3. Assessment of Taught Schemes
A pdf copy of this section is available for download: Section 3 PDF
3.1 Taught Study Schemes
1. This section of the AQH summarises the University’s policy on taught study schemes. It should be read in conjunction with the Regulations for Initial and Postgraduate Awards, and the University’s Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme.
2. Aberystwyth University does not permit the double-counting of credit for the award of qualifications, and exceptions will only be allowed where there are formal collaborative arrangements for the award of dual or joint degrees. In all other cases, applications for credit transfer will be considered under the terms of the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (see Section 10 of the AQH).
3. Each year of a full-time undergraduate degree to consist of modules totalling 120 credits. While 120 credits will be the normal load for full-time students, all full-time students will be required to register for a minimum of 100 credits for full-time student status.
4. A full-time taught postgraduate student will study for one year as follows:
- PG Certificate: 60 credits
- PG Diploma: 120 credits
- Master’s Degree: 180 credits
5. Modules to be as far as possible thick (taught and assessed over one semester). Thin modules (taught across both semesters and examined in the second semester) are permissible where there are clear academic reasons, and where close regard has been paid to the consequences in relation to providing student feedback, subject to approval by the relevant faculty. Full-time students will normally pursue modules equivalent to 60 credits per semester. However, to permit flexibility and facilitate student choice, a maximum of 70 and a minimum of 50 credits per semester may be allowed by Degree Scheme Co-ordinators. In calculating the credit split, thin modules are split evenly between the semesters (e.g. a 30 credit thin module counts as 15 credits per semester). Credit splits greater than 50:70 or 70:50 may be approved exceptionally by Faculty Associate Deans, Learning and Teaching where a case is made that the workload is evenly balanced despite the credit imbalance or where other circumstances require this. Students should confirm that they accept the imbalance.
6. In campus-based undergraduate schemes, modules will normally be in multiples of 10 credits. For taught postgraduate campus-based schemes, modules will normally be in multiples of 20 credits. Distance learning and off-campus provision may differ.
7. Each 10 credit module, regardless of the delivery mode, to have attached to it a notional total workload of c. 100 hours, including assessment and independent study.
8. Modules to be allocated to levels 0, 1, 2, S, 3 or M where:
(i) level 0 is foundation level provision, prior to entry to year one of an initial degree;
(ii) level 1 is the first year of an initial degree;
(iii) levels 2 and 3 constitute Part Two of a Bachelor’s degree;
(iv) level S is a sandwich year/intercalary year/industrial year in an initial degree;
(v) level M is the final year of an integrated Master’s (e.g. MEng) and is the level for postgraduate taught schemes.
9. These levels correspond to the Credit and Qualifications Framework Wales levels 3-7.
10. Eligibility for an Honours degree at Bachelor’s level to be dependent upon the accumulation of at least 360 credits with normally a minimum of 120 level 3 credits. An integrated Master’s Honours degree requires at least 480 credits with normally a minimum of 120 level M credits. Exceptions to these requirements will only be considered where there were no alternative means to facilitate transfer of credits or to rectify errors in registration, and would be subject to approval by the Pro Vice-Chancellor.
11. Eligibility for an Ordinary degree to be dependent upon the accumulation of at least 360 credits with normally a minimum of 60 credits at level 3. Exceptions to these requirements will only be considered where there were no alternative means to facilitate transfer of credits or to rectify errors in registration, and would be subject to approval by the Pro Vice-Chancellor.
12. Where students spend a year in industry or abroad as a compulsory part of their degree, eligibility for the degree requires also 120 credits at level S.
13. The assessment for each module to be completed as soon as practical after the end of the teaching associated with it.
14. Supplementary examinations are to be held in August/September each year.
15. Assessment must be designed to test the achievement of module learning outcomes and should be informed by the need to expose students to a wide range of assessment methods during their studies, and to prepare students for employment.
16. Each module to have a designated Module Co-ordinator and responsibility for the module to fall within the department to which the Module Co-ordinator belongs.
17. Each Single Honours degree scheme to be the responsibility of one department. Where a Single Honours scheme is delivered by two or more departments, one shall be designated as having administrative responsibility for it. Each component of a Joint Honours, or Major-Minor scheme, shall be the responsibility of the department offering that component.
18. Where a department believes that a case should be made to restrict the number of students taking a particular module or entering Part Two of an undergraduate degree scheme, a clear case including a statement of entry criteria should be presented to relevant faculty before the end of session preceding that in which the quotas will operate or before provisional registration. In cases where a module is taken by students from outside the department, the host department should liaise with the other department(s) involved and, where a module was core to a degree scheme, students on that scheme should be given priority.
19. Modules are to be defined in terms of:
(i) Pre-requisites: students must already have taken any modules or courses listed here;
(ii) Co-requisites: students must also take or have taken the modules listed here;
(iii) Incompatibilities: students cannot also take the modules listed here.
20. Schemes are to be defined in terms of:
(i) Core modules: students must take the modules listed here;
(ii) Options: students must take at least the number shown of these modules;
(iii) Elective: free choice of modules subject to approval by the Degree Scheme Co-ordinator.
21. Levels are to be defined as:
Level 3: Apply knowledge and skills in a range or complex activities demonstrating comprehension of relevant theories; access and analyse information independently and make reasoned judgements, selecting from a considerable choice of procedures, in familiar and unfamiliar contexts and direct own activities, with some responsibility for the output of others.
[Modules studied in the preliminary/foundation year leading to entry to an initial degree scheme]
Level 4: Develop a rigorous approach to the acquisition of a broad knowledge base; employ a range of specialised skills; evaluate information using it to plan and develop investigative strategies and to determine solutions to a variety of unpredictable problems; and operate in a range of varied and specified contexts, to achieve specified outcomes.
[Modules typically studied in the first year of a full-time degree scheme or the equivalent].
Level 5: Generate ideas through the analysis of concepts at an abstract level, with a command of specialised skills and the formulation of responses to welldefined and abstract problems; analyse and evaluate information; develop the capacity for significant judgment across a broad range of functions; and accept responsibility for determining personal and/or group outcomes.
[Modules typically studied in the second year of a full-time degree scheme or the equivalent].
Level 6: Critically review, consolidate and extend a systematic and coherent body of knowledge, utilising specialised skills across an area of study; critically evaluate new concepts and evidence from a range of sources; transfer and apply diagnostic and creative skills and exercise significant judgment in a range of situations; and accept responsibility for determining and achieving personal and/or group outcomes.
[Modules typically studied in the third and/or final year of a standard fulltime degree scheme or the equivalent].
Level 7: Display mastery of a complex and specialised are of knowledge and skills, employing advanced skills to conduct research, or advanced technical or professional activity, accepting accountability for related decision-making including use of supervision and in appropriate circumstances the guidance of others.
[Modules typically studied in the final year of an integrated Master’s full-time initial degree scheme or as part of a Taught Master’s scheme, including the dissertation, or the equivalent.]
Level 8: Make a significant and original contribution to a specialised field of inquiry demonstrating a command of methodological issues and engaging in critical dialogue with peers; accepting full accountability for outcomes.
[This represents research work at doctoral level.]
Undergraduate Degree Scheme Structures
22. Part One consists of 120 credits, to be taken in the first year of study by full-time students. Part-time students will complete Part One over at least two years taking an agreed number of credits per session.
23. Exceptions to the Part One requirements:
(i) Welsh (Beginners) students wishing to proceed to Honours in Welsh or Celtic Studies will take a 2-year Part One programme.
(ii) Students on degree schemes which include a foundation year at level 0 before progression to Part One.
24. For each study scheme, the number of core, option and elective modules will be set for Part One, with the aim of preparing students for Part Two of their degrees. In the case of externally accredited schemes, structures will also be informed by exemption/accreditation.
25. Many degree schemes will allow very little choice at Part One due to the requirements of the subject and/or external professional and accrediting bodies. Where possible, however, Part One should be regarded as an opportunity for students to sample modules from outside their Honours subject. This should be kept in mind in the design of degree schemes and in the advice given to students at registration. If core requirements allow, then students should be able to select modules which will allow progression in more than one degree scheme, enabling them to change degree scheme if they find during Part One that they no longer wish to pursue their original choice. It should be noted, however, that all modules taken count for progression purposes.
26. Part Two consists of 240 credits in 3 year full-time schemes or the part-time equivalent, or 360 credits in 4 year schemes or equivalent. Some programmes will also contain integral or optional sandwich years in industry or abroad which equate to a further 120 credits. The degree result will be derived from Part Two credits only and all modules taken after Part One contribute towards the final degree assessment.
27. As in Part One, core, option and elective modules will be defined for each study scheme. The content and structure will be set out in the online study schemes database and online programme specification for each scheme, which includes learning outcomes. In the case of externally accredited schemes, structures will also be informed by exemption/accreditation. Degree scheme coordinators will ensure that schemes are designed and maintained in order to ensure that learning outcomes are satisfied, and that students are registered for appropriate modules.
28. Degree scheme requirements may include additional rules, for example, to define the number of credits which can be taken outside of an Honours subject. Such rules may be used to encourage students to spend credits in related subject areas, within specified limits to ensure that scheme learning outcomes are met. For example, a department offering several Single Honours programmes may limit choice of options to modules from within the department except for a specified number taken from other departments within, or outside of, the department. Any such rules need to ensure that scheme learning outcomes are met and all student registrations will require approval by the relevant member of staff.
29. Where students wish to depart from the scheme rules, approval is required by the Faculty Associate Dean, Learning and Teaching.
Joint Honours and Major/Minor Schemes
30. It is possible (see above rules) to incorporate modules from other departments/subjects within individual scheme rules. Two or more subject areas can also be delivered as an interdisciplinary, integrated Single Honours scheme. A third means of enabling students to study different subjects is Joint Honours or Major/Minor schemes where two separate programmes can be taken together e.g. History and German.
31. The rules governing Joint Honours schemes are as follows:
(i) Part One: the requisite modules of the degree scheme subjects at Level 1 with at least 40 and not more than 60 credits in either subject;
(ii) Part Two: a minimum of 100 credits in each subject at Level 2/3.
32. The rules governing Major/Minor schemes are as follows:
(i) Part One: the requisite modules of the degree scheme subjects at Level 1 with 40 credits for a Minor and not more than 80 credits in a Major.
(ii) Part Two: a minimum of 60 credits in a Minor and a maximum of 160 in a Major at Level 2/3.
33. Level 1 modules should not be taken in Part Two except where unavoidable, for example, to fit all modules required for accreditation in a Joint Honours scheme. Under these circumstances, a student in consultation with his or her Degree Scheme Co-ordinator may seek permission from the Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellor or Faculty Associate Dean, Learning and Teaching to pursue normally no more than 20 credits’ worth of Level 1 modules in Part Two.
3.2 Assessment policy and procedures
This section of the AQH should be read in conjunction with Section 3.3 Submission of Coursework. It covers the principles of assessment and feedback at Aberystwyth University, provides a set of minimum requirements for the return of assessed work, and minimum requirements for the provision of feedback on student assessment. It also outlines the University’s assessment conventions and the bilingual policy for assessments.
2. The underpinning principles for assessment at Aberystwyth University are as follows:
(i) Validity: Departments should ensure the validity of their assessments. Assessments and assessment methods should be aligned to the learning outcomes of the relevant module;
(ii) Reliability: Departments should ensure the reliability of their assessment methods. This should be achieved by providing clear marking guidelines to staff and appropriate training to familiarise staff with Faculty /departmental practices;
(iii) Marking to criteria: All work, including examinations, is marked against criteria that are clearly outlined to students at the beginning of the module;
(iv) Feedback and student learning: All feedback should include a balance of strengths and weaknesses of the submission in order to enable ‘feed-forward’.
