Academic Quality Handbook
- Full Handbook Contents
- 1 - Teaching and Learning at the University of Aberdeen: An Overview
- 2 - Quality Assurance in Higher Education: An Overview
- 3 - The Assurance and Enhancement of Academic Quality and Standards in Teaching and Learning
- 4 - Student Recruitment and Admissions
- 5 - Student Guidance and Learner Support
- 6 - Teaching and Learning Policies and Academic Administration
- 7 -Assessment and Examination Policies and Practices : Taught Courses and Programmes
Section 7 - Assessment and Examination Policies and Practices : Taught Courses and Programmes
This document summarises the University’s assessment and examination policies and practices and provides information on graduation and transcripts. It should be of interest to all undergraduate and postgraduate taught students and to all staff involved with assessments and examinations. All External Examiners for taught programmes are given the Academic Quality Handbook web address on appointment, directing them to this Section, together with Section 9 of the Academic Quality Handbook which relates to External Examining.
7.1.1 This Section of the Academic Quality Handbook should be read in conjunction with Section 9 External Examining: Taught Courses and Programmes. Both Sections were revised in 2000/01 in light of Sections 4 and 6 of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education’s (QAA) Code of Practice for the Assurance of Academic Quality and Standards in Higher Education, which relate to External Examining and Assessment of Students, respectively, and which were published in January and May 2000, respectively. The opportunity was taken to revise the Sections of the Academic Quality Handbook on assessment and external examining, and to consolidate and strengthen existing policies and practices, where appropriate, in light of the QAA’s Code. Further minor revisions have been made, where felt necessary, by the UCTL.
7.1.2 All of the University’s undergraduate programmes, and the majority of postgraduate taught programmes, are modularised i.e. they consist of discrete courses. Normally, courses comprise a twelve-week teaching and learning period, followed by a three or four-week formal revision and assessment period culminating, where appropriate, in the formal end-of-course written examinations. The revision and assessment period for postgraduate taught courses is often only one or two weeks. Some courses, however, are of only six weeks’ duration, with any end-of-course written examinations being held at the end of the relevant half-session. Exceptionally (and usually only as part of an Honours programme), a course may extend over two half-sessions.
7.1.3 In some cases, the formal end-of-course written examinations for first half-session courses are held at the end of the second half-session (paragraph 7.4.7 refers).
7.2.1 In general, the University seeks to follow a mixed method of assessment, as appropriate to the nature of individual courses. Modularisation has seen an increased move towards coursework and other forms of in-course assessment. Some Schools have been granted permission to include a limited amount of peer (student), computer-aided and/or self-assessment in particular courses.
Prescribed Degree Assessments
7.2.2 The assessments which contribute a specified percentage of the overall assessment prescribed for a course or programme are described as Prescribed Degree Assessments. For undergraduate courses the Catalogue of Courses indicates whether a course will be assessed entirely by written examination, by in-course assessment (e.g. an essay or other assignment), by submission of a dissertation/project report, by oral/practical examination, or by a combination of these. Details of the assessment arrangements for resit examinations are also provided. Details of the assessments associated with postgraduate taught courses are provided to students by the sponsoring School, and are normally indicated in the relevant School course and programme handbooks.
Summative and Formative Assessments
7.2.3 Prescribed degree assessments are summative assessments. Some courses will also include elements of formative assessment. These differ from summative assessments in that they do not contribute towards the final mark for a course or programme: they are primarily for the benefit of students in gauging their knowledge and ability at the time of the assessment. Feedback on summative assessments, however, can serve a formative function: paragraph 7.7.31 refers.
7.2.4 Some honours and postgraduate taught programmes will also have summative assessments which are not linked to a specific course: e.g. a General Paper or oral examination that might relate to the programme as a whole or to part of a programme. These are detailed under the prescription for the programmes concerned in the University Calendar and in the documentation provided by Schools to students. [Paragraph 7.7.36 also refers].
7.2.5 The ultimate authority for conduct of all prescribed degree assessments resides with the Head(s) of the relevant School(s) or, in the case of certain interdisciplinary programmes, an Honours Programme Co-ordinator appointed by the Senate. References hereafter to Heads of School refer to such Programme Co-ordinators where relevant.
Written Examination Papers
7.3.1 Course Co-ordinators are responsible, under the ultimate authority of their Head of School, for preparing written examination papers in consultation with those involved with the delivery of a course. While questions should relate to the course actually delivered, they may include reference to material not actually taught, provided that students have been told explicitly (e.g. in the course documentation) that a particular subject would form part of the course aims and learning outcomes and that students would be expected to undertake self-directed learning on such material.
- that the material has not been assessed previously (e.g. by way of an in-course assignment, the mark for which contributes to the overall course mark);
- that the paper covers an adequate breadth of material;
- that there is no overlap/similarity in material being assessed where more than one written paper is being set for a particular course;
- that questions at Levels 3, 4 and 5 in particular are designed to allow students to demonstrate independent critical awareness and understanding of the subject, analysis and judgement, and not just rote learning.
7.3.3 The External Examiner must be asked to approve the final paper and should be sent all relevant Course Handbooks to enable them to ascertain whether the draft questions are fair and appropriate in relation to the course aims and learning outcomes. Where all substantive changes requested by the External Examiner have been incorporated into an examination paper, the Head of School, or nominee, may ratify the final version. Where a School does not act on all changes required by the External Examiner, or makes additional substantive changes to the paper, it must be returned to the External Examiner for final approval.
7.3.4 Heads of School should ensure that details of the School's timetable for ensuring that all examination papers are approved by the External Examiner, are submitted to the Registry by 31 October each year.
7.3.5 It is good practice to draft a greater number of questions than are actually required and to ask the External Examiner to select the questions to be set for a particular paper. External Examiners should also be asked if they wish to set any questions themselves. In such cases, however, the Course Co-ordinator must ensure that all questions relate to the course aims and learning outcomes.
7.3.6Wherever possible, a model answer and marking scheme should be sent to the External Examiner with the draft questions, indicating how the total marks for the question could be achieved. [It is acknowledged that this will not be practicable for some subjects due to the nature of particular questions.]
7.3.7 If the question paper is structured and/or if a question is in several parts, the question paper should indicate the weighting that will be apportioned to each component: this will assist candidates in allocating an appropriate proportion of the examination time to answer a particular question.
In-Course Assignments and Projects/Dissertations
7.3.8 Although it is not a requirement for External Examiners to approve in-course assignments and project/dissertation titles, Course Co-ordinators should consider whether to discuss these with the External Examiner(s) before being finalised in view of the fact that External Examiners are required to approve overall course marks and, in so doing, have the right to request any item of in-course assessment (paragraph 7.9.7 below, refers).
7.3.9 Notwithstanding the above, topics for in-course assignments and projects and dissertations should be selected having regard to the criteria for setting written examination questions indicated in paragraphs 7.3.1 and 7.3.2 above.
Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism
7.3.10 Plagiarism is defined in paragraph 7.17.1 below. It is incumbent on those setting in-course assignments, projects, dissertations, written examinations and other assessments to ensure that the requirements of the assessment are clear and do not lend themselves to plagiarism. It is also incumbent on Schools to ensure that students are given adequate advice on citation and referencing so as to avoid plagiarism.
