Assessment and Academic Misconduct

The University of Stirling policy on feedback and feedforward and the associated student guide have been approved for implementation in academic session 2015/16. The documents are accessible via the following links:

Feedback and Feedforward Policy

Student Guidance on Feedback

6.1 Introduction

6.1.1 Consistent and equitable practice across the University is essential to the integrity of its assessment processes and to the comparability of its students’ expectation and experience. This code is the means by which the University meets this obligation.

6.1.2 While this code does not prevent faculties from introducing additional practices and procedures, no practice or procedure may be adopted that either conflicts with or undermines it.

6.1.3 In compiling this code reference has been made to: the QAA’s UK Quality Code for Higher Education, Chapter B7: External Examining and Chapter B6: Assessment of students and accreditation of prior learning; the QAA’s report on Outcomes from Institutional Audit: External Examiners and their Reports (2005); and the published outcomes from the 2003/04 Scottish assessment enhancement theme, in particular Enhancing Practice: Assessment (2005). The University believes its code to be consistent with these benchmarks.

6.1.4 This code is divided into three main sections: Assessment, Boards of Examiners and External Examiners. It is kept under review by the Education and Student Experience Committee, which periodically invites comment from faculties on its operation.

Revised July 2014

 

6.2 Assessment

6.2.1 Marking

6.2.1.1 From September 2014 the University adopted a revised Common Marking Scheme (CMS) (section 6.5) for undergraduate and taught postgraduate work. These marks, and only these marks, are to be used in denoting the levels of student achievement, on returned assignments and examination scripts, at all examination boards, in all faculties and university records and on any public notices.

6.2.1.2 The Common Marking Scheme must appear in all student and module handbooks. More information can be accessed at section 6.5.

6.2.1.3 The module handbook must specify the components of the assessment and the weight of each component in the assessment of the module as a whole. The weights should be expressed in percentages.

6.2.1.4  The overall mark for the module is calculated from the sum of weighted component marks rounded to the nearest whole number; a pass is not required in each component. This module mark represents a summary of performance on that module.

6.2.1.5 Exceptionally, a subject may use an ad-hoc aggregating procedure in an individual student’s case. For example, it may choose to reduce the weight of a component of assessment affected by a student’s illness. In each such case the procedure must be consistent with the procedure set out in 6.3.2, must be recorded in the board of examiner minutes and reported to the Academic Panel.

Grade transfer for Exchange Students

6.2.1.6 With the exception of the University of Guelph, all students who study abroad will be awarded block credit for the successful completion of the study abroad period.  Grade translation for the University of Guelph can be accessed in section 7.5 of Exchange Policies and Procedures.  This arrangement remains in place for a period of one year (2015/16).

Modules assessed on a pass/fail basis

6.2.1.7 Some modules may be exempt from the Common Marking Schemes and assessed on a pass or fail basis only due to the nature of the content of the module and the learning outcomes and competencies to be achieved and assessed.

6.2.1.8 Academic Council delegates authority to the Education and Student Experience Committee, in the course of programme approval, to designate modules as exempt from the Common Marking Schemes where its application is inappropriate. The circumstances in which cases are to be considered must relate to the nature of the academic discipline and to the learning outcomes and competencies being assessed.

Published Compulsory Module Requirements and prescribed classes

6.2.1.9 Section 8 of the Quality Handbook sets out the requirements of compulsory attendance and prescribed classes. In addition, elements of assessment may be compulsory. Full details of published compulsory module requirements should be given in the module handbook together with details of the consequences of failure/non-submission of these elements, clearly indicating whether resit/reassessment is available for these elements. (see 6.2.9.7)  Compulsory module requirements are those which are so fundamental to the learning outcomes of the module that failure to attend/attempt/pass these elements would result in failure to meet the learning outcomes of the module, despite success in other areas of the module. Where a student fails to attend 2/3 of prescribed classes the student’s mark will be restricted to a maximum of 40 for undergraduate and 50 for postgraduate taught study.

6.2.2 Assessment Criteria

6.2.2.1 Examinations and assignments must be designed to assess the learning outcomes for the module and the programme.  The assessment should be judged on the basis of achievement of the learning outcomes in line with the Common Marking Scheme criteria before selecting the 0-100 scale mark.  The assessment must not be judged in an opposite process of attributing marks to elements of an assessment (such as with multiple choice tests) and reading across to the criteria, which may imply a level of learning outcome achievement which cannot be warranted by the content of the assessment. 

6.2.2.2 Assessment criteria must be explicit for all modules and, if appropriate, for particular assignments and examinations.

 6.2.2.3 Assessment criteria should be directly related to the stated learning outcomes for the module. 

 6.2.2.4 In particular, if written assignments are to be marked in part on presentation (spelling, grammar, punctuation, observation of scholarly conventions etc.) this must be explicitly stated. It should not be assumed that this is implicitly understood.

 6.2.3 Assessment Loads and Methods

 6.2.3.1 The assessment load should be as light as is compatible with providing adequate opportunity for students to:

 engage in formative exercises to develop as learners;

demonstrate achievement of the relevant learning outcomes;

recover from occasional poor performance.

 6.2.3.2 In order that students may have the opportunity to develop as wide a range of skills as possible, and to prevent tedious repetitiveness, the University is committed to providing a variety of assessment methods. No degree programme should rely upon only one or two forms of assessment.

 6.2.4 General Assessment Procedures

 6.2.4.1 The University is committed to preserving the confidentiality of personal information and therefore in all discussions of student performance and public notices of achievement it seeks to avoid the identification of individual students. In all records and public notices of marks and awards students will be identified only by registration number.

 6.2.4.2 To protect students from unfair or partial assessment and staff from accusations of bias, anonymous marking must be used in assessing all coursework and examinations, including essays, laboratory work and field work, save where this is quite impossible (for example, in live oral language examinations, dissertations and group work). When anonymous marking is not practiced, the reason(s) must be explained clearly in module handbooks, and appropriate steps taken to safeguard the impartiality of the assessment process.

6.2.4.3 To ensure consistency, faculties should have clear guidelines for the assessment of incomplete work and of examination scripts that commit rubric infringements. These guidelines should be available to students.

6.2.5 Moderation

 6.2.5.1 All formally assessed work must be systematically moderated or second marked.  For moderation the sample should comprise 10% or a minimum of five scripts across the full spread of marks including high, middle and low performing student scripts, and for second-marking all of the scripts should be examined.

6.2.5.2 Second-marking should be ‘blind’ to ensure that it is not unduly influenced by the first marker’s marking.

6.2.5.3 All non-anonymous student work must be second-marked.

6.2.5.4 The validation of marks for oral assessment can comprise a number of methods including the involvement of two examiners, the use of student peer assessment or video/audio recording. The moderation process should ensure that marking is consistent and appropriate.

 6.2.5.5 The validation of marks for online contributions, for example by distance learning students, can be dealt with through the normal moderation processes.

6.2.5.6 Marking by new members of staff and teaching assistants should be monitored as appropriate, which may include second-marking (i.e. marked by another marker), until they have demonstrated competence in the application of appropriate standards. Dissertations should be marked by the dissertation supervisor and one other internal marker.

6.2.5.7 Where there are conflicting marks arising from moderation or second-marking, the markers and moderators or first and second-markers should discuss the differences and agree a final mark.  Where agreement cannot be reached the chief examiner must be informed and he or she will appoint a third assessor.  The results of all three assessments must then be considered by the chief examiner to arrive at a final decision.

6.2.5.8 Where the moderation process results in an agreed change of final module grades to the sample, this must be applied to all students within the cohort and not just the sample viewed.

 6.2.6 Submission, Return and Feedback on Assessed Work

 6.2.6.1 With the exception of those cases stated in 6.2.4.2, all materials submitted for assessment must be identified only by the student’s registration number. Any work submitted with a student’s name should have the name deleted and the registration number substituted before being passed to the marker.

 6.2.6.2 In the case of distance learning programmes or other programmes where electronic submission is appropriate, the student’s username is a sufficient mask of a student’s identity for anonymous marking purposes.

 6.2.6.3 Clear guidance should be given in student and module handbooks on the process by which assignments are to be submitted. Faculties should keep a dated record of all assignments received.

 6.2.6.4 Students should retain one copy of all work submitted.

 6.2.6.5 For feedback on coursework, electronic feedback is an effective method of delivering (and retaining) targeted written comments. Therefore it is considered good practice and strongly recommended that students receive electronic feedback where it is the most appropriate way to feedback on assessment of coursework. Additional forms for feedback may be provided as appropriate (e.g. face-to-face feedback).

6.2.6.6 Students are entitled to receive marks and feedback on coursework within a three week period in order that the assessment exercise may perform an educative function. Clear guidance should be given in student and module handbooks on the faculty process by which feedback on submitted work is returned to students. With the exception of dissertations, feedback should always be returned within three weeks of submission.

6.2.6.7 Students are entitled to an explanation of how the mark awarded for their work relates to the relevant assessment criteria.

6.2.6.8 Individual feedback on examinations will not normally be provided. However, faculties are encouraged to provide general feedback on the overall examination performance.

6.2.6.9 Students are strongly encouraged to download any electronic feedback provided for future reference purposes.

 6.2.6.10 Six months after the relevant Board of Examiners, all coursework not collected by students, and all examination scripts, are destroyed (particular circumstances apply if assessment materials form part of an appeal or are required for professional/statutory bodies, and for dissertations retained for reference purposes: please refer to the University’s policy on retention of taught course assessed material and research theses).

 6.2.7 Extensions for Coursework

6.2.7.1 students are responsible for their own workload planning and endeavouring to complete coursework within deadlines. Extension requests are considered and granted at the discretion of the academic staff involved and can be granted for up to 7 days for coursework and 14 days for dissertations. For research students, extensions should be discussed and reasonably agreed according to circumstances.

