Undergraduate Student Examination Handbook 2017-2018
A PDF version of the handbook is available to download here.
1. The purpose of this document is to explain the chief features of the University’s assessment system. It should be read in conjunction with the Examination Conventions, September 2017, the Regulations for Modular Initial Degrees, September 2017, and the Regulations for Foundation Degrees, September 2014. In the case of any dispute over the information in this document the information as set out in the Examination Conventions and Regulations for Modular Initial and Foundation Degrees documents shall take precedence.
2. The more students understand about the assessment system, the more opportunities they have to get the best out of their studies and to perform to the best of their ability. Assessments take many forms, including coursework and examinations. Ignorance of any type of assessment requirements will not be accepted as an excuse for poor or incomplete performance. Students must make sure they familiarise themselves with this information and, if in doubt, please seek advice from their academic department(s). Sources of additional information are listed in the Appendix.
3. Departments are required to have assessment criteria in place which:
- reflect the aims and objectives of individual study schemes and learning outcomes of modules;
- make clear the standards necessary to attain particular grades in all pieces of assessed and examined work.
Assessment criteria will vary according to the knowledge and skills being assessed and the format of the assessment itself.
4. Formal examinations form a significant part of the overall assessment of student performance. Academic Departments and Student Support Services can advise on examination technique where students have concerns about their performance in examinations, and feedback on examination performance can be requested by all students.
Timing of Examinations
Examinations are scheduled three times a year:
at the end of Semester 1 (January) at the end of Semester 1 (May/June) Supplementary (Resit) Examinations (August)
NB. The resit period includes all coursework and examination assessments
6. Provisional and Final Examination Timetables are made available on the Web before the Semester 1 and 2 examinations. Students must check the Provisional Timetables for clashes and report any to the Timetable Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org immediately. Failure to do so is likely to cause problems as special arrangements will be need to be made, adding to the pressures at an already pressurised time.
Students must always check the Final Timetable to see if any examinations have been moved. MISREADING OF THE TIMETABLE IS NOT A VALID REASON FOR ABSENCE OR LATE ARRIVAL.
7. The Semester 1 and Semester 2 Examination Timetables are worked out on the basis of the modules students are registered for at the start of session, and will take into account any approved changes of module. When students wish to change a module they must use the Change of Registration facility via their on-line student record. Further information on how to do so is available here. Alternatively, students can complete a Change of Registration Form, available on the web Undergraduate Issues , from the academic department or the Academic Quality and Records Office. All changes must be approved by the appropriate staff in Departments and Institutes, and students are responsible for gaining the necessary approval before submitting any changes. Changes must be reported within the first four weeks of each semester. Failure to register correctly may result in timetable clashes and problems when students fail to turn up to examinations in modules they are no longer taking as they will only receive marks for modules on which they are formally registered. Students should therefore check their registration on their Student Record after they have requested a change to their registration and it is imperative that they keep the Academic Quality and Records Office informed of any further changes.
8. The Supplementary (August Resit) Examination Timetable is published on the web for those students who have registered to take resits in August, whether this is due to failure in some of their modules or because they have missed the Semester assessments because of illness or other special circumstances (students cannot resit a module they have already passed). Students will be able to register online for resits when they receive their Semester Two results and it is important they do so before the published deadline. Students will only receive marks for those modules on which they have registered. They must seek advice from their department if they are unsure of any of their module resit requirements, and to ascertain which assessments they must resit for modules which have a combination of examination and coursework.
9. Seating arrangements for the examinations, which include the examination venue and seat numbers for every paper, will be posted on the Web shortly before the examinations. Students must make sure they turn up at the right place at the right time and occupy a correct seat. Failure to do so will only cause problems and lose them time in the examination room.
10. The Supplementary (August resit) examinations are normally held in Aberystwyth (or its Branch campus if enrolled to study there). Exceptionally and by special arrangement they may be held in designated centres overseas, subject to all costs being met by the students concerned. Holiday or employment commitments over the summer will not be considered justification for absence or a reason for special arrangements to be made on their behalf.. Further information can be found Resitting Examinations Overseas
Absence from Examinations
11. If students are absent from an examination they must inform their department(s) of the reasons for their absence as soon as possible by completing a Special Circumstances form which can be printed from their Student Record or the web. This must be handed in, along with original copies of corroborating evidence, at the time they experience problems and before the meetings of examination boards (examination boards are normally held approximately one or two weeks after the examinations have ended, so it is imperative students arrange to submit special circumstances and evidence as soon as possible – please check with departments to ensure information is submitted in time). If students do not do this, or if the examination board does not accept their explanation, a mark of 0 (zero) for that element will be carried forward to the final mark for that module.
12. Late Arrival at Examinations
If students miss the start of an examination they should proceed to the examination venue as soon as possible. Staff at the venue will advise them on whether they can still sit the paper (if they arrive up to 30 minutes late) or whether they should follow another course of action.