3. Aberystwyth University requires all departments to make explicit the learning outcomes of every component module within its taught schemes. These will be published on the Programme Specification Database http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/programme-specs/index.html and the Module database http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/modules as well as appearing in student handbooks. departments are also required to ensure that details of assessment methods for each module are shown on the Module Database.
4. Departments are required to devise a portfolio of assessment methods. These should take full account of study skills needs as recognised by the University, and test different types of student learning.
5. A large variety of different assessment methods are employed across the University. It would not be practical to provide guidance on the length and/or volume of these given this variation and the need for disciplines to devise assessment strategies that best suit their own needs. Faculties do however need to ensure that there is consistency in the ways in which specific assessment methods are employed within schemes and that they do not over assess students. Departments where significant numbers of students take joint schemes or modules from other departments should be aware of the desirability of consistency in all assessments undertaken by the students. In reviewing assessment load, it is recommended that Faculties consider:
(i) The percentage contribution of the assessment to the module; students may not put significant effort into assessments that contribute only a small amount and indeed might opt out of them; in addition, many small assignments impose a greater burden on students and markers than a few substantial ones;
(ii) The size of the module; in that the assessment load attached to a 30 credit module does not need necessarily to be 50% more than that adopted in 20 credit modules;
(iii) The level of the module; in that modules at Level 5 or 6 will be likely to require progressively greater effort and independent study than those at Level 4;
(iv) The study hours needed to complete an assessment;
(v) This is likely to increase in assessments that require more background reading, preparation, and independent study;
(vi) The range of learning outcomes that are being assessed; an assessment that covers only one of the learning outcomes should involve less effort than one that covers a majority of these;
(vii) The nature of the assessment method.
6. When creating new modules, or revising existing modules, departments should review how different assessment methods compare with the following suggested limits. These provide an indication of the amount and forms of assessment which will be acceptable, but are not intended to be comprehensive, nor prescriptive. Proposers of modules who wish to set out alternative forms and amounts of assessment will need to demonstrate satisfactorily that the total amount of work involved is equivalent to the standards set out below, and appropriately tests the learning outcomes of the module.
(i) Suitable forms and amounts of assessment for Part One (Level 4) 20 credit modules include one of the following:
- coursework totalling 3,000 words;
- an essay of 1,500 words and a seminar or workshop presentation of 15-20 minutes;
- a folder of short written pieces totalling 1,500 words and practical work equivalent to 1,500 words;
- an essay of 1,500 words, and an examination, seen or unseen, of 1½ or 2 hours (note that the University only allows 1.5, 2 and 3 hour examinations);
- two laboratory exercises with short accompanying reports totalling 1,500 words and an examination of 1.5 to 2 hours;
- solo and ensemble performances totalling 20 to 45 minutes;
- a folder of coursework plus original composition;
- a seminar presentation of 15-20 minutes and portfolio of drawings/designs; a collection of studio work.
(ii) Suitable forms and amounts of assessment for Part Two (Levels 5 and 6) 20 credit modules include one of the following:
- coursework totalling 5,000 words;
- an essay of 2,500 words and a seminar or workshop presentation of 20-30 minutes;
- a folder of short written pieces totalling 2,500 words and practical work equivalent to 2,500 words;
- an essay of 2,500 words and an examination, seen or unseen, of 2 or 3 hours (note that the University only allows 1.5, 2 and 3 hour examinations);
- two laboratory exercises with accompanying reports totalling 3,000 words and an examination of 2 to 3 hours;
- solo and ensemble performances totalling 20 to 45 minutes;
- a folder of coursework plus original composition;
- a seminar presentation of 20-30 minutes and portfolio of drawings or designs;
- a collection of studio work;
(iii) Suitable forms and amounts of assessment for Part Two (Levels 5 and 6) 40 credit dissertation / independent study / project modules include one of the following:
- a dissertation or independent study or project of between 10,000 and 12,000 words or their equivalent;
- a presentation or oral examination of 20 minutes and a dissertation or independent study or project of between 8,000 and 10,000 words or their equivalent;
- a research proposal of 2,000 words and a dissertation of between 8,000 and 10,000 words or their equivalent.
7. Except where specified to the contrary, a Postgraduate Taught Master’s dissertation or approved equivalent submission should not exceed 15,000 words.
8. Faculties, in consultation with their External Examiners, are requires to establish marking standards appropriate to their discipline at subject level.
9. Faculties are required to establish and make explicit to staff and students assessment criteria which reflect the aims and objectives of individual study schemes and learning outcomes of modules. Faculties are also required to make clear the standards necessary to attain particular grades in all pieces of assessed work. Assessment criteria will vary according to the knowledge and skills being assessed and the format of the assessment brief.
10. Departments are required to have in place procedures designed to ensure that at every level and for every module students and markers are protected from claims of bias or prejudice on either part. These procedures will include at the very least sampling by a second internal marker or a minimum percentage of the work being assessed, with particular emphasis on fail and borderline marks. In many cases Faculties will double mark all significant assessment elements. For modules contributing towards final awards, External Examiners will provide an additional level of monitoring of marking standards.
11. Departments are required to review assessment criteria and marking standards at regular intervals to ensure that they remain consistent with their aims and objectives, learning outcomes and external requirements.
12. Faculties are required to establish procedures which ensure compliance with the University’s Equality policy in all assessments.
13. Faculties are required to induct new staff members into their procedures for, and standards of, assessment.
Feedback and the return of assessed work
14. Mechanisms should be in place within Faculties to ensure the prompt return of assessed work. The University’s requirement on the return of feedback on coursework assignments is within 15 working days of the date of submission (the 15 working days are recognised as Monday to Friday when the University is open).
15. Staff are required to receive, mark and return feedback via Blackboard (using Turnitin or Blackboard Assignment). In some cases it will not be possible to use Turnitin:
(i) Welsh-medium assessments, due to the lack of a Welsh interface via Turnitin.
(ii) Non text based assessments, such as performance, practical or art work. In these cases it is advisable and best practice to provide feedback and a mark electronically.
(iii) Assignments for which Turnitin is not suitable, for example large or multi-part submissions.
16. Although Turnitin has a facility to release feedback to students on a specified date, it does not alert markers to an imminent feedback deadline. Faculties will have mechanisms in place to ensure that markers are alerted to the deadline for the return of marks. As a minimum, Faculties should ensure that the following measures are in place:
(i) That all students and staff have a clearly published list of submission deadlines for each module;
(ii) That all students and staff have a clearly published and publicised list of dates on which feedback is expected for each component of assessment for each module;
(iii) That staff who are marking coursework should alert their Line Manager in a timely manner in the event that they cannot meet the 15 day deadline and discuss contingency measures for the return of work as appropriate;
That in the event of exceptional and unavoidable delays in returning marked coursework, a mechanism is in place to ensure regular communication with the student group concerned. Equally, there should be a published mechanism in place to allow students to alert Faculties /departments about issues regarding the return or quality of feedback.
17. The Univesrity operates 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.
18. To enable students to fully understand and benefit from assessment feedback, comments on coursework should indicate a student’s performance against the marking criteria. All documentation should be suitably clear and detailed so that students, but also comarkers/second markers, moderators and external examiners can clearly identify why the mark has been given. Feedback should be designed in such a way that it includes, as a minimum:
(i) The strengths identified by the marker in relation to the criteria;
(ii) The weaknesses identified by the marker in relation to the criteria;
(iii) A clear and separate statement as to how the student can improve in future assessments;
(iv) A form of words making it clear that the student can seek clarification on any aspect of the feedback
Feedback on written examinations
19. As a minimum requirement, students must have access to the overall total for the examination component, along with a written commentary, relating to assessment criteria, for the examination paper. Where appropriate and practicable, students should also be able to access the individual question marks on the examination paper. The written commentary may be generic to a module or examination question. Students cannot retain their examination papers, and Faculties should therefore make arrangements so that students can access the feedback for each question and/or general feedback for the examination paper.
20. Students must be clear that they can seek clarification on any aspect of their feedback, and Faculties should ensure that that published guidelines are made available to enable this.
21. In addition to written feedback, Personal Tutor meetings must also be scheduled to discuss feedback and should contribute to the development of students’ individualised student improvement plans. Faculties should be schedule these formally as part of the Personal Tutor programme.
22. While the requirements and guidelines of this section apply mainly to written feedback, the principles should be extended equally to oral feedback, which should be recorded formally.
Supporting the quality of feedback
23. Feedback on coursework assessments should be constructive and should not open with negative comments but should be a balance between positive feedback and feedback that will enable learner development and improved performance in the next assignment.
24. The minimum requirement for ensuring the quality of feedback should rest initially with the moderation systems in place for each module. Any commentary offered by external examiners should also be considered as a means of ensuring compliance with the principles and requirements of this section of the AQH, and in the interest of continual improvement.
25. Departments should ensure that staff have time for appropriate and adequate training as provided by the University. Support and training should also be available at Faculty /department level, especially for the operational aspects of e-submission and feedback and the minimum requirements in terms of the quality of feedback provided.
26. Departments should ensure that workload allocation and other commitments are managed appropriately to ensure the timely return of assignments. The scheduling and design of assessments should be carefully managed to enable markers to achieve the minimum requirements in terms of the timeliness and quality of feedback.
Bilingual policy for written assessments
27. Aberystwyth University operates a bilingual policy for all written assessments, including coursework essays and examinations. Any student may choose, regardless of whether the main language of assessment of the module in question is Welsh or English, to submit examination scripts and assessed coursework in either Welsh or English (with the exception of assessments where language assessment is included in the module learning outcomes). Students pursuing modules through the medium of Welsh will be examined in that language; students pursuing modules through the medium of English are entitled to be assessed in Welsh. However, in order to allow time for the preparation of Welsh examination papers for English medium modules, students are asked to notify the Welsh Language Services Centre by the dates published by the Centre.
28. The University has established a policy on the translation of assessed work aimed at ensuring the integrity of the process (i.e. that students are not unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged by the marking of translated work). Students who wish to submit examination scripts or assessed coursework in Welsh on English medium modules are not required to give prior notification of their intention to do so.
29. Satisfactory completion of a year as a whole as confirmed by the Senate Examination Board to attract 120 credits.
30. All centrally-timetabled examinations in the main venues to be either 1.5, 2 or 3 hours in duration.
31. 10 credit modules should be examined by papers of no longer than 2 hours.
32. Part One candidates to be allowed to resit any failed modules on up to three occasions after the original presentation, either as internal or part-time external candidates.
33. Part Two candidates who entered Part Two before September 2017 to be allowed one resit opportunity. Part Two candidates who entered Part Two from September 2017 to be allowed two resit opportunities. Where a candidate has failed a module which contributes to the final degree assessment, the maximum mark which may be accorded a successful resit should be 40%. The 40% maximum mark also applies to modules substituted for failures.
34. Taught postgraduate candidates to be allowed two resit opportunities. The maximum mark which may be accorded a successful resit should be 50%. The 50% maximum mark also applies to modules substituted for failures.
35. Marks gained in resit examinations by candidates who have failed to register will be annulled.
36. Students who have failed or been absent because of medical, compassionate or other special grounds may, with the approval of the relevant Examining Board, be allowed to sit for the full mark if the relevant evidence is submitted and accepted by the Examining Board. Such students shall have the option of resitting the relevant module(s) in August or the following session without payment of a resit fee.
37. Where a candidate has failed a module overall but has passed its assessed coursework, the marks achieved in the coursework will normally be carried forward to any resit, and not taken again unless the mark was affected by special circumstances.
38. The format of resit assessments should be the same as that of the semester assessment except where this cannot be replicated, for example in group and practical work. In the case of failed modules, students will normally be expected to undertake ONE of the following:
(i) to (re)submit failed or non-existent coursework (if deficiencies in this component have led to the failure;
(ii) to resit the examination (where the student failed or was absent from the examination);
(iii) to resubmit the assessed work and the resit examination (where a student has failed both parts, or in some cases either part, of the assessment).
