Assignment briefs

An assignment brief explains the task you are being asked to do for your assessment and how your lecturers would like you to do it. It could be as short as a single essay question, or it could be more detailed, such as a project brief with a number of sections or stages.  

Scroll down for our recommended strategies and resources.  

Get informed

As well as your assignment brief, you may have other documents with useful information for your assignment. Check on Moodle for things like the deadline, format, marking criteria, and any additional guidance that may be in lecture slides. If you have looked, but cannot find something, do ask your lecturer.


Take time to understand everything in the question and exactly what you are being asked to do. If you do not understand a word, look it up. Language learner dictionaries can be useful as they offer longer and clearer definitions of words.

Do initial research

Although understanding the words in your assignment brief is important, usually you won’t fully comprehend the concepts or ideas behind those words without doing some reading first. Don’t worry if you don’t immediately know how to answer your brief; this is normal. List some questions about what you don’t understand and need to find out, and use these to guide your initial reading around the topic. See the resource below for a series of questions to get you started:

Keywords and overview

Break the question down and look at keywords but also consider the overall purpose and main issues raised by the question as a whole.

Answer the question

It may sound obvious, but make sure you are answering the question you have been set, not the question you would prefer to answer. If the brief has a number of tasks or parts, answer all of them. Parts that involve evaluation or analysis are usually longer and worth more marks than parts that ask for description or explanation. Keep the brief in front of you and check it regularly.

Marking criteria

Unless you have been told otherwise, your marking criteria is not usually a guide to the structure of your assignment. Each section of the criteria is not a separate paragraph in your assignment, but qualities that you need to demonstrate throughout. Treat the marking criteria as a checklist at the end not as a plan at the beginning. Also the criteria often tells you what to demonstrate (e.g. critical analysis) but not necessarily how to do it. For the how to do it, look back at the skills and activities you have covered in the rest of the module.