13. Details of examination and assessment requirements for modules appear on the Modules on the Web. More detail is provided in Departmental Handbooks and on Blackboard. Students should make sure they know what they have to do and keep to deadlines for the submission of assessed work. Failure to do so without special circumstances may result in a mark of zero being given for that piece of assessed work.
14. Deadlines for written work are taken very seriously by the University. Students need to manage their time responsibly so that they can submit work on time. The following is taken from the University Statement on the Submission of Coursework:
• Coursework must be submitted to the Department according to individual departmental requirements and published deadlines.
• Work submitted after the deadline will be awarded a zero.
• Students must apply for an extension if for unavoidable reasons they are unable to submit coursework on time, by completing the Coursework Deadline Extension Request Form. The request form is available from Departments and provides detailed advice on the circumstances in which extensions may be granted, the length of extensions, and what to do if an extension is not possible or permitted.
• Unless otherwise advised, all text-based, word-processed coursework should be submitted online. Students should refer to the published guidance on e-submission
15. Assessed coursework should be presented in the correct format and by the specified date and time to the designated department. Most coursework will now be submitted electronically, but where this is not possible, departments should advise on the submission requirements. Please allow some extra time to cover last minute problems (for example, problems with computers or minor illnesses such as colds, headaches, etc) which may result in missing a deadline. Students should ensure that they are familiar with the submission requirements of particular departments and modules, which may differ from department to department, including the requirements for electronic submission. Students will be issued with a formal receipt which should be retained in case of any dispute with the submission.
16. As many students use their coursework for revision purposes, it is advisable they retain a copy in case the work is still being marked at the time they want to revise. In Part Two, all coursework, which contributes towards the final degree assessment, must be made available to the external examiners under arrangements operating in each department.
17. In all written examinations students must have their student reference number: this is the nine or ten digit number which appears on their Aber Card. This is so that examinations can be marked anonymously. Students must make sure that they have their number to hand in the examinations. Their name will be linked to their examination scripts only after all marking has been completed, in order to allow for special circumstances (e.g. medical or compassionate grounds) to be taken into account, and to correctly match assessments to the correct student. In case of problems (e.g. failure to write their examination number on the answer book) they are also asked to write their name on the answer book but to obscure it as instructed.
18. Except where it is impractical to do so, coursework submitted will be marked anonymously. Each department will notify students of the precise arrangements it uses for this.
19. To ensure fairness and consistency all examinations and assessed work are marked in accordance with the University’s guidance on marking and moderation.
20. It is a student’s responsibility to ensure that answers provided in examination scripts are legible for marking. Where a marker finds a substantial part of an examination script to be illegible, ie. where reading the text takes an unreasonable amount of time and prevents the opportunity for appropriate consideration, the work will be assessed on the basis of the legible parts only and a mark awarded accordingly. Further information on illegible examination scripts can be found in section 3.7 of the Academic Quality Handbook which can be accessed here.
21. All work which counts towards a final assessment is monitored by external examiners whose job it is to appraise examination papers and coursework, monitor marking standards, participate in oral examinations (where relevant) and ensure fair treatment for all students. Student work will therefore be examined by a number of staff both internal and external to the University, avoiding the possibility of marker subjectivity or prejudice. Students should not contact external examiners, but seek clarification on assessments via their academic departments, or, if eligible to do so, through the University’s appeal procedures after the confirmation of the final module mark.
22. If students believe that any part of their performance in some or all of their modules may be affected by special circumstances (medical, personal or other compassionate grounds) they must complete a Special Circumstances Form and forward it to the specified staff in departments along with all relevant supporting evidence at the time they are affected or before the meetings of examination boards (please note that examination boards are normally held approximately one or two weeks after the examinations have ended, so it is imperative students arrange to submit special circumstances and evidence as soon as possible –students must check with their department to ensure they submit information in time). Original copies of evidence must be submitted with the special circumstances form – if students need to retain the original evidence, departments will arrange to copy and verify the evidence before returning the originals. This will ensure that circumstances can be taken into consideration at the appropriate time. The information will be treated confidentially and released only on a ‘need to know basis’.
Rules for Progression and Calculation of Degree Results
23. The rules for progression from one year to another and the conventions used to determine degree classes at the end of Honours degree schemes can be found in the Examination Conventions:
24. Details of the dates on which results will be issued are e-mailed to all students and are published Undergraduate Issues. All results are issued via the on-line ‘Student Record’. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure they access their results immediately after they are released and to take any action that may be necessary. If students are in any doubt, contact the Academic Quality and Records Office (email@example.com) or their academic department, but note that results will not be released over the telephone.
25. In Part Two of the degree, once results are confirmed by an Examining Board, they remain on the student record. Students cannot resit a module they have already passed in order to achieve a higher mark.
(i) Students who started Part Two before September 2013. Students cannot substitute a different module for one they have passed. They may be allowed to take a different module in place of a failed module if they are repeating the year, but any 'F/S' indicators will need to be attached to the substitute module(s). This means, for example, that students cannot repeat their second year and disregard failed modules unless they have 'H' resits, even if they are changing scheme. If they do wish to change scheme in Part Two and start afresh on the new scheme, students need to withdraw but they will need to do this by the end of week 8 of teaching. Otherwise they will be entered for the semester assessments.
(ii) Students who started Part Two (Year Two) between September 2013 and September 2016. A second year student who, with the agreement of the University, is permitted to resit a full year of Year Two study, may do so for the actual marks attained provided that at the outset students agree formally to relinquish any previous marks in full. With the approval of their Institute(s) they may be allowed to substitute new modules for those failed. This will be possible on one occasion only, and in the context that a maximum of five years is allowed for a full-time three year degree.
(iii) Students who started their course in or after September 2016. A second year student who, with the agreement of the academic department(s)/Institutes, is permitted to resit a full year of Year Two study on a new degree scheme, may do so provided that at the outset they agree to formally relinquish any previous marks. They are likely to take a different module in place of a failed module when changing degree scheme, but any F, H, S or N indicators will need to be attached to the substitute module(s). N indicators applied to 30 credits or more would mean a student being unable to qualify for their degree. The overall restriction of three attempts to pass a module (whether newly chosen or previously studied modules) would remain, eg. repeating the second year would be considered one of the three attempts, whether modules have been previously passed or not. This opportunity will be possible on one occasion only in the context that a maximum of five years is allowed for a full-time three year degree.
26. Students may of course ask their department for more information about their performance in their modules and staff should be able to offer advice, for instance, on the strengths and weaknesses of performance. The university has approved the following Principles of Effective Feedback to students:
i.Feedback should be transparent, enabling students to understand it and relate it to assessment criteria;
ii. Feedback should help students identify areas of strength and where they need to improve;
iii. Feedback should be proportionate and appropriate to the type of assessment, its timing, and the size of class;
iv. Students should have clear and accessible information on the types of assessment and the nature and timing of the feedback they will receive associated with each type of assessment;
v. Students have the right to seek clarification of marks, to help them understand what they did well and less well and how they might improve.
27. The following indicators are used for module marks of less than 40% (50% for M Level modules):
R Resit for full mark (Part One only) M Resit for full mark (No Fee at Part One) F Resit for capped mark, on one occasion (Part Two only, except Year One FDSc) H Resit for full mark (No fee at Part Two) S Resit for capped mark (No fee at Part Two) T Resit for capped mark (no fee at Part Two – Level M only) N No resit allowed (for cases of Unacceptable Academic Practice only) P Resit for capped mark (Part One only for cases of Unacceptable Academic Practice only)
28. All Part 1 Degree Students
Part One Students may not resit a module for which a pass mark has already been attained Students may resit on up to three further occasions following the initial failure, normally in the supplementary resit period in the year of failure and in the semester and August resits of the following session. If students do not take resit assessments/examinations on one of these occasions without good reason they will forfeit an opportunity to redeem the failure. However, please note that they will only be allowed to resit in August if they have passed a minimum of 60 credits during the session and they will only be allowed to resit a maximum of 60 credits in the August resit period. If students fail more than 60 credits during the session they will have to repeat the year. Students repeating Part One will normally have to retain any unacceptable academic practice penalties associated with any credits completed on previous attempts.
29. Part 2 Degree Students starting Part 2 FROM September 2013
A maximum of 60 credits may be taken in the Supplementary (resit) examination period. Students who fail more than 60 credits are allowed to undertake resit assessments but only up to the 60 credit maximum, i.e. you may resit up to 60 credits in order to try to proceed into your next year, or to reduce the numbers of modules you wish to resit in Semesters One or Two of the following session.
30. Students who started Part Two FROM September 2013 and BEFORE September 2017
In addition to point 30 above, students will have the opportunity to resit failed modules on ONE further occasion following initial failure. Students must seek advice from their academic department(s) if they wish to consider possible options available to them with regard to repeating their second year of studies.
31. Students starting Part Two FROM September 2017
Part Two students may not resit a module for which a pass mark has already been attained. Students will have the opportunity to resit failed modules on TWO further occasions following initial failure. Students may resit modules following the initial failure, in the Resit Examinations held in August, if permissible, and when the module is assessed in the following session. If the module is not offered the following session, arrangements will be made with the Department concerned, however, it is expected that modules will be resat in the Semester they were last taught in. Students will forfeit any further opportunity to resit a module if they fail to register in the August and/or the following session (when offered), which will include any modules with an H, F or S indicator. A maximum of 60 credits may be taken in the Supplementary (August resit) assessment period. Students who fail more than 60 credits are allowed to undertake resit assessments but only up to the 60 credit maximum, i.e. students may resit up to 60 credits in order to try to proceed into their next year, or to reduce the numbers of modules they wish to resit in Semesters One or Two of the following session. For students who have completed their second year of study (the first year of Part Two) the University could offer the opportunity of repeating the second year on a new degree scheme. Specific conditions do apply and students must seek advice and formal approval from their academic department(s)/Institutes.