Faculties are required to make clear to students which of these options will apply to them.
39. Once teaching has been completed for a semester, students may not withdraw and will receive marks for the modules taken that semester. If performance has been affected by special circumstances then evidence and a special circumstances form must be submitted for consideration at the relevant examination boards.
40. In Part One, undergraduate students who fail to complete the year satisfactorily as defined in the conventions are normally allowed to repeat the whole or part of the year as full-time, part-time or part-time external students. In Part Two, including the Final Year , undergraduate students may not resit any module for which a pass mark has been attained previously. Students who fail to complete the year satisfactorily as defined in the conventions are normally allowed to repeat the failed credits. Students commencing their studies in Part One or Part Two from September 2018 onwards should refer to the Regulations for Modular Initial Degrees: section 17, if they are considering changing their degree scheme, for guidance on the number of attempts to pass a module that are permitted (whether newly chosen or previously studied).
41. With the approval of their Honours department(s), students who are repeating failed modules may be allowed to substitute new modules for those failed. The approved resit indicator will normally still apply.
42. Tuition fees for students repeating the year internally will be set a level which reflects the credit weighting of the modules being retaken, while requiring a reasonable minimum fee to reflect overheads.
43. Departments should provide Senate Examination Boards with reports on all candidates obtaining fail marks in individual modules.
44. Departments are asked to supply adjusted marks to Senate Examination Boards, along with a clear statement identifying where new marks have been adjusted and the grounds for adjustment.
45. As a general principle, the award of a mark of 40% in Part One is seen as equivalent to a level of attainment which permits a student to follow a Degree in that subject.
46. All modules taken in Part Two, regardless of the level at which they are offered, contribute to the degree classification. The examination conventions set out the requirements for progression from one year of study to the next, and to qualify for a degree.
47. Students who fail modules in Part Two to the extent that they fail their degree overall should be allowed to resit for a Pass or Honours Degree on one further occasion.
48. Students who have qualified for their degree may not resit to improve their class of degree by raising individual module marks to 40%.
49. Where students decide to withdraw before the end of their scheme of study, or are unable to continue having exhausted all resit opportunities, they will be eligible for the award of interim qualifications of Certificates or Diplomas of Higher Education, according to the credits passed, as set out in the Examination Conventions.
50. All modules taken in Taught Postgraduate schemes contribute to the final degree classification. Students who fail modules to the extent that they fail their degree overall should be allowed to resit on one further occasion. Students who have qualified for their degree may not resit to improve the class by raising individual module marks to 50%.
51. Where students decide to withdraw before the end of their scheme of study, or are unable to continue having exhausted all resit opportunities, they will be eligible for the award of interim qualifications of Postgraduate Certificates or Diplomas, according to the credits passed, as set out in Section 4 Examination Conventions.
Taught Master’s Schemes: Guidelines for the Sampling of Dissertations
52. The sampling of dissertations by external examiners may take place on the following basis:
53. External examiners must see all dissertations which are:
(i) Within the category of distinction;
(ii) within +/- 5% of the minimum pass mark;
(iii) within the failure band
(iv) marked by persons other than members of the University’s academic staff.
54. External examiners should retain the right to select other dissertations at random.
55. All dissertations must be double marked.
56. At least 20% of dissertations, or a minimum of 10 (whichever is the higher figure) must be sampled by external examiners. Where the total number is less than 10, all dissertations to be externally examined.
3.3 Submission of Coursework
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Unless otherwise advised, all text-based, word-processed coursework should be submitted online. This applies to the submission of coursework at undergraduate and postgraduate taught level (including undergraduate dissertations), but not to Master’s Dissertations.
5. The University E-Submission Policy can be found at: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/academic/e-submission/
3.4 Monitoring Academic Progress
1. This section of the AQH provides guidance to Faculties on monitoring academic progress. It should be read in conjunction with the Academic Regulation on Academic Progress. The University is committed to a system of monitoring student attendance and progress as part of a duty of care for individual students. Departments are responsible for monitoring and interviewing students, as part of their overall responsibility for student support and retention. Departments should monitor student engagement with the following activities and resources, along with any additional subject-specific requirements:
- Timetabled teaching activities (including: lectures, seminars, practicals, tutorials);
- Virtual Learning Environment (Blackboard);
- Lecture capture (Panopto);
- E-submission of coursework and assignments;
- Examinations (including online examinations and alternative methods of assessment).
Problems must be identified at an early stage in the semester to allow time to retrieve the situation and to offer support, with referral to the Fitness to Attend Policy where appropriate.
2. While the main focus of monitoring academic progress is on student support and retention, students must also be informed that this is a serious matter, and the risk of disciplinary action needs to be understood. Where students’ progress remains unsatisfactory and attempts to remedy the situation have not led to improvement, Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellors (or their nominees) will be able to recommend that students should be excluded from the University, either on a temporary or permanent basis. In cases where all efforts to contact students and arrange meetings have failed, and where warnings have not been heeded by students, the Faculty should submit a recommendation of exclusion to the Academic Registry . The Academic Registry will not offer students a further interview but will review cases to determine whether exclusion is warranted.
3. The University’s requirements for academic engagement is outlined in the Academic Regulation for Academic Progress. Each Faculty should inform students of these requirements, the requirements for the submission of coursework as published in Section 3.3 of the AQH, and any additional Faculty requirements. Students are normally informed by email if classes are cancelled.
4. To assist with this task Faculties will have in place the appropriate infrastructure to monitor academic engagement and the submission of assessed work, based on the University’s academic engagement monitoring systems. This will be coordinated by Degree Scheme Co-ordinators and/or Year Tutors on a subject or department basis, under the oversight of the Head of Department. Further guidance and information on engagement monitoring systems may be found on the BIS Support website which requires AStRA users to login using their AU username and password.
5. For Joint Honours schemes, the first named Faculty in the scheme’s title will be responsible for monitoring academic progress, liaising with the other Faculties where unsatisfactory progress is found.
6. In case where students’ progress is identified as a cause for concern, due to poor academic engagement, poor performance or non-submission of coursework, every effort should be made at as early as possible to contact the students concerned and to identify any difficulties which can be addressed, while reminding students of their obligations under the Academic Regulation on Academic Progress. This should be done in liaison with support departments (including Academic Registry , Finance Office, Student Support) as appropriate and also other Faculties where students may be taking modules. The Fitness to Attend Policy may need to be invoked if students are unable to make satisfactory progress despite the available support.
7. Where there is no improvement in progress despite warnings, or where students fail to respond to requests to contact staff and explain their lack of engagement, the Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellor or nominee should be informed in writing of their unsatisfactory progress.
8. Template letters and forms are provided for Faculties, together with a simplified flow-chart of the process. These are available in Section 3.11 of the AQH.
9. Students who are reported to the Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellor will be contacted in writing by Faculties, using the template provided in Template A. The letter should be sent by email and by post to the student’s term and home address. It will stress that the Faculty aims to assist students but will also include a warning that failure tobe present at the interview will lead to further action and exclusion from the University under the Academic Regulation. In cases where students have been interviewed and warned on a previous occasion, either during the current or a previous academic session, Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellors may recommend exclusion without a further interview (see 12 below).
10. Students will be interviewed by the Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellor or nominee with the intention of determining the cause of poor progress. This is not a disciplinary meeting at which representation is expected, although students may choose to be accompanied to the meeting. The focus of the interview will be on retrieving the situation, providing support, or recommending that students should apply for temporary/permanent withdrawal where it appears that they cannot or do not wish to continue with their studies.
11. Following the meeting, the Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellor will issue a written letter (Template B), which should be sent by email and also by post to the student’s term and home address. This will be accompanied by formal record of the meeting and the actions which were agreed (Template C). If students have not provided any acceptable reasons for poor academic engagement or performance, and have not reported specific problems or special circumstances, they will be warned that continued failure to meet requirements over a specified period will lead to exclusion from the University. These requirements will include engagement with all scheduled activities and materials made available through the Virtual Learning Environment (Blackboard) and Lecture Capture (Panopto), and submission of any coursework which is due to be submitted during this period.
12. Students who fail to be present at the interview with the Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellor will be given 7 days to provide an explanation (Template D) with a warning that failure to respond will lead to exclusion from the University. Where a response is received, students will be offered one final opportunity to be present at an interview or face exclusion.
13. Students who do not heed the written warning issued by the Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellor, or fail to explain why they were not present at the interview, will be reported to the Academic Registry with a recommendation that they should be excluded from the University, either on a permanent or temporary basis. The Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellor should send complete Template E and submit to the Academic Registry along with details of attendance records and copies of all correspondence including the template letters and forms.
14. Academic Registry will not offer students a further interview, but will check that Faculties have followed procedures for monitoring academic progress, and issue an exclusion letter where it is clear that students are not meeting the requirements of the Academic Regulation. In cases where students are excluded from the University, they will be informed of their right to seek a Final Review. The Academic Registry will make final checks on student status, liaising with other support departments to ensure that withdrawal letters are only issued where there are no known circumstances on record. If it appears that a student has already left without applying for formal withdrawal, the Academic Registry will offer a chance to withdraw voluntarily. If a decision is taken by the Academic Registry to allow a student to remain in University, they will be warned that any further adverse reports on academic progress, even in a subsequent year, may result in the Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellors deciding to act forthwith and without further interview to recommend exclusion within the terms of the Academic Regulation.
15. The Academic Registry will not issue exclusion letters where recommendations from Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellors are received later than the first day of Term 3. Faculties should ensure early intervention so that students can be interviewed and subsequently monitored during the course of Term 2. In cases where this has not been possible, students may be interviewed by the Faculty Pro-Vice Chancellor during Term 3 and informed that Faculty reports may be taken into account by Senate Examination Boards in considering examination results. (Templates F and G). Senate Examination Board may deny students the opportunity to re-sit any failed modules and require exclusion on a permanent or temporary basis. In cases where a Faculty wishes to recommend exclusion on a permanent or temporary basis to the Senate Examination Board, and full documentary evidence should be sent to the Academic Registry and the recommendation should also be clearly recorded in the minutes of the relevant Examination Board at Faculty /Department level. The deadline for submitting recommendations for exclusion will correspond to the published deadlines for submitting examination board minutes and special circumstances documentation to the Academic Registry , and recommendations received after this date will not be considered by Senate Examination Board.
16. Faculties will be responsible for maintaining records on students reported to Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellors and will submit semester reports to the Academic Registry no later than the Friday after the end of Semester 1 teaching, and the Friday after the end of Semester 2 teaching. The Academic Registry will provide a template for Faculties to compile this information. An interim report based on Semester 1 cases will be considered at the February meeting of Academic Board, and a final report at the November meeting of the Board. The Academic Registry will also work with Faculties to ensure that the monitoring procedures are being followed.
17. A student does have the right to appeal against a decision to exclude by the Academic Registrar, in accordance with the final review procedure.
3.5 Marking Procedures and Moderation
1. All examinations are subject to the University’s Anonymous Marking procedure, with candidates retaining anonymity until the Faculty /Departmental Examination Board. At that stage, the recommendations of Faculty/Departmental Special Circumstances Panels are also considered to take account of medical or other special circumstances which have been reported by students under the University’s Special Circumstances procedure: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/aqro/handbook/taught-schemes/name-193260-en.html. A similar policy applies to written coursework, subject to exemptions approved by Faculties where anonymity is impractical or undesirable.
2. The expectation of the UK Quality Code (Chapter B6) is that higher education institutions will have in place transparent and fair systems for marking and moderation. The University needs to be assured that robust, effective and consistent internal moderation processes are being applied in all Departments across all Faculties. The details of these processes are likely to vary according to local circumstances and professional body requirements, but all Faculties should work to the definitions and minimum requirements set out below in applying their own internal moderation processes.