(a) the University’s definition of plagiarism (revised October 2003)
(b) guidance on how to avoid plagiarism in regard to particular types of assessment, which should include the following:-
- instructions on the correct methods of referencing sources (i.e. both in footnotes and in the bibliography), with examples;
- advice on when to use quotation marks;
- emphasising the importance of a student giving their own interpretation when using, quoting or paraphrasing the work of others (this would include the use of information down-loaded from Internet sites);
- guidance for those working in groups, to indicate whether or not an individual contribution was expected in regard to the assessment of the work (it is acknowledged that it may be impossible or undesirable to identify individual contributions for some group projects).
7.3.12 In addition, Schools have been asked, in designing assessments, to make every effort to ensure that the design of an assessment does not promote the possibility of plagiarism but instead requires from the student individual and critical use of resources.
7.3.13 Staff at the University of Aberdeen have access to the JISC Plagiarism Detection Service. This is an on-line facility which enables electronic comparison of students’ work against electronic sources, including Internet material and work submitted by students at the University of Aberdeen and at other institutions. Further information can be provided by the Centre for Learning and Teaching .
Information to Candidates
7.3.14 The following statement of good practice was approved by the University Committee on Teaching and Learning on 21 October 1999 and sent to Heads of School for dissemination to all academic staff in their School, in regard to the information that might be provided to students concerning written examinations:-
- that great caution must be exercised when informing students about the content (as opposed to the structure) of a written examination and should be sufficiently broad so as not to give students an unfair advantage in completing the examination;
- that any information which staff give to students in regard to the structure and/or content of an examination should be in writing and made available to all students (preferably in the Course Handbook);
- that the actual examination paper must comply with the above information provided to students;
- that written examinations (and, indeed, all assessments) must relate to the learning outcomes for a course, which should be indicated in the Course Handbook given to all students at the start of a course.
7.3.15 Course and Programme Handbooks should contain all relevant information for candidates in regard to assessments, including the deadlines for submission of in-course assignments and the consequences and penalties for late or non-submission of material for assessment.
Examination Diets and Timetables
7.4.1 There are three formal University diets for written examinations for undergraduate courses each year: in January, May/June and August. Special diets are held each year in regard to the MBChB, BDS, Education and some postgraduate taught programmes. The timetabling of written examinations for courses (except those that are part of the MBChB programme) at the three formal diets is the responsibility of the Registry. It is University Policy (Senate 23 Jan 1991) that no student be required to sit more than two examinations in one day and there should not be any clashes for students registered correctly for courses by the end of the third week of teaching. A draft timetable is sent to Schools prior to each diet. At this stage a School may request a change in the date of a course examination. Generally, at the May diet, Level 3 and Level 4 courses are scheduled in the early part of the examination diet. The timetable is finalised as follows:-
- by the end of the Winter Term for the January diet;
- by the start of the Summer Term for the May diet;
- by the end of the Summer Term for the August diet.
7.4.2 Students taking examinations in January, May and August can find details of the date, time and venue of examinations via their Student Portal, or on noticeboards in the Student Reception of the Registry.
7.4.4 For those postgraduate taught courses that are scheduled outwith the normal examination diets, it is the responsibility of the parent School to inform students of the date, time and venue of all such examinations.
Latest Date for Submission of Overall Course Results
7.4.5 Schools are informed, after the October Senate each year, of the deadlines for the latest submission of results. All written papers should be timetabled to allow maximum time for internal double-marking, where required, and moderation by the External Examiner in order for results to be submitted to the Registry by the Senate-prescribed deadlines with reference to paragraph 7.4.1.
7.4.6 Course handouts should state clearly the deadlines for submission of any in-course prescribed degree assessments (e.g. essays, practicals, reports, projects, dissertations) associated with a course, together with any penalties for late submission.
7.4.7 The written examinations for undergraduate courses (except MBChB and BDS examinations) normally take place in the fixed examination period at the end of each half-session, i.e. in late January (weeks 28 and 29) for first half-session courses or in late May/early June (weeks 46-48) for second half-session courses. At Levels 4 and above, particularly in Science, both first and second half-session courses taken as part of an Honours or postgraduate taught programme are often assessed in May/June along with dissertations written during the first half-session. Details are given under the relevant programme prescriptions. The School of Medicine Office will inform MBChB and BScMedSci students of the dates of their examinations.
7.4.8 Students who are awarded a Class Certificate for a course are entered automatically for the first available opportunity of prescribed degree assessment following award of the certificate, i.e. in the period immediately following the teaching and learning period (or in May/June for those first half-session courses where paragraph 7.4.7 applies). Students who are refused a Class Certificate (paragraph 6.7.4 - 6.7.6 refers) or who are deemed withdrawn from the course through their failure to respond to being reported as ‘at risk’ in the system for monitoring students’ progress (section 6.6 refers), lose the right to appear for any associated end-of-course written examination.
7.4.9 In the case of students on North American exchange/study abroad in the first half-session and who wish to depart at the end of week 12 (and are therefore unable to take the end-of-course assessments), Schools are required to provide an alternative form of assessment for such students. The alternative form of assessment must be approved by the relevant Academic Standards Committee. Schools should return the overall CAS mark for these students along with the overall CAS mark for those students completing the end-of-course assessment.
7.4.10 A re-assessment opportunity for both first and second half-session undergraduate courses (except courses at Level 4 and above) is offered in the August/September examination diet. In the case of courses at Level 4 and above, the first and only resit opportunity will usually be the normal diet (i.e. January or May/June) in the following academic year. Students must formally apply to enter resit examinations (and must have a valid Class Certificate 1 for the related course(s)). Where re-assessment is by re-submission of written work, it must normally be submitted by the first day of the August/September diet. However, candidates may be declared as having passed in June if they have completed the required work by then in order to obtain the necessary credits to graduate.
7.4.11 In the case of courses resat as part of an Honours or postgraduate taught programme, normally only the first attempt contributes to the final award (Appendix 7.6 refers).
7.4.12 In addition to the above, a registered student may apply to resit a first half-session course in the following January or a second half-session course in the following May/June without having attended the course that half-session provided they possess a valid Class Certificate 1 for that course from a previous year.
7.4.13 There are fixed deadlines for resit entries, paragraphs 7.4.10 and 7.4.17 refer. Details are announced on Student Portals. Students can register for August resits directly via their Student Portal, however, for January and May resits students must register by completing a Reassessment Application Form available via Student Portals or from the Student Reception.
7.4.14 Although the first entry to a prescribed degree assessment for a course may include an element of in-course assessment, this may not always be practicable for the second, or a subsequent, entry. While the resit result for some courses will be based entirely on the written examination, for others a new element of in-course assessments will be required or the result for the in-course assessment submitted for the first attempt will be carried forward and counted at the resit attempt. Schools are also required to provide this information to students in Course Handbooks. Details of resit arrangements are included in the Catalogue of Courses. Students who are in any doubt as to the nature of the assessments associated with a resit attempt should consult the relevant Course Co-ordinator.
7.4.15 Normally there are no resit opportunities for postgraduate taught course prescribed degree assessments. General Regulation 8 for Taught Postgraduate Awards refers. However, candidates on postgraduate ‘conversion’ programmes, where approval is given by the ASC(Pg) for exemption of General Regulation 8, are permitted a limited opportunity to resit (as detailed in paragraph 8.2 of Appendix 7.7).
7.4.16 Students who have withdrawn from the University with the intention of obtaining additional credits to allow them to return to the University, and those who have left the University but who may require additional credits to satisfy the requirements for an award (e.g. a non-honours degree or a certificate or diploma), are eligible to take undergraduate course examinations as an external candidate if they possess a valid Class Certificate 1.
