30. Student Progression and Completion (modular undergraduate)

A flow diagram of the options available for the progression of students on an undergraduate modular programme is available at annex 10.

30.1   If a student fails to achieve the credit points, but there is evidence that their performance at the time of the assessment is likely to have been affected by extenuating circumstances, the provisions in section 19 ‘Extenuating Circumstances’, will apply.

30.2   Schools will make suitable arrangements to implement the regulations for the award of credit for students who are studying a programme on a part-time basis such that the students are aware of the arrangements (e.g. the timing and status of any re-sits) and are not disadvantaged by the point in their studies in which their progression is formally considered.

The award of credit for the purposes of progression in undergraduate modular programmes

30.3   Students must achieve the pass mark for the unit (normally a mark of 40 out of 100 at levels 4-6 and 50 out of 100 at level 7) and meet any other designated criteria[1], if applicable, to be awarded the associated credit. The criteria for the award of credit points, and an explanation of how the award of credit may be affected by criteria additional to marks in an examination or other formal assessment, must be explicitly described in the relevant unit specification and communicated to the students in advance of the commencement of their study of the unit.

30.4   By reaching a satisfactory standard, students thereby acquire the necessary credit points to progress, except as specified below.

30.5   A student who is not in the final year of their undergraduate programme nor registered at another institution but studying at Bristol, will be permitted to undertake reassessment as a second attempt in a unit to achieve a satisfactory standard to progress (i.e. a re-sit) or to achieve any specified additional criteria, subject to 30.6, where the credit is not achieved at the first attempt. A re-sit need only test those assessments in the unit that have been failed and need not be in the same form as the original assessment, as long as it tests the same learning outcomes and does not compromise any competence standards. A Board of Examiners, at its September meeting, may permit a reassessment to be undertaken in the next year of study as a second or third attempt (see 30.15.2). Please see: www.bristol.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/fees-funding/ for information on applicable fees.

A re-sit should normally be completed prior to progression to the following year of study, within the University’s recognised examination periods, except as permitted under 30.15.2.

30.6 In order to be permitted to undertake reassessment as a second attempt (i.e. re-sit) in any failed unit(s), undergraduate students must gain at least 40 credit points for the year of study by achieving the pass mark at the first attempt AND must have satisfied any additional criteria at the time they are considered by a board of examiners, or equivalent. Any such additional criteria must be specified in the programme and/or unit specification.

30.7 Students who are absent from an examination due to illness and who self-certificate, will be required to undertake the examination at the next scheduled time the examination is run, normally in the August / September assessment period. The form of the assessment should remain unchanged.

30.8 Students who are absent from an assessment held on a specified day due to illness and who self-certify will be required to undertake the assessment again at the next time it is scheduled without penalty, unless the learning outcomes associated with the assessment are demonstrated elsewhere in the unit, in which case the relevant board of examiners may waive the requirement for the student to complete the assessment for the award of credit.

30.9 Students who fail a unit or have self-certified their absence from assessment in the reassessment period and therefore do not fulfil the conditions for progression will be required to take the outstanding units again as part of a supplementary year, subject to the conditions for permitting a supplementary year (see section 9).

30.10 A student will not be permitted to undertake the assessment again where they have already fulfilled the criteria for the award of credit points for the unit. As detailed in section 19, a Board of Examiners must consider the effect of previous extenuating circumstances, if applicable, on its decision-making (e.g. disregarding a unit mark for the purposes of classifying the degree.

Exceptionally, a Board of Examiners may permit a student who has achieved credit for a unit or units, despite being affected by extenuating circumstances, to repeat an entire year of study without penalty. This should normally only apply where: (i) the circumstance has been classified as ‘severe’ and has affected the student for a significant period of their studies; and (ii) the board judges that it is in the student’s best interest and they are reasonably likely to improve their marks. Where such an exception is applied, the credit and the original mark for a unit that has been affected by extenuating circumstances should be voided prior to the student commencing the next academic year. Students should be informed of this course of action.

30.11 A student must acquire the necessary credit before progressing to the next year of study, except as permitted under 30.15.2.  Where it has not been possible for the relevant board of examiners to consider the student’s formal progress prior to a student commencing an industrial placement or a formal period of study at another institution as required by the programme structure, the Chair of the Faculty Board of Examiners may permit the student to register for the next year of study without the necessary credit, pending and subject to the decision of the board of examiners.

30.12 If a student does not achieve the criteria set out in 30.6, they will be required to withdraw from the programme with an exit award, if appropriate; unless there are validated extenuating circumstances (see section 19).

30.13   Notwithstanding 30.5, under the conditions (a)-(f) specified below, the relevant Board of Examiners* will apply compensation at the first attempt to award credit for marginally failed taught units to permit progression at the meeting of the board of examiners(i.e. compensation cannot be applied where credit is still outstanding).

The student:

a)      Has not failed more than 20 credit points in the year of study.

b)      Has a mark for the relevant unit mark at the first attempt within the specified range (35-39 out of 100 for level 4-6 units or45-49 out of 100 for level 7 units).

c)       Has a year mark from all the taught units in the year of study of at least 40 out of 100.

d)      Has passed units that are deemed ‘must pass’ by the faculty or a professional body (see annex 1 for definition).

e)      Fulfils all other requirements for the award of credit, as stated in the programme and/or unit specification, such as:

  • completion of practical work, e.g. field courses, laboratory sessions, language tuition, etc, deemed essential to understanding the academic discipline the student is studying;
  • a combination of coursework and practical work, supplemented by a record of attendance at teaching sessions, e.g. tutorials or laboratory sessions;
  • the acquisition of professional skills and attributes required in disciplines such as education, the health professions or the performing arts.

f)        Satisfactorily completes any additional work deemed necessary, as determined by the relevant Board of Examiners, so as to enable them to achieve the learning outcomes in the assessment(s) that they had failed.

* Due to professional accreditation requirements, 30.13 does not apply to students newly registered on undergraduate programmes owned by the Faculty of Engineering from 2022/23; students on these programmes must achieve at least 120 credit points to progress to the next year of study. Information on its application is provided in section 1.12.

30.14   Students who are permitted to progress as described in 30.13 (i.e. notwithstanding a failed unit mark) will be awarded and carry forward the actual unit mark they achieved at their first attempt (not the unit pass mark) and will only receive the credit for these unit/s upon final completion of the programme for which they are registered (i.e. at graduation).

30.15   If any student fails to achieve the unit pass mark following a re-sit of the unit or units equating to 40 credit points or less, they will be permitted a final opportunity to be re-assessed, either as part of a ‘supplementary year’, in order to obtain the necessary credit points to progress, or, where applicable, as part of the next year of study where the student has been permitted to ‘conditionally progress’.

30.15.1    Students who are placed on a supplementary year will be registered on the unit(s) they have failed. A board of examiners has the discretion to: (i) permit students to undertake a replacement unit listed in their programme structure in lieu of a failed optional or open unit from outside of their honours subject as a third and final attempt of assessment on a unit, and (ii) require students to register for additional units, appropriate to their programme of study (see section 9 for information on the supplementary year).

30.15.2    Students may be permitted to conditionally progress to the next year of study and make up a credit deficit in identified programmes where they have failed a particular unit or units, provided conditions (a-f) are satisfied. Schools and faculties are not under any obligation to allow conditional progress on their programmes.

a)      The failed unit is not “must-pass”, it is not fundamental to the programme objectives, being discontinued with no available alternative, and/or is not a prerequisite for units in the subsequent year.

b)      The total of the failed unit/s does not exceed twenty credit points

c)      The student has achieved at least the year mark for progression in their programme

d)      The student has not elected to undertake the supplementary year. Where applicable, conditional progression will be automatically applied by a board of examiners; however, a student may elect to instead take the supplementary year by them notifying their home school by the end of the second week of the first teaching block.

e)     The student has attempted (and failed) the relevant assessments in the unit at least once.

f)       The programme specification explicitly sets out where in the structure conditional progression may be employed.

Conditional progression will only be available as a potential outcome from the September Board of Examiners and subsequent to considering whether a failed unit may be compensated for the purposes of progression (see 30.14). Where permitted and the conditions are satisfied, a student will progress into the next year of study and, in addition to the requirements for that year of study, either:

  • Re-take the failed unit/s (units may be undertaken on an exams-only basis where a student has already received and engaged in the teaching of the unit/s) or;
  • Undertake a different unit/s in lieu of the one the student has failed by engaging with the teaching, as outlined in 30.15.1

Please see: www.bristol.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/fees-funding/ for information on applicable fees.

The board of examiners will subsequently consider the award of credit for the outstanding failed unit/s before considering progression from the year of study into which they have conditionally progressed.

Where a student is unable to achieve the credit points for the failed unit on which their conditional progress is based, following three attempts of assessment, the board will not be able to consider the other units for the year and the student must withdraw from the university

30.16   If any student fails to achieve the unit pass mark following a re-sit of the unit or units equating to more than 40 credit points, they will be required to withdraw from the programme, with an exit award, if appropriate.

