I found this link on English Stackexchange.

A person answered "Homework: The collection of all the assignments I have to do at home". I am not sure if this person is American.

I had been living in Australia for 12 years, I reject his answer.

I think most people in Australia will say an assignment is a much bigger than a piece of homework.

Homework is given to students day by day. Normally you virtually have homework every school-day.

But, you might have 3 or 4 assignments only per semester.

Homework often refers to small exercises that help you to understand the lesson you have learned. It may help you to improve skills.

However, an assignment helps you to understand many lessons as a whole. You might have to apply many homework exercises in order to do an assignment.

For example, you are learning to build a website, and a piece of homework might be a question like this "What is wrong with this line of code?"

and an assignment requirement might be "Please build a an online shopping website"

I reject the man above idea, I would say the opposite. That is "an assignment helps you to understand the whole course by applying a collection of all homework"

  • 2
    I'm British [& probably far too old to be abreast of current school terminology] but in my entire school life, I was never given an 'assignment'. We did homework, single sets of tasks [an essay, 20 maths questions etc] to be done by next class, or we did 'projects' over longer periods. Projects weren't necessarily done at home, though parts could be. 'Assignment' feels like one of those words we heard Americans use & realised it makes things sound 'better', like we've started calling 'flats' 'apartments' because it sounds 'cooler'. [I can't put this in an answer because it's just speculation.] May 23, 2023 at 11:28
  • You can be assigned homework tasks, so the homework is a collection of assignments. It depends on how you define "assignments".
    – ralph.m
    May 23, 2023 at 12:47
  • 3
    In my experience in AmE, an academic "assignment" is any work that is "assigned" to the student no matter how big or small. A major assignment that takes several weeks to complete is called a "project". A set of small exercises is "homework" or a "problem set". A more recent term is "capstone project", which takes an entire term or even an academic year (similar to a "senior thesis", but more specific to STEM disciplines). May 23, 2023 at 12:48

4 Answers 4


I'm Canadian, and I'm fairly confident what we say here is the same as in America.

The issue here is the word "assignment" being used in two different ways.

In general, the word "assignment" means anything that is assigned as work. Teachers assign homework, therefore anything a teacher tells you to do is an assignment, so the definition of "homework" you found is correct.

However, when a teacher says, "I'm giving you an assignment", "assignment", they are using classroom jargon that refers to a larger piece of work, closer to the scale of a "project" than of a simple piece of homework.


As a Brit who grew up in London, we didn't really use the word "assignment" for schoolwork at all - but I'd expect it to refer to any work we were given without implications of size or where it was to be done.

"Homework" would be anything to be done between lessons, usually relatively small.

A larger piece of work might be a "project" - likely to be done over a longer period of time with some work in class and some at home and usually involving ending up with some kind of polished output (which may be a poster, or a presentation, or a longer piece of writing, or a physical item, or something else).

A project that would be assessed towards a qualification would be "coursework". At the time I was in school, at least, this could involve both supervised classroom work and work done at home.

Looking at the answers, there's probably a lot of both regional and temporal variation!


"Assignments" can be large or small. You can be assigned a long complex task to complete at home over several weeks. Or you can be assigned several very short tasks (perhaps as short as "solve this equation") and one piece of homework can consist of several assignments.

Individual schools will have their own culture. I've worked at schools in which there was no homework, but there was "prep" or "study". I know of a school, that has "IRCP" (independent research consolidation and preparation).

Your distinction of "longer assignments, shorter homework" may be how these terms are used locally, but that isn't the general definition.


I agree with @JamesK in that different schools have their own culture. I'm American (from NYC), and where I went to school, an "assignment" was work given as a punishment, whereas "homework" is regular small/medium sized work that you did at home. A larger piece of assigned work, of which there were only one/a few per semester, would be called a "project."

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