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From question to plan...


What information do you need, and what further reading will you have to do?


What module learning outcomes and assessment criteria do you need to consider?


How can you manage your time?

Planning tips

Doing a project takes time. Planning it takes time. And there's a lot to consider before you even start the planning process.

Here are ten #UoYTips on just that...

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Understanding module learning outcomes and assessment criteria

This activity is designed to familiarise you with module learning outcomes and assessment criteria for your task, before you start planning. You will need to access the module learning outcomes and assessment criteria to fully understand what you are being asked to do.

Learning by design

Every course at York has been designed to provide unique learning outcomes so that you get the most from your time here, whether you're working with academic staff or studying on your own. At every stage you'll understand what you're aiming for and why. Our innovative approach ensures that you have the skills and knowledge in place to progress confidently towards a graduate career or further study.

Module learning outcomes

Module learning outcomes outline the knowledge, skills and understanding you will gain by completing the module.

The activity below gets you to look up and consider your own module learning outcomes.

Assessment criteria

The assessment criteria will outline the knowledge, skills and understanding you will need to demonstrate in a particular assessment.

This might include:

  • Subject knowledge

  • Critical analysis and evaluation

  • Communication skills

  • Research skills

  • Practical or technical skills

  • Application of knowledge to professional practice and settings

These may be weighted, so that some carry more marks than others in an assessment so you will need to take this into account when planning and writing your essay.


Look up module learning outcomes and assessment criteria for your module

These may be on the department website, VLE or accessed through the module catalogue:

  1. What are the main learning outcomes for the module?

  2. What criteria will you be assessed against?

You will need to make sure your response addresses the criteria. Keep the criteria to hand as you start planning, and through the writing and drafting process, so that you can ensure that you are covering the key assessment requirements.

Writing an essay – What are the stages?

What are the different stages of planning and writing an essay?

Make a list of the things you will need to do and the order in which you will do them.

Typical stages are:


Researching the topic: work out what information you need and where to source material - from lectures, seminars and reading

Reading & making notes

Reading and making notes on the topic


Creating an initial plan for your essay


Drafting – writing the introduction, main body, conclusion and bibliography

Edit & redraft

Editing and redrafting


Proofreading your work

Finalise & submit

Finalising work for submission

Planning your time - how long will each of these stages take you?


Analyse the question

Work to the deadline

Write down your essay deadline and work backwards from this to plan in the different stages

Allow time

Allow extra time along the way in case one stage takes longer than you planned for

Take breaks

Allow extra time in the writing stage - having breaks between writing sections or drafts can help you when you come to reviewing your work

There are some useful online planning tools to help you with this task on our time management Skills Guide:

Creating an action plan

Now create an action or study plan for your next assignment, to help you break the different tasks down and make sure you stay on track.