SOAS Word Limit Regulations
SOAS is attempting to force students to follow new regulations that would result in all footnotes being included in the word count for essays at post-graduate level and penalties being applied for essays being a single word over-length. These new regulations are unacceptable for several reasons: - It effectively penalises wider reading and good research. - It will create incentives for students to attempt to take shortcuts in their referencing, possibly incurring further penalties. - The change has been announced part-way through the year, after most students have already written essays where footnotes were not included in the word count. Most students were only made aware of the new regulations in December. - Many students have already completed essays which have not yet been handed in. The new regulations would force them to cut hundreds or even thousands of words from their essays, distorting their arguments - Academics set the essay word limits before the new rules were introduced. Under the new regulations, the task that students are being asked to complete is different from the task originally intended. - The new regulations would not apply to part-time post-graduate students who have already completed a year of their course. This would mean that for the same essay, there would effectively be two different words limits and different punishments for infringing them. Returning part-time students would be able to write, say, 5,000 words, whereas full-time students would be limited to around 4,000. - The word-limit for the post-graduate dissertation is 10,000 words, already lower than most universities. The new rules would limit the dissertation to as little as 6,000 words, which would bring the academic value of the task into question. In summary, the new regulations are absurd and unfair, and the manner in which they are being introduced has been chaotic and illogical. History post-graduates have not paid several thousand pounds to be treated in this way and have the value of our work undermined by these rules. As a minimum, we demand that the introduction of these regulations is postponed until the beginning of the next academic year, when they can at least be introduced in a fair and coherent manner. The rules as they stand are not acceptable and will not be accepted.