 

Extensions should be requested in advance of submission deadlines for coursework but can be granted only in exceptional circumstances. All requests should be considered by the module co-ordinator or other designated person within the faculty. A faculty record must be kept of extensions granted.

 6.2.7.2 Exceptional circumstances

 Unavoidable detention elsewhere

  • In hospital on/before date of submission
  • In court/detention on/before date of submission
  • Participation in authorised national or international sporting competition or authorised national sports training camps
  • Representing the university.

 Medical grounds

  • Confined to bed or otherwise unable to attend University
  • Ability to work seriously impaired on or before the date of submission
  • Disability grounds which have been acknowledged by the University under an Academic Record of Access Adjustment “ARUAA”

 Compassionate grounds

  • Death of a close person
  • Sudden acute or serious illness or injury (including serious mental illness) of a close person.

 The definition of a ‘close person’ is a family member (parent/guardian, spouse/partner, son/daughter, brother/sister, grandparent, grandchild) or someone living at the same address as the student.

 Other exceptional grounds (or other good cause for absence)

  • Other exceptional circumstances will be considered on their own merits. Supporting documentation should be provided wherever possible.
  • Applications for coursework extensions on other exceptional grounds may require the student to present their case in person to the dean of faculty/nominee in the first instance.

 6.2.7.3 The decision to grant extensions is an academic decision; medical evidence is taken into account but does not guarantee an automatic extension. No medical evidence will be required for students where the reason for the extension is within their ARUAA., in which case students should specify the reason as “ARUAA”.

 6.2.7.4 For illness of less than seven days, and for the first seven days of any period of illness, self-certification should be provided by the student through the portal.

 6.2.7.5 For illness of more than seven days a medical certificate should normally be provided (where possible) indicating the nature of the symptoms that prevented the student from attending University on the dates in question.

 6.2.7.6 It is the student’s responsibility to provide certificated evidence of illness.

 6.2.8 Late Submission of Work

6.2.8.1 In cases where the request for an extension is not approved by the faculty, or a student fails to submit a piece of coursework on time, penalties will be applied by the faculty. 

6.2.8.2 At undergraduate level, coursework will be accepted up to seven calendar days after the submission date (or expiry of any agreed extension) but the mark will be lowered by three marks per day or part thereof. After seven calendar days, the piece of work will be deemed a non-submission and will be given 0.  For the avoidance of doubt, Saturday and Sunday count as two calendar days.

6.2.8.3 At postgraduate level coursework will be accepted up to seven calendar days after the submission date (or expiry of any agreed extension) but the mark will be lowered by three percent per day or part thereof.  After seven calendar days, the piece of work will be deemed a non-submission and will be given 0.  For the avoidance of doubt, Saturday and Sunday count as two calendar days.

6.2.8.4 Students who submit late coursework or a late dissertation, without an extension having been granted, should not expect to receive written comments on their work, or to have the opportunity to discuss the coursework with the tutor.

6.2.9 Deferred Examinations

6.2.9.1 Deferred examinations are a concession intended to allow students, who are unable to attend examinations, or who are compelled by illness to leave before the completion of an examination, to take examinations at a later date. Deferred examinations will only be available to replace the first diet and one subsequent deferred diet.

6.2.9.2 Deferred examinations are only granted to students whose absence or withdrawal is on acceptable grounds (see 6.2.9.6).

6.2.9.3 Deferred examinations are granted only if all the other published requirements have been met. Where these conditions are not met, the student may apply to the faculty for a resit, subject to the conditions set out in 6.2.10 below.

6.2.9.4 Students are expected to apply for deferral of all examinations or all remaining examinations in the examination diet. However, students may elect to sit their remaining examinations at the main diet if the grounds cited no longer prevent them from taking the remaining examinations.

6.2.9.5 Students who fail a module following a deferred examination, will be entitled to reassessment under 6.2.10.

6.2.9.6 Procedure

(i)    Applications for deferred examinations should be made via the student portal.  The deferred exam procedure is set out at http://www.stir.ac.uk/registry/studentinformation/exams/deferredexams/

(ii)   Applications on the grounds of incapacity to attend must be received by the last day of semester. Applications on grounds of incapacity to complete an examination must be received as soon as practicable after the examination.

(iii) Applications must be accompanied by independent evidence of good cause for absence.

(iv) All applications are considered by Academic Registry and Governance Services.

(v)   Decisions will be notified to students via their student email account as soon as possible.

(vi) If an application is unsuccessful, the student may supply further information and ask for a reconsideration of the case by the Education and Student Experience Committee’s Academic Panel.

6.2.9.7 Acceptable Grounds

(i)    Attendance grounds

The student must have been detained elsewhere on the date of the examination, e.g.:

(a)   in hospital;

(b)   in court/detention;

(c)   participating in authorised national or international sporting competition or authorised national sports training camps;

(d)   by a disability previously disclosed to the Disability Adviser;

(e)  representing the university.

(ii)   Medical grounds

The student must be suffering from physical or mental symptoms that cause him or her to be unexpectedly to be unable to either attend or to complete an examination.

An application on grounds of incapacity to complete an examination will not be accepted if the student has left within the last quarter of the examination period.

An application on grounds of incapacity to attend an examination for medical reasons must be supported by a medical certificate. This should give the symptoms, but not necessarily the nature of the illness or injury, and the student should authorise the doctor to disclose this information.

An application on grounds of incapacity to complete an examination for medical reasons must be supported by a formal report in writing from the invigilator of the incomplete examination.

(iii) Compassionate grounds

The student must be suffering bereavement or similar distress to the extent that he or she cannot be expected to attend the examination, e.g.:

(a)   Death of a close person during or just before the examination period;

(b)   Acute or serious illness or injury (including serious mental illness) of a close person during or just before the examination period.

The definition of a ‘close person’ is, for example, a family member (parent/guardian, spouse/partner, son/daughter, brother/sister, grandparent, grandchild) or someone living at the same address as the student.

(iv) Grounds of disability

In cases where a student, through the University’s Disability Adviser, has disclosed a disability to the University, deferred exams may be granted when that student’s ability to prepare adequately by the date of the exam has been significantly impeded. Applications on such grounds will require to be supported by a statement from the University’s Disability Adviser.

When a disability prevents attendance at the examination, a deferred exam will be considered under the provisions of 6.2.8.6 (i) (d) above.

(v) Other exceptional grounds

Whilst other grounds will not normally be accepted, exceptional individual circumstances will always be considered on their merits. Supporting documentation should be provided wherever possible. 

6.2.8.8  The following will not be considered acceptable grounds for deferred examination applications:

-    going on holiday;

-    returning home early;

-   attending weddings or other family occasions (other than funerals);

-   misreading the examination timetable or turning up at the wrong time;

-   failing to check changes between the provisional and final examination timetables;

-   failure to get up in time;

-   transport difficulty;

-  death or illness of pets

In any of the above circumstances students may contact the appropriate faculty to request a discretionary resit.  If granted, the module mark will be capped at 40 for UG and 50 for PG.

6.2.9.9 Medical grounds which may have adversely affected a student’s academic work leading up to the examination are ‘extenuating circumstances’ and not acceptable grounds for deferred examinations.  Refer to section 6.3.2 Extenuating Circumstances for the appropriate course of action.

NB: 6.2.10-6.2.11 have been updated for 2017-18 Academic Session as approved by the University Academic Quality and Standards Committee in April 2017.

6.2.10 Re-assessment of Undergraduate Work 

Principles

6.2.10.1. A student who has achieved a mark of 40 or higher will not be allowed to repeat that module nor be re-examined in that module.

6.2.10.2. A student who fails a module upon re-assessment will not be awarded a lower mark than that awarded at the first attempt.

6.2.10.3. The faculty will determine the nature of the re-assessment required. It will be equivalent to the original in terms of difficulty, learning outcomes addressed and educational benefit. Resubmission of existing coursework is not usually appropriate, except where it is pedagogically justified (e.g. dissertations; field trip reports).

6.2.10.4 A student who fails a module will only be re-assessed on the elements of the module assessment on which they achieved a mark of 39 or less. 

6.2.10.5 The student should be given sufficient time to complete the resubmission of coursework. Academic judgement and practical considerations should be considered in setting deadlines for submission. Consideration should be given to student’s overall workload. If the student has an ARUA which recommends extended deadlines, or the student requests a discretionary extension for good cause, then academic judgement should be used to ensure the student is treated fairly.  

6.2.10.6 Where a student requires a resit or deferred exam but will be absent from the University at the relevant time due to an approved study abroad arrangement, the faculty may liaise with the partner institution or set an alternative assessment, as appropriate.

6.2.10.7 Where a student has failed to submit or complete a compulsory published requirement of a module then an X grade is appropriate. Where the compulsory elements of a module have not been met but can practically be reassessed, then a discretionary resit/reassessment should be given.

6.2.10.8 Faculties will grant a discretionary resit/reassessment where a student fails to attend an exam, and/or submit coursework, which is not a compulsory published requirement of a module, if there is evidence that the student has engaged with the module and any attendance requirements have been met and the student requests such a re-assessment in writing, within 7 days of the date of the original exam or date of final submission of coursework, as the case may be.

The codes used for indicating deferred, resit, and fail marks are set out below:

Deferred Exams (Uploaded by Registry only)

 

DE           Deferred 1st diet

DD          Deferred for 2nd time

DR          Deferred resit

 

Reassessment

 

RE           Resit Exam

RC           Resit Coursework

RA          Resit All

XE           Discretionary Resit – Exam

XC           Discretionary Resit – Coursework

XA          Discretionary Resit - All

 

Final Fail Grades

 

X             Module requirements not met

FM         Marginal fail

FC           Clear Fail

Second Assessment Attempt (Resit)

6.2.10.9 Where, after the first assessment, a module is failed, the student should be granted a re-assessment through a further attempt. This includes a dissertation (or equivalent).

6.2.10.10 The dissertation (or equivalent) second attempt will be unsupervised and must be resubmitted within three months from confirmation of failure. The minimum level of support students should be given is feedback and one meeting with their supervisor (or an appropriate alternative member of staff if the supervisor is not available).

6.2.10.11 The reassessment attempt of a module must be taken at the next scheduled offering.

6.2.10.12 The maximum mark for the module that can be awarded for a second attempt is 40.

6.2.10.13 Following the resit diet, if a student fails the reassessment or has failed to attend the resit diet and/or resubmit coursework marks should be awarded as follows:

6.2.10.13.1 If the element(s) of assessment failed or remaining outstanding are published compulsory module requirements, according to the module handbook then an X grade should be used.

6.2.10.13.2 If the element(s) of assessment failed or remaining outstanding are not published compulsory module requirements according to the module handbook, then the final mark should be awarded by aggregating the best marks for each element of assessment which have been achieved across the first and resit diets. Any element of assessment which remains outstanding should receive a mark of 0.

 

Repeating the Module

6.2.10.14 Having failed the module following two attempts, a student has the option to repeat the module in its entirety. This has financial, visa and progression implications and students should discuss with their Adviser of Studies.

6.2.10.15 A student must repeat the module at the next scheduled offering. Not every module is delivered each academic year.

6.2.10.16 A student repeating the module is subject to the same attendance and participation requirements as a student taking the module for the first time.

6.2.10.17 A module can be repeated on one occasion only; both first and second attempts at the assessment can be undertaken.

6.2.10.18 The full range of marks is available for the first attempt of a module repeated (i.e. there is no restriction to the mark awarded).

 

6.2.11 Re-assessment of Postgraduate Students

Principles       

6.2.11.1. A student who has passed a module i.e. achieved a mark of 50 or higher will not be allowed to repeat that module nor be re-examined in that module. 

6.2.11.2. A student who fails a module upon re-assessment will not be awarded a lower mark than that awarded at the first attempt.

6.2.11.3. The faculty will determine the nature of the re-assessment required.  It will be equivalent to the original in terms of difficulty, learning outcomes addressed and educational benefit. Resubmission of existing coursework is not usually appropriate, except where it is pedagogically justified (e.g. dissertations; field trip reports).

6.2.11.4 A student who fails a module will only be re-assessed on the elements of the module assessment on which they achieved a mark of 49 or less. 

6.2.11.5 The student should be given sufficient time to complete the resubmission of coursework. Academic judgement and practical considerations should be considered in setting deadlines for submission. Consideration should be given to student’s overall workload. If the student has an ARUA that recommends extended deadlines, or the student requests a discretionary extensions for good cause, then academic judgement should be used to ensure the student is treated fairly.

6.2.11.6 Where a student requires a resit or deferred exam but will be absent from the University at the relevant time due to an approved study abroad arrangement, the faculty may liaise with the partner institution or set an alternative assessment, as appropriate.

6.2.11.7 Where a student has failed to pass or attempt a compulsory published requirement of a module then an X grade is appropriate. Where the compulsory elements of a module have not been met but can practically be reassessed, then a discretionary resit/reassessment should be given.

6.2.11.8 Faculties will grant a discretionary resit/reassessment where a student fails to attend an exam, and/or submit coursework, which is not a compulsory published requirement of a module, if there is evidence that the student has engaged with the module and any attendance requirements have been met and the student requests such a re-assessment in writing, within 7 days of the date of the original exam or date of final submission of coursework, as the case may be.

Second Assessment Attempt (Resit)

6.2.11.9 Where after the first assessment, a module is failed, the student is granted a re-assessment through a further attempt. This includes a dissertation (or equivalent).

6.2.11.10 The dissertation (or equivalent) second attempt will be unsupervised and must be resubmitted within three months from confirmation of failure. The minimum level of support students should be given is feedback and one meeting with their supervisor (or an appropriate alternative member of staff if the supervisor is not available).

6.2.11.11 The reassessment attempt of a module must be taken at the next scheduled offering.

6.2.11.12 The maximum mark for the module that can be awarded for a second attempt is the pass mark i.e. 50.

6.2.11.13 Following the resit diet, if a student fails the reassessment or has failed to attend the resit diet and/or resubmit coursework marks should be awarded as follows:

6.2.11.13.1 If the element(s) of assessment failed or remaining outstanding are published compulsory module requirements, according to the module handbook then an X grade should be used.

6.2.11.13.2 If the element(s) of assessment failed or remaining outstanding are not published compulsory module requirements according to module handbook, then the final mark should be awarded by aggregating the best marks for each element of assessment which have been achieved across the first and resit diets. Any element of assessment which remains outstanding should receive a mark of 0.

6.2.11.14 A quick guide to the reassessment options available to postgraduate students is set out in 6.2.10.14.

Repeating the Module

6.2.11.15 Having failed the module following two attempts, a student has the option to repeat the module in its entirety. This has financial and visa implications and students should discuss this with their Adviser of Studies.

6.2.11.16 A student must repeat the module at the next scheduled offering. Not every module is delivered each academic year.

6.2.11.17 A student repeating the module is subject to the same attendance and participation requirements as a student taking the module for the first time.

6.2.11.18 A module can be repeated on one occasion only; both first and second attempts at the assessment can be undertaken.

6.2.11.19 The full range of marks is available for the first attempt of a module repeated (i.e. there is no restriction to the mark awarded).

 

6.2.12 Conduct of Assessments

6.2.12.1 All examinations will be conducted within the rules and regulations of the University as set out in the University Calendar.

6.2.12.1 Academic Council has an approved policy in relation to academic misconduct, prescribing procedures to be followed and penalties to be imposed.

6.2.13 Assessment Records

6.2.13.1 In all faculty records of marks and awards students are identified only by registration number, except as provided for in section 6.2.5.2. Similarly, all mark sheets, results and discussions at examination boards refer only to student numbers.

6.2.14 Faculty Roles

6.2.14. Each faculty shall appoint:

6.2.14.1. One faculty chief examiner who has overall responsibility for the assessment and examination process for the faculty. The dean of faculty should not normally be the faculty chief examiner.

6.2.14.2 Subject examiners to subject areas/divisions as appropriate, who have responsibility for assessment and the examination process in their area.

6.2.14.3 A faculty examinations officer who is responsible for operational matters and liaison with Academic Registry and Governance Services. The faculty chief examiner should not normally act as faculty examinations officer.

6.2.14.4 Examinations officers to subject areas/divisions as appropriate, who are responsible for operational matters and liaison with Academic Registry and Governance Services in their area. 

Approved by QEC – Revised January 2010

Revised September 2013

Revised July 2014

6.3 Boards of Examiners

6.3.1 Introduction

6.3.1.1 The overarching remit of boards of examiners is to oversee and conduct the assessment process according to the University’s Undergraduate (Sections 68-167) and Taught Postgraduate Regulations (Sections 45-104) and the guidance given below. This is informed by statutory external requirements as laid down in the UK Quality Code for Higher Education.

6.3.1.2 Boards of examiners are required to: make decisions on student module marks; make recommendations to Academic Council for degree awards and honours classifications; and review and evaluate the soundness and fairness of the assessment process.

6.3.1.3 Extenuating circumstances sub-boards; module boards; awards boards; and faculty boards operate collectively in a sequential manner to ensure that the outcomes of student assessments and awards are appropriately considered and concluded. Collectively they make up the boards of examiners and each has a specific membership, remit and responsibility. This process represents an essential element of the University’s quality assurance arrangements.


6.3.2 Boards of Examiners Key Principles

6.3.2.1 Decisions made by the boards of examiners are made under authority delegated by Academic Council.

6.3.2.2 All final module marks attained by students must be considered and confirmed by the relevant board prior to their being notified to students. Where it is necessary, as part of the commitment to provide feedback within 3 weeks of the assessment, to provide a module mark to students prior to the consideration of the relevant board it must be clearly stated that these are provisional.

6.3.2.3 The relevant part of the boards of examiners process must be actioned and carried out:

• where a student or group of students has completed the assessments associated with the module;
• and the mark for the student(s) for that module can be determined;
• in line with the principles and process set out in this document;
• in line with specified timelines;
• sequentially, as exemplified in Table 1 (see 6.3.2.4).

 

December

Autumn Main Examination Diet/Conclusion of coursework assignments

January

Consideration of Autumn Assessments

  • Extenuating Circumstances Sub-Board*

  • Module Board~

April/May

Spring Main Examination Diet/Conclusion of coursework assignments

May

Autumn Resit Examination Diet/Conclusion of coursework assignments

June

Consideration of Spring and Autumn Resit Assessments

  • Extenuating Circumstances Sub-Board*

  • Module Board~

July

Consideration of Spring resit /Autumn 3rd Examination Diet

  • Extenuating Circumstances Sub-Board*

  • Module Board~

August

Spring 3rd Examination Diet/Conclusion of coursework assignments

  • Extenuating Circumstances Sub-Board*

  • Module Board~

September

Postgraduate Taught Dissertation Submissions/Conclusion of coursework assignments

October

  • Extenuating Circumstances Sub-Board*

  • Postgraduate Taught Module/Awards Board^

*Extenuating Circumstance sub-Boards must be held where students have submitted a request.

~Module Boards must be held where there are marks to consider.

^ Postgraduate Taught Module/Awards can be held as one meeting.

6.3.2.4 Table 1 provides an example of the order of the boards where a faculty teaches undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes in the ‘traditional’ pattern. Where a faculty delivers programme(s) in another pattern, the timing of boards of examiners meetings should be adjusted in line with this, but the sequence of meetings must remain the same.