30.17   For any unit which is passed by re-assessment, the student will receive the awarded mark for the re-assessment, however the unit mark will be capped at the minimum pass mark (40 out of 100 for units at levels 4, 5 and 6, and 50 out of 100 for units at level 7), even if the student achieves a higher mark in the re-assessment. The marks recorded when repeating the whole year or undertaking the supplementary year will also be capped at the minimum pass mark regardless of what marks are actually achieved, unless the student is being permitted to repeat the year or undertake a supplementary year “as for the first time” due to validated extenuating circumstances.

The award of credit in the final year of undergraduate study for the purposes of completion

30.18   Students must achieve the pass mark (normally a mark of 40 out of 100 at levels 4-6 and 50 out of 100 at level 7) and meet any criteria, as described in 30.5, if applicable for the unit, to be awarded the associated credit.  By achieving this, students thereby acquire the necessary credit points in their final year to complete the programme of study, except as specified below.

  • Re-assessment of units within the final year of undergraduate modular programmes is not permitted except where a failed unit is deemed to be ‘must-pass’ (e.g. for professional accreditation reasons) or in any failed unit within undergraduate programmes owned by the Faculty of Engineering that cannot be compensated (see 30.21), in which case the Faculty Board of Examiners will offer the student a second and final re-assessment opportunity. A re-sit should test those assessments in the unit that have been failed and need not be in the same form as the original assessment, as long as it tests the same learning outcomes and does not compromise any competence standards.
  • Students who submit extenuating circumstances may be permitted by the relevant exam board to take the affected assessment again without academic penalty. The form of the assessment will remain unchanged.
  • Students who are absent from an examination due to illness and who self-certificate, will be required to undertake the examination at the next scheduled time the examination is run, normally in the August / September assessment period. The form of the assessment should remain unchanged.
  • Students who are absent from an assessment held on a specified day due to illness and who self-certify will be required to undertake the assessment again at the next time it is scheduled without penalty, unless the learning outcomes associated with the assessment are demonstrated elsewhere in the unit, in which case the relevant board of examiners may waive the requirement for the student to complete the assessment for the award of credit.

30.19   A Faculty Board of Examiners may choose to permit the award of 120 credit points for the final year of undergraduate study on the basis of a pass overall in assessments undertaken in the final year and achieving the pass mark for any must-pass unit, if applicable. A Faculty Board of Examiners may, likewise, choose to:

  • award 60 credit points in the final year of undergraduate study for the award of an Ordinary Degree on the basis of a pass overall in assessments from units comprising at least 60 credit points at level 6
  • award 120 credit points for a full time year of study (or part time equivalent) in an Undergraduate Certificate or Diploma programme on the basis of a pass overall in the final assessment.
  • award 120 credit points on the basis of a pass overall in assessment in the relevant year of study in order for an exit award to be made.

30.20   Due to professional accreditation requirements, 30.19 may not be applied to students newly registered on undergraduate programmes owned by the Faculty of Engineering from 2022/23. The relevant Board of Examiners will, however, award credit to an undergraduate student to permit the award of a qualification, despite failure to achieve a pass mark associated with taught unit(s) of up to 20 credit points (i.e. a ‘compensated pass’), provided conditions (a)-(e) are satisfied. Information on its application is provided in section 1 (1.12).

The student:

a)       Has a mark for the relevant unit at the first or second attempt of assessment that is within the specified range (35-39 out of 100 for level 4-6 units or 45-49 out of 100 for level 7 units).

b)       Has a year mark from all the taught units in the year of study of at least 40 out of 100.

c)       Has passed units that are deemed ‘must pass’ by the faculty (see annex 1 for definition).

d)       Fulfils all other requirements for the award of credit, as stated in the programme and/or unit specification.

e)       Satisfactorily completes any additional work deemed necessary, as determined by the relevant Board of Examiners, so as to enable the student to achieve the learning outcomes in the assessment(s) that they had not demonstrated.

30.21   If a student does not obtain the necessary credit points in units that contribute to the final programme mark and/or degree classification, the degree may not be awarded and the student will receive a lower award, as determined by the University’s credit framework (see Section 3), unless the failure is due to certified illness or other validated extenuating circumstances.

30.22 If a student fails a must-pass unit in the final year of study following two attempts of assessment on a unit such that the intended degree cannot be awarded, but they otherwise attain a pass overall in assessments undertaken in the final year, then a Board of Examiners may award an alternative classified honours degree qualification, as set out in the relevant programme specification.