7.4.17 External candidates entering undergraduate course examinations in January or May/June should submit an entry form and the appropriate fee by the end of week 32. The deadline for entry to the August/September diet is 5 weeks after the end of the Summer Term.
7.4.18 All external candidates are sent a copy of the relevant examination timetable as confirmation of receipt of entry. They should also be familiar with the information provided in paragraphs 7.4.13 and 7.4.14 above.
Examination Entry Fees
7.4.19 There is no fee to pay for a first attempt at a Prescribed Degree Assessment. However, students must pay a re-assessment fee for any subsequent attempt, unless they were unable to take the first attempt due to medical reasons or other good cause (paragraphs 7.10 and 7.7.23 refer) and have this recorded on their Student Record. This requirement applies irrespective of the mode of re-assessment.
Examinations Held Outwith Aberdeen
7.4.21 The University Committee on Teaching and Learning (21 October 1999) agreed that no change be made to the policy concerning requests to hold examinations outwith Aberdeen. Permission to hold outwith Aberdeen those examinations which are published in the University's examinations timetable (paragraph 7.4.1 refers) is only granted in exceptional circumstances (which do not include personal inconvenience or expense). The decision does not rest with Heads of School. Students who make requests for examinations to be held outwith Aberdeen must apply in writing to the Deputy Academic Registrar (Learning & Teaching) in the Registry, who will refer requests to the Vice-Principal (Learning & Teaching) for a decision, where appropriate.
Examinations Held Outwith the Formal Diets
7.4.22 Similarly, it is University policy that permission to hold a special diet of examinations in Aberdeen outwith the three formal diets will only be given in the most exceptional circumstances (which do not include personal inconvenience or expense). Students should submit any such requests to the Deputy Academic Registrar (Student Information Systems) in the Registry: the final decision will rest with the Vice-Principal (Learning & Teaching).
7.5 Rules for the Conduct of Prescribed Assessments and Written Examinations for Degrees or Diplomas
7.5.1 The Senate has approved Rules for the Conduct of Prescribed Assessments and Written Examinations for Degrees or Diplomas which relate to the following and which are provided as Appendix 7.1:-
- Responsibilities of the Registry
- Responsibilities of Heads of School
- Responsibilities of Senior Invigilators and Invigilators
- Rules for Candidates
- Cheating in Prescribed Degree Assessments
- Guidance Note on the Use of Readers and Amanuenses in Examinations
7.6.1 Notes of Guidance for Those with Responsibility for Making Examination Arrangements for Candidates with Disabilities have been approved in relation to candidates with disabilities [Appendix 7.2 refers].
7.6.2 In addition, staff should consult Section 5, Appendix 5.9 Recommendations Concerning Students with Dyslexia for information on characteristics of, and assessment for, dyslexia, and for good practice in regard to teaching, learning and assessment practices.
Double, “Blind” and Anonymous Marking Written Examination Scripts 2
7.7.1 All written examination scripts must be anonymous, i.e. students should only be identified by candidate number. This is facilitated by the University’s examination booklets requiring candidates to write their student ID number on their scripts with their name being concealed in a sealable section.
7.7.2 The standard of the results for written examination scripts that are taken as part of an Honours or Postgraduate taught programme will be assured by a system of moderation which requires, as a minimum, a range of scripts to be double-marked. Double-marking should normally be undertaken internally, with the two markers assessing a script “blind”, i.e. without knowledge of the other’s mark. Double-marking is required for:
all scripts for which the first marker has awarded an overall CAS mark of 8,11,14, and 17-20, and additionally, in the case of Level 4 courses, a CAS mark of 5.
Schools should ensure that a minimum of 10%, or 10, whichever is the lesser figure, of each marker’s scripts have been double marked. If this proportion is not met by the double marking of the CAS band boundaries outlined above, a selection of scripts for which the first marker has awarded a CAS mark of 6/7, 9/10, 12/13 and 15/16 should also be double marked.
7.7.4 In view of the number of students taking certain courses, particularly at Levels 1 and 2, it is not practicable or necessary for written examination scripts for courses that do not contribute towards degree classification or a postgraduate taught award (i.e. Levels 1 and 2, and some Level 3, courses) to be double-marked: they may therefore be marked by one internal marker (who will, however, not know the identity of the candidate – paragraph 7.7.1 refers). The standard of the results for such courses will be assured by a range of scripts being sent or made available to the External Examiner(s) [paragraph 7.9.8 refers]. This provides for all overall course CAS marks of 8 (and CAS 5 in the case of courses at Level 4 and above) to be confirmed by the External Examiner, or moderated if considered necessary.
Other Summative Assessments
7.7.5 It is acknowledged that other forms of summative assessment which contribute towards an overall course mark or programme award (e.g. in-course assignments, projects, dissertations, oral examinations or presentations) cannot easily be marked anonymously. Nevertheless, where double-marking is required (see paragraph 7.7.2 above) and it is practicable, they should be marked “blind” by two internal markers. Where they do not contribute to an overall course mark or programme award (e.g. Levels 1 and 2 courses, and Level 3 courses taken as part of a non-Honours programme), they may be marked by a single marker, with the standard of the results being confirmed or moderated by the policy concerning written scripts (paragraph 7.7.4 above refers).
Common Assessment Scale (CAS)
7.7.6 Following a pilot project, the University’s Common Assessment Scale (CAS) (Appendix 7.3) was introduced in 1992 to enable students and the University to compare more easily the level of performance in different subjects. At the time of writing, a review of CAS was being undertaken by a UCTL Working Group.
7.7.7 It is University policy that, unless exemption has been given by the relevant Academic Standards Committee, an overall CAS mark (in the range 0-20) for each course must be awarded, and that only marks expressed on the Common Assessment Scale may be released to students and External Examiners.
7.7.8 Schools are encouraged to award CAS marks for each component i.e. each essay or examination question of prescribed degree assessment, which can then be used (after weighting where stipulated) to arrive at the overall CAS mark for the course. However, Schools are permitted to award initial (raw) marks according to historical practice, e.g. as a percentage: in these cases, Schools are required to have clearly defined conversion scales to indicate how the overall CAS mark is derived from the initial (raw) mark(s).
7.7.9 The CAS system applies to both undergraduate and postgraduate taught courses and programmes. Several general principles apply, as indicated in Appendix 7.3: the following general principles are reiterated:-
- the CAS is not a linear scale: where Schools award “raw” marks (see above), in converting these to CAS marks there is no requirement that there should be the same interval of raw marks for each of the 21 CAS marks;
- points on the CAS scale indicate levels of performance: they do not correspond directly to percentages or other marking systems;
- it is incorrect to average CAS marks and round-up or round-down the average mark;
- each CAS should be an integer (i.e. decimals should not be used).
Approval/Moderation of Marks and Results
7.7.10 Where assessments are double-marked (see paragraph 7.7.2 above) and the two internal markers differ in the marks they recommend, they should discuss the assessment and agree the mark to be awarded, for approval by the External Examiner. Where they cannot agree, the External Examiner should be asked to moderate and award the final mark. [In such cases, some Schools may choose to identify a third internal marker, in which case it would be for the three internal markers to agree the mark to be awarded (or to send the assessment to the External Examiner for moderation if they cannot agree)].
