Word limits

Word limits apply to all written assignments (other than theses) as specified in the course outlines.

Word limits also apply to supervised research papers and Honours seminar papers (10,000 words), and Honours dissertations (15,000 words).

Word limits are fixed subject to a 5% leeway above the limit, and students will be penalised for exceeding the limits at a rate of 5 marks for every 10% (or part thereof) over the limit. Penalties are strictly applied to ensure fairness across courses and among students. However, no student will fail an assessment because of a penalty for exceeding the word limit.

The 5% leeway is in place so that students are not penalised for accidentally exceeding the limit by a few words. Moreover, often the word limits are an integral part of the assessment requirements. We recommend students err on the side of caution to avoid being penalised by sticking closely to the given limit rather than using all the words up to the 5% leeway.

There is no penalty applied for an assessment falling under the word limit.

All words including footnotes are included in the word count. A footnote is defined in the OED as ‘A note, reference, or additional piece of information printed at the bottom of a page, used to explain or comment on something in the main body of the text on the same page’.

The following are NOT included within the definition of words: headers and footers (footers does not include footnotes, which are included in the word count, but does include page numbers), bibliography, table of contents, table of cases, and an abstract.

An appendix which contains material referred to in the main text is not included in the word count.

All titles (including the assignment question if included in the document), tables in the text, and headings of sections of the text, are included in the word count. There is often no requirement to put a heading or title in the assignment.

Microsoft Word is used to calculate word count; students must ensure the ‘Include textboxes, footnotes and endnotes’ box is ticked for each assignment when calculating their word count.

In the event of doubt as to what is included, students should contact their lecturer before submission.