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Examinations Procedures : May to October 2017

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I enclose the following documents which will be of assistance to you in regard to Course Boards of Examiners, Subject Boards and Progress and Award Boards.

1

Suggested agenda for:

Course Boards of Examiners (Attachment 1A)
Campus Progress and Award Board (Attachment 1B)
Subject Boards of Examiners (Attachment 1C)
 

2

Suggested template for Minutes of Meeting of:

Course Boards of Examiners (Attachment 2A)
Campus Progress and Award Board (Attachment 2B)
Subject Boards of Examiners (Attachment 2C)

3

Notes of Guidance for Course Boards of Examiners and Campus Progress and Award Board (Attachment 3)

4

Procedures to be followed in the Absence of an External Examiner (Attachment 4)
 

5

Academic Standing Types used for recording decisions on candidates (Attachment 5)
 

6

Guidelines: Recommendations for Aegrotat and Posthumous Awards (Attachment 6)
 

7

Timetable for consideration of student appeals (Attachment 7)
 

8

Prizes and awards (Attachment 8)
 

9

Duties of Heads of Faculty Administration (Attachment  9)

 I would wish to draw the following matters to your attention.  You should note, in particular, section (f) refers to  the consideration of candidates on an intercalary year; section (g) to the change in pass mark for postgraduate level 6 modules; section (n) to the procedures for progression to placement; section (o) to the consequences of failure in placement/intercalary year; and section (y) to the grading scheme introduced from 2015/16 placement/intercalary year.  Also, from the 2015/16 intake a commendation (60%) band has been introduced for postgraduate awards. 

(a)

 

 

Location of Meetings of Boards of Examiners

Meetings of Boards of Examiners should take place on the campus of delivery and, where a Board cannot be held on the appropriate campus, all staff who are members of the Board must attend the meeting at the designated location; teleconferencing/videoconferencing is not permitted.  Requests to depart from University policy in respect of the latter must be approved by the PVC (Education).

(b)

Chairing of Boards of Examiners

(i) Course/Subject Boards of Examiners

The Chairperson of the Course/Subject Board of Examiners shall be the Executive Dean, Pro Dean or an Associate Dean of the Faculty in which the course/subject is located, or, exceptionally, a Head or Associate Head of School in the Faculty, other than the School in which the course/subject is located, or the Director of Access and Distributed Learning.  Heads of Graduate School may be permitted to chair Boards of Examiners provided that they have some responsibility for taught courses.  In the absence of the designated chairperson, the board shall be chaired by a person appointed by the appropriate Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) acting on the authority of the Senate.

(ii) Campus Progress and Award Board

The Chairperson of the Progress and Award Board shall be an Executive Dean/Pro-Dean/Associate Dean appointed by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education).  Those currently appointed are:

Coleraine: Professor J Jedrzejewski, Pro-Dean of the Faculty of Arts
Jordanstown: Professor P Carmichael, Associate Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences
Magee: Professor M Durkin, Executive Dean of the Ulster University Business School.
 

(c) Involvement of External Examiners

i) Absence of External Examiners from Boards of Examiners

External examiners are required to attend meetings of Boards of Examiners of which they are members where results that contribute to final awards are being considered (this requirement can be varied for linked PG Diploma/Masterís courses as set out at ii) below). Where exceptionally an external examiner is unable to attend, the procedures set out at Attachment 4 should be followed.  The appendix to this attachment (Confirmation of Awards) should be completed, signed by the External Examiner and presented to the Board.  The course results sheets need only be sent to an external examiner for signature where no external was present at the Board.

The procedures set out at Attachment 4 also apply where, exceptionally, a temporary external examiner has been appointed.

ii) Attendance of External Examiners at Meetings of Boards of Examiners for linked Postgraduate Diploma/Masterís Courses

Each Faculty is authorised to determine whether the External Examiner should attend for either the Postgraduate Diploma or Masterís stage of the course, or for both.

If the Faculty decides on attendance for only the Postgraduate Diploma stage the following conditions should be fulfilled:

         There is no requirement for oral examination associated with the Masterís award;

         The Masterís dissertation/project component only is being considered;

         The External Examiner moderates the work for the dissertation/project.