7.7.11 Normally, External Examiners serve as moderators: i.e. they confirm the standard of the marking by agreeing or revising, as appropriate, the marks being recommended by the internal markers, and by adjudicating where internal markers cannot agree on the mark to be awarded. If an External Examiner has concerns as to the standard of the internal marking, s/he may request a Head of School to arrange for the assessment for a group of students to be reviewed by another, senior, internal examiner, before being re-submitted to the External Examiner for approval.
7.7.12 The role of the External Examiner in undertaking this function is described in sub-section 7.9 below.
7.7.13 The results (i.e. Achieved or Not Achieved) of all courses assessed at the end of the first half-session must be approved by an External Examiner in January/February 3 and are final (with one exception – see below), irrespective of Level. The CAS marks for such Level 1 and 2 (and non-honours Level 3) first half-session courses are also final and should be approved by the External Examiner in January/February. However, the CAS marks for such first half-session courses that constitute part of an Honours or postgraduate taught programme are provisional – they can be raised or lowered at the final Examiners’ meeting later in the same Academic Year (with one exception). The exception is that while CAS 8 (Not Achieved) for a first half-session course that forms part of an Honours or postgraduate taught programme may be changed at the final Examiners’ meeting to CAS 9 or above (Achieved), CAS 9 or above can NOT be changed to CAS 8 or lower.
7.7.14 For Honours programmes of more than one year’s duration, the CAS marks for courses taken in previous years can NOT be modified at the end of the Final Honours Year – they are regarded as having been signed-off in previous years by the External Examiner in office at that time (who may not be in post when a candidate reaches the end of his/her programme). However, the External Examiner in office at the end of the Honours programme may request that a candidate’s scripts and in course/continuous assessments taken in previous years be made available at the end of the Final Honours Year to assist the Examiners in determining the final degree classification: this may be particularly the case where the Examiners wish to use their discretion in departing, in an upward direction, from the classification indicated by the Grade Spectrum.
7.7.15 The signature of all relevant External Examiners must be appended to the list of results as evidence that the marks and results are agreed and approved and that processes have been carried out in accordance with the conventions of the University. Normally, no result will be published unless the results are signed by the relevant Head(s) of School/Honours Co-ordinator and the External Examiner(s).
7.7.16 Normally, the decision of the External Examiner in confirming a course result shall prevail. In circumstances involving more than one External Examiner from the same discipline and where, after appropriate discussion, the External Examiners disagree as to the course mark or result to be awarded to a particular candidate, the higher mark or result shall be awarded, i.e. the candidate shall receive the benefit of any doubt.
Determination of Honours Classification (Grade Spectrum)
7.7.17 In 1995, the Senate approved guidelines for the determination of Honours degree classification in Joint Honours programmes. This was commonly known as the Grade Spectrum, and indicated the relationship between elements of assessment, the CAS marks for such elements, and the final degree classification. The relationship between such elements for Single Honours programmes was left to individual Schools to determine. A revised Grade Spectrum, for the determination of honours classification in ALL degree programmes, was introduced for all students commencing an honours programme in 1996/97, unless permission to use a different system was granted by the University Committee on Teaching and Learning (UCTL).
7.7.18 A condition of approval of alternative proposals by the UCTL was that a School must publicise its procedures for determining degree classification in the information they give to students. Although two exceptions were granted, all first degrees have been classified on the basis of the Grade Spectrum since 2000/01.
7.7.19 The Grade Spectrum was reviewed in 1998 and included feedback from External Examiners and Heads of School. No changes were made. However, the Senate (17 November 1999) approved the addition of "Notes" to the Grade Spectrum to clarify the position concerning failure to complete elements of Honours assessment and the application of discretion in applying the Grade Spectrum, to clarify issues that had been raised by External Examiners in light of an academic appeal. The Grade Spectrum is provided as Appendix 7.4.
7.7.20 In 2003/04, the Grade Spectrum was further reviewed in the light of (i) a small number of comments received from External Examiners, and (ii) the publication of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). In particular, the review focused on the limited condonement of failure provided for by the Grade Spectrum. The SCQF set out the credit requirements for the award of an Honours degree. The condonement of failure permitted by the Grade Spectrum resulted in students graduating with a Lower Second or Third Class Honours degree having failed a proportion of their Honours courses.
7.7.21 In addressing the issue of condonement of failure, provision for resit of courses taken as part of an Honours programme was extended. Previously, students normally only resat failed Honours courses where these were required either to meet the School requirements for progression within an Honours programme or to meet the requirements for professional accreditation by Professional or Statutory Body (PSB). However, normally only the result achieved at the first attempt contributes to final degree classification.
7.7.22 Hence, while the provision of resits at Honours was a significant change, only minor changes were made to the Grade Spectrum approved by the Senate on 16 June 2004 and included the abolition of the Pass Degree.
7.7.23 The " Notes" define Good cause as any reason outwith a candidate’s control (e.g. compassionate or unavoidable circumstances) and does not include, for example, misreading of the examination timetable in regard to the date, time or venue of an examination.
Aegrotat Degrees, Designated and other non-Honours Degrees
7.7.24 Candidates who do not fulfil the requirements for the award of a Third Class Honours degree will normally be awarded the relevant Designated Degree, if they are qualified, or, if not, a non-Honours Degree (see 7.7.26 below).
7.7.25 In accordance with General Regulation 21 for First Degrees, the examiners may recommend the award of an Aegrotat degree to candidates who, on account of illness or other good cause, have been unable to complete a sufficient number of elements of Honours degree assessment at the prescribed time to allow the candidates to be placed in a particular Honours class, provided that a candidate's past record provides sufficient evidence that they would have achieved at least Third Class Honours standard. Aegrotat degrees may be awarded only after obtaining the consent of the candidate.
7.7.26 In addition to the degrees of MA and BSc being conferred with Honours, these two degrees may also be offered as non-Honours degrees. In both cases, candidates completing a Designated programme of study as prescribed by the Regulations, with a preponderance of courses at Level 3 in a specified discipline, will be entitled to apply for the award of the Designated degree with the name of that discipline inscribed on their Degree Certificate. Where candidate have not followed such a prescribed programme of study but have followed a more general programme, if eligible they may apply for the award of the non-Honours degrees of BSc or MA. With effect from 2003/04, with permission of the Academic Standards Committee (Undergraduate), a student who, for good cause, is unable to complete the requirements of their Honours programme may apply for the award of a Designated degree, appropriately designated. This provision applies where the student, while having achieved 90 credit points at Level 3, does not meet the programme requirements for any of the Designated degrees offered.
Determination of Postgraduate Awards
7.7.28 The General Regulations for Taught Postgraduate Awards indicate the credit requirements for the award of a Postgraduate Certificate, Diploma or Master’s degree. Supplementary requirements in terms of the attainment of a particular standard (e.g. a specified CAS mark) in an individual course or courses may be identified in the programme prescription, with specific details being provided in course and programme handbooks, where appropriate.
7.7.30 In order to maintain the standards of the University’s awards, the Regulations for Taught Postgraduate Awards also indicate that candidates may only resit courses in exceptional circumstances and on the unanimous recommendation of the examiners unless the candidate is on a postgraduate ‘conversion’ programme, approved as such by the Academic Standards Committee (Postgraduate) and where the ASC(Pg) has approved resits. This would not preclude an award being made to a candidate who had failed a course or courses, provided the examiners considered that a candidate's overall performance warranted an award being made. Candidates in this position would be deemed to have satisfied the credit requirements for their award. At the time of writing, a UCTL Working Group was undertaking a review of the Procedures for Determining Progression and Award in Modularised Postgraduate Taught Programmes of Study (Grade Spectrum). This section will be revised once this review is concluded.
