Academic Development and Quality Enhancement

Examinations and Assessment

Examinations and Assessment Regulations

The Examination and Assessment Regulations are approved by Senate and govern the way in which all taught students – undergraduate and postgraduate – are examined and assessed at the University of Sussex.

The regulations ensure we are adopting best practice in relation to examinations and assessment principles and processes, and that we are treating all students with equity and parity.

The Examination and Assessment Regulations Handbook 2017/18 [PDF 1.07MB] applies to all taught students being assessed in 2017/18, including students continuing their studies from previous years.These regulations provide the formal documentation governing examinations and assessment. 

The policy and procedures for a number of key processes are provided in the handbook with additional supporting information on the following:

  • academic misconduct
  • exceptional circumstances claims
  • temporary withdrawal

For further guidance on these processes, please refer to the specifc webpages. You may also find the webpages on reasonable adjustments and joint honours students useful.

For students undertaking a repeat year, the Learning Agreement 2017/18 should be completed. 

Key dates and deadlines linked to the assessment process can be found in the Marks Calendar 2017/18 and Progression and Award Board (PAB) dates [PDF 199.60KB].

A list of the modes of assessment for 2016/17 onwards can be found:  Modes of Assessment (2016/17 onwards) [PDF 237.51KB]

Further guidance can be found in the FAQs below. There is also a glossary to support your reading of the FAQs.

 EXAMINATION AND ASSESSMENT REGULATIONS FAQS 2016/17

1. How do I pass my degree?

A degree is made up of a number of individual modules.  Each module is worth a set number of credits. (please refer to regulation 1.2.2).  Undergraduate students must register on modules worth 120 credits per stage (academic year, if studying full-time). Postgraduate students must register on modules worth 180 credits per stage. To progress to the next stage or be awarded a degree, undergraduate students must achieve 120 credits in the stage and postgraduates must achieve 180 credits as well as the required stage mean (40% on foundation and undergraduate courses at FHEQ levels 3-6 and 50% on undergraduate integrated masters and postgraduate courses at level 7, unless there is a higher progression threshold).  (Please refer to regulation 1.4.3).  The exam board may award up to 30 credits per stage via compensation, trailed credit or condoned credit.  (further information is provided below)

2. How do I pass a module?

Modules are usually assessed by more than one assessment.  These marks are combined to produce a conflated mark.  To pass the module you need to achieve a conflated mark at or above the pass threshold (40% on foundation and undergraduate courses at FHEQ levels 3-6 and 50% on undergraduate integrated masters and postgraduate courses at level 7).  Some courses have additional Professional and Statutory Body (PSB) requirements for passing the module.  If you pass the module you will be awarded the credit for that module.  (Please refer to regulation 1.4.1).

3.  How is my classification calculated?

For undergraduate students who achieve the credit required your degree classification is based on the stage means that contribute to your grand mean (usually stage 2 is weighted at 40% and stage 3 is weighted at 60%).  (Please refer to regulation 1.5).  For postgraduate students who achieve the credit required your degree classification is based on the grand mean that you achieve and the proportion of credit in the higher class.  (Please refer to regulation 1.5.4).  

4.  What happens if I get a borderline mark?

The exam board will give consideration to students falling within a borderline area of one percent below each classification boundary as follows:

69-70 Boundary for 2:1/1st and for postgraduate merit/ distinction

59-60 Boundary for 2:2/2:1 and for postgraduate pass/ merit

49-50 Boundary for 3rd/2:2 and for postgraduate borderline fail

39-40 Borderline fail for undergraduate

For undergraduate students, where you fall within a borderline area of one percent (as above) and have achieved 50% of credit which contributes to classification in the higher class (i.e. 69 plus 50% of credit above 70) you will be automatically reclassified. Where you fall within the borderline area of one percent, but have not achieved 50% of credit in the higher class (i.e. 69 plus 33% of credit above 70) the exam board has the discretion to reclassify based on the individual student profile, on the marks array, for all stages of study contributing to the award. (Please refer to regulation 1.5.5).

For postgraduate students, the exam board has the discretion to reclassify borderline candidates where:

(a) a borderline grand mean has been achieved as well as 50% of the credit that contributes to classification in the higher class or

(b) a grand mean in the higher class has been achieved but  50% of the credit that contributes to classification in the higher class has not been achieved.  (Please refer to regulation 1.5.5).

