Guidelines for written assignments

For Bachelor and Master programmes in Economics and Business Administration

The Bachelor and Master programmes in Economics and Business Administration include the writing of various extensive and small assignments – ranging from ordinary written exam assignments over projects to the bachelor thesis and eventually the master thesis. To that end, students must develop academic writing skills as these competences are indispensable when preparing various written products in their working professional careers (memos, reports, analyses, etc.).

Writing skills

It applies to all written assignments/tests that the assessment of the content reflects the usage clarity and proficiency of the assignment in question.

The Board of Studies for Economics and Business Administration therefore has focus on writing; generally we aim at a certain progression in the development of writing skills throughout the programmes. The first semester of the Bachelor promotes awareness of how to build up individual arguments; the programme proceeds to include the development of argumentation throughout an assignment, and finally there is the Master's thesis in the last semester of the Master programme. To support the continuous development of writing skills, the Board of Studies strives towards including at least one large written assignment in every semester throughout the two programmes.

The course responsible should focus on how the course in question contributes to building writing skills as an integrated part in learning the specific discipline.    

General guidelines

The Board of Studies has compiled the following general guidelines for writing assignments in the bachelor and master programmes, including written exam assignments and other large written assignments. As a student, you should always remember to use references, if you are using direct quotes, paraphrasing or direct translation in an assignment. This applies regardless of the size limit of the assignment or length of the exam (with the exception of written exams of a duration less than 24 hours).

The objective is to ensure that all students and teachers/examiners have clear and consistent guidelines for compiling, answering and assessing written assignments. The guidelines have further been set up to help students avoid violating the AU plagiarism rules inadvertently.

Please note that other guidelines may apply for courses belonging to other Study Boards (for instance credit modules).

Communicating clearly and precisely

It is important that you are able to communicate clearly and precisely within the framework of your assignment, including that you are able to organise and adapt your assignment to the restrictions regarding the length of written submissions. Written submissions that do not comply with formalities, including the stated restrictions regarding the length, cannot be accepted for assessment.

It is essential that you are able to read an assignment without having to check the appendices (these supports and documents the assignment – e.g. elaborate analyses). It is important that the central analyses, tables and figures are included in the actual assignment and not in the appendices, as it will be considered an attempt to circumvent the restrictions regarding the length if there is a need to access appendices to understand the assignment.


Accurate and extensive source referencing is very important in all exams and written assignments as it demonstrates the foundation of your knowledge and can be used to retrace the sources applied.

Use of quotes, paraphrasing or direct translation without accurate referencing is perceived as plagiarism. Therefore quotes, resumes of source material, reproduced or slightly edited figures, tables, etc. must always be accompanied by accurate referencing.

The Harvard Referencing System should be used. This means that references must be mentioned in the text and not in footnotes.

Read more about the Harvard Referencing System and learn how you can refer to your sources in the text here.

Only exception is for courses in business law, which uses footnotes.

Tables and figures

Tables and figures must be numbered consecutively. They must be easy to read and understand and can be accompanied by an explanatory note as well as a reference if taken from another source. Analyses and interpretations of tables and figures must be featured in the assignment text.

See the section "Number of characters" for more information.

Reference list

With the exception of written exams of a duration less than 24 hours, you must include a reference list at the end of the assignment (but before appendices) containing all the sources you have referred to in the text (but only the ones mentioned in the text!).

Sources are listed in alphabetical order according to the surname of the first author. The reference list layout is entirely up to you. The most important thing is that it is listed according to the name-year method (Harvard Referencing System), and that your references are complete (author(s), year, title, etc.).

If the same author is referenced more than once, these references must be listed according to publication year.

Sources should not be split into primary and secondary references and the list should not be ordered according to type of reference (e.g. books, articles, webpages, etc.).

Read more about the Harvard Referencing System and learn how to organize your sources in a reference list here.

Only exception is for courses in business law, where in addition to a list of references students have to include separate lists for legislation and case law.

Number of characters

Many exams and written assignments state a size limit. This is always stated in number of characters incl. blanks.

Please note that

  • The number of characters must be indicated on the front page of written assignments.
  • Front page, table of content, bibliography, summary and appendices do not count as part of the total amount of characters.
  • Text and notes do count as part of the total number of characters.
  • Figures, tables, graphics etc. that have been pasted as pictures count 800 characters each no matter size. Tables inserted as text count towards the actual number of characters.
  • There is no minimum assignment size.
  • Written submissions that do not comply with the formalities, including the stated restrictions regarding the length, cannot be accepted for assessment.

As the maximum number of characters allowed can vary across assignments and courses, it is important that you consult the course description to see if there is a limitation to the number of characters.

Referencing tools

A referencing tool can help you organize your sources/references, create references in the text as well as compile a consistent reference list. This will save you a lot of time at the end when you have to make your reference list. Moreover, you can be certain that your reference list is complete and consistently built up. Use the referencing tool that you are most comfortable with.

AU Library offers courses in and support for EndNote. Se more here.  

Harvard Referencing System and referencing tools

A reference tool allows you to choose a standard (output style) based on the Harvard Referencing System (name-year listing). Examples include Chicago 16th, APA 6th, Harvard and many others.

What is important is that your references in the text and your reference list are consistent in structure and complete.  


Exams are conducted in the same language as the teaching. Any exceptions to this, including the guidelines regarding major independent written assignments, will be stated in the individual course description.

There are a few exemptions, for example the following:

  • The Master's thesis can be written and defended in Danish if you has been assigned a supervisor who agrees to this.
  • Internship reports can be written in Danish if you have been assigned a supervisor who agrees to this.
  • Company Project (Herning) can be written in Danish if you have been assigned a supervisor who agrees to this.
  • The Bachelor’s Project at HA can be written and defended in English if you have been assigned a supervisor who agrees to this.
  • Students at MSc in Business Economics and Auditing can conduct exams in compulsory courses in Danish unless the examiner is not Danish.

Group projects

If a group project is not followed by an individual oral exam, the contribution of each group member must be made clear (cf. the Ministerial Order on Exams).    

Cheating and plagiarism

Cheating at exams and plagiarism are actions that can lead to a number of sanctions, including expulsion. If you copy parts of your assignment from other sources, you must explicitly refer to these parts as quotes with proper referencing. Please note that self-referencing is also plagiarism. If you copy text, ideas or structure from your own previous assignments (direct or rewritten), you explicitly have to mention this. Please check the following link to get more information about AU’s rules on plagiarism and other kinds of exam cheating:

Use of AI

From the summer 2024 the use of generative artificial intelligence tools will be permitted at some exams. In these specific cases, this will be stated in the course description. The general rules on plagiarism apply if generative artificial intelligence is used. You must specify how generative artificial intelligence has been used in an appendix to the assignment.