38. Student Progression and Completion (taught postgraduate)

38.1  If a student fails to achieve the credit points, but there is evidence that their performance at the time of the examination is likely to have been affected by exceptional circumstances, the provisions in section 12 on exceptional circumstances will apply.

38.2   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.

38.3  Designated programmes, in which the taught component runs in parallel with the dissertation (i.e. a student is allocated and undertakes a research project early in their study), may not have a progression point between the taught component and the dissertation stage. Where this is the case, a formal consideration as to whether the student is likely to succeed on the basis of marks obtained in taught units should instead take place at a point designated by the programme, using regulation 38.7 as a basis for this consideration

The award of credit for the purposes of progression or completion of award in taught postgraduate modular programmes

38.4   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 designated criteria (see section 10), 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.

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

38.6   A student who is not awarded the credit for a unit (with the exception of a dissertation unit, see 38.18) may be permitted to undertake reassessment as a second attempt to achieve a satisfactory standard to progress (i.e. a ‘re-sit’) or to achieve any specified additional criteria.  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.

38.7   In order to be permitted a second attempt of assessment (i.e. re-sit) in any failed unit(s), taught postgraduate students must gain at least half of the credit points in the taught component by achieving the pass mark at the first attempt AND must have satisfied any additional criteria at the time they are considered by the progression board, or equivalent.

A student who has passed units totalling less than 40 credit points in the taught component (including where their assessment been impacted by exceptional circumstances) by the summer exam board will be required to take all reassessment as part of a supplementary year in the next academic year. i.e. the amount of credit that can be assessed in the reassessment period should not exceed 80 credit points.

38.8 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 assessment period. The form of the assessment should remain unchanged.

38.9  Students who are absent from an assessment 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.

38.10  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).

38.11 A student will not be permitted to undertake an assessment again where they have already fulfilled the criteria for the award of credit points for the unit. As detailed in section 12, a Board of Examiners must consider the effect of previous exceptional circumstances, if applicable, on its decision-making (e.g. progression from the taught component).

38.12   A student must acquire the necessary credit before progressing to the next component of study. Where a postgraduate taught programme forms the taught component of a doctoral programme, it may have a bespoke programme structure and progression within the taught component may operate differently. Where it has not been possible for the relevant board of examiners to consider the student’s formal progress prior to the commencement of the next component, the Chair of the Faculty Board of Examiners may permit the student to register for the next component without the necessary credit, pending and subject to the decision of the board of examiners.  

38.13   If a student does not achieve the criteria set out in 38.7, they will be required to withdraw from the programme with an exit award, if appropriate; unless there are validated exceptional circumstances (see section 12). Faculties have discretionary authority to permit postgraduate students who have failed part, or all, of the taught component to re-sit for the purposes of achieving an exit award.

38.14   Notwithstanding 38.7, under the conditions (a) - (f) specified below the relevant Board of Examiners will apply a compensation rule at the first or the second attempt in order to award credit for marginally failed taught units to permit progression or completion at that meeting of the board of examiners (i.e. compensation cannot be applied where credit is still outstanding).  

The student:

a)      Has either, failed no more than a sixth of the total credit points for the taught component of the award (typically, 30* credit points for a 180 credit point Masters programme, 20 credit points for a 120 credit point Diploma and 10 credit points for a 60 credit point Certificate) Or, for programmes where the credit value of each and every unit in the taught component exceeds the maximum permitted value, as defined above, has failed no more than the value of the taught unit with the lowest amount of credit points.

b)      Has a unit mark within the specified range (35-39 out of 100 for level 4-6 units or 45-49 out of 100 for level 7 units).

c)       Has a taught component mark of at least 50 out of 100.

d)      Has not failed a unit that is deemed by the faculty or a professional body as being ‘must pass’ (see glossary 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 the student to achieve the learning outcomes in the assessment(s) that they had failed.

* Due to professional accreditation requirements, the maximum value of compensation allowed for students newly registered on a taught postgraduate programme owned by the Faculty of Engineering from 2022/23 is 20 credit points.

38.15   Students who are permitted to progress as described in 38.14 (i.e. notwithstanding a failed unit mark) will be awarded and carry forward the actual unit mark they achieved at the attempt of the assessment where the compensation was applied (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).

38.16 If any student fails to satisfy the conditions specified in 38.14, such that compensation cannot be applied and the student cannot progress following a re-sit of the unit, they will be required to withdraw from the programme with an exit award, if appropriate, or exceptionally, the relevant faculty Board of Examiners may permit a final opportunity to be re-assessed as part of a ‘supplementary year’ to obtain the necessary credit points to progress.

Students who are placed on a supplementary year will normally be registered on the units 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, and (ii) require students to register for additional units, appropriate to their programme of study (guidance on the supplementary year is available at section 8).

38.17   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 exceptional circumstances.

Award of credit for the dissertation in taught postgraduate programmes

See also section 39 with regards to the ‘taught component mark’ and University policy on Dissertations in Taught Postgraduate Programmes.

38.18   The dissertation mark is calculated by averaging the constituent assessment marks, where applicable, and rounding the result to the nearest integer.

38.19   Students must achieve the pass mark for the dissertation to be awarded the associated credit; by reaching a satisfactory standard, students thereby acquire the necessary credit points to complete the programme of study, except as specified below.

38.20   Where a student has achieved a near-pass mark (45 or over but less than 50 out of 100 or equivalent on the 0-20 point scale) for the dissertation and, in addition, the examiners recommend that it is suitable for re-assessment, the relevant Board of Examiners may decide to permit the student to re-submit the dissertation, or equivalent.

38.21   Re-submission of the dissertation where the student has achieved a mark less than 45 out of 100 will be permitted where failure is due to validated exceptional circumstances (see action 12).

38.22   The recorded mark for any re-submitted dissertation will be capped at the minimum pass mark (50 out of 100) even if the student achieves a higher level of attainment in the re-assessment, except that where there is good cause for the initial failure (validated exceptional circumstances) the dissertation may be re-submitted “as though for the first time” and the mark achieved need not be capped.

38.23   Re-submission of the dissertation must normally be made within 3 months of the student being notified by the faculty Board of Examiners of its decision (and within 6 months for part-time students and 12 months for part-time variable students).

38.24   Where re-assessment of the dissertation is not permitted the student may be awarded a postgraduate diploma, if appropriate, by the relevant Board of Examiners, subject to the satisfactory accumulation of credit points.