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RETAKE (RESITS/SITS) AND REPEAT YEAR OPPORTUNITIES

5.  What happens if I fail a module?

You need to achieve the requirements set out in 1 above to progress to the next stage or to achieve your award. Your exam board will consider your performance and may give a resit or a sit opportunity depending on your circumstances. In some circumstances you may be given credit via compensation/condoned credit (please see below for details).   Or you may be given a resit/sit of the component that you have failed which will be conflated with a component that you have passed.  This is only possible where the resit mode consists of more than one resit component which are the same as the original module assessment.  Where it is a resit the conflated mark for the module will be capped.  Exceptionally, the conflated mark will not be capped at the module level where a module has been failed as a result of a Professional and/or Statutory Body (PSB) requirement.  (Please refer to regulation 1.2.4).

6.  What is the difference between a 'resit' and a 'sit'?

If you fail a module at the first attempt you will be given a resit to enable you to pass the module and gain the credits. Resit marks are capped at the pass threshold (40% on modules at FHEQ levels 3-6 and 50% at level 7)   (Please refer to regulation 1.2.4). In cases where there is accepted exceptional circumstances the exam board may give a sit.  Marks for sits are not capped, allowing the mark you achieve to be used for progression and/or award.  (Please refer to the Exceptional Circumstances FAQs and to regulations 1.7 and 2.7). It is important to note that the mark you achieve for a resit or a sit will stand for progression and/or award, even if it is lower than the original mark you achieved.

7.  What are the implications of having my module mark capped?

Each module mark contributes towards your stage mean (the overall mark for the year). If your mark is capped it will affect your stage mean to a greater or lesser extent depending upon the credit volume.  For example, a mark capped on a 15 credit module will have less impact on the stage mean than on a 30 credit module.

8.  How many times can I attempt to pass a module?

The cycle of assessment consists of a first attempt and a resit attempt at each stage of your studies. (Please refer to regulation 1.2.3). The exam board also has discretion to offer a second and final resit for one or more failed modules for a capped mark, provided 60 credits have been achieved in the stage.   (Please refer to regulation 1.3.5).  If you fail the stage you may be given an opportunity to repeat the stage.  (Please refer to regulation 1.2.6).

9.  When will I be given a resit/sit opportunity?

Undergraduate students considered at the exam board in the Summer will be given resit/sit opportunities in the summer vacation assessment period before the start of the next stage. Any second resit opportunities will be scheduled in the summer vacation assessment period of the next stage.  Postgraduate students considered at the exam board in the Summer will be given resit/sit opportunities in the summer vacation assessment period for modules completed in the Autumn, Spring and Summer terms that have been failed.  A resit of a dissertation/project submitted in the summer vacation assessment period will be given in the mid-year assessment period, to avoid any delay in graduation.  Any second resit opportunities will be scheduled in the summer vacation assessment period of the following academic year.  (Please refer to regulation 1.3.5, 1.4.5 and 1.4.6)

10. What if I would prefer to repeat the stage instead of taking the resit/s given?

A repeat assessment cycle consists of one further cycle of first attempt (where marks are uncapped) and a resit attempt (where marks are capped).  This is at the discretion of the exam board, subject to the proviso that your course of study is running in the next academic session.  (Please see regulation 1.2.6).  If you are a first year undergraduate student and you have failed the stage after being given a resit opportunity, you have the automatic right to repeat the stage.  You will need to abide by the conditions set out in the University Standard Repeat Year Learning Agreement.

 For all other stages the exam board will be guided to give undergraduate students a repeat stage, usually where more than 30 credits have been failed, and usually after resits have been given in the summer vacation assessment period. The exam board that considers postgraduate students does not meet until after the start of the academic year. Therefore, a repeat of a stage offered will be during the following year. In these circumstances, you may wish to ask for a repeat stage via appeal after the summer exam board (see below).

All students on a repeat stage will be given a Repeat Year Learning Agreement. Please note that by repeating a term or stage there will be financial implications and that any marks achieved will not be carried forward to the repeated term/stage.

