Academic Development and Quality Enhancement

Examination and Assessment Regulations FAQs for Taught Postgraduate Students

 

For students on taught postgraduate courses only.  Students on undergraduate and integrated masters courses should refer to the Examination and Assessment Regulation FAQs for Undergraduate Students.

 

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).  Postgraduate students must register on modules worth 180 credits per stage. To be awarded a degree, postgraduates must achieve 180 credits as well as the required stage mean (50% on 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 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 (50% on 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 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 grand mean 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 postgraduate merit/distinction

59-60 Boundary for postgraduate pass/merit

49-50 Boundary for postgraduate borderline fail

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. If you fail a module, 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).   Where the resit assessments map to the modes and weightings of the initial attempt assessments, you will be given a resit/sit of the component that you have failed.  This will be capped at the pass mark and then conflated with marks for any components that you have passed.  Where there is only one resit mode, this will be weighted at 100% of the module and any marks for components that have been passed cannot be used. (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 (50% for postgraduate modules at level 7) for the purpose of calculating your final classification, though the marks transcript you receive after graduation will show the uncapped mark (please refer to regulation 1.2.4).  In cases where there are 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 weighting of the resit assessment and the credit volume of the module.  For example, a capped mark weighted at 30% of a 15 credit module will have less impact on the stage mean than a capped mark worth 70% of a 30 credit module.  The marks transcript you receive after graduating will display the uncapped mark you achieve.

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 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).  It is not possible to repeat a stage which you have passed or which the exam board has enabled you to pass through the award of compensated or condoned credit.

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

Resits/sits for modules completed in the Autumn, Spring and Summer terms that have been failed will be given in the summer vacation assessment period. Any second resit opportunities will be scheduled in the summer vacation assessment period of the next stage.  (Please refer to regulation 1.3.5, 1.4.5 and 1.4.6)  If you wish to take a second resit opportunity sooner, you may request this using the form ‘Application form for A3 resit to be scheduled in A1 or A2’.  Please note that first resits can only be taken in the summer vacation assessment period (with the exception of the postgraduate dissertation/project, for which a first resit will be offered in the mid-year assessment period).

10. What is a repeat stage/term and when will it be offered?

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).

The exam board that considers classification of postgraduate students does not meet until after the start of the next academic year.  Therefore, a repeat stage will be considered at the exam board in July, which considers performance on taught modules taken in the Autumn, Spring and Summer terms.  The July exam board may offer resits/sits to be taken in the summer vacation assessment period, or a repeat year to start in the next academic year.  The July exam board may offer a choice of resits or a repeat year; if a student chooses to take resits and does not pass them, they cannot subsequently be offered a repeat year.  This is because the resit results will not be known until after the next academic year has started.

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 from the previous attempt will not be carried forward to the repeated term/stage.

11. Can I choose to repeat the stage instead of taking the resit(s) given?

If you are not offered a repeat year and are sure you would prefer to repeat the year instead of taking the resits/sits offered, you can request a repeat year via an appeal following the July exam board.  Full information on the appeal process can be found here.

12. 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 that have been failed in the Autumn, Spring and Summer terms. 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 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 this has been deferred by the exam board (should the relevant taught modules need to be completed prior to submission of the dissertation/project). (Please refer to regulation 1.4.6).

Exceptionally, postgraduate students who have achieved 60 or more credits of taught modules by the July exam board may apply to defer their dissertation from the summer vacation assessment period to the mid-year assessment period, where they have reason to believe they will be unable to complete it by the standard deadline.  (Please see regulation 1.7.4).  Approval of such requests will be at the discretion of the School Director of Student Experience and may be refused on logistical grounds (please ask your School about the form ‘To defer a PGT Dissertation/Project’).

13. 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

14. 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 (50% on postgraduate courses at level 7).  (Please refer to regulation 1.4.3).

15. What is compensation?

Credit will be given via automatic compensation at the exam board for a mark in the compensation zone (45-49% for modules at level 7) provided that the relevant  stage mean has been achieved, as stated in 1 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 compensated 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 the details of required resits being published on your Sussex Direct ‘Module Results’ page.  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 for a resit 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:

  • If you do not take the optional resit, the original mark will stand for progression or award
  • Resit marks are capped at the pass threshold.
  • If you take the optional resit and achieve a lower mark, it will stand for progression/award and if it is no longer in the compensation zone may mean that you cannot progress to the next stage or achieve your award.    
  • 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. 
  • 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.  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.

16. 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 (the exam board cannot compensate a mark of zero).  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 condoned 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.  (Please note that 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 the details of required resits being published on your Sussex Direct ‘Module Results’ page.  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, where the condoned mark is for a resit 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.

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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 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

19. 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 normally within 3 weeks of the assessment submission deadline or in-person assessment (Please see regulation 2.6.4).

20. 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.

21. 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.  (Please 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.

22. What should I do if I've been asked to do jury service?

The normal expectation of Her Majesty's Courts Service (HMCS) is that everyone summoned for jury service will serve at the time for which they are summoned. However, it is possible to seek a deferral where jury service is likely to interfere with your study or assessment.  The Jury Central Summoning Bureau evaluates any requests for deferral and may agree a deferral,  usually for no longer than 12 months.

If you're summoned for jury service, please contact your School Director of Student Experience immediately to discuss your application for deferral. Applications for deferral from students during term-time, and particularly during examination periods, will normally be agreed once. However, applications to be excused entirely from jury service will normally only be agreed in extreme circumstances. When you apply for a deferral you should give dates that you would be available within the next 12 months, for example, during a vacation period.

Find out more about jury service on GOV.UK

 

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OTHER FAQs

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: