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. It is recommended that questions are not reused within three years. 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. Departments are responsible for publishing past examination papers to students and are advised that it is good practice to make papers from the previous three years available (not including resit papers). However, in some subject areas this is not feasible, for example due to PSRB requirements and past papers, or some cases sections of questions, will not be published. In these instances, a sample paper or question should be made available to students; if any section of a past paper is taken out it should be made clear that questions have been removed.
5. 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
(viii) Guidance for Online Examinations.
Operational guidance on the running of examination boards is provided by the Student Administration Team.
The Assistant Registrar (Examinations)
6. 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
7. An invigilator shall not admit any candidate to the examination room without the authority of the Assistant Registrar (Examinations) (or nominee).
8. 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.
9. 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 their 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.
10. 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.
11. 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 they 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).
12. The invigilator shall collect the scripts and arrange for their transmission to the Assistant Registrar (Examinations) or their 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 ASEs 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).
13. 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
14. 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.
15. 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 email@example.com 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.
16. 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
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. 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.
21. If an Examination Board is satisfied that a candidate is absent for good cause from a final examination/assessment following their 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.
22. 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.
23. 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
24. 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.
25. 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
26. 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.
27. 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.
28. 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.
29. 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.
30. 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 their nominee in support of the illness or accident.
31. 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.
(iii) Departmental and Senate Examination Boards are now conducted virtually (online) using MS Teams. This includes all taught boards, including the research training board. Provided there is good reason, in-person attendance at Examining Boards is be possible, for example where External Examiners might still need to travel to Aberystwyth, e.g. to review samples of work that cannot easily be accessed online, observe live performances or art exhibitions, or limited marking and moderation time preventing samples of examination scripts being sent to an External Examiner ahead of an Examining Board meeting.
Meetings of Departmental Examination Boards
32. 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.
33. The Chair may also invite appropriate persons to attend examination boards in an advisory capacity. Such persons shall possess no voting rights.
34. 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.
35. In the unexplained absence of any examiner from a meeting, the Chair shall take such steps as they think 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.
36. 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.
37. 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).
38.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.
39. 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.
40. 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.
41. 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.
42. All Examination Boards shall follow conventions approved by the University.
43. A record of the marks attained by candidates in all assessed work contributing to the final award shall be available at the Examination Board.
44. 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.
45. 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
46. 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.
47. 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.
48. In the event that the missing assessment is the entire assessment for the module, the student will be allocated a module mark equal to their weighted average taken from all modules completed at the same level, at the end of the session.
49. 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.
50. 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.
51. 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.
52. 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
53. 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.
54. 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 their weighted average taken from all modules completed in that semester.
55. 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.
56. In the event that the affected assessment is the entire assessment for the module, the student will be allocated a module mark equal to their weighted average taken from all modules completed at the same level, at the end of the session.
57. 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.
58. 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.
59. 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.
60. 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.