depth of understanding and application of ideas/concepts
evidence-based critical arguments
depth/breadth of reading (depending on the question)
answering your own question
Note the difference between essays 1 and 2: the first one is marked only on your understanding of texts; the second one is marked on understanding, on your own reading, and your emerging critical voice. Be careful here; being critical does not mean just giving your opinions. It means making a case based on evidence from your reading, using ideas and concepts from texts. It does not mean you have to fight for one side of an argument or another… ambivalence will be treated with great respect. But for every essay, remember this: if we (and you) get the title right, then by answering the question you will be doing exactly what is required. Over years 1, 2 and 3 the levels of your work are raised by using increasingly challenging texts, ideas, concepts and writers, and by the way you are able to employ ideas, concepts and writers from other modules across the degree in increasingly sophisticated ways.