An assignment spec was released but it was poorly written and vague to the point where the requirements of the software system is unclear. As a final year undergraduate this unit counts a lot to my overall grade. After numerous emails, phone calls and face-to-face discussions with: other students, lecturer, other lecturers and head of the course, they clarified the assignment with 2 weeks to go (was supposed to allegedly take 4-6 weeks which would have been a struggle anyway). The other parties all agreed that the spec was poorly written and interpreted it wrongly themselves.

I have been working on the solution but I am worried I cannot implement it to the standard of a 1st (70%+). The institution seems reluctant to offer an extension to the deadline and I don't know what else can be done. It is a sponsored degree so I study part time and work full time, so there is very little gap to pull all-nighters or power through whilst keeping a professional front for 9 hours a day.

Is there anything me and fellow students can urge the university to do, or anything our employers (sponsors) can do to encourage action?


2 Answers 2


I am not versed in software writing assignment but there are a few things I can think of:

  1. Submit your work with a memo, detailing how each of the assumptions was made to the assignment components that were not clearly specified. If you're so keen, list a couple alternatives you have thought about, with pros and cons, and why you made that choice. I have seen students sometimes do that in written tests and exams, and I often considered their point of view a bit differently.

  2. For all the communications, if you have paper trail, keep the paper trail. If not, at the very least, have a log of meeting and discussion, jot down all main points. Any conversation about this project from now on, if possible, should have a paper trail, and if it's a face-to-face meeting, follow up with an e-mail detailing the main points covered in the meeting. If all go south, having this record to demonstrate i) your due diligence to clarify, and ii) the lack of clarity among the teaching staff would help you make the case if you decided to complain or grieve.

Good luck!


You can only do what you can do. There is no magic here.

Perhaps the project was purposely left under specified, as often happens in undergraduate work, calling for creativity. I think that is sometimes (but only sometimes) justified, as long as the conditions are clear. But that's not the most likely situation here, of course.

Perhaps the people specifying the project just messed up and tried to complete the spec without thinking it through. That is less likely to be justified, of course, but it isn't that rare in the real world.

I'm not going to be one of the evaluators of your project, of course, but I would value more highly a project that correctly completed a subset of the specifications than one that had no results at all. Ideally, which subset would be negotiated before the end date, so you might explore that.

Maybe you are just trapped. If that is the case, then you won't be alone and all grades will come in lower than expected. The powers-that-be will need to deal with that somehow, maybe satisfactorily or maybe not. But it is out of your control.

But if you finish something, I think you have a stronger case for complaint after the deadline. And you may need to complain, of course.

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