(i) Internal moderation of assessed work is the process of ensuring that assessment criteria are applied consistently by examiners, that students are being treated fairly through the assessment process, and that there is a shared understanding of the academic standards students are expected to achieve. Moderation is the process of ensuring that the marks awarded for an assessment task within a module are within reasonable limits, in the context of the criteria against which students’ work is being assessed. Note that separate assessment criteria should be in place for each different component of assessment within a module. Moderation may be limited to sampling and second marking a representative number of pieces of assessed work across the marking range from a cohort of students; or it may involve second marking the work of the whole cohort (double marking); or it may involve scaling of marks for a component of assessment.
(ii) Second marking is the process in which a second allocation of marks is given to a piece of work by a second internal examiner. This process may either be carried out blind (where the second examiner does not have access to the marks and comments of the first marker) or sighted (where the second examiner can view the marks and comments of the first marker, and adds their own).
(iii) Scaling can be applied to any assessment component mark, not just an examination mark (refer to paragraph 4.3 for procedure). There will be circumstances where failures in the assessment process will make scaling obligatory. Examples of these might be a misprinted examination paper, the interruption of an examination or, in a science laboratory, an instrumental malfunction not obvious at the time of the experiment. Such circumstances are very rare but marks may be scaled when they happen.
Scaling may also be appropriate when a particular assessment component has produced marks for the class as a whole at a different level to their marks elsewhere. Normally this is an examination which, especially in numerical subjects, may be much harder or easier than intended. This is usually detected because the overall mean mark is very different from that on other examinations. There are also cases where, because a threshold of knowledge or skill is necessary to achieve a reasonable mark, the marks of poorer candidates are more affected.
In some cases the same module causes concern annually for at least part of its assessment. In such cases the assessment practices of the module should be revised or the weighting of the contentious items reduced.
It is not expected that scaling would be used in instances of a module returning a high failure rate or unusually low marks.
(iv) Simple addition scaling: a notional percentage is added to every mark. The advantage of this is that, on the module and overall, all students’ classes have the same chance of being changed since the same number is added for everyone. The disadvantage is that, across the whole spread of marks, poorer students benefit more in percentage terms than stronger students if the mark is raised; suffer more if it is lowered.
(v) Multiplication by a factor: every mark is multiplied by the same factor. A good student has a greater chance of a class change since they will lose or gain more marks. This applies within the module and on the overall spread.
(vi) Piecewise linear interpolation: the mark achieved, in this case on a module exam, is plotted for each student against their average mark on all other examinations.
This particular example was scaled by raising fixed point marks of 0 to 0, 25 to 35, 65 to 70 and 100 to 100 and using linear interpolation between the fixed points. The aim is to get the points to lie as well-distributed as possible in relation to the diagonal line.
3. All assessed work submitted for the award of University credit at all levels must be subject to a process of internal moderation, consistent with the Faculty or Department’s moderation policy. This applies to all modes and all levels of assessment in all delivery locations. The only exception to this will be where assessment methods are automated (i.e. the answers are machine or optically read), or in quantitative assessments in which model answers are provided to the marker. Where assessment is not in written form, every effort should be made to apply an appropriate form of moderation. Practice-based assessments must also be subject to an appropriate process of internal moderation.
4. The process by which marks for assessed work will be allocated should be clearly communicated to students via scheme and module handbooks, along with clear assessment criteria.
5. Documentary evidence that an internal moderation process has taken place, including evidence of any scaling applied and the rationale for selecting any given method, must be available for scrutiny by external examiners (see below) and other interested parties.
6. The requirement for establishing robust internal moderation procedures applies equally to collaborative schemes leading to Aberystwyth University awards. Arrangements for internal moderation, which must involve at least one member of University staff, should be agreed with the partner organisation and clearly set out in the Operations Manual.
7. Marking of coursework should be completed within an appropriate timescale in order to allow for the timely return of provisional marks and feedback for assessment components to students. Marks remain provisional until confirmed by Examination Boards at the end of each semester.
8. Marks for a component of a module should not automatically be upgraded where they fall on a ‘9’. The final module mark should stand with no automatic upgrading of marks that fall on a ‘9’.
9. The internal moderation process should always be completed prior to the presentation of marks at Examination Boards. Final moderated marks must always be entered onto AStRA by the deadline provided by the Academic Registry ahead of each Senate Examination Board.
10. Module marks that have not been confirmed by an Examination Board should not be issued to students. Assessed work for a component of a module that has been through the internal marking process may be returned to students prior to the Examination Board, on condition that students are clearly informed that the mark/grade given remains subject to confirmation.
11. All completed assessments should be first marked independently by appropriately experienced members of staff. Evidence of marking and an indication of how the marks have been allocated should be shown on all assessments.
12. For non-written forms of assessment, e.g. oral examinations, presentations, or recitals, at least two internal examiners should normally be involved in first marking the assessment and agreeing the final mark for each piece of work. The external examiner should have access to the agreed comments of the assessors, which should be provided as feedback to the student.
13. If the internal moderation process for the module is based on second marking, all assessments should then be second marked.
14. For modules employing a sampling approach to moderation, the internal moderator for the module (a member of academic staff other than the first marker/s) should then either review the marking or second mark a sample of completed assessments. Samples should:
(i) be representative of every delivery location, and every mode of study (note that this provision is aimed at delivery where there is a cohort studying at a different location, or via a different study mode, rather than at individual students taking internal or external repeat modules on a part-time basis);
(ii) be drawn from, and reflect, the full range of marks, including borderline cases and fail grades;
(iii) be of an appropriate size with respect to the size of the cohort (at least 10% and a minimum of 5);
(iv) include all components of the assessment for the module.
If there is clear evidence from the sample selected that there are serious discrepancies in the marks being awarded, the Module or Scheme Coordinator (or equivalent) should arrange for all the assignments affected (either within a specified grade band, or the whole cohort) either to be discussed by the markers to determine how to proceed or to be re-marked, as appropriate.
15. Although the University does not require blind second marking of all dissertations (or equivalent), this is considered to be good practice.
16. Internal moderation policies must be clear about the procedure to be followed in order to resolve any disagreement between first and second markers and assign a final mark for a piece of work.
17. If the internal moderation process for the module is based on scaling, the internal marker and moderator should record, as a minimum, the following for approval at the Faculty/Departmental Examination Board:
(i) The method of scaling selected;
(ii) The reason for scaling;
(iii) The evidence considered in arriving at the decision;
(iv) The justification for the scaling applied;
(v) The relationship between the original marks and the proposed scaled marks;
(vi) An explanation of the consequences of scaling the marks;
(vii) An explanation of how this issue will be rectified in future years so that scaling will not be necessary.
18. Students should be provided with a single confirmed mark on their assessed work, as agreed by the internal examiners, and the feedback given on their performance in the assessed work must be consistent with the final assigned mark.
19. Where a sampling approach to internal moderation is adopted, the sample of work that is moderated may be the same sample sent to the external examiner. If the sample that is sent to the external examiner does not include any of the work that has been sampled through the internal moderation process (for example, where a random sample is selected from across thegrade bands), they should be provided with additional information about the internal moderation process that has been followed. Note that the role of external examiner is to verify that internal marking and moderation are being properly conducted, not to mark work. Thus it is essential that external examiners can see evidence that the internal moderation process is working satisfactorily. For a full description of the role of the External Examiner at Aberystwyth University, please refer to chapter 5 of the Quality Code.
3.6 Academic Practice
1. This section of the AQH should be read in conjunction with the University’s which can be found at: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/academic-registry/handbook/regulations/uap/.
Good Academic Practice
2. All assessments, including examination scripts and coursework, are assessed on the basis that they are a student’s own work. Students are therefore personally responsible for ensuring that the work that they present for assessment, and their conduct in examinations, are consistent with the University’s principles and requirements for academic practice
3. Students will be informed of the precise conditions governing the formal examination part of each module, e.g. what materials they will be permitted to take with them into the examination. In some cases, they may be allowed to make use of books, notes, mathematical tables, calculators, etc., and they are advised to ensure that they comply with whatever conditions apply.
Essays and other assignments completed under non-examination conditions should be the result of students’ own study, and the structure and presentation of the arguments should be their own. While it is for each Department to advise students on their precise requirements , the University’s general guidance on good academic practice and referencing is published within Aber Skills https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/aberskills/
4. Students’ risk opening themselves up to be blackmailed if engaging in unacceptable academic practice by using essay mills. The University will investigate any cases of potential UAP it is alerted to. Confidential channels of support are available through Student Support Services, and where criminal activity is involved matters should be referred to the Police.
Investigations of Unacceptable Academic Practice
5. Members of staff making an allegation of Unacceptable Academic Practice (UAP) should complete Section 1 of the Unacceptable Academic Practice Investigation Report Form (UAPF) with reference to the Regulation. Where applicable, the guidelines on the use of Turnitin should also be consulted (see paragraphs 15 to 19 in this section of the AQH). The form should be submitted to the Chair of the Examination Board at Department level. Evidence that relies only on a Turnitin report, or is incomplete, will not be accepted and will be returned to the member of staff making the allegation.
6. A full list of the evidence which is enclosed with the UAPF form should be provided. Where possible evidence should be submitted to the Chair of the Examination Board in electronic format. For allegations of plagiarism, the following must be submitted:
(i) Turnitin Report if available;
(ii) A separate marked up copy of the assignment, with cross-references to the suspected sources;
(iii) Copies of the suspected sources used, with clear cross-references to the assignment.
7. Section 1.3 of the UAPF should be completed by the Chair of the Examination Board in order to confirm the procedure for investigating the allegation of UAP.
8. Section 2 should only be completed for investigations by the Chair of the Examination Board, and should be left blank if the allegation has been referred to a Faculty / University panel (see section 3). In accordance with section 6 of the Regulation on Unacceptable Academic Practice, students have the right to request that decisions of UAP by the Chair of the Examination Board are referred to the Faculty Panel for further investigation. Note that students will not be invited to respond to the allegation during the course of an investigation by the Chair of the Examination Board.
9. If UAP has been substantiated, the outcome should be communicated to the student. The penalty shall consist of a formal warning in accordance with the points-based penalty system. Any subsequent allegation will be referred to a Faculty or University Panel for investigation. If substantiated it will be regarded as a second instance of UAP.
10. The penalty for examination allegations dealt with by the Assistant Registrar shall consist of a formal warning for a first offence and a capped mark for subsequent offences. Such offences are outside of the points-based system and do not count towards other allegations of unacceptable academic practice. For non examination allegations
11. In coursework assignments only, where appropriate, Panels or Chairs of Examination Boards may refer students to a study skills course which is delivered by the International English Centre. In cases where there the formal penalty does not deduct marks, students will be informed that the assignment mark will reflect departmental marking criteria or departmental statements on the recycling of previously submitted material.
12. In cases where the student has requested that a decision by the Chair of the Examination Board (see section 2) is referred to a Faculty Panel, the Chair of the Examination Board should not be a member of the Faculty Panel and should take no part in the investigation. The Faculty Panel should be provided with copies of section 1 of the UAPF along with supporting evidence as originally submitted, but should not be in receipt of the report by the Chair of the Examination Board (section 2).
13. If the allegation has been substantiated, the penalty should be assigned according to the Points-based Penalty System. Where there is evidence of exceptional personal circumstances with direct relevance to the case, panels may submit a recommendation that the penalty should be reduced. In such cases the final decision will be taken by the Chair of Senate Examination Board. In accordance with section 11.3 of the Regulation, panels may also recommend a more severe penalty.
14. Where allegations of UAP are resolved prior to the relevant Examination Board, marks and resit indicators should be confirmed in the usual way at Senate Examination Board. However, in cases where results are withheld by the Board pending the resolution of an UAP allegation, Departments must, once a penalty has been approved, submit a change of mark form confirming the mark and resit indicator for the module(s) concerned so that this too can be approved and results can be released to the student. Module marks should not be entered on AStRA before an UAP investigation is completed and the penalty confirmed by the Academic Registry.
