Authentic assessments are those which are designed in a way to be relevant to the student’s future role(s). They seek to involve or simulate real-world tasks and develop relevant skills, reflection and self-awareness as well as knowledge and understanding.

Key Principles

  • Assessments take into account work requirements and the needs of employers.
  • Assessments encourage students to develop relevant skills.
  • Assessments develop relevant problem-solving and decision-making techniques.
  • Assessments develop critical thinking, self-awareness and meta-cognition.
  • Assessments are collaborative - and involve stakeholders including employers and students in their design.

Good Practice

  • When developing an assessment strategy at programme approval stage, allow for authentic assessment opportunities by specifying assessment methods in broad terms e.g. written project output, oral assessment, portfolio of skills etc.
  • Plan how transferrable skills and problem-solving strategies can be developed over the course of a programme (using a “Programme Cohesion Map”).
  • Prior to developing the assessment brief, use research and your Industry Advisory Board or industry partners to identify the changing skills requirements for the relevant sector e.g. ICT skills, communication skills etc.
  • Align assessment methods with the relevant GAME/GAME+ attributes.
  • Work in partnership with stakeholders to develop assessment briefs e.g. clients, employers, colleagues, careers service, students etc.

Two Case Studies


School of Arts & Creative Technologies: Industry live brief and presentations

Live briefs with industry partners promote knowledge exchange and create an authentic professional studio experience for learners with opportunity for industry to gain fresh perspectives and new insights. Briefs provide broader awareness of the extended roles within the industry including commercial studio, self-employment and freelance opportunities. Students receive valuable industry insight through verbal feedback and possibility of work beyond the university environment.

School of Law: Advocacy Assessment

Using a real-life case, the law team create a court file that is used as the basis for a live advocacy assessment that takes place in the law court. Witnesses, judges and full court process are employed from the moment that the advocates enter the court until the giving of a final judgment. However, to make the session authentic, the case is written to include students from healthcare programme. This ensures that whilst the law students are able to demonstrate their skills before an independent jury and public gallery, it is also possible for healthcare students to meet assessment aims regarding professional practice, standards and ethics.

Further Reading

Beard, C. (2023) Experiential Learning Design 1st ed. Oxon: Routledge.

Sambell, K and Brown, S. (2021), Kay Sambell and Sally Brown: Covid-19 Assessment Collection. [online]. Available from: https://sally-brown.net/kay-sambell-and-sally-brown-covid-19-assessment-collection/

Villarroel, V., Bloxham, S., Bruna, D., Bruna, C., & Herrera-Seda, C. (2018). Authentic Assessment: Creating a Blueprint for Course Design. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education43(5), 840-854.