Guidance Note for Students who either Fail, or who Fail to Attend or Complete, an Element of Prescribed Degree Assessment1
To be read in conjunction with the Guidance Note on Academic Appeals and the procedures for Honours Classification in All Degree Programmes (the Grade Spectrum) [Sections 5 and 7 of the Academic Quality Guide refer, which can be accessed at: www.abdn.ac.uk/central/students.hti].
A GENERAL PRINCIPLES
It is the responsibility of all students to understand the potential impact of failure in, or failure to attend or complete, an element of prescribed degree assessment and to discuss this with relevant academic staff if they wish (see below). This relates both to written examinations held at the end of an undergraduate or postgraduate taught course or programme and to in-course elements of assessment (e.g. essays) which count towards either the result for a course or the overall result for a programme.
Heads of Department, Advisers of Studies and other academic staff who are approached by students who fail, or who fail to attend or complete, elements of prescribed degree assessment should draw students’ attention to this guidance note.
Students who fail to attend, or who are unable to complete, an element of prescribed degree assessment on account of illness or other good cause should send the Head of the relevant Department written details of their circumstances (which, in the case of illness, MUST include a certificate from a medical practitioner) within seven days of the date the assessment was due to be sat or submitted. Details provided within seven days normally will result in students being awarded MC (medical certificate) for that element of assessment. Failure to provide such written details will result in a student being awarded a result of No Paper (NP) (which is essentially CAS 0) for that element. This is without prejudice to the right of examiners, where students have commenced but have been unable to complete all elements of assessment for a course, to award a CAS mark for the course based on the elements of assessment which have been completed (discounting any missed elements covered by MCs and counting, as CAS 0, any element for which a NP has been recorded), where they feel it appropriate to do so.
Students who fail to attend or complete an element of prescribed degree assessment without “good cause” will automatically be awarded a result of No Paper (NP) (which is essentially a mark of CAS 0) for any such element. For the purposes of this guidance note, “good cause” is defined as any reason outwith a student’s control e.g. compassionate or unavoidable circumstances and does not include, for example, misreading of the examination timetable in regard to the date, time or venue of an examination.
B THE PARTICULAR CASE OF ELEMENTS NOT PASSED AT HONOURS OR TAUGHT POSTGRADUATE LEVEL
The University’s procedures for “Honours Classification in All Degree Programmes” (the Grade Spectrum) indicate that, normally, students must, inter alia, pass (i.e. be awarded CAS marks equal to or greater than 9) in all elements of assessment if they are to be awarded a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree. Thus, students awarded a CAS mark of less than 9 (including NP i.e. No Paper) for any element of prescribed Honours assessment normally could not obtain a higher award than a Lower Second Class Honours degree.
The Grade Spectrum gives the examiners discretion to depart from the class indicated by the Grade Spectrumbut there can be no undertaking that the examiners will choose to use discretion to do so.
Where students have been unable to attend or complete an element of Honours assessment at the prescribed time on account of illness or other good cause, and have complied with the requirements of paragraph 3 above, General Regulation 20 for First Degrees2 shall apply.
The general implications of failure to attend or complete an element of assessment without good cause are given in paragraph 4 above. Paragraph 5 indicates the additional impact of a failed element of Honours assessment in regard to degree classification. In both cases, Honours students normally would be unable to obtain a classification above a Lower Second Class Honours degree unless the examiners used discretion (paragraph 6 above refers). The examiners will only be able to consider applying discretion to depart, in an upward direction, from the class indicated by the Grade Spectrum if, in their academic judgement, a student’s overall performance, excluding the element(s) failed or not completed, is at a sufficiently higher standard than that normally required for the higher classification: the application of such discretion will be dependent on the number and extent of failed elements, and any weighting to be applied to a particular element in regard to the Grade Spectrum.Heads of Department, Advisers of Studies and academic staff can only give general advice to students in this position who approach them for guidance, as indicated below.
Notwithstanding paragraph 8 above, where the University Calendar prescription for an Honours programme explicitly states that a pass in a specified course or courses is a compulsory requirement for award of a degree associated with that programme as a condition of accreditation by a Professional or Statutory Body, students who fail to appear for assessment in, or who fail, such a course can not normally qualify for award of the (accredited) Honours degree concerned. In such cases, students would be eligible for the award of an alternative (non-accredited) Honours degree, as indicated in the relevant Calendar entry, if they otherwise fulfilled the requirements for the award of the alternative degree.
Where a student has either failed, or has been unable to complete, for any reason, an element of Honours assessment for a First Degree at the first occasion on which the assessment was available to students during or following completion of the course concerned, they have the right to be assessed in the element(s) concerned at a later date, provided that they hold a valid Class Certificate(s) for the course(s) in question and have paid the re-examination fee, where appropriate. While the result of such an assessment will NOT contribute to Honours classification (unless permission to do so has been granted by the Senate on the recommendation of the relevant Undergraduate Programme Committee in accordance with General Regulation 20(b)(i)), it will, if completed successfully, be recorded on a student’s transcript and could be used, for example, to indicate to a professional or statutory body that a student had completed successfully a particular course in order to satisfy accreditation requirements.
There is little point in students routinely re-taking either failed or missed elements of Honours assessment as the Regulations only permit a student’s first attempt to count towards determining Honours degree classification. However, the following are some instances where a student may be advised to sit such assessments: to satisfy accreditation requirements; to gain a pre-requisite for a later course; to gain sufficient credits to meet the progress requirements as prescribed by the Regulations for a particular degree. In these cases,the result of a second opportunity of assessment will not normallybe considered by the examiners in determining Honours degree classification. Students should consult their Adviser of Studies or the Head of the relevant Department to ascertain whether there would be any benefit in resitting such assessments.
The General Regulations for Taught Postgraduate Awards indicate that students who do not complete satisfactorily a prescribed element of assessment for any Level 5 course may be re-assessed in that element only in exceptional circumstances and on the unanimous recommendation of the examiners. They will nevertheless be deemed to have satisfied the credit requirements for the award if, on the basis of their overall performance, they are subsequently awarded the qualification concerned.
1 Element of Prescribed Degree Assessment is defined as any component of assessment which contributes a specified percentage of the overall assessment prescribed for a course or programme. Examples of elements include an item of in-course assessment; a question in an end-of-course or programme written examination; or the overall outcome of a written examination. It is the responsibility of Departments, at the outset of each course or programme, to inform students of those elements of prescribed degree assessment to be used in the determination of the result of a course and programme, and of their weighting.
2 General Regulation 20 for First Degrees and Diplomas states that, “In the case of candidates who have been unable to complete an element of Honours degree assessment at the time prescribed by Regulation 9.3 on account of illness or other good cause, (a) the examiners may recommend that Honours be awarded as if the relevant element of assessment had been completed, provided they are satisfied that a sufficient part of the total assessment for the Honours programme has been completed for them to pass judgement on the candidate’s performance.” See the University Calendar for details of Regulations 20(b) and (c) which will apply if the examiners are unable to make a recommendation under sub-paragraph (a).