Undergraduate and postgraduate: If you do not wish to take the resits offered by the exam board and you are sure that you would like to repeat the term/stage, then you should request a repeat term/stage via the appeals process. (Please refer to the appeals procedure via the following link and ensure that you complete your appeal within the deadline set after the summer exam board: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/ogs/complaintsappeals/academic

11. Will all my resit/s be scheduled in the summer vacation assessment period as well as my dissertation (postgraduate only)?

Resit/sit opportunities will be given in the summer vacation assessment period to Postgraduate students for modules completed in the Autumn, Spring and Summer terms that have been failed. Where you have achieved less than 60 credits at the Summer exam board, the dissertation/project will be deferred for submission in the mid-year assessment period. This is so that you can complete your resits/sits for all the failed taught modules in the summer vacation assessment period before you submit your dissertation. Where you have achieved 60 credits or more at the Summer exam board, resits/sits for all failed taught modules will be scheduled in the summer vacation assessment period, alongside your dissertation/project, unless the dissertation/project has been deferred by the exam board (to ensure that the relevant taught modules are completed prior to submission of the dissertation/project). (Please refer to regulation 1.4.6).  

12. WIll I be able to take a repeat stage if I am an international student?

If you are an international student on a Tier 4/pre-Tier 4 student visa you cannot spend more than 5 years studying degree level courses in the UK unless an exception applies. Exceptions which are relevant to Sussex include:

Where a student has completed a degree-level course in the UK and is progressing to a Graduate Diploma in Law/CPE – this course is excluded from the calculation of the maximum period.

  • Where a student is studying a Masters degree following completion of an undergraduate degree which was 4 years long – in this case the limit will be set at 6 years in total instead of five.
  • Degrees at doctorate level are excluded from the limit, although a maximum of 8 years does apply once the PhD has been completed.

Assuming that you have not undertaken any previous degree level study in the UK, this means that if you are on a 3 year UG course you will only be able to repeat a maximum of 2 years (only 1 year if you want to undertake a masters in the UK). If you are on a 4 year UG course you will only be able to repeat 1 year (you would still be able to undertake a masters if you wished).

Time spent on temporary withdrawal or outside the UK during your course may also be included in the cap (unless your visa has been cancelled). 

You must always seek advice from an International Student Adviser if you are given a repeat year. 

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COMPENSATION, CONDONED AND TRAILED CREDIT

13. How many credits can be compensated, trailed or condoned?

Up to 30 credits may be awarded at each stage via a combination of compensation, trailed and condoned credit provided that the uncapped stage mean requirement has been met (40% on foundation and undergraduate courses at FHEQ levels 3-6 and 50% on undergraduate integrated masters and postgraduate courses at level 7).  (Please refer to regulation 1.4.3).

14. What is compensation?

Credit will be given via automatic compensation at the exam board for a mark in the compensation zone (35-39% for modules at level 3-6, 45-49% for modules at level 7) provided that the relevant  stage mean has been achieved, as stated in 12 above.  This is in recognition of good performance across the year.  Some modules are exempt from automatic compensation, if required by a Professional or Statutory Body.  (Please refer to regulation 1.3.3). Compensation will not be applied for students not registered on an award at the University.

(i)            What if I want to resit a failed module/s?

In all cases where compensation has been applied you will be offered a single opportunity to take an optional resit (for a capped mark) to achieve the pass threshold for your transcript.  (You may need to achieve the pass threshold on all your modules for accreditation purposes.)  You will need to register to take the optional resit within 7 days of receiving the email from the Student Systems and Records office.  The optional resit will be offered in the summer vacation assessment period (following the summer exam boards for postgraduate and undergraduate students) or the summer vacation period of the following year, if the compensated module was taken in the summer vacation assessment period.

 (ii)           Will it be worth taking an optional resit where a module has been compensated?

You must carefully consider taking a resit in cases where you have already been given the credit for a module with a mark in the compensation zone. You should be aware that the original mark will stand for progression or award if you do not take the optional resit and that resit marks are capped at the pass threshold. If you achieve a lower mark which is not in the compensation zone, it will stand for progression/award and may mean that you cannot progress to the next stage or achieve your award.  Therefore it will usually be best to consider the number of resits you need to take, so that when these resits have been passed compensation will be applied to the remaining modules with marks in the compensation zone.  You should also bear in mind that achieving a slightly higher mark at resit will not significantly increase your stage mean and therefore will normally mean that you are unable to achieve a higher class.  However your transcript will show the higher mark if achieved.