If the Faculty decides on attendance for only the Masterís stage:

         The Board of Examiners should review candidatesí results in the taught modules, with the External Examinerís role being to moderate the work and endorse the results, decisions on progress and resit, and recommendations, where appropriate, for the award of the Postgraduate Diploma;

         The Masterís results and recommendations for award should be considered by the full Board of Examiners on the basis of both the taught modules and the dissertation/project.

NB If an external examiner does not attend one stage, there is still a requirement to sign off the course results sheet in order to signify endorsement of final award decisions.

iii) External Examiner Confirmation of Awards at Supplementary Boards of Examiners

External examiners are not required to attend supplementary Boards. However, it is University policy that supplementary recommendations for awards be agreed with the External Examiner(s)/Chief External Examiner prior to the Board and that written confirmation is presented to the meeting as set out in Attachment 4.

iv) Unresolved Disagreement Between Internal and External Examiners at Boards

Senate has endorsed the Teaching and Learning Committee's recommendation to remove the authority of the external examiner to prevail where there is disagreement in board of examiners about results or classifications, in order to reflect the consensus basis of decision-making in the board.  TLC (28/03/12) agreed the following protocol in the unlikely event that an external examiner was unwilling to endorse decisions. Should an external disagree with the Board's decisions, this should be made explicit in the Board's report to Senate when recommendations for award are considered.  The Chair of the Board and the external examiner are asked to forward reports to Senate for consideration.  Senate will make a decision which may require the appointment of a new external examiner to moderate assessments.  In this case, results will remain provisional and students will be kept informed of any delay in the normal timeframe for publication of results.

 

(d)

Amendments to Provisional Module Results

Boards will receive, in the course/subject result sheets, marks which were considered at the end of Semester One.  These marks are subject to confirmation by Boards.

All provisional marks amendments (other than those made on the final edition of the course results sheets) should be forwarded without delay to the appropriate office: School Office for amendments agreed at Subject Boards, Examinations Office (on a Marks Amendment Form) for amendments agreed for integrated courses.  Any amendments to the final edition of the course result sheet(s), whether made by the Course Director prior to the Board of Examinersí meeting or by the Chairperson at the meeting, must be recorded in red ink. The Examinations Office will subsequently amend the computer record.  Marks amendments for Semester Two will be completed by 26 June 2017 and all marks will be published on the Portal by 28 June 2017.

Where, exceptionally, changes to marks, or new marks, have to be submitted to the Examinations Office after the meeting, these will be accepted from Course Directors only, who will be required to transcribe the marks onto the master course results sheets.

(e) Adjustment of Marks/Progress Decisions Made by an Earlier Board

Boards shall not adjust marks awarded or progress decisions made by an earlier board, except in accordance with the Procedures for Appeals and the Consideration of Offences in Connection with Examinations and other Forms of Assessment.  The Campus Progress and Award Board may not adjust the marks awarded by a Subject Board.  This does not prohibit the correction of errors.

 

(f)

Intercalary Year Marks

Marks for the intercalary year should be submitted and considered by the Supplementary Board of Examiners in the current year.  Candidates should not be progressed into the next academic year unless their marks have been considered. 


(g)

Postgraduate Level 6 Modules

Senate has endorsed the Academic Standards and Quality Enhancement Committee's recommendation (21/02/17) that the pass mark for postgraduate level 6 modules should be 40% rather than 50% with immediate effect.

 

(h)

Elements of Modules to be taken/retaken

The elements of modules to be taken/retaken (ie. CW and/or EX) should be circled in red on the course results sheet.

 

(i)

Deletion of Modules

Modules to be deleted from a candidate's record should be crossed through in red ink on the course results sheet.  It is important that Course/Subject Directors inform the Registry Office (Student Services Centre at Belfast) of modules to be deleted or any missing or incorrect modules/CRNs.

 

(j)

Inclusion of Candidate's Qualification Aim in Course Results Sheets

The candidate's qualification aim is included in course results sheets. Where the Board of Examiners/ Campus Progress and Award Board recommends a different qualification for a candidate, the qualification aim should be amended appropriately in red ink so that the Examinations Office can correct the computer record.

 

(k)

Inclusion of Leavers in Course Results Sheets

Withdrawn candidates are now displayed in course and subject results sheets.  This will include final year candidates who left following failure in Semester 1 modules.  These candidates may be considered by Semester 2 Boards for the recommendation of exit awards where this is provided for in course regulations.


(l)

Publication of Progress and Award Information

Progress and award information will be published to candidates through the Portal, normally within two working days of the meeting of the Board (three working days where a meeting is held on another campus).


