By Roseanna Doughty |

Marking: Initial dose of 2 to 3 essays to be taken with copious amounts of cake. Then if necessary 2 essays every two hours. Do not exceed eight essays in a 24-hour period. Stop taking if you develop any of the following symptoms: hives, rashes, an irrational hatred of all undergraduates.  

Headaches, tiredness, bouts of spontaneous crying are all signs it is marking season. The marking season typically hits universities in November as it starts to get miserable and lingers until March/April. This year Edinburgh has had its first confirmed cases of online marking and cases have also been reported in other universities. We fear it will soon spread to every university in the UK and beyond. The following reactions may mean you are experiencing online marking: frozen screens, randomly appearing essays and disappearing comments. If you are experience any of the above symptoms at any time talk to your lunch crew straight away or go to your nearest tea-drinking buddy to share your best marking anecdotes preferably ones that include factual mix-ups, questionable source material, and bizarre conclusions.

For long-term suffers and recently diagnosed marking can be an uncomfortable period and it is impossible to try and dodge those pesky essays. However, there are some simple and effective ways you can survive the marking season:


  1. Drink plenty of liquids: Many people swear by the large cup of tea to help you relax while marking. Hot liquids relieve a lack of argument and help prevent spontaneous combustion at a lack of footnotes. For those moments when tea just won’t cut it though wine is a very, very good substitute.


  1. Stay rested: To reduce risk of giving out unfair grades allow yourself plenty of long hours of snoozing. Sleep can help restore energy levels so you get through your essays quicker and lessen grumpiness which can lead to lower marks than you might normally award. No good can come from 2 am marking sessions.


  1. Your PhD comes first: Try to continue to work on your own thesis as long as you can while you are marking. This can mean working on your own research up until a certain time then tackling the pile of essays in short but regular doses or taking time off work until you are completely over your marking.


  1. Treat yourself: Although it won’t reduce the risks of marking, a slice of cake, guilty-pleasure TV, retail therapy or coffee with friends should bring you temporary relief from some of the discomfort caused by marking. Every three essays you should take some fun to prevent any lasting effects.

Roseanna Doughty is Pubs and Publications Deputy Editor-in-Chief and researches media representations of the Troubles, 1969-1997, and their affect on the lived experiences of the Irish in Britain. She got a 64 for this blog. The feedback said it was a solid 2:1 but needs more extensive engagement with sources to push it towards a first.