing

    • This handbook is intended to act as a guide addressing some of the questions most commonly asked by students.

      We should stress at the outset that at university, primary responsibility for gathering information relevant to progress through academic life lies with you the student.
      While essay writing is not the only form of writing at universities it is the form that students seem to find particularly difficult. The variety of writing that you will have to do depends largely on your programme of study. In many modular programmes you may take inter-disciplinary modules which draw on a range of perspectives from both the natural and social sciences, as well as from the humanities. Or, you may be following vocational and professional programmes e.g. nursing or business studies where you might find you are likely to have to write a variety of discipline-specific ‘reports’. Within any one programme there may be different kinds of assessment from the traditional essay. Examples include report writing, summaries, articles, reviews, collaborative writing, dissertations and electronic writing. The units included in the ‘Writing’ section of this resource (of which this is the introductory unit) are general guides and the techniques suggested will help students make a coherent response in written assignments. While they specifically relate to essay writing, many of the strategies described are transferable to other types of writing.

      The onus is on you to check course requirements, to keep abreast of deadlines, to understand what conditions may be imposed on your taking one option or another etc. To this end we would encourage you to become familiar with the DCU website and to check your DCU email for messages from lecturers on at least a daily basis.
      Do not separate articles and books in your reference list. This could be counter-productive, as the reader would not necessarily know which list to check.

      It should also be borne in mind that this handbook does not claim to be a definitive guide to every problem you may encounter. Rather it is a work in progress which will be updated on an ongoing basis. To this end any comments, corrections or any suggestions that might improve it will be welcomed by the editors who will include them in updated versions.
      Footnotes should be used, if at all, only to add additional comments that stand well outside the main thread of the body of the text. In computational linguistics, footnotes are generally NOT used to give bibliographic references.

      Speak to your programme board chair.


      Though every effort has been made to ensure that this document is accurate and up-to-date it should not be taken as legally binding.

      The School of Communications is home to three undergraduate degrees and seven post-grad degrees.

      We call them programmes, and each is managed by a Programme Board.
      Section 5 on stylistic conventions should be paid special attention by everyone as there is little scope for flexibility within a particular academic discipline. This may not fully apply to Applied Computational Linguistics which spans many fields, but nevertheless, an element of appropriateness will always be expected.

      You will need to know who is in charge of your programme.

      ProgrammeChairRoomPhone*email BA Communication Studies Dr Neil O’Boyle C178 6593 BA Journalism Dr Jane Suiter C169 6393 BSc Multimedia Martin G Molony C130 5203 MA Film & Television Dr. Debbie Ging C179 8355 MA Journalism Paul McNamara C170 5202 MA Political Communication Dr Kevin Rafter C126 5082 MSc Multimedia Karl Grimes C171 5215 MSc Science Communication Dr Padraig Murphy C141 7703 MA International Journalism Studies Prof Steven Knowlton C148 5424 MA in Social Media Studies Dr Eugenia Siapera C175 6119

      *off campus, phone (01) 700-xxxx

      Each programme is made up of modules (specific units of study, like CM107 Introduction to Social Studies, delivered over a semester of 12 weeks).

      Usually you do six modules per semester.
      Dublin-based company charges students €150-€600 for “sample papers” depending on the level and word count required. However, it states in its terms and conditions that these should not be used for educational progression, and the company does “not condone . . . any form of plagiarism”.

      Some of them will be delivered by other schools within the Faculty of Humanities & Social Science - like LG101 Introduction to Law, taught by members of the School of Law & Government.


      Your point of contact for information or advice depends on the nature of your query. For specific academic questions, the most useful person to see is the lecturer who teaches that module: in class, just after class, or email for an appointment.

      Dr Glynn said universities faced a challenge in “proving without doubt the person has plagiarised”, especially in today’s litigious culture.

      If it is something that concerns the whole class (like a clash of assignment deadlines), bring it up with your elected class representatives, rather than having a lot of people contact the lecturer with the same point.

      Plagiarism policy

      TCD also uses Turntin, while UCD uses similar plagiarism-detection software SafeAssign. There is a lack of clear data on the extent of the problem but a 2011 survey carried out by the University Times at TCD showed that more than half of students contravened the college’s plagiarism policy by enlisting someone else’s help to complete their assignment.

