A friend of mine is studying biology at a UK university and told me about this situation that happened last semester.

An assignment was set on one of her courses, and as the deadline date approached, the lecturer sent out an email stating that the first person to submit their assignment would be guaranteed an automatic first (the top mark available).

She felt this was unfair (what if the first person to submit rushed their work and completed the questions poorly, yet were rewarded for their haste?) but due to the intimidating nature of this particular lecturer, she did not say anything.

My questions are:

Is rewarding the first submission purely because it was the fastest common practice in UK universities (or elsewhere)?


What can be done by the student to prevent this situation happening again?

  • 16
    Whether or not it’s common practice, or even acceptable under the university’s policies, it sounds like terrible teaching — it gives the students all the wrong incentives.
    – PLL
    Commented Oct 22, 2016 at 9:36
  • 11
    This asks for a submission with minimal content, submitted by "Anonymous". Commented Oct 22, 2016 at 11:03
  • 2
    I have never heard of this practice. Complain to your student representatives, course organiser, year organiser, director of teaching, department head, personal tutor, etc.
    – MJeffryes
    Commented Oct 22, 2016 at 13:18
  • 11
    It looks like an interesting game theory problem to figure out what the optimal strategy is. And it would be even more fun if the second to submit had guaranteed full score. Commented Oct 22, 2016 at 20:03
  • 1
    Never take a course from this professor again. I am appalled that someone would do this.
    – Teacher
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 21:19

1 Answer 1


This type of marking is a clear deviation from every set of marking guidelines I have ever seen. Intentionally introducing procedural irregularities is something that can get faculty in trouble. This is something that can and should be brought up to the director of teaching. If that fails you can talk to someone in the student union. You could also get in touch with the external examiners when they come to visit.

It is unlikely the director of teaching would reveal your name when discussing this with the lecturer. If you are really worried, drop a note in the DoT's mailbox with the module number, lecturer's name, and a description of the problem. The behaviour is easily verified so the DoT does not need your name to follow up. The problem with being anonymous is you will not know what happened.

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