Additional requirements for progression within an Integrated Masters Degree

30.23   Students studying on integrated masters degrees will have the same progression requirements as students on other modular degree programmes at the end of the first year.

30.24   At the end of the second year of study, students on an Integrated Masters degree are required to achieve a year mark of 60 or more if their programme has been designated an ‘advanced study’ type or 50 or more if their programme has been designated as a ‘professional’ type of programme (see 25.21)

30.25   Students who do not qualify for progression on an Integrated Masters degree at the end of the second year will be automatically transferred onto an equivalent Bachelors degree provided that they meet the progression requirements for that programme.

30.26   At the end of the third-year students on an Integrated Masters degree are required to achieve a year mark of 50 or more out of 100.

30.27   When a third-year student does not qualify for progression or chooses to withdraw from an Integrated Masters programme at the end of the third year, the Faculty Board of Examiners may award an Ordinary Degree or an equivalent Honours degree (on the basis of the mark achieved at the first attempt if reassessment of a unit was required) where the student has successfully met all the criteria, as described in the programme specification.

30.28   In order to progress within five-year Integrated Masters programme, students must achieve a year mark of 50 or more out of 100 in years 2, 3, and 4 in order to progress. Those students who are awarded 120 credit points for the year but do not achieve a year mark of 50 or more out of 100: will either be automatically transferred onto an equivalent Bachelors Honours degree or, following completion of Year 4, the Faculty Board of Examiners may award an Ordinary Degree or an equivalent Honours degree (on the basis of the mark achieved at the first attempt if a re-sit of a unit was required) where the student has successfully met all the criteria, as described in the programme specification.

30.29   Where a student is permitted to transfer onto the final year of an integrated masters programme, the school must be satisfied that they are capable of performing at the standard required for the integrated masters degree by having satisfied the same requirements for progression that are in place for integrated masters programmes.  

30.30   Students on Integrated Masters degree programmes without a year abroad or in industry who wish to withdraw during their fourth year of study (fifth year for the five-year MEng programmes) should be considered by boards of examiners for the award of a Bachelors Honours degree in the usual manner.

30.31   Students who wish to withdraw from an Integrated Masters degree programme following the completion of the penultimate year of study and exit with a classified Bachelors Honours degree must inform their home school no later than the day prior to the meeting of the relevant faculty board of examiners where the Integrated Masters degree would otherwise have been awarded.

Progression within a Bachelors Honours Degree to undertake the Study Abroad or Year in Industry

30.32   In order to progress within an Honours Bachelors degree programme to the ‘Study Abroad’, ‘Study in Continental Europe’ or ‘Study in Industry’ year, students must satisfy any additional criteria (which may include a higher threshold for the year mark or a specified mark in a particular unit or units) as required by a specific programme in order to ensure that students are well equipped for this period. The location of the document that sets out the additional criteria must be publicised to students at the outset of their studies.

Progression within an Integrated Masters Degree to undertake the Study Abroad or Year in Industry

30.33   In order to progress, within an Integrated Masters programme, onto the “Study Abroad” or “Year in Industry”, students must achieve at least a year mark of 50 or more out of 100 in Year 1 and/or in Year 2 and must satisfy any additional criteria (which may include a higher threshold for the year mark or a specified mark in a particular unit or units) as required by a specific programme in order to ensure that students are well equipped for the year abroad or in industry. The location of the additional criteria must be publicised to students at the outset of their studies. Those students who are awarded 120 credit points for the year but do not achieve a year mark of 50 or more out of 100 and any additional other criteria will be automatically transferred onto the equivalent Bachelors Honours degree.  

30.34   Students who wish to withdraw during the year following the year abroad or in industry will not normally be eligible for a Bachelors Honours degree as an exit award.  Faculty boards of examiners may exceptionally award the appropriate Bachelors Honours degree to such students, where “exceptionally” shall mean:

  1. the student has completed the third year of study satisfactorily and successfully taken any required assessments;
  2. the student is incapable of continuing their studies owing to documented, severe extenuating circumstances;
  3. the boards of examiners have sufficient confidence in the third-year results that they can satisfactorily award a classified degree
  4. the student has achieved the prescribed programme intended learning outcomes for the award

[1] Any criteria that are established for the award of credit in a unit should always explicitly link to its intended learning outcomes and may constitute: a binary measure of learning, specifically a competence or skill; a means of ensuring that students engage with collaborative learning activities, which depend on their contribution to fulfil a learning outcome for the unit; or a way of emphasising that a student’s attendance at identified learning activities is required in order for them to engage with the learning outcomes.