      For group issues that concern more than one module, the class representatives should see your programme chair. If it is a personal matter, undergraduates should contact the student advisor for their programme, listed below:

      ProgrammeStudent AdvisorRoomPhone*eMail BA Communication Studies Dr Neil O'Boyle C2178 6593 BA Journalism Prof Colum Kenny C168 5235 BSc Multimedia Karl Grimes C171 5215

      *off campus, phone (01) 700-xxxx

      You may also visit the Student Advice Centre, on the ground floor of the Henry Grattan Building - opposite the restaurant. Graduate students should contact their programme chair

      The same applies to Section 3 on structure and content, and Section 4 on presentation and style, but the contents of these sections can also serve as a basis for self-assessment - even for the experienced - before that final draft is submitted.


      You are expected to use e-mail in a professional manner and refrain from any comments which could be regarded as disrespectful or offensive. Bear in mind that e-mails are easily misunderstood and therefore it is important to ensure that the message conveys the intended tone (ie. professional, friendly, courteous).

      The Irish Times has identified a number of Irish students using websites such as Odesk. com and Elance. com where they have posted ads seeking freelance academics to write essays for them at a rate of up €50 an hour.

      Think of your correspondence over e-mail as practice for the work environment after university.

      Follow these guidelines for effective communication:

      • Always use your account for DCU business
      • Insert a relevant subject line, including your programme and the module name if relevant. (eg. 'CS request for meeting on choice of modules')
      • Begin the e-mail with a salutation (e.g. Hi Tom/Dear Professor X)
      • In the body of the e-mail, state who you are (e.g. student in the CM104 module), explain the purpose of your e-mail, make a polite request, thank the receiver and sign off properly (e.g. kind regards, best wishes)
      • Adopt a friendly and personable tone.
      • Do not write anything that you would not be happy for everyone to see or that you would not say to the recipient’s face.
      • Proof-read your e-mail before you send it.
      Do not give the impression that you do not wish to take the time to write properly.
      Companies offering “pay-as-you-go” essays were “relatively easy to detect” using this software, Dr Glynn said. But the university was also tackling the problem with “pedagogical solutions”.

    • Be careful with your user name or any tagline on your e-mail (‘lazysod’ as a tagline may be amusing to friends, but is not appropriate if the email is sent to DCU staff or potential employers).
    • Do not use text abbreviations such as ‘b4’, ‘gr8’ etc. in an e-mail

    Before mailing, think about whether you can find what you need on the DCU web, or by asking a question in class; and do not send the same request for information to more than one person at once.


    Some of your modules are core - you have to take them. Others are options, from which you choose the required number.

    Donna is a third-year PhD candidate at Dublin City University and has taught a number of modules in the School of Law and Government, including legal skills and methods. She has a BCL undergraduate degree and an LLM in Health and Care Law. In 2016, Donna was awarded a Visiting Research Fellowship at the Burton Blatt Institute, Syracuse New York and she has also worked as a copy-editor with The Routledge Handbook of Irish Criminology.

    You register your choice for both semesters at the beginning of the academic year in September, but you can change your mind.

    Changing your choice of options for most modules is free of charge in the first and second week of each semester, and there is a fee in the third week - do it from your portal page.

    (Some production modules in the second year of the BSc in Multimedia do not allow a change of mind)

    But bear in mind that lecturers will not be able to make special arrangements for you if you turn up to lectures for the first time in week three: if you have doubts, attend all modules you are thinking about for the first two weeks.


    Your portal page is your personal home page on the DCU web site. It includes information about your timetable, modules you are registered for, and much more.

    Like the other sites, however, it says it does not support plagiarism but rather offers academic assistance, including sample essays that should be referenced as such by students.

    Just go to, and enter your DCU computer account password.


    Attendance at class should be regarded as compulsory. Students who do not attend class regularly are likely to have poor grades or, indeed, fail.

    An Irish website says it has enjoyed “a growing demand from Irish students which is increasing year on year”.

    Individual lecturers are not required to issue warnings to students with poor attendance records. The responsibility for attending class lies solely with you. Although a roll may be not called, lecturers do note student attendance patterns.
    While his profile said he was based abroad, and did not mention the name of his university, his tender documents identified the university. They also inadvertently mentioned his lecturer’s name.

    Good time-keeping, regular attendance and active participation in workshops and seminars are required of all students.

    In addition you should note that it is your responsibility to keep up with the progress of the course.

    If you are unable to attend classes you should inform the lecturer of this and make it your business to ascertain what you missed and to acquire any course materials given out during your absence.
    Reading through some other books/papers in addition to, say, the two or three that everyone else is using, is also likely to help you to gain a wider perspective on the question you are studying.


    LOOP is DCU’s online learning environment through which lecturers can give electronic access to material like lecture notes, and activities like discussion forums - a bit like a Facebook group for each module.

    The use of LOOP varies from module to module - some use it a little, some use it a lot.

    Individual lecturers will speak to you about the requirements for their module.
    Good academic writing is a skill acquired rather than learnt. Approaches vary from person to person and will depend on one's experience in essay/report writing, almost to the point where a style of writing will be as individual as a signature. You may already feel quite comfortable writing and if so, you will have a definite feel for what works for you.

    It is essential that you to become comfortable with this environment as soon as possible, as it will be used throughout your studies at DCU. Go to to get started.


    You have to pass all the modules required by your programme to move from one year to the next, and to graduate. Depending on the module, that means continuous assessment (essays and other projects) or an examination, or a combination.

    The university tackles it using anti-plagiarism software Turntin, which generates a report on each essay submitted. Alarm bells are raised if more than 20 per cent of the text matches existing sources online.

    The module lecturer - sometimes with assistance of other academics or external examiners - will assess your work, and decide the % mark. That mark will be considered and approved by the programme board (in this case it adopts the name Progression and Award Board, or PAB), and finally by the university's Academic Council.
    It is also a good policy to check your final draft with this in mind. Read each paragraph and ask yourself whether it addresses the question. It is all too easy to drift away from the point.

    This sequence matters if you want special circumstances taken into account, or if you want to appeal - procedures outlined below. The details of DCU examination regulations are here: EXAM REGULATiONS LINK


    Examinations are held at specific times, during two weeks in January for semester one modules, and during two weeks in May for semester two modules. The exam schedules are published in December and April.

    To give you an idea, we shall now present two example styles.

    The delivery dates (deadlines) for continuous assessment assignments are set by the lecturer. Lecturers are not obliged to accept work that is delivered late. In that case, your mark for that assignment will be zero.

    The Writing Centre offers one-to-one guidance with academic writing to all undergraduate and postgraduate students. The sessions provide students with the opportunity to receive expert advice from a peer tutor. Tutors are studying at PhD level and are trained and supervised by SS&D staff. Students may visit the Centre during any stage of the writing process: planning an assignment, writing a first draft, or revising and editing a document. Sessions are booked online and are free of charge.

    Lecturers who do accept late work are bound by School of Communications policy as follows:

    • for every day late (including Saturday and Sunday) 5% is deducted from the mark before it is issued to you
    • No work will be accepted if it is more than 5 days late.

    Unless lecturers have specified another method of delivery (such as e-mail or LOOP) all assignments should be left in the project box outside room C142 (the School Secretary's Office).

    All work should be submitted before 12 noon on the due date.
    You should also remember that using an example is NOT sufficient to support your point of view in itself. Be explicit in stating WHY this example is good evidence of your argument. Also, you do not need a lot of them: one pertinent example is far more effective than three mediocre ones.

    As the project submission bin will not be emptied at weekends work submitted over a weekend will be regarded as having been submitted on MONDAY (or Tuesday after a public holiday).

    You are advised to keep copies of all your work.

    Occasionally an external examiner may decide to re-examine work submitted previously.
    Dr Mark Glynn, head of DCU’s teaching enhancement unit, said plagiarism was an age-old problem but “with the advent of the internet the issue of external people writing essays or papers has become more prevalent”.

    It is therefore important that you retain copies at least until marks for the semester are posted.

    Note that every assignment must be accompanied by your signature on the School of Communications declaration available on your portal page.

    The text of the declaration is also in Appendix 4 below.
    You may not be the first to make these connections, but that does not make them any less valid or interesting. This shows the person reading your essay that you have engaged with the topic, and really thought about it, rather than just regurgitating what you have read in your course textbook.