15. Template Letters are provided for use during UAP investigations by Chairs of Examination Boards, Faculty and University panels.
Points-based penalty system
16. Penalties for UAP are assigned by panels and chairs of examination boards in accordance with the following points-based system, which is also published within the UAP form:
Guidelines on the use of Turnitin in UAP investigations
17. Markers should check Turnitin’s similarity reports before they start the marking process. It is crucial that markers scrutinise the similarities identified by Turnitin carefully, as text matches do not always constitute Unacceptable Academic Practice.
18. Turnitin only matches to text already in its database, and may not always pick up on all instances of UAP. Markers should still rely on their instincts about the originality of a piece of work as they read it, and investigate further if there is a suspicion of UAP.
19. Turnitin’s similarity report is a text-matching tool, and is thus only one preliminary indicator of possible UAP. It is not perfect, and markers should bear this in mind when determining whether there is a possible case of UAP.
20. Where work has been submitted via Blackboard (Welsh-medium assignments and large or multi-part submissions only), no similarity reports are automatically generated. Markers should look for other indicators of UAP in a piece of work as they read it; an individual assessment can be submitted to Turnitin to check for text-matching if appropriate.
21. Evidence should include the Turnitin similarity report if available, as well as fully marked up copies of the source documents as appropriate. An example of how to mark up an Assignment and Source materials is provided here. Evidence that relies only on the Turnitin similarity report, or is incomplete, will not be accepted and will be returned to the marker.
3.7 Examinations and Examination Boards
1. The University operates common Examination Conventions for taught schemes at undergraduate and taught postgraduate level, published as Section 4 of the Academic Quality Handbook. Candidates are admitted to schemes of study by the University in accordance with its Regulations. All undergraduate students are referred to the Undergraduate Student Examination Handbook, which is updated annually. It provides a brief guidance on the University’s procedures for examination and assessment. Taught Postgraduate students receive this information in the Code of Practice for Taught Postgraduates. The following information will also be published for the information of candidates:
(i) Methods of assessment to be used in modules, including the weighting given to individual assessment components;
(ii) Information concerning the University’s Academic Appeals Procedure;
(iii) Information concerning Unacceptable Academic Practice and the investigation procedure in the event of allegations arising;
(iv) A statement that any exceptional personal circumstances which may have adversely affected their academic performance must be reported to the appropriate Examination Board(s) prior to the meeting of the Examination Boards.
2. Departments shall be responsible for preparing examination papers and assessments with internal moderation before final approval by the external examiner(s) concerned. Departments must ensure that examination papers are submitted to the University by the required deadlines. Departments are responsible for the final production of examination papers, ensuring that they comply with the following requirements:
(i) The final electronic copy should be clearly identified so that all photocopies should be taken from this master copy. Where applicable this should be done for both English and Welsh copies of the paper.
(ii) The security of electronic and printed copies must be ensured at all times.
(iii) Once the master copy has been printed, the module coordinator should confirm that the examination paper is the correct, final, paper and that all pages have been printed. If the module coordinator is unavailable this should be done by another member of the module team or an alternative.
(iv) After copies of the examination papers have been printed, these should be checked by two members of staff to ensure that they match the master copy, and the consistency of printing.
(v) The final examination papers should be put in envelopes for distribution to examination locations. An administrator should check every envelope to ensure that its contents match the information on the front of the envelope.
3. The University shall make reasonable adjustments for candidates with particular needs, in compliance with the requirements of prevailing legislation and subject to approval by Academic Board and its sub-committees.
4. Examination related information for taught programmes can be found on SharePoint: https://prifysgolaber.sharepoint.com/sites/aqro/Exams/default.aspx. This site provides the following information for staff (internal only):
(i) Examinations Calendar;
(ii) Invigilator Claim Forms, Departmental Notices & Guidance;
(iii) Special Circumstances;
(iv) Change of Marls and Degree Class Forms;
(v) Examination Board and Examination Paper Templates and Schedules;
(vi) Previous Examination Briefing Presentations;
(vii) Useful Webpages.
The Assistant Registrar (Examinations)
5. The Assistant Registrar (Examinations) shall be responsible for the conduct, probity and security of examinations/assessments at the University. The responsibilities of the Assistant Registrar (Examinations) shall include:
(i) Appointment of invigilators and the making of arrangements for invigilation of examinations (so that normally one invigilator acts for each group of fifty candidates or fewer);
(ii) The making of appropriate arrangements for dealing with absentees from examinations/assessments in accordance with the provisions of this section of the Academic Quality Handbook, including notification of cases to Examining Boards and the recording and reporting of such cases;
(iii) Sending to the University, at the close of examinations, a report on the manner in which they have been conducted, specifying any difficulties which may have arisen, and incorporating any suggestions for improvement in the conduct of them. This report should also detail any special arrangements made in relation to cases of absence from examinations and, in accordance with the paragraph below, in relation to examinations conducted at another institution/approved place.
Conduct of Examinations
6. An invigilator shall not admit any candidate to the examination room without the authority of the Assistant Registrar (Examinations) (or nominee).
7. During the whole examination, the invigilators shall maintain a constant supervision over the candidates and shall see that candidates are provided with the necessary materials. They shall inspect all materials brought into the examination room by candidates and shall see that every candidate complies with the Directions to Candidates.
8. No candidates may enter the examination room thirty minutes or more after the commencement of an examination. Candidates are not permitted to leave the examination room until forty five minutes have elapsed, nor may they leave in the last fifteen minutes of the examination. Any candidate who has left the room without the invigilators' authority shall not be allowed to re-enter it during the examination. Under special circumstances, the invigilator may act according to his/her discretion and the circumstances shall be reported to the Assistant Registrar (Examinations)(or nominee). No candidate shall be allowed to take any copy of an examination paper from the examination room until at least forty-five minutes have elapsed from the start of the examination.
9. During each examination the Assistant Superintendent of Examinations (or nominee) shall have power to exclude from the examination room all persons save officers of the University and the candidates sitting the examination. The ASE and invigilator shall prevent any unauthorised communication on the part of the candidates amongst themselves or with any other person.
10. An invigilator who considers or suspects that a candidate is engaging in Unacceptable Academic Practice shall inform such a candidate, preferably in the presence of a witness, that the circumstances will be reported and that he/she may continue and any subsequent examinations without prejudice to any decision which may be taken, but failure to warn shall not prejudice subsequent proceedings. Where appropriate, the invigilator shall confiscate and retain evidence relating to any alleged unacceptable academic practice, so that it is available to any subsequent investigation. The invigilator and ASE shall as soon as possible report the circumstances in writing to the Assistant Registrar (Examinations).
11. The invigilator shall collect the scripts and arrange for their transmission to the Assistant Registrar (Examinations) or his/her nominee(s) who shall then arrange for their transmission to appropriate examiners, together with the surplus copies of the examination paper or papers and a form giving the names of candidates who did not submit scripts. The ASE's shall make a report to the Assistant Registrar (Examinations) on the conduct of the examinations, drawing attention to any special circumstances. A form containing this information and a signed declaration that the examination has been conducted in accordance with this Standing Order shall be sent by the ASE to the Assistant Registrar (Examinations).
12. Failure to comply with the written directions to candidates, and verbal instructions by examination invigilators, will be considered to be a breach of the University’s Regulation on Unacceptable Academic Practice.
Illegible Examination Scripts
13. Any learning difference/impairment notwithstanding, it is the 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, i.e. 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. Markers must seek verification from another colleague/marker that the script is illegible, highlight the illegible sections on the assessment, and retain the assessment and a written record as evidence. Should students wish to contest the decision, they may do so through the University Academic Appeals Procedure.
14. Markers who feel that the student’s handwriting may be indicative of some impairment/learning difference should advise the student to contact Student Support Services (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or contact 01970 621761) if the student wishes to investigate this further via an Educational Psychologist Assessment. If after a full assessment, a learning difference is confirmed, Student Support Services will work with the student to implement any reasonable adjustments recommended in the Assessment. Students who may wish to discuss the status of marks previously awarded will be referred to their academic department for advice.
15. Please note that this policy does not relate to disabled students or those with a learning difference where support has already been arranged by Student Support Services with the department concerned, e.g. use of an amanuensis, computer, or transcription arrangements of an examination script after the examination has been held.
Absence from Examinations and Assessments
16. A candidate may be deemed absent with good cause from an examination or assessment because of documented illness, accident, close bereavement or on closely related compassionate grounds.
17. The Examination Board concerned shall have discretion to decide whether, on the basis of the evidence received, a candidate has been absent with good cause.
18. A candidate who, without good cause, has been absent from any University examination or failed to complete other forms of assessment by the required date, shall be awarded a zero mark for the assessment concerned. This zero mark shall be treated as any other mark in an Examination Board's procedure for arriving at the degree result. Examination Boards must not arrive at a mark for the missed examination by averaging the candidate's other marks or by arriving at a mark derived from the candidate's performance during the session. Where the missed examination is only a component of the overall assessment for a module, the mark gained in the other assessment component shall be counted, pro-rata, in arriving at degree results.
19. If a candidate completes a module but is absent from the examination/assessment concerned for good cause, the University may permit the candidate to sit the examination or submit the assessed work as a first attempt on the next occasion on which the examination/assessment is scheduled to take place.
20. If an Examination Board is satisfied that a candidate is absent for good cause from a final examination/assessment following his/her presentation to the University, provided that the Examination Board is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds, it may recommend that the candidate receives an aegrotat award.
21. Examination Boards shall have discretion to apply the provision above to candidates who attend examinations/assessments but produce evidence subsequently of illness, accident, close bereavement or of other closely associated compassionate grounds.
22. Further guidance on cases of unavoidable absence is provided in the Examination Conventions (Section 4 of the Academic Quality Handbook).
Time-limits for students on Postgraduate Taught schemes
23. University time-limits for the completion of a Master’s Degree are prescribed in the Regulations for Taught Postgraduate Awards. Any work submitted after this date shall not be examined and the candidate will be regarded as having failed by non-submission.
24. Candidates are expected to submit their dissertation or approved equivalent work within the prescribed time-limit, and a candidature shall lapse where the submission has not been made within the University’s time-limits. Notwithstanding, a time-limit may be extended, on an exceptional basis, on compassionate grounds, or in the case of illness, serious domestic difficulty, exceptional professional commitments or unforeseen research problems which can be demonstrated to have affected the candidate adversely. A full and reasoned case, supported by appropriate, satisfactory, medical or other independent evidence, as detailed below, must be submitted:
(i) In the case of candidates requesting an extension on compassionate grounds, satisfactory evidence must be made available in support of the case; a clear statement must also be supplied, showing that the department concerned has evaluated the candidate’s situation that it considers the requested extension to be appropriate. Such a statement will, wherever possible, follow direct contact between candidate and staff;
(ii) In the case of candidates who cite exceptional professional commitments, the request must be accompanied by written confirmation and description by the employer of the exceptional workload borne by the candidate;
(iii) In cases which arise out of illness, satisfactory medical evidence must be submitted. (the extent and nature of the illness as described in the certificate are invaluable in assessing the case). A clear statement must be supplied, showing that the department concerned has evaluated the situation and that it considers the requested extension to be appropriate. Such a statement will, wherever possible, follow direct contact between candidate and staff.
(iv) Applications for extensions must be submitted for consideration at the relevant Examination Boards.
Retrieval of Failure
25. Where a candidate is required to repeat the assessment for one or more modules prior to the start of the following academic year, the re-assessment shall, unless the Examination Board decides that this is not practicable, be of the same structure and be based upon the same syllabus as the assessment at the time of the initial failure.
26. Where a candidate is permitted to repeat one or more failed modules as an internal candidate, the repeat assessment shall be of the same structure and be based upon the syllabus taught to all internal candidates at the time of their re-assessment.
