Academic Office

Student info - changes to assessment policy and procedures 2010-11

Academic policy and procedure changes relating to assessments for immediate implementation in the 2010/11 academic session

Considerable work over the summer vacation with students' union sabbaticals and academic colleagues from across the Schools has led to a number of changes to policy and procedure in three areas being agreed.

1. Changes to late submission policy

2. Academic Misconduct associated with plagiarism

3. Submission of mitigating evidence for exceptional impairment

These new arrangements apply to assessments taken by students on undergraduate and taught postgraduate programmes from the start of academic year 2010/11.  



1.         Changes to late submission policy

Discussion has led to consensus and agreement that students would be better-served by this new approach towards late submission penalties:

Lateness of submission of work

New rule from 2010/11

Old rule

up to 24 hours late

Penalty deduction of 5 percentage points

Penalty deduction of 10%


after 24 hours and up to 7 days (1 week)

Penalty deduction of 10 percentage points

Automatic zero mark

after 7 days (1 week) and up to the final published submission deadline #

Work to be marked and (if marked a pass) given a capped 40% mark.

Automatic zero mark

After final published submission deadline #

Automatic zero mark

Automatic zero mark


# Definition of the final published submission deadline

The default final published submission will be the University final submission deadline set in the summer term each year unless model answer and/or detailed feedback is provided at an earlier date. In such cases students will be advised in writing that the final submission deadline will be set for a school defined time slot on the last working day immediately prior to this feedback being made public. The current policy for assessment and feedback requires faculty to mark and return assessments within 3 weeks (15 working days) so it is likely that the final submission deadline will be 1 day short of 3 weeks (for those courses which provide detailed feedback) with marks capped at 40% for those submissions made between weeks 1-3 and 0% for those submitted after 3 weeks.

For assessments involving weekly/fortnightly turnaround and distribution of model answers and/or detailed feedback to the course cohort, this submission deadline may be set for a school defined time slot on the last working day immediately prior to this scheduled feedback.  In such cases the applicable deadline for the exercise will be advised in writing at the time that the assessment is issued. Penalties will apply as normal- for example if a deadline for a weekly assessment is a Thursday with feedback scheduled for the following Wednesday then a 5% penalty will apply for work submitted on the Friday with a 10% penalty applied for work submitted on either Monday or Tuesday with a zero mark applied to all work that is received after the Tuesday (final deadline).

Marking of all work by faculty with anticipated turnaround times

Faculty will mark all work submitted up to the final submission deadline without penalty (these will be automatically applied to avoid confusion). This is consistent with current practice. Faculty are under no obligation to mark and return late submissions within the 3 week (15 working days) period although it is recommended that all work submitted within the first week should be marked within this period to enable students to benefit from the detailed feedback provided.  This flexibility is intended to facilitate Faculty planning their individual workload and enables them to mark in two batches- one submitted up to one week late and a second batch received up to the final published submission date. This latter group would receive feedback only when convenient to the faculty member.


2.         Academic Misconduct associated with plagiarism

A range of feedback and consultations, in conjunction with the data relating to misconduct processes, suggests strongly that our current approach to misconduct involving plagiarism - which comprises the great majority of cases - is erring on the side of too-rapid escalation.  A high volume of cases are being heard by very resource-intensive academic misconduct panels.  In particular, there seems to be a broad consensus that plagiarism cases are currently tending to get to the point of a panel hearing too quickly, and that these cases could be dealt with in a better way.  Although we already try to take a preventative approach, with targeted provision of online and in-person advice around plagiarism, and considerable use of formative assessment to draw out any early problems, the general sense is that there is more that we can and should do in this direction before resorting to top-heavy formal processes.

These changes have been agreed for immediate implementation, and for both UG and PGT programmes with the exception of all assessments for UG finalists and PGT dissertations:

I.            Where plagiarism has been provisionally identified in summative work, and the student has not previously been found to have plagiarised summative work, the student will be referred to a remedial plagiarism workshop rather than be taken through current misconduct procedures.  This would apply whether the case appeared to be 'major' or 'minor'. 

II.            The student will be told the proportion of the piece judged to be plagiarised at the point of being referred to the remedial workshop. 

III.            The piece of work in question would continue to be marked, but on the basis that the available marks would be reduced in proportion to the extent of plagiarism identified, and marking of the non-plagiarised sections would happen normally.  The mark emerging would therefore reflect a combination of the extent of plagiarism and the quality of the non-plagiarised work; it may or may not be a fail mark.  Students may wait to see what the mark actually is before deciding on whether to challenge the accusation.

IV.            The student would be able to choose to challenge the allegation of plagiarism, but that would involve electing to go through the relevant normal procedure ('minor' or 'major').

V.            The plagiarism incident will be recorded against the assessment record; the student's attendance and satisfactory engagement at the remedial workshop will be recorded by the centre running the workshop and will only be checked if a second occurrence arises.

VI.            Should there be a second occurrence of plagiarism-related misconduct; the full current procedure will be applied.


3.         Submission of mitigating evidence for exceptional impairment

Practical arrangements for the submission of mitigating evidence are also changing, as set out below.  This does not change the existing understanding that such submissions should be restricted to cases of acute severe illness, incapacity or exceptional impairment affecting assessed work, which are substantiated by independent evidence.

The following new arrangements will apply from the current Autumn term 2010.

  • Mitigating evidence claims should not normally be submitted for summative assessments submitted and marked under the late penalty scheme.
  • All mitigating evidence claims for acute severe illness, incapacity or exceptional impairment need to be made by submission of a statement online, via a further development of Sussex Direct.
  • Supporting independent evidence should be submitted in sealed envelopes to your home School office, with an anonymous cover sheet that you can print off Sussex Direct.  The process will be confidential.
  • The requirements and categories of supporting independent evidence that are acceptable will be clearly set out on Sussex Direct.

Changes to the way that cases are considered will, we intend, lead to generally faster turnaround of decisions.  The status of claims while they are being considered, and final decisions, will be flagged back to you via Sussex Direct.