    If you are ill, or other circumstances beyond your control prevent you completing an assignment on time, the lecturer may grant you an extension of the deadline. That will not affect your grade - but the lecturer is not obliged to grant the extension, and is unlikely to do so if you do not seek a meeting to explain yourself BEFORE the original deadline has passed.

    Allow yourself enough time. If you work on your written submission right till the deadline, there is a very high likelihood that you will not have done yourself (or the topic) justice. So make a rough timetable. Aim to have what you subjectively feel is a `final' draft AT LEAST 2 days before the submission deadline. Use the remaining days to review your work at well spaced intervals. This will help you look more objectively at your own work.


    Numerical marks, both in individual modules and in overall year and degree results, are translated into grades as follows:

    UNDERGRADUATE GRADES 70%+ First class honours (H1) 60-69% Second class honours, grade 1 (H21) 50-59% Second class honours, grade 2 (H2.2) 40-49% Third class honours (H3) under 40% Fail

    Undergraduate students who narrowly fail one or two modules in any year may be eligible for compensation (award of a pass without reaching 40%) if their other marks are good enough.

    See the section on COMPENSATION below.
    It is very important to remember that writing essays and other assignments is about much more than getting good grades. As you write you are making meaning and creating links between your learning from writing, from reading of various texts, and from other activities and events. Writing is therefore fundamentally about learning. As you learn to write in a particular way for a particular subject you are learning how to make sense of that subject. Each academic discipline has its own specific ways of writing and of organising knowledge and over time you will gain an understanding of the particular conventions of your discipline. Ideally, then, all learning skills, including writing skills, should be developed within the parameters of your discipline(s).

    70%+ First class honours
    60-69% Second class honours
    40-59% Pass
    under 40% Fail


    Undergraduate work in exams and essays is marked using the following standards.

    In the reference list or bibliography at the end of the essay be sure to list alphabetically ALL the publications you have cited in the course of your essay. The purpose of a reference section is to enable people to find the books and articles you have referenced which they would like to study further. It is not just so that the marker can see how much you have read!

    Note that these are broad criteria and each module - and particularly continuous assessment projects - will also have more specific criteria.

    First Class (70%+):The answer contains all relevant information and has a coherent, logical and precise argument. It also shows an awareness of the broad and more subtle implications of the issues. There is evidence of wide knowledge and reading, an understanding of the issues and a critical analysis including original and fresh insights into the problem.

    H2.1 (60-69%)The question is approached in a confident manner, the issues are identified, evidence and reading are used and some awareness of broader issues is displayed. There is some critical analysis but lacks the poise and fluency of a first class answer.

    H2.2 (50-59%)There is a solid answer which grasps the material, but does not always recognise the broader implications. Whilst it shows some intelligent application and understanding it lacks a clear grasp of the critical analysis required.

    Shows some basic knowledge but there is difficulty in comprehending the material in general and the question in particular. Critical analysis and awareness of the broader implications and subtle issues in the debate is lacking.

    Weak development of argument, showing little evidence that substantial work was carried out by student. Barely adequate.

    Fail (0-39%)Little, if any, evidence of a grasp of the basic course material - a simplistic approach to the question, disorganised, insufficient material and awareness of reading. Shows no awareness of the issues and related debates. May well contain errors of fact and understanding.


    If you feel your performance in an examination or in completing an assignment was affected by circumstances outside your control (generally: illness or family bereavement), you can ask the programme board to take account of this before finally deciding your mark. Normally you will be offered a second attempt at the exam or assignments, your first attempt being disregarded.

    The student said he would pay $600-$750 (€560-€700), based on 15 hours’ work, and the offer was snapped up two days later.

    Only rarely will a programme board raise a low mark because of extenuating circumstances.

    Note that you must make this request before the programme board meets to decide on marks - do not wait until your semester marks have been notified to you.

    If, on the other hand, you are new at the game or do not seem to be getting the marks you feel your efforts deserve, then we encourage you to follow the advice in Section 2 on preparation and research.

    You can make the request to the lecturer, your tutor, the programme board chair or to the Examinations Office in Registry.

    If your circumstances are likely to remain difficult for some time, you can request a deferral of an exam or assessment using this form


    Compensation is the award of a pass for an undergraduate module where your mark is under 40%. There are strict limitations.

    • this is your first attempt at the module - not a resit nor a repeat
    • your mark in the failed module must be at least 35%
    • you can compensate no more than 1/6th of your total modules for the year - normally one or two
    • your overall score for the year must be at least 45%
    • in each programme, some modules are not eligible for compensation because of their importance - e.g. final year core modules, thesis or project.

    You do not have to apply for compensation - it is applied automatically if you meet the conditions.

    Our mission is to help all students become competent and confident writers at third level and beyond.

    After your marks have been issued, you can ask for a recheck if you think there has been a mistake in a module. This only involves checking that marks have been properly recorded and calculated - it is not a re-evaluation of the mark.

    You may feel that a diagram could help illustrate or clarify a point. This has the added effect of breaking up large chunks of text which can be subconsciously off-putting to the reader. However, beware of the added complexities involved in formatting your document (if you incorporate the diagram electronically) or the added time required to add a diagram by hand.

    Contact the lecturer concerned. If you want a recheck in more than one module, contact the programme chair, who may ask you to make an appeal.


    If you feel that the marks awarded by the Progression and Awards Board at the end of the assessment process do not accurately reflect the quality of your work, you may appeal against the decision in one or more modules. Appeals are considered only on specified grounds:

    • the programme board didn't give enough weight to your extenuating circumstances
    • there were extenuating circumstances you didn't tell the board about for valid reasons
    • the exam or assessment was conducted in breach of University regulations
    • there was a substantial error of judgment by the examiner(s)
    • there was a material administrative error or irregularity that made a difference to your mark.

    Appeals must be made within 14 days of the publication of the marks by the PAB in June or September.

    If you do use quotations, they should be enclosed in quote marks "like this".

    Provisional marks for Semester One modules issued in February cannot be appealed until they have been confirmed by the PAB.

    The form must be accompanied by documentary evidence to support your claim, and by a fee of €100.


    If you fail an exam, you will be offered the opportunity to resit in August. If you fail continuous assessment, you may be offered an opportunity to do the work again during the summer.

    A proliferation of online services for third-level students offering “pay as you go” essays has prompted universities to review their policies against plagiarism.

    But note that this may not be feasible in some modules because of the nature of the assignments. It is School of Communications policy to allow resits in all modules (except final year dissertations/projects, and INTRA work placements)

    If you are allowed to resit, you only have to redo work that you have failed, retaining any pass marks for other elements including exams.

    Christy commenced his third-level studies in 2005 having worked for several years in the private sector. Following the completion of his degree at Dublin City University in 2008, he undertook an MA in Military History and Strategic Studies at Maynooth University. After graduating at Maynooth in 2011, he commenced his PhD studies at DCU. He was conferred in 2015 following the completion of his doctoral thesis at the School of Communications.


    If you fail an exam or continuous assessment a second time, or if a resit of continuous assessment is not possible, you will not be allowed to move into the next year of study. There are no ‘carried’ modules. You must register to repeat the module in the coming year. You will not retain marks for any elements of that module previously passed.

    Avoid going over the word limit, as conciseness is one of the elements of essay writing you should be trying to master. It is also one of the attributes which the person marking your essay will be looking for. Waffling for the sake of padding the essay is usually penalised.

    A third year at the same module is not permitted.


    Although we often take it for granted that we have the ability to write, it is important to stress that academic writing poses a unique set of challenges. Putting together a good academic essay involves not only the presentation of facts and figures but also requires that you learn to marshal that information to construct convincing and coherent arguments.

    Remember that relevance does not only apply to the material you use, but also the way that you use it. Summarising each relevant research area for an essay does not constitute an answer: you have to orient the material you use towards the question.

    Very few people have an innate ability to do this - it is a skill that must be learned through practice. Once acquired, however, it is a skill that can dramatically impact upon your grade performance throughout your academic career.
    While the focus of the first few sections relate mainly to essay writing, many of the points covered are very relevant to project report writing. However we do include Section 6 which is devoted to report writing where there are different concerns from essay writing.

    Why do essays at all?

    • They provide important feedback to the teaching staff.
    • They make you construct arguments, using ideas with which you are beginning to become familiar as a student.
    • They make you aware of what you know and what you don’t know in a given field, helping you to clarify and organise ideas.
    • They make you read around the subject, and therefore less dependent on the lecturer’s point of view.
    • Taken together with lecturer’s comments they make useful revision material.

    The traditional view of academic work often portrays the process of study as being primarily about reading.

    Kara comes from Wicklow and studied for her Undergraduate Degree in Biochemistry in NUI Galway. She also achieved a Masters in Biomedical Diagnostics in DCU and is currently completing a PhD in toxin research in the School of Biotechnology. Kara has written three book chapters in her field and can offer her experience in scientific writing, as well as all other writing interests.

    When the process of reading has been accomplished, it is assumed that the student will have completed his or her studies. In fact being a student is a job in at least this respect: ultimately, it’s not about consumption but the production in written form of one’s own take on the material addressed in lectures. Reading plays a very large part in this; but it is not an end in itself.

    In sum, we would argue that it is impossible to know what one has learnt until one demonstrates the ability to express it. In practice, therefore, discussing course material with classmates, writing notes, short pieces and essays is a necessary part of study as well as a requirement of academic life.

    Remember that good essays do not just give evidence for their point of view, but also demonstrate why opposing views are flawed. Imagine a reader, then try to predict their objections to your argument, and then demonstrate why they are wrong.

    Detailed guidelines on preparation and presentation of theses, dissertations and final year projects are issued separately.


    Within an academic context, plagiarism is considered one of the worst possible offences - it constitutes intellectual theft.

    Dublin City University defines plagiarism as follows:
    It is the deliberate act of taking and using another person’s work as your own.
  • It includes absent references, reproducing the work (even with small changes) of another, taken from books, journals, articles, TV programmes, the Internet, lecture notes and so on. It also includes self plagiarism, i.e. submitting own work for more than one assessment, copying another person’s work, with or without his/her consent. Also included is collusion where a group of people collaborate or collude to present an assessment or a substantial part thereof, when the examiner required individual research and outcome.

    Plagiarism includes presenting extracts (edited or not) from another source but only referencing (giving a source for) the last sentence.

    A good rule of thumb is: Use the style that occurred most frequently in the sources you are referencing.

    The best rule of thumb (and your best protection) is that when you're not sure if a source needs to be acknowledged with a reference, then you should acknowledge it. You can never have too many references. If you are still not clear what plagiarism is, ask your lecturers, and watch this DCU Library tutorial.

    Other dishonest practices which are very serious offences include faking or falsification of data, cheating, or the uttering of false statements about your work.

    It is also a serious offence to present work for one module which has been prepared or presented for another module.

    Students should be aware that they may be required to attend for an oral examination on the content of any assignments they have submitted.


    Copying is quite easily detected through search engines and the use of online submission services such as Turnitin. Regrettably, examples are discovered every year. There is always a penalty.

    In very minor cases (for instance, minor occurrence of poor referencing), offenders will be deemed to have failed the assignment, and will be required to repeat the work, perhaps with additional assignments being required. In cases of clear deception, the School may record a failure of the entire module and impose a requirement to repeat it the following year.

    Very serious offenders will automatically be referred to the Disciplinary Committee of the University, which has the power to require the repeat of a module, a repeat of the whole year, suspension for a period, or even expulsion from the university.

    Room C105 is where you borrow and return audio-visual equipment (sound recorders, video cameras, lights) needed to complete some practical assignments.

    The Loans desk in C105 is open from 11am-1pm and 2-4pm Monday to Friday.

    Students should be conscious that at any one time there are up to 650 others who may need equipment and need it urgently. Inevitably, this leads to queues at peak times.

    It is therefore essential that all returns are made on time, as the equipment rarely spends too long on the shelf before it is borrowed again. We would also ask that you ensure the batteries in your machine are recharged. If this was not done notify the loans officer so that the next user may be informed or if time permits the machine may be recharged .

    C105 is not only a loans facility but is also the home to our technical support staff led by Damien Hickey and Eoin Campbell. If you experience problems in any of the studios, editing rooms or media-related areas technical staff are available to troubleshoot from 10am until 5pm during term time.