 (iii)          What if I have marks in the compensation zone in more than 30 credits?

Compensation will only be applied where the criteria are met up to a maximum of 30 credits.  Where there are more than 30 credits with marks in the compensation zone, resits will be given for all modules where the pass threshold has not been achieved.  As stated above, it will usually be best to think about the number of resits you need to take, so that when these resits have been passed compensation will be applied to the remaining modules with marks in the compensation zone.

15. What is condoned credit?

The exam board has discretion to give condoned credit up to a maximum of 30 credits for a failed module/s in the final stage of an undergraduate or postgraduate course, providing you achieve the relevant stage mean requirement, that the course learning outcomes have been met and that the module assessment has been attempted and a fail mark achieved.  This is to enable you to achieve the award whilst allowing up to 30 credits to not be passed. (Please refer to regulation 1.3.4).

  (i)            What if I want to resit a failed module/s?

In all cases where condoned credit has been applied you will be offered a single opportunity to take an optional resit (for a capped mark) to achieve the pass threshold for your transcript.  (You may need to achieve the pass threshold on all your modules for accreditation purposes.)  You will need to register to take the optional resit within 7 days of receiving the email from the Student Systems and Records office.  The optional resit will be offered in the summer vacation assessment period (following the summer exam boards for postgraduate and undergraduate students) or the summer vacation period of the following year, if the condoned module was taken in the summer vacation assessment period.  

 (ii)           Will it be worth taking an optional resit where a module has been condoned?

All resit marks will stand and will be capped at the pass threshold.  You should bear in mind that achieving a slightly higher mark at resit will not significantly increase your stage mean and therefore will normally mean that you are unable to achieve a higher class. However your transcript will show the higher mark if achieved

16. What is trailed credit (undergraduate only)?

The exam board has discretion to give an undergraduate student the opportunity to progress to the next stage of study whilst trailing a failed module up to a maximum of 30 credits, following any resit opportunity, provided that the Stage Mean requirement has been met.  If the exam board decides to give trailed credit, the module will be trailed alongside the modules in the next stage of study. (Please refer to regulation 1.3.2).

 (i)            Can I take a different module instead of the one I have failed?

You can submit a request to your School to take an alternative non-core module to the one you have failed.  Your request will need to be approved by the Director of Teaching and Learning and will be subject to timetabling. You cannot request to take an alternative to a core module.

 (ii)           Can I attend teaching for trailed modules?

Normally you will not be allowed to attend teaching unless you are taking a different module OR if your School agrees that you can attend teaching sessions.

 (iii)          When will I be assessed for the trailed module?

If you take a trailed resit of the same module you will be given the resit in the summer vacation assessment period.  If you take an alternative module, you will take the main cycle of assessment, for example coursework and an examination, along with the next cohort.  No marks can be carried forward from the previous attempt at the assessment. If you are given a trailed resit in the final stage, the resit will be scheduled in the summer vacation period after graduation. In these circumstances the PAB will consider condoning the shortfall in credit when it meets, which would mean that you did not need to take the trailed resit in the summer vacation assessment period.

(i)            What if I am allowed to trail credit into the next stage but I fail the assessment again?

The exam board can condone a failure on a module trailed into the final stage provided that you achieve 120 credits on the modules taken in the final stage.

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GRADUATION AND PASS LISTS

17. I have been given an award and a sit opportunity after the graduation ceremony.  Does this mean I will not be able to graduate with my class?

You can still attend graduation with your class, be included on the pass list and receive your degree certificate.  If, after your sit, you gain a higher classification you will be asked to return your certificate and be sent a new one for the higher class. This also applies if you have been given condoned/compensated credit and you register to take the resit and achieve a higher class.

18. I have met the criteria for an Ordinary award but not an Honours award. Can I graduate with my class (undergraduate only)?

The exam board will give you an Ordinary award where you have achieved 60 credits at level 6 in the final stage.  This is so that you can attend graduation with your cohort.  You will also be given a resit/s to be taken in the summer vacation assessment period.  This will be for an Honours degree rather than an Ordinary.   An Ordinary degree is an unclassified degree without honours. ‘This is an exit award granted in recognition of student learning where insufficient credit has been achieved to award an undergraduate honours degree in the subject.’ (extract from the University’s Academic Framework).