(m)
 

Postgraduate Certificate/Postgraduate Diploma/Masterís Courses 

Candidates progressing directly between linked postgraduate courses (that is from Postgraduate Certificate to Postgraduate Diploma and Postgraduate Diploma to Masterís degree) do not have the intermediate award conferred.  Such candidates should be recorded as AST P5 on the course results sheets (P6 in the case of one year full-time Postgraduate Diplomas linked to Masterís degrees or PD for Nursing courses only where a professional award is also to be recorded).

However, the Board of Examiners shall consider the eligibility of each candidate on the course for the interim award with Distinction (or Commendation if the candidate entered in 2015/16) and record this where applicable on the course results sheet. Recommendations can therefore be forwarded to Senate without further consideration by Boards of Examiners for those candidates who decide at a later stage to take the award and not proceed and who are eligible for the award with Commendation or Distinction.

Candidates who are eligible to proceed to the higher award but choose not to do so may have the lower award conferred at the Summer graduation if they are identified at the Board of Examiners and coded AST S1 (or SA as applicable).  Those candidates who subsequently decide to take an award and not to proceed must apply in writing to the Examinations Office.  The Examinations Office will add AST S1 (SA) to the candidateís record, record a date of leaving and forward the recommendation to the next meeting of Senate which will normally be in November.  All candidates will be invited to attend the Winter graduation to receive their awards in person.

 NB.  These procedures do not apply to the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (Further Education).  

 

(n)

Procedures for Progression to Placement

TLC at its meeting on 13 December 2011 set the 31 August as the decision point for progression to placement or final year.  Candidates may be coded at the June board if their position is clear, otherwise the new AST code of PN (Decision on progression to placement deferred, candidate in good academic standing) should be used.  Candidates coded PN will appear on the supplementary course results sheet and a decision should be recorded at the supplementary board if known.  The final date for a supplementary board in 2016/17 is 1 September.  If the decision is not available at this board, Chair's action will be required to subsequently record a decision to enable the candidate to roll forward into 2017/18 academic year. 

(o)

Consequences of Failure in Placement/Intercalary Year

TLC at its meeting on 20 June 2012 confirmed that in order for a candidate to progress to final year, regardless of whether placement/intercalary was mandatory or optional, the module(s) must be passed unless otherwise determined by the Board of Examiners in exceptional circumstances, ie, non-availability of placement but not failure.

(p)

Progression Carrying Failure: P3/P4/PX

 P3 Ė Proceed to next year (other than placement year)/PX - Proceed to final year (exempt placement/placement optional) 

Candidates may be permitted to carry a failed module or modules amounting to a maximum of 20 credit points at undergraduate level, providing that the module(s) carried are not prerequisite(s) for a module in the next year of the course.  The rule applies to Honours degrees, non-Honours degrees, Foundation degrees, Associate Bachelorís degrees, and the first year of part-time Access to HE courses.  It does not apply to Masterís, Postgraduate Diplomas, Postgraduate Certificates, and undergraduate Certificates and Diplomas as only one resit attempt is permitted for these awards.  The failed element(s) must be taken in the semester in which the module is taught, special arrangements to enable candidates to be reassessed in a different manner are not permitted.   

Boards may decide to exceed the maximum 20 credit points in the light of extenuating circumstances. 

P4 Ė Proceed to Placement Year 

Exceptionally Boards have discretion to recommend that candidates in year 2 of sandwich courses proceed to placement and  carry a failed module or modules providing that the module(s) carried are not prerequisite(s) for their employment.  This is permitted by exception, and in deciding whether to allow students to proceed, Boards should take account of the extent of failure, how badly modules have been failed and the requirements of the work placement.  The June Board will consider such a recommendation for candidates who have failed in modules to a value of 65 - 80 credit points, as failures in up to 60 points are normally retaken for the August supplementary period.  It may be possible to defer the start of placement for the latter candidates, and P4 will only be considered for them at the supplementary board.  The failed element(s) must normally be taken in the semester in which the module is taught; although exceptionally, for students proceeding to placement (AST P4), examination may be deferred to the following August; special arrangements to enable candidates to be reassessed in a different manner are not permitted. 

When considering the academic performance of candidates coded P3, P4 or PX at Boards in 2015/16 Course/Subject Directors should ensure that these candidates have satisfied requirements in coursework and/or examinations for modules carried forward. 

 

(q)

Use of ASTs: Clarifications 

PA, PC, PD, SA, SB and SC apply to Nursing courses only and may not be used for any other courses. 

P2 should be used only where candidates are progressing to a further assessment point in the current academic year.

P1 should be used where a candidate is proceeding to the next academic year without further assessment.

P9 should be used for Masterís candidates who are not due to submit their dissertation until the next academic year, as per the normal duration specified in the course document, and are therefore permitted to proceed to the next academic year.  Examples are candidates requiring ethical approval or part-time students who begin their dissertation in June and would not be expected to complete until the next academic year.   This will ensure that Finance do not charge the module fee in the next academic year and the Examinations Office will not charge a re-enrolment fee. P9 is not used when a candidate has been granted ab extension of time and/or used the EC1 process.

D5 (rather than P1 or P9) should be used where Masterís candidates are given an extension of time to complete their dissertations. This will ensure that Finance do not charge the full module fee in the next academic year.

P6 applies only to one year full-time linked Postgraduate Diploma/Masterís courses where candidates have successfully completed the Postgraduate Diploma stage of the course and are proceeding to the Masterís stage in the same academic year. 

 

(r)

Use of Two or More AST Codes 

The Banner system can only record two AST codes that can then be reported on and displayed to the candidate on the Student Portal.  Course/Subject Directors are responsible for tracking the history of candidates who this applies to and for ensuring that first sit/resit marks are correctly recorded.  It is inadvisable to recommend a combination of more than two ASTs as this information cannot be recorded on Banner, nor will it be displayed on reports or to the student on the Student Portal.

 

(s)

Reserve AST Decision for Students who have Gone on Leave of Absence 

Candidates who have gone on Leave of Absence and are not in good academic standing should have a reserve decision recorded at the Board of Examiners.  This decision will be held as a comment against the candidate's record and formally communicated to the candidate.

 

(t)

Timing of First Sits 

Candidates who were permitted, following semester one assessment period  to take Semester One examinations as for the first time normally take these in May; alternatively a first sit in August may have been permitted, following consultation between the Course/Subject Director and the candidate.  Boards of Examiners/Progress and Award Boards in May/June should ensure that, subject to Semester Two performance, AST D2 is recorded on the course result sheets for candidates who have deferred first sits to August. AST D4 should be recorded for candidates who were coded first sit of a resit following the semester one assessment period and who have deferred the resit to August.


(u)

Integrated Foundation Year Courses

Candidates who have successfully completed the IFY should be progressed to the linked degree course by recording AST P5 on the course results sheet. 

Candidates who are eligible to proceed but choose not to do so may exit at this point with the award of Diploma, by recording AST S2 on the course results sheet, provided that this provision has been made in the course regulations.  Commendation or Distinction should also be recorded where appropriate. 

 

(v) Repeated Assessments

For repeated assessments the capping of the mark applies to the repeated component (eg essay), not the overall mark for the element (eg coursework) or the overall module result. The maximum mark a candidate on an undergraduate course may obtain in a repeated coursework component, or examination paper, is 40% (50% for a postgraduate course). The mark for the repeated coursework component is aggregated with the mark(s) for coursework component(s) the candidate has already passed to produce the overall coursework mark.  Where a module is assessed by coursework and examination the overall coursework mark is aggregated with the examination mark for the purpose of calculating the module result. Aggregations should take account of the weightings at each level, ie, between elements (coursework and examination) and within elements, as appropriate. 

Example: The coursework element of a module comprises two equally weighted components (in this example the components are essays).  A candidate receives an unaggregated mark of 60 in the first essay but is required to resubmit the second essay for a maximum unaggregated mark of 40.  If the mark of 40 is achieved the final coursework mark is 60 + 40 aggregated to 30 + 20 = 50).

 

(w)

Failure at the Final Attempt 

Senate, at its July 2013 meeting, approved the revised Admissions Policy.  Section 5.8.1 now reads in instances where a student failed at the final attempt and was required to withdraw from a programme of study he/she would not be eligible to apply for re-admission in the next academic year, to the same or related programme, or to that programme offered in a different mode (full-time to part-time and vice versa), or to register as an occasional student to retake the failed module(s).   Transfer on educational grounds to the programme offered in different mode would also not be permitted.  This policy applies where a candidate is exited with a lower award due to failure at the final attempt.  A related programme is one where there is commonality of modules.