    Photography equipment is available from room C100B, in the hours 8.30am to 10.30am and 11.15am to 1.00pm, Monday to Friday in term time. Contact David O’Callaghan there for technical advice or email david.ocallaghan News and announcements about the photo studio can be found at dcuphotography.blogspot


    • No student card, no loan (nor return of equipment).
    • All audio recording equipment is loaned out on a first-come first-served basis and must be returned before 1pm on the day it's due.
    • Audio loans usually span a two day period, i.e. borrow Monday, return Wednesday with the exception of equipment borrowed on Thursday, which must be returned Friday morning. We would ask that all returns be made before 1pm. Weekend loans may be taken on Friday morning until Monday morning.
    • All video equipment must be booked with loans staff at least 24 hours in advance. It is typically loaned out in the morning and due back before 4.00pm same day. If the equipment is required overnight, it must first be agreed with your lecturer and then a written submission stating your reasons, and details for transport and storage of the equipment. This must be signed and include contact details. (A form will be available from the loans office)
    • Late returns will result in a one week ban for the first time, a 2 week ban for the second, 3 weeks for the third and so on up to a 6 week ban. This applies to late returns up to two days late. Returns later than this will be subject to a review by the school and will result in a much longer ban.
    • Equipment borrowed is the sole responsibility of the borrower and only they may return it. If this is not possible, alternative arrangements must be made with a technician, otherwise it will be treated as a late return with the appropriate penalty starting with a 2 week ban.
    • Equipment lost or broken will be subject to a review by the school, and will result in a minimum of a 2 week ban up to a complete ban depending on the circumstances.
    • Be aware that a ban will not be lifted just because you have an assignment due.
    • Equipment is only available for courses scheduled to use it and then only while doing project work.


    There are computers for general use on the second floor of the Henry Grattan building. On the first floor, the School of Communications has dedicated computer laboratories in rooms C101, C102, C106, C107, and C116; they have different software configurations suitable for photography, audio, video or multimedia, and lecturers will let you know which lab you should be using in each module.

    There are radio studios in C117 and C143 and a TV studio in C139/C140. There is a photo lab and darkroom in C100.

    Their use is subject to conditions:

    • All studios and labs must be kept tidy
    • NO food or drink is allowed in any of the rooms
    • Studios must be booked at least 24 hours in advance
    • Studios are available from 10am to 5pm. Late use must be arranged with a technician.
    • No equipment may be rewired or reconfigured or removed from any of the labs or studios without prior consent from the technical staff

    Appendix 1: WRITING A GOOD ESSAY

    Before planning your first essay, review the section above WHAT YOUR MARKS MEAN. In general terms, a good essay is one which:

    • Is well-presented
    • Has a clear structure
    • Expresses a cogent, coherent and convincing argument
    • Demonstrates a deep understanding of the subject and, where appropriate, an ability to use the abstract theoretical concepts encountered in the study of that subject
    • Displays knowledge of the relevant facts/data
    • Backs up its arguments with reference to clearly identified, relevant source material.

    Let us consider these characteristics in turn:


    This may come as a surprise but marks are frequently lost not because the student doesn't understand the subject but because they are unable to clearly express that understanding. This often comes down to a failure of presentation: poor writing and poor proof-reading.

    Also, make sure that what is said in the conclusion actually applies to what you have written in the main body of the essay.

    At an absolute minimum it is assumed that essays will be presented in a typed/word-processed form. In addition it is taken for granted that students have proofed their essay for spelling and sense. Finally it is assumed that no student will submit an essay which does not have good syntax, punctuation and grammar.

    Please note that running a word processor spell-check or grammar-check does not constitute proofing for the following reasons:

    • The spell-check may fail to pick up words which although incorrectly spelled in context are nonetheless real words (eg. "there" when you meant "their").
    • The particular dictionary installed on the word processor you are using may not be set up for UK English. (It is not safe to assume that your lecturer will accept US English spelling as correct If in doubt stick with UK spelling.)
    • Spell-check dictionaries can be customised, added to and therefore screwed up. In short to rely on the spell-check not only means placing your faith in the good people of Microsoft
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