Feedback to Students
7.7.31 Feedback is an important part of the learning process and can serve a dual purpose: it can confirm a student’s strengths and/or identify potential weaknesses, which may assist a student to focus on their future learning requirements, thereby serving a formative function; and it can provide motivation for future learning and assessments. Timely and appropriate feedback should be provided to students, as indicated below. Students should be informed of the arrangements for the provision of such feedback in Course or School Handbooks, which should include the timescales in which students can expect to receive feedback.
7.7.32 Only marks on the Common Assessment Scale may be disclosed to students (Appendix 7.3 refers).
7.7.33 In November 2009, the UCTL approved an Institutional Framework for the Provision of Feedback on Assessment (Appendix 7.8). This was produced in response to the Curriculum Reform Commission's recommendation that such a Framework should be established. The Curriculum Reform Commission also recommended that all programmes should review the way in which they provide formative feedback to students. This review will be undertaken as part of the review of all programmes in advance of the introduction of the new curriculum in September 2010.
Written Examination Scripts
7.7.34 Although it is University policy not routinely to return written examination scripts to students, students can expect to receive feedback on their performance in all written examinations other than final examinations 4. The mechanism by which feedback on written examinations should be given is left to the discretion of Schools though should take account of the guiding principles set out in Appendix 7.8. Students will be informed of the mechanisms and timescales via relevant handbooks [paragraph 7.7.31 refers].
7.7.35 Markers should provide timeous feedback to students on all in-course assignments, even when the marks are summative and contribute to the overall course CAS mark. The Senate has agreed that Schools must inform students of their CAS mark for individual elements of in-course assignments irrespective of whether the marks are to contribute to the overall course CAS mark. Thus, for example, for a course assessed entirely by three in-course essays, Schools should inform students of their individual essay CAS marks and the Registry would inform students of their overall course CAS mark. However, only the latter would be released to students in regard to a course assessed entirely by written examination.
Other forms of assessment
7.7.36 Course, Programme or School Handbooks, as appropriate, should also indicate the arrangements for the provision of feedback to students in regard to other forms of assessment e.g. oral or clinical examinations or presentations.
7.7.37 Schools should be aware that the Data Protection Act 1998 gives students the right to request access to personal data held relating to them (including from 1 January 2005 such data held in manual datasets which are not structured by reference to individuals). This could include examination scripts and any written comments made by examiners on their assessments. Schools should therefore ensure that all Examiners, including External Examiners, are aware that their written comments on candidates’ written examination scripts may be provided to students who make a formal application for disclosure of their personal data under the Data Protection Act (Section 1.12 refers).
Analysis of Marks
7.7.38 Schools should undertake routinely an analysis of marking and marking trends to facilitate comparisons and provide evidence of standards. This will be audited through the Internal Teaching Review process.
7.8.1 University Court Ordinance 404 and the General Regulations for First degrees and for Taught Postgraduate Awards indicate that the Examiners for each degree shall be the “Professors, Readers and Lecturers in the University [including those holding such status on an honorary basis] whose courses qualify for that degree, and such External Examiners as may be appointed by the University Court”. Notwithstanding these Regulations, the Senate (November 1990 and October 1993) has agreed that Heads of School may also permit others without that status, such as Teaching Assistants, Teaching Fellows, Clinical Tutors or Recognised Teachers, (including those appointed as Relief Teachers and/or on a part-time basis) to mark prescribed degree assessments (in-course assignments and/or written examination scripts) where the Head of School is satisfied that the person concerned is sufficiently experienced to be a competent marker.
Nomination, Appointment and Induction
7.9.1 Full details concerning the nomination, appointment and induction of External examiners are given in Section 9 of the Academic Quality Handbook External Examining: Taught Courses and Programmes. The roles and responsibilities of External Examiners are described in detail below.
Approval of Prescribed Degree Assessments
7.9.2 The role of the External Examiner in approving written examination papers and other summative assessments is described in detail in sub-section 7.3 above.
Assessment of Examination Scripts 5
7.9.4 Where it is agreed with the External Examiner that the responsible School should make a selection of scripts to be sent to the External Examiner, the principles for such selection should be agreed with the External Examiner in advance.
7.9.5 The guiding principle for any selection of scripts is that External Examiners should have enough evidence to determine that internal marking and classifications are of an appropriate standard and are consistent.
7.9.6 External Examiners should see a sample of scripts from the full range of the CAS bands, and should normally be sent all scripts of borderline candidates and of those assessed internally as first class, as detailed in paragraph 7.9.8 below.
Assessment of In-Course Assignments and Projects/Dissertations
7.9.7 An External Examiner has the right to see any work that contributes to the overall CAS mark for a course or to the degree classification or programme award, including work undertaken on courses off-campus that contributes to the programme award. In some cases it may be agreed that the School should make a selection of such work to be sent to the External Examiner, the principles for such selection and the timing as to when it should be sent being agreed in advance (see paragraph 7.9.8 below).
Selection of Scripts and other work to be sent/made available to the External Examiner
7.9.8 It is important that External Examiners are able to satisfy themselves that the boundaries between Pass and Fail and between each CAS band have been set at the appropriate standard. Consequently, each candidate’s scripts and any in-course assignments (including projects and dissertations) either should be sent to the External Examiner or should be made available to the External Examiner where he/she prefers to review candidates’ work while visiting the University, for the following:-
- Courses and summative assessments (e.g. general or language papers)
which are part of an Honours or postgraduate taught programme
- those for which the internal markers have agreed an overall CAS mark of 11, 14 and 17-20
- those for which the internal markers have agreed an overall CAS mark of 8 (in the case of Level 4 courses, an overall CAS mark of 5)
- a small selection of those for which the internal markers have agreed an overall CAS mark of 9-10, 12-13 and 15-16, to include a selection of single and double marked scripts
- those for which the internal markers have been unable to agree an overall mark
- any others requested by the External Examiner or the Head of School.
- For all other courses
- those for which the internal markers have agreed an overall CAS mark of 6-8
- a selection of those for which the internal markers have agreed an overall CAS mark of 9-20
- those for which the internal markers have been unable to agree an overall mark.
7.9.9 Notwithstanding the above, for all Honours and postgraduate taught courses each candidate’s in-course assignments (including projects/dissertations) should be made available to the External Examiner on request.
7.9.10 There is no requirement for a School to photocopy written examination scripts (which is a time-consuming process): it is acceptable to send scripts and other assessments to External Examiners by registered post.
Oral Examinations and Interviews
7.9.11 Oral examinations are conducted in order to provide an opportunity for a fairer and more complete assessment of the individuals and the cohort.There are two types of oral examination: compulsory and discretionary. Students may be invited to a discretionary oral examination because they are on a borderline or because they represent a typical degree classification or CAS mark. Where an oral examination is a compulsory component of the assessment for a course or programme, all candidates registered for that course or programme would be expected to attend an oral examination.
7.9.12 Oral examinations, where held, must take place within the published dates of term6 and must be conducted by at least two (and no more than three) Examiners: normally, one External Examiner and one (or two) internal examiner(s).
7.9.13 An External Examiner may request to interview a group of students, either individually or in a group, in the absence of any internal examiners in order to allow the External Examiner to discharge his/her responsibilities (paragraph 7.9.19 below refers).