19. I have been given a resit/sit opportunity and not been given an award.  When will I be able to attend graduation?

You will be able to attend the next graduation ceremony (Summer or Winter) provided that you have met the criteria for an award.

ASSESSMENT 

20. What are the assessment and feedback deadlines?

Each module usually has one or more assessments, details of which appear on your Sussex Direct page. These details include mode of assessment, weighting of assessment, and date for assessment submission of written work and/or schedule of in-person assessment. Your work will be marked and feedback provided within 15 term time working days of the assessment submission deadline or in-person assessment (normally 3 weeks during term time).  (Please see regulation 2.6.4).

21. Why are there a variety of assessments?

The mode of assessment varies depending on the learning outcomes that are being assessed. The assessment mode may include a submission of work (such as an essay or report) or an in-person assessment (such as an unseen exam or presentation, either individual or group that requires your presence). Some assessment modes are designed to test all learning outcomes for the module, and some are designed to test only one or two of the learning outcomes.

22. What happens if I miss an assessment deadline?

Should you miss an assessment submission deadline (for whatever reason) you may usually still submitthe assessment within 7 days of the published deadline. This will incur a penalty, as follows:

  • Work submitted up to 24 hours late shall incur a penalty deduction of 5 percentage points (not 5% of the actual mark).
  • Work submitted after 24 hours and up to 7 days late shall incur a penalty deduction of 10 percentage points ( not 10% of the actual mark)
  • No work shall be accepted after the 7 day penalty period has elapsed

These penalties are applied automatically without the need for you to provide any reason for the lateness.  (Please see regulation 1.6).

Late assessment submission is available for all assessment submissions with a 15 term time working day feedback commitment (normally 3 weeks during term time). However, late submission will not be available on all modules.  (See your Module Handbook).

If you do not attend an unseen examination or in-person assessment or if you do not submit your work within 7 days an absence/non-submission and a mark of zero will be recorded for the assessment. 

 PLACEMENT YEAR

23. What are the placement year assessment regulations? (please refer to regulations 1.4.7 and 1.5.1)

(i)            What do I need to achieve to go on a placement year?

If you are on a 4 stage course including a placement year you need to achieve 120 credits and an overall mean of 40% in stage 2.   Appendix G(a) sets out courses with a higher progression threshold.  Appendix G(b) sets out higher progression thresholds required on integrated masters courses.

 (ii)           What do I need to achieve during a placement year?

To continue into the final stage of your course you need to achieve an overall mean of 40% on the placement year assessment.   If you fail to achieve this, you must ask your host institution about a resit opportunity.  If you do not achieve 40% on the placement year after a resit opportunity you will be transferred to the course title without the suffix ‘with a placement year’.

 (iii)          Does the mark I achieve on my placement year go towards my degree classification?

Award classification for a voluntary placement year shall be calculated according to the grand mean based on a ratio of 40:60 for stages 2 and 4. Therefore, the voluntary placement year will not contribute to classification.

Award classification for an integrated placement year shall be calculated according to the grand mean based on a ratio of 40:25:60 for stages 2, 3 and 4.  Therefore the marks achieved on the placement year will contribute to classification based on the lowest of the weightings. Appendix G(c) lists courses where this applies.  

 (iv)         Will the placement year be included in my course title?

If you complete and pass the placement year you will have the placement year recognised in the degree certificate ‘Degree title (with Professional/Industrial Placement Year)’, provided that you have met the criteria for the award.  If you fail to complete or pass the placement year you will transfer to the course title excluding ‘with a Professional/Industrial Placement Year’.  If you do not pass the placement year the mark achieved will not contribute to your classification.

 

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OTHER FAQs

STUDY ABROAD YEAR

Please refer to regulations 1.4.7 and 1.5.1 and the Study Abroad FAQs available at:

TEMPORARY WITHDRAWAL

Please refer to regulation 1.2.7 and the Temporary Withdrawal FAQs available at:

EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES

Please refer to regulations 1.7.3 & 2.7 and the Exceptional Circumstances FAQs available at: