This paper is based on an empirical study of assessment practices currently being undertaken in a post-1992 university in the UK. Our broad interest is in examining assessment practices in context in order to explore why lecturers assess in the ways that they do. The Assessment Environments and Cultures project aims to illuminate some of the complex interrelationships between assessment practices, academic identities, institutional discourses and disciplinary cultures, and how assessment practices are both sustained and changed. The focus in this paper is on a group of academics working in the subject area of Design. More specifically, we examine the effects of the circulation of multiple discourses in a School of Design. By ‘discourse’ we mean the combined social and language practices that contribute to the construction of knowledges, identities and experience. We are interested in the discursive resources drawn on by the Design lecturers when talking about their assessment experience, the subject positions these discourses make available and the implications in terms of how assessment might be understood and organised in this School and relations of power. We focus on interview data collected from 11 Design lecturers in order to undertake the analysis. We propose that there are multiple discourses in circulation in this school, which position academics and students in quite different ways, and that managing these different positionings may at times create tension.