Standing Order 21

This web page represents a sub-section of a larger document.  As such it should be read in this contact and not as a stand-alone document.  Please visit the menu page to access the entire document.

For students who began their Taught Postgraduate course from September 2013 onwards Standing Order 2 applies.

Master's Degrees by Examination and Dissertation

This Standing Order applies to schemes of study leading to the award of taught Master’s degrees. It should be read in conjunction with the regulations approved for the scheme of study in question.


1 All candidates are required to matriculate with the University.

In accordance with the Regulations for Matriculation, the University provides a list of approved standards which will permit entry to candidature (Regulations for the Approval of Qualifications and/or Relevant Experience for Admission to Higher Degrees, Diplomas and Certificates of Aberystwyth University).

 A recommendation for the admission of a candidate who does not possess a recognised entry qualification must be made by the department concerned to the Postgraduate Admissions Office, and approval must be confirmed prior to the commencement of the intended scheme of study.

Scheme Structure

2 Candidates may qualify for a Master's Degree by Examination and Dissertation after pursuing an approved taught scheme of study on a full or part-time basis. A scheme shall comprise two distinct parts: Part One, the taking of written examinations (or some alternative form of assessment) and Part Two, the submission of a dissertation (or approved equivalent), to the satisfaction of the examiners and the University.  

Credit Transfer

3 Credit Transfer is permitted in respect of modular schemes of study up to overall limits established by Regulation.  Further information on the credit transfer process under the modular system may be obtained from the University’s CAT Scheme, copies of which are available from the University Registry upon request.


4 Part One comprises assessments of an advanced nature set on the taught element of the scheme of study.  Assessments may take the form of a series of unseen written examination papers or an alternative form of assessment such as set projects or prescribed coursework, or a combination of any of these.  For Modular Master's schemes, Part One shall consist of a series of modules, which may be examined using various forms of assessment and in accordance with an examination timetable laid down by the relevant Examining Board.  Part Two will take the form of a dissertation (or an approved equivalent).

5 Candidates shall be assessed at the University save that, in exceptional circumstances, candidates may, with the approval of the Vice-Chancellor, sit for a written examination at another Institution or, under approved conditions, at a place other than another Institution.  Approval may be given provided that satisfactory arrangements can be made for the examination by the Superintendent of Examinations concerned and that any expense incurred will be borne by the candidate.  A list of such cases shall be submitted by the Superintendent of Examinations in his/her report to the University at the end of the examination period.  In no case may candidates take a practical examination at any other Institution.  A practical examination for the purpose of this paragraph shall be deemed not to include teaching practice or similar placements.

6 All candidates (including those re-sitting examinations) shall be informed by the University in writing at the beginning of the relevant session of the methods of assessment to be used for Part One of the degree, including deadlines for the submission of pieces of assessed work.

7 Examination papers are printed by the University.

8 A student requiring adjustments for his/her assessments shall submit a written application, in the first instance, to the nominated officer in the University, normally the Departmental Examinations Officer. The officer shall consult the Superintendent of Examinations by a time-limit to be specified by the University. The application shall be supported by documentary evidence.  The nominated  officer may, in consultation with the Superintendent of Examinations, disregard requests for special provision if not supported by appropriate documentary evidence

9 Candidates with physical impairments which mean that they are unable to write may answer papers by means of an amanuensis or by other appropriate means.  Any amanuensis or equipment shall be selected by the Superintendent of Examinations in consultation with the Head of Department.  If a word processor or microwriter is to be used, a new disc should be issued at the start of each examination.  The examination shall in any case be conducted in a separate room under the superintendence of a nominated invigilator.

10 If the nominated officer referred to in paragraph 9 agrees that a student should receive an adjustment to his/her assessments, the application (supported by copies of the documentary evidence provided) shall be forwarded to the Superintendent by a time-limit to be specified by the University.  In the case of candidates with dyslexia, a report which is dated within three years of the date of entry of the candidate to the scheme of study must be received from a qualified psychologist experienced in working with dyslexic adults or from someone with a qualification from a professional training course involving assessing adults with dyslexia.

11 Any candidate who is following a scheme of study of the University may choose – regardless of whether the main language of assessment of the scheme in question is Welsh or English – to submit examination scripts or assessed work in either Welsh or English. A candidate who wishes to be assessed in a language (ie. either Welsh or English) which is not the main language of tuition/assessment for the scheme concerned is required to notify the Centre for Welsh Language Services by the time-limit laid down by the University. 

The Nominated Officer of the University should liaise with the Superintendent of Examinations regarding:

- the provision of question papers through the medium of Welsh or English;

- the necessary arrangements for the translation and/or marking of scripts in time for the inclusion of candidates’ results on the official Notification of Results form;
- the engagement of a suitable person or persons to act as advisory examiners or – at an approved fee – as translators.


12 Examiners are asked to bear in mind, when awarding marks to candidates upon completion of Part One of a modular scheme, that the modular pass-mark is 50%. The overall pass-mark for Part One has also been set at 50%; examiners will be aware that a mark of 50% at Level M (CQFW Level 7) will indicate a standard of work necessarily in excess of that indicated by a similar mark achieved at a less advanced Level.

13 When introducing the formula which regulates eligibility for the award of a degree with Distinction, the University was concerned to permit candidates who had been more successful in Part Two than in the examined component – Part One – to be eligible for a Distinction overall provided that the aggregate mark obtained is 70% or greater. It follows therefore that candidates achieving a mark of 70% or greater in Part One, but 69% or lower in Part Two cannot be considered eligible for a Distinction overall.  They will, however, obtain a Merit if their overall average is 60% or greater.

The following may be of assistance when considering eligibility of a candidate for the award of a Master’s degree with Distinction:

 Part One
Candidate is eligible for the award of Distinction: 
 65%  where the Part Two mark is 75% or greater;
 66%  where the Part Two mark is 74% or greater;
 67%  where the Part Two mark is 73% or greater;
 68%  where the Part Two mark is 72% or greater;
 69%  where the Part Two mark is 71% or greater;
 70%  where the Part Two mark is 70% or greater;

Candidates, who achieve an average mark over Parts One and Two of 60% or greater but are not eligible for Distinction shall be eligible for the award of Merit.

Notes (i) Candidates who have failed the dissertation element at their first submission are not permitted to be eligible for the award of a Distinction or Merit subsequently;

14 The eligibility or otherwise of a candidate for an award with Distinction must be stipulated clearly on the examination result form for Part One of the scheme and on the result/report form for Part Two.  Where a candidate has been granted exemption from part of the scheme under credit transfer arrangements, the Examining Board may obtain an assessment of the standard of the work completed by the candidate prior to his/her transfer, in order to arrive at an overall percentage mark or equivalent grade for the relevant part of the scheme.)

Standing Order 21 page 2