Compulsory oral examinations
7.9.14 Where a school wishes to hold compulsory oral examinations, with the marks contributing a stated proportion of the overall result for a course or programme, the prior permission of the Academic Standards Committee (Undergraduate) must be obtained (normally via the relevant Course or Programme proposal form).
- the percentage contribution of the oral examination to the overall course or programme mark and result;
- the timing of the oral examination;
- the range of material that could be covered in the oral examination;
- the criteria for the award of marks for the oral examination.
Discretionary oral examinations
7.9.16 If Schools, exceptionally, want the right to hold discretionary oral examinations for some candidates only, details for the selection of candidates and the purpose of the examination must be submitted to the ASC, as part of the process for approving the assessment arrangements for courses and programmes.
7.9.17 Heads of School should clarify with External Examiners, on their appointment, whether or not they might wish to invite some candidates to attend a discretionary oral examination, subject to paragraph 7.9.12 above. Where discretionary oral examinations are requested, Heads of School should agree the principles for the selection of such candidates, including whether a candidate may request an oral examination, and the purpose of the examination with the External Examiner: these should be submitted to the ASC for approval and, if approved, they should be made explicit to students via Course/School Handbooks.
7.9.18 Under no circumstances shall the outcome of a discretionary oral examination be used to lower a mark or result that has been provisionally awarded to a candidate prior to such an examination: i.e. candidates can only benefit from a discretionary oral examination. Students invited to attend a discretionary oral examination should be informed that they have been selected for one of two reasons, either due to them being on the borderline between degree classes or because they are representative of a typical degree classification or CAS mark and that their provisional mark would become their confirmed mark if they declined to attend a discretionary oral examination.
7.9.19 External Examiners, in addition to participating in the assessment process, are required to report on the academic standards of student performance and the University’s awards. In order to fulfil these responsibilities, an External Examiner may invite groups of students, either individually or as a group, to attend for an interview (paragraph 7.9.13 refers) where the External Examiner wishes to obtain views from a representative group of students on their educational experience at the University, which may include their comments on the quality of the learning resources available.
7.10.1 If candidates believe that illness and/or other personal circumstances may have affected their performance in an element of assessment they must submit written details to the Head of the relevant School no later than one week after the date on which they submitted or appeared for the assessment concerned, to allow these to be taken into consideration by the internal markers. Heads of School should bring details of medical or other extenuating circumstances to the attention of the External Examiner in at least the following cases:-
- for all courses where the internal markers have agreed an overall CAS mark of 0-8, irrespective of Level
- for all courses taken as part of an Honours programme where the internal markers have agreed an overall CAS mark of 11, 14 or 17.
7.10.2 In addition, a candidate’s scripts and any in-course assignments should either be sent to the External Examiner (e.g. for first half-session or resit courses where the External Examiner does not visit the University) or should be made available to the External Examiner when they attend the University (e.g. in June): paragraphs 7.12.3 and 7.12.13 refer.
7.10.3 In view of the limited discretion available to Examiners in regard to the extent to which medical and other extenuating circumstances can affect a course outcome (paragraph 7.12.14 refers), students can seek permission, exceptionally, for their result for a course or courses to be discounted.
7.10.4 The Senate (14 June 2000) noted that the University Committee on Teaching and Learning (UCTL) had approved arrangements for medical certification by a medical practitioner. The requirement for certification of absence on medical grounds or other good cause guidelines were reviewed by a Working Party of the UCTL in 2001/02. This Working Party took account, in formulating its recommendations, of views of local General Practitioners that the requirements for students to submit medical certificates to cover absence should, where feasible, be brought on-line with those of employees. The Guidance Note was further revised in June 2003 to take account of guidance from the Scottish Executive Health Department in regarding to the charging of fees for the provision of medical certificates. The Guidance Note states that students are responsible for paying any fees incurred.
7.10.5 These guidelines are kept under review by the University Committee on Teaching & Learning, in particular to ensure that they take account of any national changes implemented by the Scottish General Practitioner’s Committee.
7.11 Guidelines for those who fail, or who fail to attend or complete, an element of prescribed assessment7
7.11.1 The Senate (June 2000) approved a Guidance Note for Students who either Fail, or who Fail to Attend or Complete, an Element of Prescribed Degree Assessment (Appendix 7.6). This Guidance Note was substantially revised in June 2004 following the decision to introduce provision for resit examinations at Honours to ensure that Honours degrees awarded are compliant with the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (see 1.6.8). This requirement took effect for students entering an Honours programme in or after 2004/05.
7.11.3 With effect from 2004/05, students entering an Honours programme will be required to achieve a minimum of 480 credit points, including at least 180 at Levels 3 and 4, of which a minimum of 90 must be at Level 4. Students failing a course at the first attempt would normally be required to resit for credit accumulation purposes. However, in the case of students in the trial year of an Honours programme, a number of exceptions to the requirement to resit are provided. These are detailed in paragraph 5 of the Guidance Note (Appendix 7.6).
7.11.4 In particular, a system of compensation is provided for students achieving CAS 6, 7 or 8 in a course at Level 4 or above taken as part of an Honours programme. Students achieving such a CAS mark will be compensated for their marginal fail up to a maximum of 30 credit points by the award of the same number of credit points assigned to the course but as unnamed specific Level 1 credits. Such Level 1 credit will count towards overall credit requirements.
7.11.5 Students who are unable to complete or attend a course at Level 4 or above on account of illness or other good cause will also be required to make up this credit shortfall. However, the result of such a resit will count towards final degree classification, in accordance with the Grade Spectrum (paragraphs 7.7.17-22 refer).
Number, Composition and Purpose of Examiners’ Meetings
7.12.2 It is the responsibility of Heads of School (a) to decide how many Examiners’ Meetings they need to convene each year and (b) to ensure that External Examiners are informed of the dates well in advance (paragraph 7.12.19 refers).
7.12.3 Normally, Final Examiners’ Meetings (at which at least one External Examiner would be required to attend 8) are held in June for undergraduate programmes and in the final month of the programme for postgraduate programmes. In addition, Schools may elect to hold a meeting of internal examiners 9 after the May/June diet and immediately before a Final Examiners’ Meeting, primarily to identify any potential borderline candidates, for whatever reason (including medical/other extenuating circumstances): this would allow a candidate’s scripts and in-course assignments to be collated and made available to the Final Examiners’ Meeting, in order to ensure that sufficient time is allocated to candidates for whom the assessment outcome may not be unambiguous.
7.12.4 Schools may also elect to hold an (internal) Examiners’ Meeting at the end of the first half-session or resit (August) examination diets, to agree the marks, scripts and other information to be sent to the External Examiners: there is no requirement for External Examiners to attend these meetings.
7.12.5 Where an Examiners’ Meeting is not held at the end of the first half-session or resit diet, it shall be for the Head of School and Course Co-ordinator to approve the marks for an individual course, which should be submitted to the External Examiner for award of the final overall mark (subject to the policies outlined in paragraph 7.7.13 above).
- to make recommendations in regard to programme awards;
- to finalise the marks to be awarded for all second half-session courses and those first half-session courses that are assessed at the end of the second half-session;
- to finalise the first half-session CAS marks for courses for Honours and postgraduate taught candidates (paragraphs 7.7.13 and 7.7.14 refer);
- to take into consideration, in all of the above, any medical or other extenuating circumstances that had been submitted to the School within the required time limits;
- to assist Heads of School in identifying candidates for the award of any prizes that are the responsibility of a School;
- to receive oral comments from the External Examiner(s) in regard to (a) the appropriateness of the assessment procedures and the standards attained by candidates, (b) the appropriateness of the curricula, particularly in regard to any external reference points such as the national subject benchmark statement, where relevant, and (c) the structure and content of existing programmes of study, as part of a systematic reflection on the provision and appropriateness of these programmes.
