10 Top Tips for Writing the Perfect CIPD Assignment
Fleur Blanford provides advice on writing the perfect assignment
1. Find a quiet place and give yourself time
You can’t expect to be able to concentrate with the TV on, music blaring or the constant distraction of your phone or social media. Remove yourself from these temptations and find a calm, quiet area where you can work. You will have a deadline to meet for the submission of your assignments so make sure you don’t leave it until the last minute to start. You will be advised of critical dates to get your work to us for marking so start them as soon as you can after the completion of your Module so you don’t forget the important areas.
2. Have a plan
Decide on what you would like to achieve and by when. If you have three assignments to write consider roughly how long each might take you. Set yourself a goal and perhaps a small ‘reward’ to yourself at the end of each. Don’t rush them but just have in mind, the sooner they are done the less the doing of them will be on your mind!
3. Build a support network
Many of our students create WhatsApp groups or other networks in order to communicate and support each other. Although you must write your own reports, you may wish to talk over points of the assignment and discuss some of the critical issues. It is very incentivising to know that others are also working on their reports. Your friends, colleagues and families will understand the importance of getting your assignments done so tell them what you are aiming for and gain their full support.
4. Read and re-read
Read the assignment carefully. Your class tutor will have provided you with a full briefing and gone over the key points. Take some time to re-familiarise yourself with your course notes, hand outs, slides and other materials you had access to during your training. You will have taken in a lot of information during your Module and it will be useful for you to refresh your memory about the critical points. Take time to re-read the CIPD assignment briefing so that you understand exactly what you need to do.
5. Make rough notes
Before you start on the actual assignment, make some rough notes against each part of the assignment. This will help you to capture the critical issues and make sure that you cover all the assessment criteria. By reading the notes, re-reading the requirements of the assignment and making rough notes, you should be in a really good position to start your assignment.
6. Cover every part of the assignment
You must make absolutely sure that every point on the assignment brief is covered. You will not be able to pass the unit if this is not done. Check each element off as you do so in order that you know this has been done. The use of sub-headings will help to ensure that you have covered each part of the assignment. Take each of the points you have been asked to cover and, if you wish, use the exact wording from the assignment brief as your sub-heading. This will help you to structure your work and focus on specific areas.
7. Don’t get carried away – stick to the word count
Each of your assignments has a Word Count that is clearly cited on the template you will be provided with. You may find the temptation to do more than is actually needed but you are only allowed to move 20% each way of the Word Count. Big topics are covered in your CIPD qualification and it is very easy to try to be too ambitious. As you are limited in how much you can write, the important thing is to stay engaged with what is imperative for the report. Try to avoid being side-tracked or trying to include too much. Just respond to the specific criteria as required in the assignment.
8. Proof read and spell check
Consider each of your assignments as a professional report. Take pride in your work and think of the reports as something you would be able to present to your management team. Take care over the layout and structure and spell check and proof read your work before you submit it. It may also be helpful for a trusted colleague to read your assignments before you send them in for marking. This will enable you to understand if it reads well, makes sense and has a logical ‘flow’. They do not need to be a subject expert - just a fresh pair of eyes.
It is a requirement of the report to use some supporting research within your assignments. This demonstrates that you have undertaken some further reading and research around the topics. You may use material that has already been covered within the course. For example, certain ‘models’ and other theoretical examples. It is quite acceptable to include these in support of your own findings but they must not replace your own words (see Plagiarism). Any sources used must be clearly placed on a reference list at the end of your report and must also appear in the correct place within the actual assignment text where they have been used. You should use 3-5 references in support of each of your reports where this has been stated as a requirement on the assignment brief.
As mentioned above, you must be very careful to ensure that when using references you use these only to back up your own findings. You may use one or two direct quotes but these should be limited to a sentence or two at most. You must state clearly that this is a quote and credit the source as mentioned in References above. Remember it is your understanding of the topic you are writing about that we are interested in, not that of a third party.
You may find that during your study you work in collaboration with colleagues. Although the sharing of ideas is good practice, bear in mind that every part of your report must be written by you. This is a mandatory requirement.
GOOD LUCK! We shall look forward very much to reading your assignments and seeing you through to the successful outcome of your CIPD qualification.
Please contact Oakwood to discuss how our CIPD qualification programmes can help you and your organisation. We are also very happy to discuss consultancy or bespoke programmes to help your HR, L&D and senior management teams.
You can email us at: email@example.com or call on +971 4 359 9020.
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Fleur leads and manages Oakwood's team of Qualifications Assessors and writes our Students Blog. Fleur heads a team who currently enable over 200 students a year to successful completion of their qualification. Fleur is a fellow of the ILM and an Associate member of the CIPD.
What is the question?
Read the question carefully - what are the outcomes required? What supporting evidence will be needed? What are the action words? Are you being asked to describe something, evaluate several different approaches, or compare and contrast a couple of concepts or practices, or a range? Refer to the question on the assignment brief, but also to the criteria for the unit which often give more clues on what is required in terms of detail. Lastly, review any student guidance provided either written, or from your notes from the Unit session. If you’re unsure what the question is requiring you to do, ask your personal tutor.
What do you need to do?
It’s important that you know what the expectations are for word count, and whether this is exact, or within a range (this should be stated clearly on the assignment brief). There may also be particular requirements on layout and formatting of your essay.
Specific requirements for a References list (which lists sources you have used or quoted from directly) and/or a Bibliography (which lists other material you have found useful but not drawn on specifically) will be highlighted on the assignment brief.
Getting everything together
In our guide: 'How to study effectively' [link], it’s suggested that you have a system in place to gather your notes, your references, and the materials, textbooks and various website resources to hand when you sit down to plan. You’ll also need the assignment brief and any guidance sheets provided. Make sure you have a good hour at least for this ’thinking‘ work, as it will form the basis for your research and initial writing.
Note the deadline, and work backwards, planning for an initial draft, a second draft, and then time to tidy up your final draft. Leave plenty of time if you’re working in a busy environment, as unexpected work pressures may overturn your plan.
Taking into account the question and the requirements for evidence or examples, start to consider your current knowledge, your latest learning, your knowledge of your organisation’s approach to the topic (or where you may get this from if you’re not employed or you can’t use information from your organisation), and any comparative views you heard, read or are aware of from wider research. What practices does your organisation have, and what do competitors or relevant third parties do? What is the context in which you are responding to the question – internal and external factors? Start with broad considerations, then narrow down to the precise issues and approach to be discussed.
What other sources (journals, texts, internal documents) will you need to refer to, and how might your appendix (if permitted) support your essay? It’s essential that you make a full record of anything you read when researching your topic, or you can waste valuable time looking for that perfect quote you found, but didn’t write down the page number or source document! While researching for your essay, you’re likely to do a lot of reading and note-taking - our guide on 'How to study effectively' has more on reading and note-taking skills.