27. Where a candidate is resitting the assessment as an external candidate, the reassessment will normally be the same as for candidates sitting internally unless the Examination Board decides otherwise.
28. Where a candidate is resitting the assessment as an external candidate and the structure of the assessment is different from that at the time of the initial failure and/or the re-assessment is to be based upon a different syllabus, the department concerned shall inform the candidate in advance of changes in the structure of the assessment and syllabus content.
29. In the event of a candidate failing to complete the required amount of assessed work by the required date, an Examination Board shall apply such penalty as is determined by University regulations or as it may consider appropriate in the circumstances. However, where there are extenuating circumstances such as illness or accident which have prevented a candidate from completing assessed work by the required date, the Examination Board may allow an extension of the period for the submission of the assessed work, provided that there is sufficient time for adequate and proper assessment of the work prior to the meeting of the Examination Board. Appropriate medical or other evidence shall be submitted to the Chair or his/her nominee in support of the illness or accident.
30. The University shall establish Examination Boards to consider results and make recommendations on candidates pursuing schemes leading to awards of the University. In all cases, marks awarded which count towards a degree class or award assessment shall be subject to ratification by the external examiner(s). The University operates a two-tier examination board system to ensure consistency in the operation of examination conventions and equity of treatment of Special Circumstances:
(i) Faculties are responsible for the conduct of examinations and assessments within their departments, following the guidelines established at university level and set out in the Academic Quality Handbook. A template for examination board minutes is provided by the Academic Registry.
(ii) Senate Examination Board will consider and confirm all results for taught schemes. The University will appoint an External Reviewer, an experienced member of Registry staff at another university, to oversee the operation of Boards. Senate Examination Board is chaired by a Pro Vice-Chancellor or nominee.
Meetings of Departmental Examination Boards
31. For each meeting of a Departmental Board, there shall be:
(i) A Chair, who will be a senior full-time member of academic staff of the relevant department, nominated by the Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellor on behalf of the University;
(ii) An internal examiner (or examiners) and/or representative(s) of relevant modules, appointed by the Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellor on behalf of the University.
(iii) The membership of final examination boards to consider results and make recommendations on candidates pursuing schemes leading to the award of undergraduate and taught postgraduate qualifications shall also include an external examiner (or examiners). Further guidance on the role of external examiners at examination boards is provided in Section 4.7 of the AQH.
32. The Chair may also invite appropriate persons to attend examination boards in an advisory capacity. Such persons shall possess no voting rights.
33. Each Examination Board shall normally meet in Aberystwyth as and when required to consider the students' performance and to make decisions on termination of study, progression and recommendations on award of degrees or intermediate awards as appropriate. The latest date by which Examination Boards must meet in any session shall be determined by the Senate.
34. In the unexplained absence of any examiner from a meeting, the Chair shall take such steps as he/she thinks fit for the due performance of the business of the meeting, and may adjourn it for that purpose. If the Chair is absent, the Examining Board shall appoint one of its members to the Chair.
35. During Semester One, the external examiner(s) shall perform all the tasks normally associated with examining such as the approval of examination papers. The external examiner(s) will not be required to attend Examination Board meetings but may do so if he or she wishes. Consultation shall take place by correspondence or other appropriate means. The external examiner(s) shall attend Examination Board meetings and perform all functions normally associated with examining in Semester Two.
36. All Departmental Examination Boards make recommendations to the Senate Examination Board, which confirms final awards (please refer to the Senate Examination Board Terms of Reference).
37. The results list shall be signed by the Chair of the Examination Board and by the external examiner(s). In respect of those external examiners not present, suitable arrangements shall be made for obtaining their endorsement of the results proposed.
38. Whenever a case of suspected Unacceptable Academic Practice is the subject of investigation at the time when a result form is issued, the result of the candidate concerned shall be withheld until the investigation is complete.
39. If a case of suspected Unacceptable Academic Practice arises after the publication of a pass list, and the allegation against a candidate is established, then the Examination Board(s) concerned shall review and re-determine the candidate's result in the light of any penalty which may have been imposed. In such circumstances, the Examination Board(s) shall, if necessary, cancel a result previously published and the Academic Registry shall issue a revised result.
40. In the case of candidates who have not paid their tuition fees, results should be recorded and released to candidates. However, candidates may lose the right to be presented for any University qualification until payment of the sum due is made.
41. All Examination Boards shall follow conventions approved by the University.
42. A record of the marks attained by candidates in all assessed work contributing to the final award shall be available at the Examination Board.
43. Candidates who wish to appeal against a decision of the examiners are allowed to do so under the terms of the University's Academic Appeals Procedure.
44. The University has established Regulations under which awards of aegrotat or posthumous qualifications may be made.
Procedure for allocating a mark for mislaid or lost work
45. Members of staff should take every possible precaution to ensure that any work presented for assessment is not mislaid or lost. In the event that student work submitted for assessment is mislaid or lost by the University and there is no opportunity of recovering it, the student will be provided with a substitute mark for the missing work based upon the student’s performance in other assessments.
46. In the event that the missing assessment is one of a number of assessment components for the module, the student will be allocated a mark based upon the weighted average of the marks available from the other marked assessments for that module.
47. In the event that the missing assessment is the entire assessment for the module, the student will be allocated a module mark equal to his/her weighted average taken from all modules completed at the same level, at the end of the session.
48. Alternatively, the student can choose to be re-assessed during the Summer resit assessment period in in August, or following session if appropriate. The module will be recorded with the appropriate special circumstances resit indicator (e.g. M, H or S) and any other costs incurred by the student (e.g. travel and accommodation) should be reimbursed by the Department.
49. In the event that the student is not prepared to accept any of these solutions, the student can decide to submit a formal complaint following the University’s Student Complaints Procedure.
50. When cases come to light that do not meet with any of the above options, of where current solutions offered are felt not to be suitable, departments should contact the Academic Registry to seek further advice and discuss alternative solutions. Any alternative solutions would have to be agreed by the Senate Examination Board.
51. Departments must contact the Academic Registry to advise on any such instances as noted above and report circumstances and actions in their departmental examination board minutes for record purposes.
Procedure for allocating a mark for completion of incorrect assessment
52. In the event that a student has been assessed on the wrong question(s), owing to an administrative error on the part of the University, the student will be provided with a substitute mark based upon their performance in other assessments:
53. In the event that the affected question is the only question for an assessment (e.g. one question of an examination question paper), the student will be allocated a mark equal to his/her weighted average taken from all modules completed in that semester.
54. In the event that the affected assessment is one of a number of assessment components for the module, the student will be allocated a mark based upon the weighted average of the marks available from the other marked assessments for that module.
55. In the event that the affected assessment is the entire assessment for the module, the student will be allocated a module mark equal to his/her weighted average taken from all modules completed at the same level, at the end of the session.
56. Alternatively, the student can choose to be re-assessed during the summer resit assessment period in August, or following session if appropriate. Any costs incurred (e.g. travel and accommodation) should be reimbursed by the Department.
57. In the event that the student is not prepared to accept any of these solutions, the student can decide to submit a formal complaint following the University’s Student Complaints Procedure.
58. When cases come to light that do not meet with any of the above options, of where current solutions offered are felt not to be suitable, departments should contact the Academic Registry to seek further advice and discuss alternative solutions. Any alternative solutions would have to be agreed by the Senate Examination Board.
59. Departments must contact the Academic Registry to advise on any such instances as noted above and report circumstances and actions in their departmental examination board minutes for record purposes.
3.8 Special Circumstances and Reasonable Adjustments
This section of the Academic Quality Handbook provides information as of the start of the 2020/21 academic year; while much of it will remain current, some aspects may need to change from what is described here. Further Covid-19 updates and FAQs can be found on the central University web pages at: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/important-info/coronavirus/.
1. The University aims to assess all its students rigorously but fairly according to its regulations and approved procedures. It does however rely on students to notify it of special circumstances which may affect their performance so that it can treat all students equally and equitably. Examples of Special Circumstances include, but are not limited to: short or long-term illness, severe financial problems, major accommodation problems, bereavement or other compassionate grounds. If students do wish to let the University know of special circumstances, they must complete a special circumstances form fully and forward it to the designated people in all relevant departments together with original copies of the supporting evidence. Evidence not provided in either English or Welsh must be translated and/or independently verified at the student’s own expense. If students need to retain the original evidence, departments will arrange to copy and verify the evidence before returning the originals. If students have to submit evidence to several departments, the original evidence only needs to be submitted to the Home Department, with a photocopy being submitted to other relevant departments. It is important that students clearly identify the impact that the special circumstances have had on their performance on the assessments listed on the Special Circumstances Form. For example, ‘I could not complete the listed assessments since I was in hospital between 1 and 4 November 2018’, or ‘I was not able to complete the examination to my usual standard since I was taken ill during the examination sat on 15 January 2019’. Students must submit independent evidence to corroborate the impact that is detailed on the form.
2. Students may submit the evidence in a sealed envelope, marked ‘confidential’ but their Full Name and Student ID number must also appear on the envelope. Evidence will be treated in accordance with the University's Statement on Confidentiality and will be used by Examination Boards to assess its impact on performance on the relevant assessments. It will not be used for any other purposes. Students will under no circumstances be disadvantaged by submitting this information.
3. Acceptable documentary evidence includes, but is not limited to:
(i) a medical/health certificate with relevant date to the assessment;
(ii) a death certificate;
(iii) a letter of support/explanation from a support service in the University, or other appropriate external support organisation, for full details of the types of letter that may be provided by the University, please visit: http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/student-support/letters/:
(iv) An unavoidable absence from and in-class assessment due to representing Aberystyth University at an official University sporting fixture may occasionally be accepted, however official confirmation from the Student Union that a student is representing the University must be submitted as supporting evidence.
4. Where the student’s academic performance has been affected by circumstances involving a third party, students should submit independent documentary evidence that explains the impact that this has had on them. If a student still wishes to submit evidence relating to a thrid party they must provide written consent from them e.g. parent, sibling.
5. Documentary evidence that will not be accepted includes, but is not limited to:
(ii) a statement written by the student;
(iii) a medical/health certificate that is not relevant to the date of the assessment.
6. The following are not considered to be special circumstances:
(i) problems with computers or printing;
(ii) lack of access to resources;
(iii) illness for which no medical evidence is available;
(iv) more than one deadline on the same day;
(v) inability to answer question or struggling with material;
(vi) crisis games, performance productions, departmental study trips;
(vii) non-academic activities (e.g. military training).
7. Please note the University requires students to notify it of any exceptional personal circumstances which may have adversely affected their academic performance as soon as possible, preferably at the time they have been affected, and in any case before the meetings of Examination Boards. (Please note that Examination Boards normally meet one or two weeks after the examinations have ended – students should check with their department(s) so that they submit information in time for consideration.) The University will not consider appeals based on special circumstances which could reasonably have been notified to departments before the Examination Boards or where, exceptionally, the relevant evidence becomes available only after the release of results. Students should make every effort to provide as full and detailed a case as possible, supported by appropriate evidence, to avoid the uncertainty and worry of an appeal which can impact upon sponsorship, loans and accommodation.
8. 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, or in the relevant semester the following session. 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 an Accessibility Adviser in Student Support Services. On the basis of the evidence submitted and mindful of the practicality of the adjustment requested the Adviser will make a recommendation to the Assistant Registrar (Examinations).
9. Further information on Special Circumstances is also available at:
(See the Staff List for details on who to send this to).
10. The University seeks to ensure that it is accessible to as many students as possible. This includes the provision of alternative assessments for students with disability, specific learning difficulties and long term health issues/impairments. Further guidance is provided in the Policy for Making Reasonable Adjustments to Examinations.
11. All module results and degree classifications are subject to approval by the Senate Examination Boards, chaired by a Pro Vice-Chancellor or nominee. A University Special Circumstances Panel is held immediately prior to the Senate Examination Boards to review the recommendations from Departmental Examination Boards in accordance with the Examination Conventions and to ensure consistency of approach.
Action in preparation for the Departmental Examination Board
12. All special circumstances of a medical nature require appropriate certification from a medical health care professional.
13. The greater the degree of compensation under consideration the more systematic and detailed should be the corroboration, preferably making clear the nature and degree of impairment on the student’s performance. Where, for example, a department recommends a student should be raised a degree classification it will not normally be sufficient to do so on the basis of a one word or phrase medical note, but will require a detailed and corroborated account of where and how the student was impaired.
14. Special circumstances of a personal nature also require certification or corroboration. Again the greater degree of compensation the more systematic and detailed should be the corroboration, preferably making clear the nature and extent of impairment on the student’s performance. Departments may need to exercise discretion in approaching relatives or third parties in cases such as bereavement or where the illness or special circumstances of dependant relatives or other close relationships are concerned. Doctors or other health care professionals may be an appropriate source for such corroboration. In all circumstances certification or corroboration should be obtained that enables departments to assess how a problem or illness has affected the performance of the student. Both the Departmental and the Senate Examination Board will also need to review such cases with regard to the principle of maintaining comparability between individual students.
15. Departments should seek to preserve the confidentiality of information supplied by students or about students. Information should be processed on ‘a need to know’ basis. Departments are encouraged to develop procedures that balance respect for students with the need for appropriate disclosure. Specific guidance on processing sensitive information has been issued separately with information on the General Data Protection Regulation. Other departments teaching the student should be notified of the student’s special circumstances.
Departmental Examination Boards for Part Two Students
16. Special circumstances that affect a student’s performance may receive compensation in the examination process at the relevant Semester Examination Board, or in the final degree classification at the Final Examination Board.
17. Where a student has significant medical or other problems that prevent him/her completing the assessed work or taking an examination, or have resulted in failure, the Departmental Board may recommend Honours resit(s). It is not normal practice to raise a module mark due to special circumstances.
18. In exceptional circumstances where the department believes the student’s medical condition precludes an Honours resit at some time in the future the Departmental Board may recommend that the mark of one element of the assessment be taken as the mark for the module as a whole. Any such decision must be carefully minuted.
19. Where the personal/medical circumstances of a student have affected their performance but not sufficiently so that they fail, the department may, with the agreement of the student, amend the recorded mark to 39 ‘H’ to enable the student to retake the module and achieve a performance that more accurately reflects their efforts and ability. The student need only resit those elements of assessment which were affected by the problem but can carry forward unaffected marks.
20. Where a student has sufficient credits to graduate but also has Honours resits in hand the department should endeavour to establish ahead of the Senate Examination Board whether the student wishes to exercise their right to resit. The normal expectation is that where students are able to resit modules to improve the class of degree they should take the resits, rather than have their degree class raised if they fall within the Window of Opportunity.
Final Senate Examination Board
21. Where a student has ongoing personal or medical problems (for example recurring clinical depression or multiple sclerosis) it will normally be appropriate at the Final Examination Board to consider whether compensation is necessary. Where Departmental Examination Boards are aware of such circumstances but do not take them into account, the individual cases concerned should be discussed and minuted at the Departmental Examination Board in the semester in which the problem arises. Students whose cascaded average is within 2% of the higher class should not be raised within the Window of Opportunity on grounds of special circumstances unless the problem was discussed and minuted at the time it arose or was not known to previous exam boards. Students who are not within 2% of the higher category cannot be considered to be raised on grounds of special circumstances.
22. Where students are prevented by illness or other exceptional circumstances from completing their degree/diploma/certificate the Regulations for the Award of Aegrotat Degrees, Diplomas and Certificates may be applied, with the consent of the student. In most cases, however, it will be possible to award a classified degree. (Note that Ordinary degrees, Diplomas and Certificates of Higher Education may be used as exit qualifications for degree students who have withdrawn permanently or failed to achieve sufficient credits for a degree and where there are no special circumstances).
23. Where the Senate Examination Board is satisfied that a student is absent with good cause from a final examination/assessment, the qualification may be awarded providing that at least 220 out of 240 credits worth of Part Two modules which count towards the final award have been completed. However, please note that the normal course of action in such cases would be the award of ‘H’ resits. Only in the last resort (i.e. as with aegrotats, where illness or other special circumstances prevent students from completing their degrees and taking resits) would the degree be awarded without all credits being completed.
24. Departments should forward to the Senate Examination Board details of all students whose marks fall within the Window of Opportunity and who have Special Circumstances. This should be done whether or not they recommend that the degree classification should be raised. The details to be sent should include all medical certificates and other relevant documentation. Qualified counsellors in the University Counselling Service may well be aware of special circumstances relevant to a student’s performance and departments should consider their letters in support of such cases. All letters from AU Counselling Service attesting medical conditions should be accompanied by a certificate/letter from a qualified medical practitioner.
25. For every student who is recorded at the Departmental Board as a fail, reasons for failure should be entered on the relevant screen on AStRA by the published deadline so that the reason for failure is known to the Senate Examination Board.
26. Part Two students cannot resit modules that they have passed. In exceptional circumstances where serious medical or personal difficulties have prevented the student from meeting the module requirements, it may be possible for students to retake the module or replace it with another. This requires the approval of the Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellor.
3.9 Coursework Extensions
This section of the Academic Quality Handbook provides information as of the start of the 2020/21 academic year; while much of it will remain current, some aspects may need to change from what is described here. Further Covid-19 updates and FAQs can be found on the central University web pages at: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/important-info/coronavirus/.
1. Extensions can only be granted where there are clear medical/personal circumstances (supported by independent documentary evidence) that have affected a student’s ability to submit coursework on time.
2. If an extension is granted, it will be for a period of between one and fourteen calendar days, the University’s responsibilities under equality legislation notwithstanding. However, it will not be possible to grant extensions which mean that work will be submitted after the last day of the examination period for the semester in which the work is due. In some cases, this may mean that the maximum extension period available will be less than fourteen calendar days. If this will not be sufficient, students are advised to follow the Special Circumstances procedure.
3. If it is not possible to present supporting evidence with the form, clear reasons must be given, with an indication of when the evidence will be provided. Evidence must, at the very latest, be provided by the last day of the examination period in the given semester. In the absence of supporting evidence that clearly demonstrates why an extension is required, the extension will be rescinded and a mark of zero will be given for the assessment at the subsequent Examination Board.
4. Decisions regarding requests will be communicated to the student by email within 2 working days of receipt of the request.
5. Retrospective requests for extensions will not be considered. In cases where the deadline is missed, students are advised to follow the Special Circumstances procedure (see Section 3.8 of the Academic Quality Handbook).
6. There will be some elements of assessed work for which it may not be possible to grant an extension, for example, a group presentation or an assessed group performance. Students should check with your Department before submitting this form if unsure as to whether an extension may be granted.
Requesting a coursework deadline extension
7. Deadline extensions can only be granted where there are clear medical/personal circumstances (supported by independent documentary evidence) that have affected a student’s ability to submit coursework on time.
8. Acceptable documentary evidence includes, but is not limited to:
(i) a medical/health certificate with relevant date to the assessment;
(i) a medical/health certificate with relevant date to the assessment;
(ii) a death certificate;
(iii) a letter of support/explanation from a support service in the University, or other appropriate external support organisation, for full details of the types of letter that may be provided by the University, please visit: http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/student-support/letters/ ;
(iv) where a student’s ability to submit coursework on time has been affected by circumstances involving a third party, he/she should submit independent documentary evidence that explains the impact that this has had;
(v) A certificate from a pharmacist.
9. Documentary evidence that will not be accepted includes, but is not limited to:
(ii) a statement written by the student;
(iii) a medical/health certificate that is not relevant to the date of the assessment
10. The following are not legitimate reasons for requesting an extension:
(i) problems with computers or printing;
(ii) lack of access to resources;
(iii) illness for which no medical evidence is available;
(iv) more than one deadline on the same day;
(v) inability to answer question or struggling with material;
(vi) crisis games, performance productions, departmental study trips;
(vii) non-academic activities (e.g. voluntary military training).
11. Only the departmental Extensions Officers can grant extensions, and only when the Coursework Deadline Extension Application Form has been filled in and submitted.
12. The Coursework Deadline Extension Request Form and supporting evidence should be submitted to the designated departmental office at least 3 working days before the deadline; departments will inform students of the contact details. Requests received less than 3 working days before the deadline will normally be considered by the Departmental/Faculty Special Circumstances Board, and students are advised to follow the Special Circumstances procedure: (www.aber.ac.uk/en/academic/special-circumstances/) . The only exception to this requirement will be where it is clear from the evidence provided that the medical/personal circumstances have arisen within this three day period.
(i) The Extensions Officer will consider applications, and students will be informed of the outcome by email within two working days of receipt of the request;
(ii) Retrospective requests for extensions will not be considered. In cases where the deadline is missed, students are advised to follow the Special Circumstances procedure (see above);
(iii) To talk to the Extensions Officer directly, students should request a meeting by email.
Criteria for awarding extenions
13. In deciding on whether or not to grant an extension request, the Extensions Officer will consider the following questions:
Is the documentary evidence provided in support of the extension request sufficient/satisfactory?
14. If the answer to this question is no, then an extension request will not be granted.
15. The Extensions Officer may ask for more evidence to be provided to support the extension request; in all but the most exceptional of cases, this evidence should be submitted before the original coursework deadline.
16. If students are unable to present supporting evidence with the form, clear reasons for being unable to do so must be provided, with an indication to the Department of when the evidence will be provided. Evidence must, at the very latest, be provided by the last day of the examination period in the given semester.
17. It should noted that, if an extension was granted in these circumstances and a student failed to present supporting evidence that clearly demonstrated why an extension was required, the extension would be rescinded and a mark of zero will be given for the assessment at the subsequent Examination Board.
18. If the answer to this question is yes, then an extension will be granted. Students will be expected to submit work at the same time of day as they would have been had they not received an extension. For example, if the original deadline was 3.00pm on Wednesday 3 November and a one week extension was approved, there would be a requirement to submit by an extended deadline of 3.00pm on Wednesday 10 November.
What is the timing/duration/magnitude of the medical/personal circumstances in relation to the deadline for submitting the coursework?
19. The Extensions Officer will consider whether the circumstances described have affected the student’s ability to submit your work on time.
20. Timing: If the circumstances arise shortly before the deadline, and assuming that the circumstances are deemed to be genuine and unavoidable, then a short extension will be considered. However, if a student is ill for one day three weeks before the deadline, then an extension will not be awarded.
21. Duration: In a case of illness for one week, commencing three weeks before the deadline, an extension of a few days will be considered. However, if a student is ill for a longer period, commencing three weeks before the submission deadline, a longer extension will be considered.
22. Magnitude: This is often difficult to assess since the same set of circumstances can affect students in different ways; common sense needs to prevail.
23. The general principle that the Extensions Officer will follow is to match the length of any extension to the time lost working on the actual assignment; this may not necessarily equate to (i.e. it may be less than) the period of time that a student was ill or unavailable to attend the University.
24. Extensions will be granted for a period of between one and fourteen calendar days, the University’s responsibilities under equality legislation notwithstanding. Calendar days, mean that weekends and holiday periods are included, therefore a piece of work may be due in on a Saturday or a Bank Holiday or during one of the University vacation periods. Extensions Officer will take into account the type of work due to be submitted when setting a revised deadline and will consider whether or not it will be practical for students to submit work outside of normal office hours.
25. If the Extensions Officer considers that the circumstances described are so severe as to make it impractical for the completion of the work within the maximum extension period possible, students will be directed to follow the Special Circumstances procedure. This means that students will need to complete the Special Circumstances form and submit this with the original supporting documentary evidence for consideration by the Department/Faculty Special Circumstances Board.
26. Extensions officers will consider whether, given the other study commitments of the student, and the medical/personal circumstances presented, it would have been reasonable to expect the student to complete the assignment by the original submission deadline. If YES, then an extension should not be granted. If NO, then an extension should be granted.
3.10 Examinations Abroad and Alternative Arrangements
3.10 Examinations Abroad and Alternative Arrangements
1. This section provides guidance on the circumstances under which students may be permitted to sit examinations away from Aberystwyth, at an overseas institution.
2. In the case of students who are resitting as external candidates, or have resit examinations in August, requests to sit examinations abroad should be submitted to the Academic Registry (Student Administration).
3. In cases where alternative arrangements may be required due to the timing of Erasmus or Exchange programmes, students should consult the guidance in paragraphs 4-6 below.
Incoming and outgoing exchange students
4. All incoming exchange students are expected to remain at Aberystwyth to be examined in January. Students going out on Exchange in Semester Two are expected to sit Semester One examinations at Aberystwyth before travelling to the partner institution. It is acknowledged however that in exceptional circumstances, the requirements of an exchange placement may place conflicting requirements on students, for example where they are required to attend induction sessions. Students must inform their Department/Faculty of such circumstances by 18 November 2020.
5. Where it is not possible for an incoming or outgoing exchange student to attend Semester One examinations at Aberystwyth, Associate Deans (or their nominees) may approve alternative methods of assessment. These must be considered in the following order of priority, depending on their practicality and ensuring that all module Learning Outcomes have been met:
(i) The student to sit the examination at the partner institution at the same time as the Aberystwyth examination (whether incoming or outgoing exchange). Arrangements for this examination will be made by the Department/Faculty.
(ii) If time difference prevents the student from being able to sit the examination at the partner institution, arrangements should be made for the student to sit an examination at Aberystwyth at an earlier date, with arrangements to be made by the Department/Faculty.
(iii) An alternative assessment to be set. This could be a coursework assignment, a take away examination, or another form of assessment which meets the module Learning Outcomes. Arrangements for this will be made by the Department/Faculty.
(iv) If none of these options are possible, students will be required to resit the module in August, which would be for the full mark (‘H’ indicator). The Department/Faculty should ensure that a clear recommendation is recorded in the examination board minutes. The final decision will be taken by Senate Examination Board.
6. Resits for modules undertaken as part of an Erasmus or Exchange programme will be arranged directly by the student’s home department and not by the Academic Registry (Student Administration).
Examination abroad for external candidates and students resitting in August
7. A student who is resitting as an external candidate, or has resit examinations in August, may be permitted to sit these examinations away from the University at an approved overseas institution. Approval may be given to such requests provided that satisfactory arrangements can be made for the examination by the Academic Registry (Student Administration). Students who take holidays abroad or vacation work elsewhere will not be eligible.
8. Examinations being taken outside Aberystwyth must be taken at the same time as, or overlap with, the examination being held at Aberystwyth. If the time difference prevents this, students should make arrangements to return to Aberystwyth. For information, Aberystwyth University morning examinations commence at 9.30 am (UK time) and afternoon examinations at 2.00 pm (UK time).
9.The examination must be arranged at a suitable examination venue, namely British Council offices. In exceptional circumstances, where the British Council cannot host an examination, students may nominate an alternative location such as a university. If a suitable examination venue cannot be located, students are advised to make arrangements to return to Aberystwyth. Students are advised to consult information on British Council university examination venues at http://www.britishcouncil.org/exam (with a drop down list entitled ‘Where can I sit an exam’ to select the country of choice).
10. Students wishing to sit examinations outside Aberystwyth University should complete and submit the on-line ‘Request Form to Resit an Examination Overseas’by the deadlines noted below. Requests to sit examinations outside Aberystwyth University will not be considered if submitted after this deadline. Students should also formally register for resits via their Student Record (https://studentrecord.aber.ac.uk/en/). Please see http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/student/ug-issues/ for further information.
11.The Academic Registry will forward requests to the relevant Institution and Department for preliminary approval, but final approval will rest with the Academic Registry. While the University will do its utmost to accommodate requests, students will be required to return to Aberystwyth if it is not possible to make satisfactory arrangements.
12. The Academic Regsitry (Student Administration) can only make suitable arrangements for written examinations. Any other forms of assessment, such as practical or on-line examinations, will need to be taken at Aberystwyth University. Students should check with their Department/Faculty which assessments they are required to complete for each module before completing the Request Form.
13. A separate request is required for each examination period, and Academic Registry (Student Administration) will not make arrangements on the basis of previous applications.
14. Students should list any current individual examination requirements so that these can be discussed with the external venue, for example additional time or use of a computer. The University can make no guarantees that examination venues abroad will be able to offer these.
15. There is a financial charge for this service which students will be responsible for paying (see below for further information).
16. The Acdemic Registry (Student Administration) will be responsible for advising students whether their request has been successful. Students should check emails regularly for information from the University or British Council and respond immediately if information is requested. Delays could result in arrangements being cancelled and students being required to return to Aberystwyth for the examinations.
17. While the University will endeavour to offer our support and advice where possible, it has no control or responsibility for any external examination venues, and cannot be held responsible if expected arrangements are changed or cancelled at the chosen venue.
18. Aberystwyth University cannot be responsible for unforeseen circumstances resulting in the rescheduling of examinations at Aberystwyth, which could prevent rescheduling resits abroad.
19. In these circumstances, students would need to return to Aberystwyth to resit the examinations. In exceptional cases, where changes in arrangements occur at very short notice, making it impossible for students to return to Aberystwyth in good time, the University may be in a position to consider alternative arrangements.
Completion of Request Form
20. Students are advised to make an application by the following deadlines:
Deadline for Request Form
For Semester One Examinations:
7 - 22 January 2021
Monday 9 November 2020
For Semester Two Examinations:
10 May - 29 May 2021
Monday 8 March 2021
For August Resit Examinations:
16 - 26 August 2021
Thursday 5 July 2021
Please note that these deadlines apply to all requests, including those submitted to Departments / Faculties by incoming or outgoing exchange students. Any applications received after these deadlines will not be considered further. Please complete the on-line Request Form fully to prevent any delay created by the need to seek further information.
Information about Fees
21. Students permitted to sit their resit examination outside Aberystwyth University will be required to pay an administrative fee of £120 to Aberystwyth University, which is in addition to the module resit fee. Students will be contacted by the University Finance Office nearer the time of the resit examinations and will be informed of how to make this payment. Students will also be liable for any costs incurred by the overseas examination centre. These fees will cover such things as: registration fees; a ‘no show’ fee for failing to attend the examination; storage of examination papers; invigilation costs; off-site exam hall hire; photocopying and postage of paperwork.
22. Aberystwyth University will charge a cancellation fee if students cancel the arrangements less than 2 weeks before the start of the examination period or fail to attend the examinations as outlined below. Students must inform the University if they decide to cancel the resit, so that the overseas examination centre can be informed. In addition to e-mailing email@example.com to cancel the resit against your student record, students must also e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to advise that arrangements at the overseas examination centre can also be cancelled.
23. Cancelling arrangements less than 10 working days before the start of the examination period
Cancelling arrangements less than 10 working days before the start of the exam period
Cancellation Fee of £60
Cancelling arrangements during the exam period or failing to attend the exam
Cancellation fee of £120
3.11 The Role of a Reader/ Amanuensis in Examinations
The Role of a Reader in Examinations
1. The Reader is the communication channel through which the student can access their examination paper. The Reader is not required to interpret the examination paper for the student, but is a ‘reading instrument’ only. Any interpretation, or understanding of any aspect of the examination paper, is the responsibility of the student.
2. A reader needs to:
(i) be understanding of the needs of the relevant categories of students and have respect for student confidentiality
(ii) be punctual, patient, reliable and trustworthy
(iii) be a competent reader with a clear, articulate voice
(iv) read at normal reading speed
(v) read the rubrics and questions, words on diagrams, maps etc.
(vi) read as often as the student requests
3. On the day of the examination, Readers must arrive 20 minutes before the start of the examination to discuss with the student how the Reader will be used by the student and to establish with the student, exactly what can and cannot be done during the examination.
4. Most students using a Reader will be familiar with the processes involved during examinations. It is also likely that a student using a Reader will have extra time in their examination (typically 15 minutes per hour of examination) and the Reader will be required to stay with the student until they have finished their paper.
5. A Reader may NOT:
(i) read the questions before reading the exam rubrics;
(ii) explain the meanings of words or questions;
(iii) give additional information around any text or graphic details e.g. diagrams;
(iv) refuse to read anything written even though you may have read it several times already;
(v) read any section of the paper if not requested to do so
The Role of an Amanuensis in Examinations
6. The Amanuensis:
(i) Shall also subsume the role of Reader;
(ii) Shall not give factual help or offer suggestions to the candidate
(iii) Shall not advise the candidate on how to organise responses
(iv) Shall have clear/legible hand-writing and the ability to punctuate and spell correctly
(v) Shall not correct a candidate’s grammatical errors
(vi) Shall write down answers exactly as they are dictated and shall draw diagrams, maps and graphs only in accordance with the candidate’s instructions
(vii) Should ask the candidate to spell technical terms and other specialist words
7. An Amanuensis should NOT:
(i) alter the content of a candidate’s given answer in ANY way;
(ii) give any indication to the student of the appropriateness of their answer;
(iii) give advice to the student regarding when to move on to the next question.
3.12 Internal Reviewer
1. Internal reviewers are appointed by Academic Registry to attend departmental examination boards.
2. The Internal Reviewer is not a member of the examination board, and should not be an internal examiner for the examination board in question. Academic Registry may therefore need to appoint more than one reviewer to enable attendance at all boards. Where it is not possible for the Academic Registry to provide an internal reviewer for a particular board, the role may be fulfilled by a reviewer from the Faculty.
3. Internal reviewers should attend all meetings of examination boards where external examiners are expected to be present, and should also attend the semester one meetings of Part Two and Postgraduate Taught boards.
4. Internal reviewers are not expected to comment on individual cases during meetings of examination boards. Their role is to observe the board’s application of university regulations and the guidance provided in the Academic Quality Handbook. They may also draw attention to and share good practice within the Faculty.
Chapter Reviewed: Sept 2020
Template UAPF Investigation Report Form Letter A Confirmation of UAP following investigation by the Chair of the Examination Board Letter B Initial letter to student (Investigation by Faculty Panel) Letter C Initial letter to student (investigation by University Panel) Letter D Confirmation of penalty by the Academic Registry Letter E Confirmation letter from the Academic Registry to student (allegation not substantiated
Monitoring Student Progress
Template Details Flowchart Monitoring Academic Progress - Timeline
All letters to be sent by email and by post to the term and home address, and a copy of the Academic Regulation on Academic Progress to be enclosed
Template Details Template A Letter requiring student to attend meeting with the Institute Director If the student has previously failed to attend a meeting with the Institute Director and has been issued with Template B, the following section should be added to Template A:
You should note that this is your final opportunity to attend this meeting. If you do not attend, a recommendation will be submitted that you should be excluded from the University.
Template B Outcome letter following meeting with Institute Director Template C Record of Meeting with Institute Director (or Nominee) Template D Warning to students who fail to attend meeting with Institute Director Template E Recommendation for Exclusion TEMPLATES F and G – to be used during Term 3 This letter should only be issued where the student does not provide acceptable reasons for poor performance, or does not refer to special circumstances. Template F letter following a meeting during Term 3 Template G warning to students who fail to attend a meeting
Template Details Flow Chart Extension Officers Coursework Extension Request Form
Template Special Circumstances Form PDF Special Circumstances Form Word
Template Departmental Examination Board Template Agenda Exam Board Minute Template Section A - Student Business Exam Board Minute Template Section B - Analysis of Examination Data