Programmes delivered by one School
7.12.7 Normally, the Head of a School (or his/her nominated Deputy) should serve as Convener of all Examiners’ Meetings for that School. In addition, all Course Co-ordinators would be expected to attend where the results for their courses were being considered and/or where the results for their courses would contribute to a candidate’s overall programme result. All other examiners 6 are also eligible to attend internal Examiners’ Meetings. Other markers (paragraph 7.8.1 refers) may be permitted to be in attendance, but without power to vote.
Programmes delivered by more than one School
7.12.9 For programmes delivered by more than one School, the final decision on the award should be taken by an Examiners’ Meeting consisting of up to three examiners from each of the participating Schools, plus appropriate External Examiners where available. Where an External Examiner is not available, decisions will be subject to subsequent ratification by the relevant External Examiner(s). For multi-disciplinary programmes with a designated Honours Co-ordinator, and separately identified External Examiners, the Examiners’ Meeting must comprise, as a minimum, the Honours Co-ordinator, the External Examiner(s), and at least one representative from each School which has contributed courses.
7.12.10 For joint and major/minor honours degrees in which a candidate has studied two subjects, in practice one School will hold its Final Examiners’ Meeting and decide candidates’ marks to be awarded for the elements of assessment (in terms of the Grade Spectrum) for which it is responsible before the equivalent meeting for the second subject. Examiners representing the first School/subject will then take joint candidates’ marks to the Final Examiners’ Meeting for the second subject in accordance with paragraph 7.12.9: the examiners for the two subjects, jointly, will then determine the overall programme award.
Conduct of Examiners’ Meetings
7.12.11 Examiners’ Meetings shall be convened by the Head of the relevant School (or his/her nominated deputy) or Honours Co-ordinator where appropriate, and should be scheduled to ensure that the School can submit results, approved by the External Examiner, by the Senate-approved deadlines.
7.12.13 All written examination scripts and in-course assessments should be available for Examiners’ Meetings, if requested, in regard to any student for whom an assessment outcome is being considered (paragraph 7.12.3 above refers).
7.12.14 Any medical or other extenuating circumstances that a candidate has brought to the attention of the Head of School within the prescribed time-limit and that has not hitherto been considered by the External Examiner (paragraphs 7.10.1 and 7.10.2 above refer) should be discussed at the Final Examiners’ Meeting. Where such evidence is considered relevant by the Examiners, it shall normally be taken into account in deciding the marks for individual courses and summative assessments rather than in the process of reaching a decision on a final classification. However, in some cases, the evidence may be better assessed at the time of final classification.
7.12.15 Where the Examiners have evidence (e.g. a candidate’s past performance) to believe that the medical or other personal circumstances submitted by, or on behalf of, a candidate may have prevented the candidate from performing in a particular course or summative assessment to their expected standard, the Examiners have the discretion to award a higher CAS mark than the actual performance might warrant.
7.12.16 The Grade Spectrum (Appendix 7.4) indicates that, in regard to degree classification, where the Examiners use their discretion to depart from the class indicated by the Grade Spectrum, but that such discretion can only be used in an upward direction. With effect from 2003/04, the provision for downward discretion was removed.
7.12.19 External Examiners, as full members of the relevant Examiners’ Meeting, must be invited to attend all Examiners’ Meetings at which significant decisions are to be taken in regard to the specialisms with which they have been concerned (including those for which they have approved question papers). At least one External Examiner must be present at all Final Examiners’ Meetings i.e. normally in June for undergraduate programmes and September for postgraduate programmes (paragraphs 7.12.3 and 7.12.8 refer). Heads of School should therefore ensure that their External Examiner(s) are informed of the dates of Examiners’ Meetings for the whole session by the start of each academic year, or as soon as possible thereafter.
Preparation, Submission, Recording and Notification of Results
7.13.1 Heads of School are responsible for ensuring that robust and reliable School systems are in place for the computation, checking and recording of assessment decisions, and for providing relevant information in time for the Final Meeting of Examiners. They should also ensure that appropriate back-ups are made of data that is stored electronically, and that, where required, these are erased by the final date for return of the results to the Registry (paragraph 7.13.6 below refers).
7.13.2 Provisional marks for undergraduate and postgraduate taught courses should be entered onto the Student Record and the list printed for the Examiners’ Meeting. During the meeting, the lists should be annotated and signed by External Examiners and Head of School. Following the meeting, lists should be returned either by fax or by hand to the Registry. Students are then notified of their results by the Registry, via Student Portals, and consideration is given to the implications for student progress/graduation, as appropriate.
- a Pass is recorded as “A” (Achieved), supported by the relevant CAS mark or Honours classification;
- Any other Result is recorded as “N” (Not Achieved), supported by the relevant CAS mark or other reason why credit has not been obtained, e.g. “MC” (denoting that a student had submitted a medical certificate as a reason for not attending the end-of-course examination) or “GC” (denoting that a student had submitted reasons of other “Good Cause” as to why they had not appeared for, or completed, the course assessment) or “NP” (denoting that a student had failed to complete the course assessment without medical certification or other good cause).
7.13.4 Course and programme results are processed as quickly as possible following confirmation by the Examiners. Course and programme results that are submitted to the Registry on a particular day are confirmed on the Student Record the same day and published via Student Portals overnight.
7.13.5 All assessment results are covered by the Data Protection Act. No CAS marks or programme results should be divulged to candidates until after the results, duly signed by the External Examiner(s), have been submitted to, and published by, the Registry (with one exception 10). Where Schools wish to publish results/marks, they should be displayed using ID numbers, in ID number order, and without names. Results should only be given to students either in person or by ‘phone if steps have been taken to confirm the student’s identity: they should NOT be disclosed to third parties (including parents) without a student’s explicit consent. In view of the above, it is recommended that Schools do not release any marks or results to candidates, but instead refer students to their Portal.
Amended CAS Marks or Results
7.13.6 If a CAS mark is amended after it has been submitted to the Registry for reasons other than on appeal, it is the responsibility of the relevant Head of School to submit this in writing with the External Examiner(s) signature to Registry for amendment of the Student Record and to write to the student concerned giving the revised CAS mark.
7.13.7 Where the Examiners, including the External Examiner(s), agree that a candidate’s CAS marks and/or course or programme result should be amended as a consequence of an academic appeal being upheld, the Registry will inform the student of the Examiners’ decision in writing on receipt of confirmation of the amended mark or result from the Head of the relevant School.
7.14.1 Students who are qualified, or about to become qualified 11, for the award of a Certificate or Diploma of the University should collect an application form from the Registry. Upon receipt of the form and confirmation of eligibility (i.e. that a student is qualified for the award and is not in debt to the University) a candidate’s name will be submitted to the Senate for the formal award of the Certificate/Diploma, after which the certificate will be despatched.
7.15.1 Students who successfully complete a programme of study must make an application to the Registry in order for their award to be conferred. Details of when and how to apply to attend in-person ceremonies are available on the Registry Graduation website 12, which is advertised by posters throughout the University. Students are currently charged a ceremonial fee if they wish to graduate at a ceremony. There is no charge for in-absentia awards to be conferred.
7.15.3 Degrees are conferred on behalf of the Senate at Graduation Ceremonies (which are technically meetings of the Senate) in early July and late November. Exact dates can be obtained from the Registry. Students not wishing, or unable, to graduate in person may apply to graduate in absentia. In such cases, the degree is conferred at one of the scheduled meetings of the Senate each year, as soon as practicable following receipt of the graduation form and the student’s results.
7.15.4 The date of conferral of the degree is either the date of the Graduation Ceremony (for graduation in-person) or of the meeting of the Senate (for graduation in-absentia). The degree certificate is awarded at in-person Graduation Ceremonies, and is sent to those who graduate in absentia normally within one week of the date of graduation.
7.16.1 A transcript listing all courses which a student has passed i.e. “Achieved” during their period of registration, together with the CAS mark, is included with the relevant Certificate, Diploma or Degree certificate. The transcript indicates the Academic Year (not the diet) in which a course has been passed, its credit value, and the definition of the CAS bands. For visiting SOCRATES/ERASMUS and North American students, a conversion to ECTS grade/recommended US equivalent is also provided.
7.6.3 A copy of the University of Aberdeen European Diploma Supplement is also included with all Degree Certificates. At the time of writing, the University was actively engaged with the ongoing Higher Education Achievement Record (HEAR) developments in the sector.
“Cheating in any assessment, whether formative or summative, can result in disciplinary action being taken under this Code. For these purposes “Cheating” includes:
- Possession in any examination of material which has not been authorised in writing by the relevant Course Co-ordinator. Students whose first language is not English may, however, refer to a dictionary where this is approved by the Head of the School responsible for the examination;
- Copying from another student in an examination;
- Removing an examination book from an examination room;
- Impersonating another candidate in relation to any assessment;
- Permitting another person to impersonate one’s self in relation to any assessment;
- Paying or otherwise rewarding another person for writing or preparing work to be submitted for assessment;
- Colluding with another person in the preparation or submission of work which is to be assessed. This does not apply to collaborative work authorised by the relevant Course Co-ordinator.
- Plagiarism. Plagiarism is the use, without adequate acknowledgement, of the intellectual work of another person in work submitted for assessment. A student cannot be found to have committed plagiarism where it can be shown that the student has taken all reasonable care to avoid representing the work of others as his or her own.”
7.17.2 Where there is reason to believe that cheating in any assessment has occurred a complaint should be made in writing through the Head of the appropriate School; it should not be dealt with as part of academic assessment. The Head of School (or nominee in cases of plagiarism) shall normally investigate the allegation with the student (Section 7 of the Code refers). The role of the internal and external examiners shall be restricted to the presentation of evidence; they shall have no role in deciding whether a student is guilty of cheating. They may, as appropriate, submit evidence to a disciplinary hearing.
7.17.3 Although a Head of School may have delegated authority to investigate a case the Head of School must make a decision on whether cheating has occurred. If a Head of School believes that cheating has occurred he/she shall proceed in accordance with the relevant Section in the Code (7.2.6, or 7.2.10, or 7.3.4, or 7.5.8).
7.18.1 A student may appeal against an examination mark or degree classification but specific rights of such appeals against a decision involving academic judgement are very limited. Academic appeals will be considered only in matters of procedure, competency and/or prejudice. Further details are provided in Section 6, sub-section 6.12, and in the University’s Policy and Guidance Note for Students Concerning Academic Appeals (Appendix 5.17a and Appendix 5.17b to Section 5).
7.19.1 The University’s policy on retention of assessed work (contained in the Report of the Working Party on School Storage Provision submitted to the Senate in November 1986) is that Schools should, as a minimum, retain students’ work which contributes to their overall course CAS mark or programme award (e.g. examination scripts; projects; in-course assignments) as indicated below:-
- Level 1 and 2 courses (and Level 3 courses for non-Honours candidates): retain work until 12 months after the date of submission of the course results to the Registry;
- Level 3 and 4 and undergraduate Level 5 (Honours candidates) courses and programmes: retain work until 12 months after the date of submission of the programme result to the Registry;
- Level 5 (postgraduate) courses and programmes: retain work until 12 months after the date of submission of the programme result to the Registry.
7.19.2 While Schools may dispose of assessed work after the above dates, they should retain a sample of work that has been awarded marks in each CAS band for internal monitoring purposes, to demonstrate that assessment standards over a period of time have been at least maintained. Also, a sample of work for individuals or groups of students at all Levels should be retained, to demonstrate how the standards achieved by students have developed as a consequence of progression through each Level of Study.
7.19.3 For formative assessments, or summative assessments, retained in anonymous form for ITR/ELIR, are exempt from release under Freedom of Information on the basis of an expectation of confidence between student and the relevant staff within their institution and, where appropriate external examiners and reviewers.
1 A Class Certificate is a certificate confirming that a candidate has attended and duly performed the work prescribed for a course. With the exception of the MBChB degrees, Class Certificates are valid as an entitlement to admission to a degree assessment in the academic year in respect of which they are awarded, and in the academic year immediately following.
2 A script is defined as the totality of a candidate’s answers to a written examination paper i.e. the answers to the required number of questions per paper .
3 Several Examiners’ Meetings for the MBChB degrees are held throughout the year, as well as a Final Examiners’ Meeting in June. CAS marks and results are confirmed at each of the meetings.
4 Feedback on final written examinations should be made available to those students who intend to resit a final examination e.g. in order to satisfy accreditation requirements.
5 A script is defined as the totality of a candidate’s answers to a written examination paper i.e. the answers to the required number of questions per paper.
6 For postgraduate taught programmes, oral examinations should be held by the end of week 50 of the programme.
7 This procedure applies to candidates entering an Honours programme in or after 2004/05. For the procedures for students entering an Honours programme before 2004/05, refer to the Guidance Note (Appendix 7.6) in the Academic Quality Handbook 2nd edition.
8 In cases where a final Examiners’ Meeting would be considering a very small number of candidates, it is acceptable for an External Examiner to request that s/he should not be required to attend the University if candidates are not required to undergo an oral examination and if the External Examiner (a) is sent details of any extenuating circumstances that a student has submitted in regard to their performance so that these can be taken into account by the External Examiner in approving overall course CAS marks and programme awards, (b) is sent, for each candidate, the written examination scripts and all in-course assessments not previously seen by the External Examiner, (c) agrees to raise any issues with the Head of School by telephone, facsimile or e-mail prior to confirming the marks and awards and in sufficient time for the School to meet the Senate-approved deadlines for the submission of results to the Registry and (d) agrees to provide feedback to the Head of School in regard to the appropriateness of the assessment procedures and the standards attained by candidates, and the appropriateness of the curricula.
9 Under current Regulations, internal Examiners are defined as the Professors, Readers and Lecturers responsible for teaching a course, though others may mark, subject to appropriate monitoring.
10 Exceptionally, the School of Education was given permission by the UCTL to release overall provisional CAS marks together with feedback to students, with these marks being confirmed by the External Examiner(s) three times each year. This was approved on the proviso that, in the case of marks in the range CAS 7-10, candidates’ scripts should be sent to the External Examiner(s) on a monthly basis for confirmation of the CAS marks before release to the students. This exception, which applies to undergraduate and postgraduate CPD provision and to students on the PGDE, was permitted to enable students to be offered a resit opportunity as soon as possible.
11 Undergraduate students who leave the University without completing their programme but who, nevertheless, fulfil the criteria for the award of an Undergraduate Certificate or Diploma in Higher Education, will be awarded the relevant award without formal application.