Therefore, the code T2 should not be used to transfer Honours degree candidates who have failed at the final attempt to another Honours degree programme.  The University's Regulations for Degrees, Honours Degrees and Integrated Master's (Regulation 18) does not allow for transfer from one Honours degree programme to another Honour's degree programme as a result of failure.  Candidates in this position should be coded U1 or exit with a lower award, if this provision exists within the course regulations.

 

(x)

Arrangements for Candidates Repeating Without Attendance (ASTs N4 and N5) 

Candidates coded N4 or N5 may not proceed on their course of study until the modules they are required to retake have been successfully completed.

Candidates who are permitted to take/retake examinations without attendance in the next academic year may need to have special papers set if the module assessment arrangements have been restructured.  Course/Subject Directors are required to advise candidates on the Communication of Results form whether their examination(s) will be held in the first and/or second semester.  However, a candidate, who is required to retake coursework and/or examination in a single Semester Two module only, may elect to retake this at the January examination period provided that he/she notifies the Examinations Office prior to the start of the academic year.  Successful candidates may be permitted to proceed to take semesters out of sequence.  In addition, successful candidates, who have been required to retake Semester One modules only, may be permitted to proceed to take semesters out of sequence.  Permission to reverse semesters is subject to approval by the Course/Subject Director following consultation about prerequisites and the sequence in which modules must be taken.

 

(y)

Method for Calculating Summary Mark for Awards

The summary award mark used to determine the degree classification is included on the course/subject results sheet for candidates completing full-time honours degree programmes where the Level 6 modules taken in the final year amount to 120 credit points.  The calculation is based on the new method for calculating summary marks for awards approved by the Teaching and Learning Committee at a meeting held on 13 October 2010.  Details of the new method, including an example of how the award mark is arrived at, are set out in the Notes of Guidance for Course/Subject Results Sheets.  Information on the conventions for rounding marks and scenarios where the aggregate award mark is not calculated are also included in the Notes of Guidance.  Staff should note that this method must also be used where the award mark is calculated manually and entered on results sheets, e.g., for postgraduate programmes or where Level 5 modules contribute to the summary award mark.  

Notes of Guidance for Course/Subject Results Sheets are available through the Portal at the following location: My Teaching tab>Examinations & Assessment channel> Assessment Process & Boards of Examiners (section for summary award mark method).

Final Classification/Grade

Boards do not have discretion to award a class of degree which the marks do not warrant  (eg IIi or Commendation for 59%). However, the convention of rounding up means that, for example, 59.50% or above would become 60%.  The Board should ensure that, through its moderation processes, including the involvement of external examiners, the overall marks and the class of degree/grade recommended accord.

Placement Associated Awards 

From the 2015/16 placement/intercalary year a new grading scheme will apply to the DIAS/DPP(I) associate award as follows:  40% pass, 60% commendation and 70% distinction.  This change does not apply to students who completed their placement year prior to 2015/16.

Taught Postgraduate Awards (including integrated Masterís degrees) 

Classification is determined exclusively by candidatesí performance in the modules studied at the highest level (level 7) with each module weighted according to its credit value, with the exception of Masterís degrees of more than 200 credit points, where the classification is based on the final 120 credits points.  A Commendation band has been introduced at 60% from the 2015/16 intake.  Whilst there is no longer the requirement for 50% of the modules to be in the Commendation/Distinction band for the award of ĎPass with Commendation/Distinctioní, where a dissertation or a project (with 45 credits or more) is part of a Master's, the result in that module must also be at 60% for the Commendation award and 70% or above for the Distinction award.

For integrated Master's courses using the Honours classification system there is no third class band.

 

(z)

Certificate of Personal and Professional Development (CPPD)/Postgraduate Certificate of Professional Development 

Candidates on part-time programmes who have successfully completed PPD modules should be considered by a Board of Examiners and coded AST P1, S1 or S3.  Candidates on full-time programmes who are being awarded their degree and who are also eligible for consideration of a CPPD award, having successfully completed 60 PPD credits, will be considered for the CPPD award at a later Board, after their main award has been processed.  Progressing candidates registered on full-time programmes will not have a progress decision recorded for PPD modules.  Performance and standards will be considered internally by schools by checking the module marks sheets.

 


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