32. Foundation Degree Students
There will be no restriction on the number of credits that students may resit in August.
33. All Students
(i) Students will see from their on-line Student Record whether they are eligible to resit a module during August when they view their results following Semester Two. They will be asked to register on-line for the resits and it is important they indicate their intentions (Yes or No) for all modules which they are eligible to resit. If they fail to register and retake one or more modules any marks obtained will not count. If students are eligible to take one or more resits during the session (normally only final year undergraduate degree students) they will receive an email shortly after the start of session asking them to indicate their intentions from their Student Record. It is important that students ensure they resit sufficient credits, so if they are unsure of anything, them must seek advice from their department(s).
(ii) If students fail to complete a resit, either in August or during the session, after registering for it, they will forfeit one of their resit opportunities, and will still be liable to pay any resit fees.
34. Resit Fees
Note that resit fees are charged for ALL resits but that these fees will normally be waived in the case of students who have M or H or S resit indicators.
Further information on resits and resit charges can be found here.
Unacceptable Academic Practice
35. Each year some students engage in unacceptable academic practice. This is defined by the University as an act whereby a student may obtain an unpermitted advantage, regardless of the intention and the outcome. Any actions that occur in relation to the assessment process may be considered to be unacceptable academic practice, whether occurring in relation to formal examinations, coursework, other forms of assessments, or the presentation of special circumstances to examination boards. Examples of unacceptable academic practice include plagiarism, collusion in submitted assignments, fabrication of evidence or data, and the introduction of unauthorised materials into formal examinations. Students who commit unacceptable academic practice will face penalties which reflect the extent and nature of the act. The Regulation on Unacceptable Academic Practice will be published on the University website.
36. The University has an appeals procedure for students wishing to appeal against the decision of an examination board. This procedure can be found here.
Please note that all appeals must be made within 10 working days from the date of the publication of results. Students cannot appeal against their Semester 1 results at the end of the session.
NB: Appeals will only be considered if a student can provide good reasons why the grounds for appeal were not made known to the relevant Examining Board before it made its decision.
Individual Examination Requirements
37. Students with individual requirements should read the guidance entitled “University Policy on Making Reasonable Adjustments in Respect of Examinations” which can be found here , which explains particular arrangements which may be made for them to perform at a level playing field in examinations.
38. Students who are unable to take examinations due to special circumstances such as temporary injuries/short term ill health are usually expected to resit in August. Other arrangements will only be allowed in exceptional circumstances, subject to the provision of appropriate medical evidence. Where requests are received five term time weeks before the student’s examination the University will endeavour to make adjustments subject to the nature of the request and the practical considerations of implementation. Adjustments must be both reasonable and practical to implement within the time available. It will not normally be possible for the University to implement requests received fewer than seven working days before the examination. Students who have obtained medical evidence must make an appointment to meet with a Nurse at the Student Wellness Centre. On the basis of the evidence submitted and mindful of the practicality of the adjustment requested the Nurse will make a recommendation to the Superintendent of Examinations.
39. Past examination papers are available here. These should give students an idea of the type of question set in the past. Students are advised not to attempt to ‘question spot’. Students need to be prepared for any question asked and are unlikely to be able to identify the particular questions they will face. For further advice on what the examiners are looking students should ask their tutors. Many departments run special examination seminars to address student concerns and clarify departmental requirements. Please attend them where they are offered.
40. Please remember: we want students to perform to the best of their ability, but we expect them to be responsible for their studies and to keep their department informed. If students have problems, they will find staff approachable, but in fairness to everybody, their success lies ultimately in their own hands and depends on the way they work and respond to the challenges laid before them.
SOURCES OF INFORMATION ABOUT EXAMINATIONS AND ASSESSMENT
- Academic Quality and Records Office – deals with Exclusions, Appeals, Unfair Practice and central University requirements.
- Module Database – www.aber.ac.uk/modules (see also Blackboard)
- Scheme Database – www.aber.ac.uk/en/study-schemes/
- Programme Specification Database - www.aber.ac.uk/en/programme-specs/
- Departmental Handbooks – see departmental web pages
- Academic Regulation on Academic Progress
- Appeals Procedure for Taught Schemes
- Unacceptable Academic Practice
- Special Circumstances Form
- Change of Registration For: http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/media/UG_Change_of_Reg.pdf
- Withdrawal Procedure: