Mark Schemes, Degree Classification and Postgraduate Award procedures form part of the University’s Study Regulations. This section of the Code of Practice on Examinations and Assessment offers further guidance on the application of the University Regulations. In the event of any conflict of interpretation between the Regulations and the Code of Practice, the Regulations take precedence.
Important updates have been made to this section of the Code of Practice to ensure the continuing transparency and consistency of degree classifications at Queen’s. These updates have been highlighted in red in the relevant sections. Download a summary of these changes (QUB Staff login required).
The University uses a conceptual equivalents scale for the assessment of student work. The use of the conceptual equivalents scale is mandatory unless answers are either right or wrong, for example multiple choice or numerical assessments. Exemptions from the use of the scale, for example due to the requirements of professional, statutory or regulatory bodies, require approval by the Courses and Regulations Group.
Marking guidelines are part of the anticipatory reasonable adjustments that legally the University must make for students with a disability. This allows fair and consistent assessment of work across the institution. Consideration should be given when marking the work of students registered with a specific learning difficulty (SpLD), such as dyslexia.
These students can experience a range of difficulties, independent to their intellectual ability, including slow processing, organisation, memory difficulties, putting ideas into writing, spelling, grammar, punctuation and reading.
The University also has an anticipatory duty to provide a flexible and inclusive approach to learning and with recent advances in Universal Design for Learning (UDL), is becoming commonplace. This should decrease the need for the recommendation of reasonable adjustments. The assessment process must ensure students with a disability have the opportunity to show that they can meet the learning outcomes and competence standards required. This may be supported through implementation of reasonable adjustments or offering alternative forms of assessment.
Overarching principles when marking the work of students with a Specific Learning Difficulty include:
It is not just written work that can be difficult for students with SpLDs. Oral presentations can be hard for a number of reasons. These are detailed below:
Students with SpLds can face a number of challenges in a Viva exam or exam with a spoken element. Difficulties include:
It can be helpful if:
For further information about these guidelines, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Assessed work submitted after the deadline will be penalised at the rate of 5% of the total marks available for each working day late up to a maximum of five working days, after which a mark of zero should be awarded, i.e., day one is 100% - 5%; day two is 100% - 10%; day three is 100% - 15%, etc.
Where the assessed work component accounts for a certain proportion of the module mark, the 5% penalty will apply to the assessed component only and not to the overall module mark.
Exemptions shall be granted only if there are exceptional circumstances, and where the student has made a case in writing to the School Office within three working days of the deadline for submission or where a concession has been agreed on the grounds of a student’s disability. A list of guidelines on acceptable exceptional circumstances is contained in the Guidelines for Schools on Exceptional Circumstances.
Extensions to deadlines shall be proportionate to the impact of the exceptional circumstances.
The Study Regulations for Undergraduate Programmes, regulation 7 outlines the University regulations for the conferral of degree classifications for undergraduate programmes.
The Study Regulations for Postgraduate Taught Programmes, regulation 7 outlines the University regulations for the conferral of postgraduate awards for postgraduate taught programmes.
The information below provides further guidance on the application of these regulations.
Important note: Discounting a module for the purposes of degree classification is not permitted for students first enrolled in 2020-21 and thereafter.
At the degree classifying programme board meeting, the Board of Examiners may exercise discretion by discounting the lowest-scoring module mark (or up to two half-modules) for classification purposes, where there is clear evidence that the module mark (un-weighted) does not reflect the student’s normal level of performance. Double modules may not be discounted.
For a module to be discounted, four criteria must be met:
All four of these criteria must be met before a module can be discounted. A Board must not, for example, discount a failed module, or discount the lowest module mark without supporting evidence that it is unrepresentative. However, medical evidence is not required if a Board of Examiners wants to discount a module under the degree classification procedures.
It is not necessary for Boards to consider in detail every student for discounting. In some cases it will be evident from the spreadsheet of marks that there is no module that could be discounted that would make any difference to the student’s degree classification. In such cases, there is no need to go through the procedure of looking for evidence and considering the appropriateness of discounting a module.
A Programme Board of Examiners may wish to consider discounting a module from a different subject area where applicable. The Chair or Secretary of the Board of Examiners should be delegated to contact the other subject area in advance of the Board’s meeting to establish whether there is any evidence to support discounting the module.
Decisions must be based on clear evidence, and Boards of Examiners must ensure that all students are treated fairly.
Where a module is discounted, the programme mark should be based on the weighted average mark of the remaining modules. For example, if a Level 3 module was discounted, the calculation for Stage 3 would be: (((Module Mark 1 + Module Mark 2 + Module Mark 3 + Module Mark 4 + Module Mark 5) / 5) *0.6).
If a module is discounted under the degree classification procedures, the Predominance Rule may be applied if the candidate’s resulting mark is at or above the relevant threshold. Please see below section on the Predominance Rule for further details.
The existing procedure for dealing with exceptional circumstances also makes provision for a Board of Examiners to discount a module or part of a module for classification purposes where medical certificates or evidence of exceptional circumstances are produced.
Where a module that would normally count towards classification has been discounted under the exceptional circumstances procedure, the Board of Examiners may not discount a further module under the degree classification procedures.
The actual mark for the discounted module should be recorded on Qsis in the normal way using the ‘DTD’ Exam Board Note to identify that it has been discounted for degree classification purposes. The actual mark will appear on the student’s transcript and will be identified on the transcript as ‘discounted’ (‘DTD’).
The Secretary to the Board of Examiners must ensure that the reasons for any decisions relating to the discounting of modules are recorded in the minutes. This includes any cases where, after considering the evidence, the Board has decided not to discount a module.
The Predominance Rule must be applied by all Boards of Examiners except where the Director of Academic and Student Affairs has granted exemption from its use. Exemption will be granted only where it is required by validating/accrediting bodies.
Important note: the zone of consideration for predominance has been reduced from 3% to 1% for students first enrolled in 2020-21 and thereafter.
The programme mark (i.e. the mark arrived at once all the weighted individual module marks are brought together) is truncated to one decimal place. This decimal place is discarded for the purpose of determining eligibility for predominance.
For students who were enrolled prior to 2020-21, they are eligible to be considered under the predominance rule where their programme mark is within 3% of the higher classification. Therefore, the thresholds for eligibility to be considered for a higher class of degree under the predominance rule for students who were enrolled prior to 2020-21 are as follows:
67+ for consideration for First Class
57+ for consideration for Second Class, First Division
47+ for consideration for Second Class, Second Division
37+ for consideration for Third Class
For students who first enrolled in 2020-21 and thereafter, they are eligible to be considered under the predominance rule where their programme mark is within 1% of the higher classification. Therefore, the thresholds for eligibility to be considered for a higher class of degree under the predominance rule for students who first enrolled in 2020-21 and thereafter are as follows:
69+ for consideration for First Class
59+ for consideration for Second Class, First Division
49+ for consideration for Second Class, Second Division
39+ for consideration for Third Class
For a higher classification to be awarded under predominance, the following must apply:
Predominance calculations should be made using the formula outlined in regulation 7.2.5 of the Study Regulations for Undergraduate Programmes:
Let n1, n2, n3, n4 be the number of modules at Stages 1, 2, 3 and 4 respectively in which the mark is above the relevant borderline.
Let p1, p2, p3, p4 be the percentage weights at Stages 1, 2, 3 and 4 respectively (for example, if Stage 3 is weighted at 60%, then p3 = 60).
The higher classification is awarded if:
Bachelor’s degrees: n1 x p1 + n2 x p2 + n3 x p3 ≥ 300
Integrated Master’s degrees: n1 x p1 + n2 x p2 + n3 x p3 + n4 x p4 ≥ 300
If a module has been discounted under the degree classification procedures, the Predominance Rule may be applied if the candidate’s resulting mark is at or above the relevant threshold as outlined above. In such a case, the actual mark for a module that has been discounted is not included in the predominance calculation. Instead, the average of the remaining marks for the stage in which the discounted module was taken is calculated. The discounted mark is then replaced for predominance purposes with this average mark. For example, if the discounted mark is 51 and the average of the five remaining modules in the stage is 67, the predominance calculation will use the mark of 67 in place of the actual mark of 51. Predominance will therefore still be based on 18 modules (for a three-year degree programme).
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