Consistently the National Student Survey has highlighted student dissatisfaction with assessment practices. In English (as in other subjects) the section Assessment and Feedback in the 2008 survey produced lower scores than other sections. Pressures on the 21st-century HE system - rising student numbers and developments in the discourses of teaching and learning - mean that many universities are seeking to encourage departments to vary their assessment diet. In English Studies the last few years have seen a significant growth in the use of innovative forms of assessment (several of which I'll be talking about in this presentation). The essay however remains in a privileged place at the heart of assessment practices in the discipline: even in departments which make heavy use of other forms of assessment a certain amount of essay-writing remains compulsory.