6.3.2.5 Boards of examiners must be scheduled in line with the annual planning for the conferment of awards. Dates must be scheduled in line with guidance from Academic Registry and must be published at the start of the academic year.

6.3.2.6 Comprehensive records of business and decisions must be prepared at each meeting of a board in line with University templates and requirements and retained appropriately. Section 6.3.11 provides guidance on record keeping.

6.3.2.7 Undergraduate and Taught Postgraduate students can be considered at the same board, there is no requirement to consider these marks separately. Likewise, there is no requirement to consider main and resit module marks at separate boards, where timing allows these can be considered together.

6.3.2.8 Extenuating Circumstances sub-boards can be considered immediately prior to the relevant board if this facilitates planning and attendance.


6.3.3 Summary of Boards of Examiners Process


6.3.4 The Role of External Examiners

6.3.4.1 The role of external examiners is to ensure that the standards of awards from the University of Stirling are comparable with similar programmes in other UK higher education institutions, are appropriate in relation to the SCQF and national subject benchmark statements, and that the processes for assessment, examination and awards are sound and fair. External examiners are also asked to comment on the standard of student attainment. External examiners will attend the relevant board meetings as set out below, and contribute to the decision-making at both module and programme level by providing feedback on whether:

(i) The module(s) and programme(s) are coherent, with outcomes aligned to the relevant module/programme outline and/or benchmark statements;
(ii) Assessments in modules of the same level are of a comparable standard and that the curriculum remains current;
(iii) Assessment criteria, marking schemes and arrangements for classification are set at an appropriate level;
(iv) The programme reflects any additional Professional Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) requirements.

6.3.4.2 The final decisions on awards are the responsibility of the relevant board. External examiners may be asked to provide guidance on individual cases, in such circumstances the final decision would still be made by the award board with the views of the external examiners made known to the board.

6.3.4.3 Further information can be accessed from Section 6.4.3 of the Assessment Policy and the External Examiners Handbook sections 6-11 for more information on the role of External Examiners.


6.3.5 Extenuating Circumstances

6.3.5.1 During the course of their study, a student may encounter personal difficulties that are outwith their control and which impact upon their ability to study and/or complete assessments. In order to take appropriate account of a student’s personal circumstances within the determination of a module mark, ‘extenuating circumstances’ may be considered within the overall assessment process.

6.3.5.2 Faculties are required to ensure that guidance on extenuating circumstances, including how to request that an extenuating circumstance is considered, is provided to students at the outset of a module. This may be via relevant module and programme handbooks, or by other means as appropriate. Faculties should also communicate with students at the end of each semester to provide a reminder of this guidance and the timelines for the submission of such requests (see 6.3.5.9.)

6.3.5.3 In order to be considered as an extenuating circumstance, the circumstances must be: out of the student’s control; have had a negative impact on the student’s ability to study or undertake an assessment; and the timing of the circumstance must be relevant to the impact claimed by the student.

6.3.5.4 The following circumstances will normally be taken into consideration if the timing would be likely to have resulted in a detrimental impact upon the student’s performance:

(i) A serious or significant medical condition or illness;
(ii) The serious illness or death of a close person1;
(iii) Serious, unexpected disruption of personal life such as family break-up or being a victim of a significant crime.

[1] The definition of a ‘close person’ is: a family member (parent/guardian, spouse/partner, son/daughter, brother/sister, grandparent or grandchild) or someone living at the same address as the student.

6.3.5.5 Neither the list of circumstances nor the definition of a close person are exhaustive. Students are permitted to submit an Extenuating Circumstances Request in respect to any circumstance if it meets the parameters set out in point 6.3.5.4

6.3.5.6 The following will not normally be considered as extenuating circumstances:

(i) Minor ailments such as sore throats, minor colds, headaches, hangovers;
(ii) Long term illness or disability where special arrangements have already been made for assessments or where such arrangements could have been made if the University had been made aware at the appropriate time;
(iii) Circumstances catered for by the granting of a coursework extension;
(iv) Examinations on the same or consecutive days;
(v) Poor time management or misunderstanding of deadlines and dates;
(vi) Lack of understanding and/or use of language;
(vii) Personal or domestic events which could have been anticipated and planned otherwise such as moving house, routine childcare, holidays, paid employment;
(viii) Death or illness of pets;
(ix) Transport difficulties;
(x) Claims made after the published deadline date for receipt of extenuating circumstances except for reasons that can be validated such as hospitalisation;
(xi) Claims without satisfactory supporting evidence;
(xii) Claims which do not state how the student’s performance in assessments has been affected.

6.3.5.7 Students wishing to request that extenuating circumstances are considered should contact their Faculty Office and provide documentary evidence as appropriate in support of their request (See 6.3.5.11.)

6.3.5.8 Documentary evidence of all extenuating circumstances should be submitted to the Faculty or Divisional office marked for the attention of the Subject Chief Examiner. Details of which are available here Undergraduate and Taught Postgraduate.

6.3.5.9 Extenuating Circumstances Request (and accompanying evidence) must be submitted no later than two working days after the student’s last module assessment component, be that either examination or coursework.

6.3.5.10 The responsibility for submitting evidence within the specified timeframe rests with the student and if an Extenuating Circumstances Request is not submitted in time, any issues affecting the students’ performance will not normally be considered. In addition, such issues will normally be rendered inadmissible in the event of a subsequent academic appeal.

6.3.5.11 Documentary evidence2 in support of an Extenuating Circumstances Request should include all medical, non-medical and compassionate evidence that may be relevant. Evidence may include:

(i) Confirmation of illness from an appropriately registered medical practitioner;
(ii) A copy of a death certificate or other related document;
(iii) A police incident number notification;
(iv) A letter of confirmation from a member of Student Support Services staff or other independent third party;
(v) Copy of a court citation;
(vi) Confirmation of circumstances from an employer, provided on the employer’s headed notepaper.

[2]Documents not in English should be submitted with a certified translation.

 

6.3.6 Extenuating Circumstances Sub-Board

6.3.6.1 The Chair of the faculty board should constitute an extenuating circumstances sub-board to make decisions in relation to extenuating circumstances cases that have been submitted. It is recommended that the sub-boards be held at faculty level, however, where necessary sub-boards can be held at divisional or subject level. The sub-board is the first step in the boards of examiners process, and is therefore held prior to each relevant board as required. (See 6.3.2.3).

6.3.6.2 The extenuating circumstances sub-board should consider requests both in respect to the business of both module and awards boards as required.

6.3.6.3 Membership

An extenuating circumstances sub-board must include at least the following staff:

(i) Faculty or Divisional or Subject Chief Examiner as Chair;
(ii) At least two Subject Examiners from the Faculty/Division or Subject;
(iii) Secretary appointed by the Dean of Faculty.

Other staff members from either academic or professional services areas may be invited to contribute to the discussion of the sub-board as relevant, at the discretion of the Chair.

All members of the sub-board should have access to the information necessary to make the decisions specified below. This information must include all module learning outcomes and module marks achieved by students whose extenuating circumstance is to be considered by the sub-board.

6.3.6.4 Remit and Responsibilities

a) The extenuating circumstances sub-board must ensure that all extenuating circumstances requests submitted by students are considered in a manner that is consistent across faculties and supports the overall assessment process. Specifically the sub-board should ensure that students who consider their performance to have been affected by extenuating circumstances have their requests considered fairly and that student anonymity is protected in subsequent processes.

b) Extenuating circumstances requests will be judged at the discretion of the sub-board which will seek to determine whether, and to what extent, they have affected academic performance, and what action, if any, might be taken in response. In assessing the significance of extenuating circumstances the sub-board will normally take into account;


• the severity of the issue and the length of time involved;
• any supporting documentary evidence;
• whether it is possible to gauge the effect of extenuating circumstances upon academic performance.

c) Where the student has demonstrated that they have met all the module learning outcomes final module marks can be adjusted.

d) The sub-board cannot change final module marks where a student has not yet been able to demonstrate having met all the module learning outcomes however they may, where deemed appropriate, discount elements (i.e. adjust the weighting) of a modules assessments to reach an amended, agreed mark or discount modules in classification profiles. Alternatively, where a student has not yet met all the learning outcomes nor completed all the assessment elements the sub-board may recommend an alternative assessment, to enable the student to do so, in agreement with the module-coordinator.

e) All decisions made by the extenuating circumstances sub-board, and the reasons for them, must be clearly documented and retained confidentially in faculty files for a period of seven years.

f) Decisions must be recommended to the module or awards boards, without details of the particular circumstances. The minute of the sub-board should note the decisions in general terms of, for example, ‘serious personal extenuating circumstances’.

 

6.3.7 Module Board

6.3.7.1 Where a student completes the assessments associated with a module, the mark to be awarded to the student for the module must be approved through the boards of examiners process, prior to the mark being notified to the student. (See 6.3.2.2 for guidance regarding release of marks prior to a board meeting.) The first stage of approval is the module board which is expected to meet after each examination diet. (See 6.3.2.3 for more guidance on scheduling.)

6.3.7.2 Module boards should be convened at a divisional level, and normally each division should operate one module board, convened by the subject chief examiner. Where the size of division renders one meeting impracticable it is permissible for the faculty to hold subject level module boards.

6.3.7.3 Where a faculty considers that subject-level module boards are required, this should be notified to Academic Registry when submitting the annual meeting schedule (See 6.3.2.5.)

6.3.7.4 Membership

A module board will include the following staff:


(i) The Subject Chief Examiner(s) as Chair
(ii) The Subject Chief Examiner(s) if not included as (i) above
(iii) The Module Co-ordinator(s)3
(iv) The External Examiner(s) for the module(s) on which the Board is taking decisions (see c) )
(v) Secretary appointed by the Dean of Faculty
(vi) Members of teaching staff involved in the assessment of the module, as considered appropriate to inform discussion by the relevant Module Co-ordinator or Programme Director
(vii) Programme Directors are invited to attend modules boards.

[3] Where modules are taught overseas an appropriate Stirling based representative should be nominated by the Programme Director to attend in the place of the overseas Module Coordinator.

a) The Subject Chief Examiner will act as chair of the module board. Where there is more than one subject chief examiner in a division it should be agreed by the Dean of Faculty who will chair the meeting. It is recommended that the chair remains consistent over the course of an academic year where possible.

b) A module board will be judged to be quorate if attended by the Chair, Secretary and External Examiner(s) (See c) and 2/3’s of all other members. Programme Directors are invited to attend and therefore a not included in the quoracy count.

c) External Examiners can attend module boards either in person or remotely via Video or Telephone conference or through the submission of written comments which must be submitted to the Chair prior to the meeting for consideration and discussion by the module board.

d) All members of the board should have access to the information necessary to make the decisions specified below. This information must include all module marks achieved by students whose module performance is to be determined by the module board.

6.3.7.5 Remit and Responsibilities

a) The module board is responsible for making decisions on and approving all module marks and uploading all approved module marks to the student record for all modules owned by the division. The board will:


(i) consider the marks achieved;
(ii) consider internal moderators reports and comments on the fairness and consistency of marking (See Quality Handbook Section 6.2.5);
(iii) consider external examiners’ reports on the fairness and consistency of marking (based on sampling) and adjust cohort marks as appropriate;
(iv) note the decisions and recommendations of the extenuating circumstances sub-board and adjust module marks as appropriate;
(v) note the outcome of any Academic Misconduct meetings the adjustment of marks as appropriate;
(vi) make recommendations regarding the assessments set in each module;
(vii) agree and approve final module marks and the nature of any re-assessment offered, where applicable.

b) Following resit examinations and coursework reassessments, the module board should ensure a similarly robust process is followed in respect to all marks.

c) Where it is not possible for the board to meet the approval of these marks should be undertaken by the Chair, in appropriate consultation with colleagues and following the underlying process and principles of this guidance. These decisions should be reported to the next available board.

d) Once approved, the faculty’s exams officer or other designated member of staff is required to upload the marks to the University’s4 student record system, via the portal. The Chair of the module board is required to confirm the accuracy of the marks at the point of upload and confirm that all decisions by the board have been reflected correctly within the upload by verifying these details on Portal, by the date specified by Academic Registry. The dates for the current academic year can be found here.

 [4] In the case of INTO UoS student this is recorded on the Joint Venture system, although the principles of the management of marks is identical.

 

6.3.8 Awards Board

6.3.8.1 Faculties should operate one awards board for undergraduate programmes and one for taught postgraduate programmes, per division, convened by the Subject Chief Examiner(s). Where the size of Division renders one meeting impracticable it is permissible for the faculty to hold subject level awards boards.

6.3.8.2 Where a faculty considers that subject-level awards boards are required, this should be notified to Academic Registry in advance of any meetings of such boards taking place.

6.3.8.3 Awards boards should meet once per year in advance of the appropriate Undergraduate or Taught Postgraduate graduation ceremony and: after the relevant module boards are completed and awards algorithms have been run; and in time to meet the deadline specified by Academic Registry for the return of award recommendations. The dates for the current academic year can be found here.

6.3.8.4 Membership

An awards board should include the following staff:

(i) A Subject Chief Examiner as Chair
(ii) The Subject Chief Examiner(s) not included as (i) above
(iii) The Programme Director(s) for the programme(s) on which the Board is taking decisions
(iv) For awards boards taking decisions on combined awards, a representative from each relevant Division is required
(v) The External Examiner(s) for the programme(s) on which the board is taking decisions.
(vi) Secretary appointed by the Dean of Faculty
(vii) In addition, the Chair of the Board may at his or her discretion invite any person who has been involved in the teaching or assessment of the work under consideration by the Board to be present ‘in attendance’.

a) The Subject Chief Examiner will act as chair of the awards board. Where there is more than one subject chief examiner in a division it should be agreed by the Dean of Faculty who will chair the meeting. It is recommended that the chair remains consistent over the course of an academic year where possible.

b) An awards board will be judged to be quorate if attended by the Chair, Secretary, External Examiners (See c) ) and divisional representatives as required for the relevant items of business and 2/3’s for all other members.

c) In exceptional circumstances, and where it is essential in terms of progressing board of examiner business, a member may attend the meeting via video or telephone conference or provide written comments prior to the meeting.

d) All members of the awards board should have access to such information as is necessary to make the judgments specified below. This information must include all module marks achieved by those students whose overall performance or degree classification is to be determined by the board.

6.3.8.5 Remit and Responsibilities

a) The awards board is responsible for all programmes owned by the division. The undergraduate board considers discussable cases for Honours classification, the postgraduate board considers discussable cases for merit and distinction. Both determine the final award outcomes for all students.

b) A “discussable case” is defined as one where the mean mark is up to 2 marks below the classification boundary. The classification boundaries are:
First class 70
Second Class, Upper Division (2:1) 60
Second Class, Lower Division (2:2) 50

c) The awards board is responsible for recording all decisions and notifying final award classifications to Academic Registry by the advised date.

d) During a meeting of an awards board, members will:

(i) decide on award classifications
(ii) discuss and take decisions on any discussable cases based on the criteria set out in Section 6.3.8.5 b)
(iii) consider comments from the external examiner(s) on the assessment process and standards of student attainment;
(iv) consider comments on the programme(s) and recommendations to the programme director(s) for the future shape of the programme(s)
(v) delegate authority to the Chair to take decisions on particular cases where all the information is not available at the time of the meeting.

e) Discussable cases should be considered by an awards board as follows:

(i) In advance of the meeting of the board the divisions will run the relevant University awards algorithm which will enable the identification of discussable cases.
(ii) The judgement of whether to award the higher classification or whether the student should remain with the existing classification requires to be made by the awards board. Criteria which may be used in determining the outcome of discussable cases are set out below. Decisions to award a higher classification may be based on one or more of the criteria. The list does not imply any ranking of importance or order in which the criteria should be applied.


• outstanding performance in the extended individual study
• outstanding performance in compulsory modules
• outstanding performance in professional practice modules
• exit velocity that demonstrates sustained improvement
• outstanding performance in viva voce examination where relevant
• predominance of the weighted module marks is in the higher classification


The board may consider other relevant criteria, where this is the case the criteria should be clearly documented in the minutes of the meeting.
“Outstanding” is defined as performance graded in any award classification above that in which the student is currently positioned.
(iii) Except in exceptional circumstances, such as a student in their final year of studies making the University aware of circumstances that impacted them in their final semester and after their last module board sat, extenuating circumstances are taken into account when awarding module marks and therefore will not be considered as criteria for determining discussable cases at the awards board (see 6.3.8.5 b)).
(iv) All decisions made relating to discussable cases, and the criteria used, must be clearly documented in the minutes of the meeting and reported to Academic Registry along with the award recommendations.
(v) At postgraduate level the awards are defined by the University’s regulations for taught postgraduate programmes (sections 80-104.) In borderline cases for the award of distinction or merit, discussion will be based on the relevant criteria set out in (ii) above.

f) An awards board can recommend to Academic Council that an aegrotat or posthumous award be conferred in respect to an undergraduate or taught postgraduate programme.


(i) Aegrotat awards may be considered where no degree award may be made within the regulations, and the student is close to completing the award but is prevented from doing so because of illness. In recommending an aegrotat award, the award board should be satisfied that: the student's prior performance clearly demonstrates that he/she would have satisfied the requirements for the award, but for the illness experienced; and the student is unlikely to be able to return to complete his/her studies at a later date.
(ii) A posthumous award can be considered where a student has died and has either; completed the programme of study, including the required assessments, and has satisfied the requirements of the award; or has not completed the programme of study but the award board is satisfied that the student would have been able to complete or satisfy the requirements for the award. In making a recommendation for a posthumous award the award board shall consider the evidence of the student’s academic performance overall and in respect to any coursework submitted or assessments completed.

 

6.3.9 Faculty Board

6.3.9.5 The faculty boards provides quality assurance at the faculty level by undertaking detailed scrutiny of the outcomes and outputs of the faculty’s assessment arrangements ensuring consistency of practice and taking steps to revise or develop assessment arrangements or practice in response to any outcomes of the scrutiny. Faculty boards do not make decisions on marks or awards and do not replicate the business of either module or awards boards. Faculties are required to convene a meeting of the faculty board at least once per year.

6.3.9.6 Membership

The faculty board should include the following staff:

(i) The Dean of Faculty or Faculty Chief Examiner as chair
(ii) The Faculty Chief Examiner if not included as (i) above
(iii) All Subject Chief Examiners for the Faculty
(iv) The Faculty Associate Dean of Learning and Teaching
(v) The Faculty Manager
(vi) Secretary appointed by the Dean of Faculty

All members of the board should have access to the information necessary to fulfil the remit specified below. This information may include, but not be limited to, extenuating circumstances, assessment and award trend data, analysis of input and output profiles.

6.3.9.7 Remit and Responsibility

a) Faculty board will:

(i) review and evaluate the decisions of the faculty’s extenuating circumstances sub-board, module and awards boards to consider consistency in assessment and award and the impact of the University’s assessment and policy regulations.
(ii) consider the external examiners’ reports, and responses, in order to identify patterns or points of recommendation.
(iii) agree arrangements to share best practice across divisions/subject areas.
(iv) consider factors external to the institution that may impact on the business of the Boards of Examiners.
(v) An annual report on the assessment process and practice within the faculty should be submitted by the faculty board to the University faculty chief examiners committee for consideration. This report may also be presented to the faculty learning and teaching committee and faculty executive group as deemed appropriate by the chairs of these groups.

b) The faculty board will work with the relevant faculty learning and teaching committee to ensure information identified in sections (i) to (iv) can support the enhancement of learning and teaching.

 

6.3.10 Conduct of Boards of Examiners

6.3.10.1 Boards of examiners members and others due to attend a meeting of the board of examiners are obliged to declare any personal interest, involvement or relationship with a student being assessed. In such cases the Chair of the relevant board will ensure that the relevant individual withdraws and a suitable alternate attends as appropriate.

6.3.10.2 The assessment process should proceed on an anonymous basis until final award decisions have been confirmed. Therefore, student registration numbers, and not student names, should be used throughout the boards of examiners process.

6.3.10.3 A board makes decisions collectively, with no individual member having primacy. However, in cases of disagreement, the Chair’s decision will prevail.

6.3.10.4 Professional service staff may be in attendance at boards of examiners meetings in order to provide advice and guidance as required. However, only academic members of the board take part in decision making.

6.3.10.5 Minutes and papers from board meetings are lodged with the appropriate Faculty Office and a copy forwarded to Academic Registry. (See 6.3.11)

6.3.10.6 Students shall be formally notified of award decisions only on the formal award date.

6.3.10.7 The formal award date is set annually by the Graduation Team and the University Faculty Chief Examiners Committee and can be found here [LINK TO BE ADDED WHEN AVAILABLE.]

6.3.10.8 Boards of examiners shall not reopen decisions which have been made and published unless a procedural irregularity is confirmed upon appeal.


6.3.11 Boards of Examiners Records

6.3.11.1 The Dean of Faculty should appoint a secretary(s) to the Boards of Examiners who will be responsible for preparing the agenda, minutes and records of meetings in line with University requirements.

6.3.11.2 The agenda and minutes of the Board of Examiners should follow the University template and record the following as a minimum:

(i) attendance and quoracy of the meeting;
(ii) any declaration of personal interest by a member of the Board of Examiners, together with any action arising from the declaration;
(iii) decisions on all students, including noting if students have withdrawn or transferred;
(iv) decisions on, and the criteria used in respect to all ‘discussable cases’ (See 6.3.8.5 b))
(v) any candidates selected for viva voce examination, with a note of the criteria for selection;
(vi) any candidates noted for re-assessment;
(vii) any further action required by the Boards of Examiners or the Faculty;
(viii) any general comments from internal and external examiners on the assessment process;

The agenda template (form ARO 032a) and minute template (form ARO 032b) are available here.

6.3.11.3 It is the responsibility of the Chair(s) of a board of examiners to ensure that a comprehensive and appropriate minute is prepared as a complete record of the decisions made at each board of examiners meeting. The minute of each meeting should be approved by the Chair prior to any actions to be taken in respect to the decisions made, and the minute should be provided to the next formal meeting of the relevant Board.

6.3.11.4 Decisions on all discussable cases should be recorded, appropriate extracts from the records should accompany the award recommendations to Academic Registry so that examiners’ use of these discretionary powers can be monitored.

6.3.11.5 Boards of examiners meetings should be scheduled to ensure that the Faculty can submit results to and by the deadlines specified by Academic Registry. All necessary deadlines for the current academic year can be found here.

6.3.11.6 Except in exceptional circumstances, the signature of the Chair of the awards board of examiners and at least one external examiner must be included on the final list of degree awards/honours degree classifications before records of the meeting are submitted to Academic Registry.

6.3.11.7 These signatures are regarded as an endorsement that assessment processes have been carried out in accordance with the policies and regulations of the University. If an external examiner is unwilling to endorse the outcomes of the assessment process, a written statement from the external examiner citing his/her reasons for the decision should be sent to Academic Registry in the first instance, and reported through the Principal to Academic Council (6.4.1.4).

6.3.11.8 Records from boards of examiners should be stored confidentially in the Faculty office in accordance with the University’s records retention policy and are strictly confidential and non-disclosable under the Freedom of Information Act.

6.3.11.9 Immediately on completion of the awards board meeting the award recommendations, examiners report forms and the minutes of the discussable cases should be sent to Student Programmes.

6.3.11.10 Within one month of the meeting a full set of minutes should be sent to Academic Quality and Governance.

6.3.11.11 All records submitted to Academic Registry will be stored confidentially and will be stored in accordance with the University’s records retention policy.

Section 6.3 Updated and Approved April 2017 University Academic Quality and Standards Committee.

6.4 External Examiners

6.4.1 Aims and Objectives

6.4.1.1 The external examiner system at Stirling has been developed with reference to Chapter B7 (external examining) of the UK Quality Code for Higher Education.  The aims of the system are:

(a) to verify that the academic standards for each award or award elements, for which the external examiner, is responsible, are set and maintained by the University at the appropriate level, and that the students’ performance is properly judged against these;

(b) to assist the University to maintain levels of students’ academic attainment comparable to those in other universities in the United Kingdom;

(c) to ensure that the assessment process measures student achievement against the intended outcomes of the programme appropriately and that the assessment system is operated fairly in the marking, grading and classification of student performance. 

6.4.1.2 In order to achieve these aims external examiners are required:

(a) to report whether the standards set are appropriate for the University’s awards or award elements by reference to published national subject benchmarks, the University’s programme specifications, the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework and other relevant information;

(b) to report on the standards of student performance in the programmes or modules which they have been appointed to examine, and on their comparability to the standard of achievement on similar programmes in other UK higher education institutions;

(c) to report on the extent to which the University’s processes for assessment, examination and the determination of awards are sound and have been conducted fairly;

(d) to review, evaluate and moderate examination and other assessment instruments and practices, particularly at the final year or award level;

(e) to assist the University in the calibration of academic standards through the review and evaluation of the outcomes of assessment processes;

(f) to be a member of, and attend, appropriate examination boards to ensure fairness and consistency in decision-making processes;

(h) to present an electronic written report to the Principal and other relevant agents as appropriate, which includes commentary and judgments on the validity, reliability and integrity of the assessment process and the standards of student attainment, and on any aspects of good practice which they wish to commend.

6.4.1.3 In order to achieve these purposes, the external examiners must be able:

(a) to participate in assessment processes for the award of degrees;

(b) to comment and give advice on programme content, balance and structure.

6.4.1.4 The final decision on degree awards rests with the University, not the external examiner. In the event of a dispute, where the external examiner challenges the recommendations of the Board of Examiners, the matter shall be referred to Registry and Governance Services in the first instance, and reported through the Principal to Academic Council.

6.4.1.5 Except in exceptional circumstances, no degree of the University shall be awarded without participation in the examining process of at least one examiner external to the University. When, exceptionally, an external examiner cannot participate, degree awards and classifications may nevertheless be confirmed by Registry and Governance Services under delegated authority from Academic Council.

6.4.1.6 Faculties will occasionally have cause to appoint a substitute external examiner for a period of less than four years to cover periods of unforeseen absence by an external examiner, due to illness or other exceptional circumstances. In such cases, the faculty should follow the procedures as set out in section 6.4.2 with a clear statement of the temporary period.

6.4.2 Appointment of External Examiners

6.4.2.1 External examiners shall be appointed by the Academic Council on the recommendation of faculties. The normal period of appointment shall be four years with an exceptional extension of one year to ensure continuity. An external examiner may be re-appointed in exceptional circumstances, but only after a period of five years or more has elapsed since their last appointment.  External examiners shall be responsible to the Academic Council.

6.4.2.2 Faculty nominations for the appointment of external examiners at both undergraduate and postgraduate level are made on the appropriate pro forma and in accordance with the nationally specified criteria as detailed on the pro forma (see forms ARO 004 and ARO 005 http://www.stir.ac.uk/academicpolicy/handbook/forms/). They are scrutinised by the Examinations Officer and approved by the Deputy Principal (Education and Students) on behalf of Academic Council.

6.4.2.3 In approving nominations consideration must be given to appropriate subject expertise, genuine externality from the University, familiarity with the UK higher education sector, and examining experience. While the first two are absolute conditions of appointment, the experience of one or more internal examiners may compensate for inexperience in relation to the second two.

6.4.2.4 Faculties must avoid simultaneous reciprocal appointments with other institutions.

6.4.2.5 Faculties are responsible for regulating the number of external examiners that are appointed to its programmes.  However, any significant increase or decrease would require a case to be made and approved through the route specified in 6.4.2.2.

6.4.2.6 The invitation to act as external should be supported by adequate background information, including a written briefing on the institution’s policies for assessment and external examining in general, to ensure that the role and responsibilities are understood.

6.4.2.7 It is the University’s responsibility to provide for the proper preparation of external examiners. This should include a written briefing on the University’s policies for assessment and external examining in general, together with appropriate specific programme documentation.

6.4.2.8 Documentation issued by Registry and Governance Services to newly appointed external examiners will include:

(a)   an introduction to the University’s policies, procedures and regulations concerning the structure and administration of its examining and awarding bodies;

(b)   a statement regarding the general responsibilities of externals;

(c)   the University’s policy on equal opportunities;

(d)   contractual arrangements (fee, expenses, length of appointment);

(e)   a copy of the code of practice and other relevant policies and procedures relating to academic quality assurance and standards, and learning and teaching;

(f)    a statement describing an individual examiner’s role in relating to the team as a whole and the extent of their discretion;

(g)   a copy of the University’s External Examiners Handbook for Taught Programmes and Research Degrees (1) as appropriate.

6.4.2.9 Faculties are responsible for providing external examiners with supporting documentation on the programmes/subject area to be reviewed, including:

(a)   information on the programmes/modules and their method of assessment for which the external will have responsibility;

(b)   programme regulations;

(c)   structure and content of the curriculum;

(d)   learning outcomes;

(e)   internal faculty marking schemes;

(f)    dates of boards of examiners’ meetings;

(g)   arrangements for the sampling of scripts, including principles for selection of samples;

(h)   assessment structures, assignments and examination papers in relation to agreed learning outcomes;

(i)    arrangements for access to any work contributing to the final award, to determine that internal marking has been carried out according to marking schemes and that classifications are of an appropriate standard;

(j)    faculty principles for the selection of candidates for viva voce, oral and practical examinations and the external examiner’s role in conducting these examinations with students.

6.4.2.10 Faculties should encourage their external examiners to visit the faculty.  They should provide opportunities for them to become familiar with the institution and to discuss their responsibilities and other matters prior to the first visit to undertake assessments. This is particularly important in the case of external examiners with little or no previous experience of the role, or who are from outside higher education.

6.4.2.11 Faculties should include the names, positions and institutions of their external examiners within the relevant student handbooks together with a statement advising students that it is inappropriate for them to make direct contact with external examiners.

6.4.2.12 A central register database of external examiners is maintained by Registry and Governance Services which details length of appointment, area(s) of responsibility, fee and contact details.

Revised July 2014

6.4.3 Role of External Examiners in the assessment process 

6.4.3.1 External examiners shall participate in the assessment of all modules of study at level 9 and above, including postgraduate modules. It is not expected that external examiners should review resit examination papers or be involved in modules below level 9, except where necessary for professional or statutory purposes. 

6.4.3.2 Draft examination papers should be sent to the external examiner for approval.  Model answers should be included to aid external examiners in gauging the quality of individual questions.  External examiners are not expected to approve coursework or assignments, except for those modules which would otherwise receive no scrutiny.

6.4.3.3 An external examiner has the right of access to any work that contributes to the assessment of an award and the degree classification, dependent on availability.

6.4.3.4 The normal expectation will be that a sample of work will be sent to an external examiner and the principles for such a selection should be agreed in advance. Normally:

(i)      the sample will include a selection of examination scripts and assessments, where the range of marks are represented;

(ii)     the proportion of work considered by an external examiner will depend on the size of the module;

(iii)    the selection will ensure that external examiners have enough evidence to determine that internal marking and classifications are of an appropriate standard and are applied consistently;

(iv)    the sample will include all failed cases, borderline cases, and some, but not necessarily all, top mark cases.

6.4.3.5 The external examiner is a full member of the Board of Examiners whose opinion is important when the board is deciding problematic cases.  The external examiner must not be used as the arbiter for the final decision in such cases.  This decision is the responsibility of the board.

6.4.3.6 External examiners should be given the opportunity to meet students on the programmes/modules which they are examining, if they so wish.

6.4.3.7 Where a viva voce examination is held for a proportion of the candidates, the principles for the selection of candidates should be agreed by the Board of Examiners.  The examiners for such an examination should be decided by the Board of Examiners and may include the external examiner if considered necessary by the Board.

6.4.3.8 An external examiner concerned with the final classification of honours degrees or degree awards is a full member of the relevant board of examiners and should visit the University at least once in each academic year to attend the normal meetings at which honours degree classifications and degree awards are determined. The signature of at least one external examiner must be appended to the final list of degree awards. In the case of results lists for individual modules of study, the signature of the Chief Examiner will imply that such external participation as may be required has taken place.

6.4.3.9 Faculties should ensure that externals are given adequate notice of their required attendance.

6.4.3.10 Externals should be clearly informed on what basis they are required or not required to attend meetings of examiners or awards meetings.

6.4.3.11 External examiners should be provided with adequate opportunity to hold meetings with internal examiners.

6.4.3.12 External examiners should be encouraged to comment on the curriculum and on the assessment process, and should be consulted on changes to the curriculum and assessment arrangements. External examiners should be asked to comment on new programme proposals in their subject area.

6.4.3.13 External examiners may often be able to give advice to internal examiners, especially inexperienced examiners, either directly or through the dean of faculty or nominee. Members of academic staff should use the opportunity afforded by the visits of external examiners to discuss with them programme structure, curriculum and assessment procedures. Consideration should be given to involving external examiners in the faculty’s quality enhancement activities. (e.g. by spending a day with the faculty once in a four year cycle, and having the opportunity to meet with students as part of this process).

6.4.3.14 External examiners retain the right to raise any matter of serious concern with the Principal, this may be in the form of a separate confidential written report.  Any such matters arising will be considered and responded to as appropriate. 

6.4.3.15 Where an external examiner has serious concerns relating to systemic failings with the academic standards of a programme and all internal procedures have been exhausted (see also 6.4.1.4), the external examiner may invoke the Quality Assurance Agency’s concerns scheme (http://www.qaa.ac.uk/en/Publications/Documents/QAA_concerns_guidance_external_examiners.pdf) or inform the relevant professional, statutory or regulatory body.

6.4.3.16 The external examining requirements for higher degrees by research are set out in the Research Postgraduate Regulations (3).

6.4.4 Submission and Receipt of, and Response to, External Examiners’ Reports

6.4.4.1 For taught programmes, external examiners are required to submit an electronic written report to the Principal annually and at the end of their period of service. No fee shall be paid to the external examiners until the reports have been received.  Individual staff and students must not be named in external examiner reports.  Reports will be amended by the University where individuals are identified.

6.4.4.2 Registry and Governance Services will set a deadline for the submission of reports for undergraduate and postgraduate externals. Reports are addressed to the Principal and submitted to the Student Administration office. Receipt of the report is acknowledged by the Student Administration office. Outstanding reports are pursued by the Student Administration office (where a second follow-up letter is required this is issued via the Deputy Principal [Education and Students]).

6.4.4.3 Upon receipt, each external examiner’s annual report is forwarded to the relevant faculty by Academic Registry and Governance Services. Faculties are required to:

(a) consider the reports and forward action points to other relevant committee(s) within the faculty as appropriate. Student representatives should be given the opportunity to be fully involved in the consideration of external examiner reports;

(b) respond to external examiners to confirm action taken in response to issues raised within reports or reasons for not taking action.  A copy of the response must be sent to Academic Registry and Governance Services.

(c) produce a faculty summary report on issues arising from all external examiner reports together with action taken; the report should be submitted to Academic Registry and Governance Services at the end of March each year.

(d) make external examiners’ reports available in full to students upon request (with the exception of any confidential report made to the Principal).

Academic Registry and Governance Services is required to produce an institutional summary report on themes, issues arising from reports and actions taken for consideration by the Education and Student Experience Committee.

6.4.4.5 The faculty must make Academic Registry and Governance Services aware of any serious matters arising in external examiner reports to ensure appropriate and timely action is taken.

6.4.4.6 For research postgraduate programmes: the procedure for research postgraduate examiners’ reports is set out in the Research Postgraduate Regulations (2). The reports and recommendations are received by the Academic Panel and awards approved on behalf of Academic Council.

Revised QEC September 2009, May 2012

Revised September 2013

Revised July 2014 

6.4.5 Termination of an external examiner’s contract

6.4.5.1 An external examiner may choose to resign prior to the completion of their contract. A minimum of six months notice is required, and the examiner must normally complete the academic year. Letters of resignation should be addressed to the Principal.

6.4.5.2 The University reserves the right to terminate the contract of an external examiner at any time if, in the opinion of the Academic Council, the external examiner does not fulfil the University’s requirements as set out in 6.4.1 to 6.4.4 above, performs at an inadequate standard in the context of the University’s policies and procedures, if there has been any breach of confidentiality on the part of the examiner or where a conflict of interest may arise.

6.4.6 Appeals

6.4.6.1 The University’s appeal procedures for both undergraduate and postgraduate students form a separate section of this Handbook (3).

Academic Council, June 2006

6.4.7 Collaborative Provision

In respect of collaborative provision, external examining procedures for programmes offered by a partner organisation should be the same as, or demonstrably equivalent to, those used by the University for its own programme. The procedures should be clearly specified and documented in the collaborative memorandum of agreement, and rigorously applied.

Academic Council, October 2004

Revised QEC September 2009

 1 external-examiners-handbook.pdf

2 http://www.stir.ac.uk/regulations/researchpostgraduateregulations/

3 http://www.stir.ac.uk/academicpolicy/handbook/student-academic-appeals-and-complaints/

6.5 Common Marking Schemes

The University marking schemes for Undergraduate and Taught Postgraduate programmes are detailed in the attached tables. 

6.5.1  Undergraduate common marking scheme

6.5.1.1 A student's level of achievement is denoted by the mark (a whole number in the range 0 – 100) achieved under the University's Common Marking Scheme. The descriptors are used, where appropriate, in marking coursework, examinations and dissertations.  They should be used in parallel with subject-specific mark descriptors.

Mark

Equivalent

Grade

Result

Descriptor of Attainment of Learning Outcomes

90+

1st

Pass

Meets all the requirements to attain 80 – 89 but in addition demonstrates an exceptional degree of originality and exceptional analytical, problem-solving and/or creative skills.

80 -89

Meets all the requirements to attain 70 – 79 but in addition demonstrates outstanding quality evidenced by an ability to engage critically and analytically with source material, exhibits independent lines of argument, is highly original and uses an extremely wide range of relevant sources where appropriate.

70 - 79

Excellent range and depth of attainment of intended learning outcomes, secured by discriminating command of a comprehensive range of relevant materials and analyses, and by deployment of considered judgement relating to key issues, concepts or procedures

60 - 69

2:1

Pass

Attainment of virtually all intended learning outcomes, clearly grounded on close familiarity with a wide range of supporting evidence, constructively utilised to reveal appreciable depth of understanding.

50 – 59

2:2

Pass

Attainment of most of the intended learning outcomes, some more securely grasped than others, resting on a circumscribed range of evidence and displaying a variable depth of understanding.

40 – 49

3rd

Pass

Acceptable attainment of most intended learning outcomes, displaying a qualified familiarity with a minimally sufficient range of relevant materials, and a grasp of the analytical issues and concepts which is generally reasonable, albeit insecure.

30 - 39

Fail -

Marginal

Fail

Appreciable deficiencies in the attainment of intended learning outcomes, perhaps lacking a secure basis in relevant factual or analytical dimensions.

0 - 29

Fail -

Clear

Fail

No convincing evidence of attainment of intended learning outcomes, such treatment of the subject as is in evidence being directionless and fragmentary.

 X

Fail

Fail

Failure to comply with published module requirements

6.5.1.2 A student registered on a module will be given a mark for each component of assessment listed in the module descriptor.

6.5.1.3  The overall mark for the module is calculated from the sum of weighted component marks, rounded to the nearest whole number; a pass may not be required in each component. This module mark represents a summary of performance on that module.

Revised October 2014

 

6.5.2     Taught postgraduate common marking scheme

A student's level of achievement is denoted by the mark (a whole number in the range 0 – 100) achieved under the University's Common Marking Scheme. The descriptors are used, where appropriate, in marking coursework, examinations and dissertations.  They should be used in parallel with subject-specific mark descriptors.

Mark

Equivalent

Grade

Descriptor of Attainment of Learning Outcomes

90+

Distinction

Meets all the requirements to attain 80 – 89 but in addition demonstrates an exceptional degree of originality and exceptional analytical, problem-solving and/or creative skills.

80 -89

Meets all the requirements to attain 70 – 79 but in addition demonstrates outstanding quality evidenced by an ability to engage critically and analytically with source material, exhibits independent lines of argument, is highly original and uses an extremely wide range of relevant sources where appropriate.

70 - 79

Excellent range and depth of attainment of intended learning outcomes, secured by discriminating command of a comprehensive range of relevant materials and analyses, and by deployment of considered judgement relating to key issues, concepts or procedures

60 - 69

Merit

Attainment of virtually all intended learning outcomes, clearly grounded on close familiarity with a wide range of supporting evidence, constructively utilised to reveal appreciable depth of understanding.

50 – 59

Pass

Attainment of most of the intended learning outcomes, some more securely grasped than others, resting on a circumscribed range of evidence and displaying a variable depth of understanding.

40 – 49

Fail - Marginal

Appreciable deficiencies in the attainment of intended learning outcomes, perhaps lacking a secure basis in relevant factual or analytical dimensions.

0 - 39

Fail -

Clear

No convincing evidence of attainment of intended learning outcomes, such treatment of the subject as is in evidence being directionless and fragmentary.

 X

Fail

Failure to comply with published module requirements

6.5.2.1    A student registered on a module will be given a mark for each component of assessment listed in the module descriptor.

6.5.2.2   The overall mark for the module is calculated from the sum of weighted component marks, rounded to the nearest whole number; a pass may not be required in each component. This module mark represents a summary of performance in that module.

6.5.2.3   A student who has marginally failed modules up to 30 credits may be eligible for compensation by qualified pass (QP) and the award of credits for those modules at SCQF level 10.  A marginal fail is one where a mark for the module is between 40 to 49.  Compensation by QP will be applied systematically based on a student's overall profile.  A maximum of 30 credits (20 credits for PG Cert) will be awarded as a qualified pass at SCQF level 10.  Where more than one module is eligible for compensation by qualified pass, the module with the higher/highest mark will be compensated. Where the maximum ‘qualified pass’ credit has been applied, and a student has failed to achieve the necessary learning outcomes for outstanding module credit, students will be permitted to undertake reassessment as outlined in the taught postgraduate regulations.  A marginal fail in a dissertation (or equivalent) project is not eligible for compensation.

6.5.2.4   No University-wide conversion to ECTS grades is proposed. The ECTS scale prescribes the proportions of students falling within each of the ECTS grade bands. At Stirling the proportion of students falling within the present grade bands varies widely across programmes. Mapping the proposed pass marks to ECTS grades will therefore need to vary between programmes.

Approved Academic Council December 2013

Revised October 2014

6.6 Determination of Honours Degree Classifications

The University operates an institution-wide grade point average (GPA) approach for determining Honours degree classifications.  This applies to all Honours degree programmes, unless the Academic Council has approved a variation for any specific degree programme.

 6.6.1       General principles

(i)             Honours classification is based on performance in the modules specified for years 3 and 4 in the degree programme table. 

(ii)            Module marks expressed in terms of the Common Marking Scheme are used for determining Honours classifications.

6.6.2       Specific requirements

(i)             Honours students are either following a standard sequence of modules laid down in the degree programme table, or are following a variant sequence approved by the Registry.  The Registry ensures that no student falls outside these two categories.

6.6.3       Methodology

(i)             The Honours degree classification is made using the following data:

  • the marks, on the University’s Common Marking Scheme, for all those modules of study specified as part of the Honours programme, as set out in the degree programme tables, or approved by the Registry in the case of variant programmes.
  • the credit value associated with each grade.

(ii)            A pre-requisite for the award of an Honours degree and hence the application of the classification rules is that all the marks are passes (that is, a mark of 40 and above).

6.6.4       Calculation of the average mark

For degrees conferred during academic years 2015/16 and 2016/17, the best 220 credits achieved for the modules specified in years 3 and 4 of the Degree Programme Table (or equivalence for part-time) count towards the classification. Modules passed by compensation will therefore be excluded. The dissertation (or equivalent) must be included.

For degrees conferred from June 2018 onwards: 

  1. The dissertation (or equivalent) must be included in the classification calculation
  2. The calculation does not differentiate between compulsory and optional modules
  3. A predominance rule applies on the basis that, for any classification, the mark profile must have at least 50% of the credits (in multiples of 20 only), at or above the classification mark threshold. For classifying 220 credits, the predominance threshold is 120 credits; for 180 credits, predominance is 100 credits; for 120 credits predominance is 60 credits
  4. The lowest marked 20 credit module will be discounted including modules with a failing mark. Classification must be based on the remaining credits with attributed marks
  5. Where the total number of credits with attributed marks is equal to or less than 120, e.g. a student has pass/fail modules, entry credit, placements and study abroad credit where no marks are assigned, the classification must be based on all available credits with associated marks, i.e. no modules may be discounted

For those students completing programmes in 2018 and 2019, the classifications will be calculated using both the existing calculation and the new, revised calculation. A ‘no detriment’ approach will be taken to determining, on a case by case basis, which of the calculations stands; the new calculation will be used in all cases except for those students for whom this would have a detrimental impact on their honours classification, in which case the previous calculation will continue to be adopted.  

6.6.5       Discretion in borderline cases

Any student with two points below the next highest grade will be classed as discussable, as follows:

  • 68.00 to 69.49 discussable 2:I / 1st
  • 58.00 to 59.49 discussable 2:2 / 2:1
  • 48.00 to 49.49 discussable 3rd/ 2:2

For the discussable cases, Boards of Examiners will look at the spread of the student’s marks and how many fall into the higher or lower classification. 

(Please see Section 6.3.8.5 (e) for the criteria which may be utilised in determining the outcome of discussable cases http://www.stir.ac.uk/academicpolicy/handbook/assessment/#q-3)

Academic Council, December 2001, June 2005, June 2013

Revised July 2006

Revised July 2014

Revised May 2017

 

6.7 Examination Procedure

6.7.1       Examination officers

6.7.1.1    In each examining subject the dean of faculty or the chair of the relevant committee concerned, e.g. Faculty Learning and Teaching Committee, shall appoint a subject examiner and an examinations officer and shall inform Academic Registry and Governance Services of each appointment and of the period of each appointment.

6.7.1.2    In so far as the University’s code of practice regarding external examiners requires the involvement of an external examiner in a particular examination, examinations officers shall ensure the agreement of external examiners to the papers before sending them to Academic Registry and Governance Services for printing and retention until examination.

6.7.1.3    The examinations officer shall ensure the security of examination papers during their preparation and during transmission to Academic Registry and Governance Services.

6.7.1.4    A designated member of the staff of Academic Registry and Governance Services shall be responsible for the security of examination papers during printing and until the examination.

6.7.2       The examination

6.7.2.1    The period of the examinations shall be fixed by the Academic Council.

6.7.2.2    Only authorised staff will be entitled to be present in an examination room until shortly before the official start.

6.7.2.3    Invigilators should be drawn from teaching staff in the faculties concerned and no payment be made for invigilation. Examinations officers shall supply the names of invigilators, and their periods of duty, to Academic Registry and Governance Services. Invigilators shall attend at times specified by the Academic Registrar and remain in the examination room for at least twenty minutes after the beginning of the examination. Thereafter invigilation may be continued by arrangement of Invigilators present, subject to a ratio of one invigilator to fifty students being maintained.

6.7.2.4    Students should not be permitted to enter the examination room until requested to do so by an authorised member of staff or invigilator.

6.7.2.5    Each candidate shall fill in an attendance slip giving name, registration number, signature and examination to be taken. Invigilators shall compare these with identity cards, and collect them in the first half hour of the examination.

6.7.2.6    Students attending examinations must produce their student card.

6.7.2.7    With the exception of bottled water, candidates are not permitted to bring food or drink into examination rooms.

6.7.2.8    Use of mobile phones, iPods and MP3 Players, smart watches, or equivalent, is prohibited.  Students must not carry such equipment about their person and should ensure that all equipment stored within their belongings away from their desk, or in the care of the invigilator, is switched off prior to commencement of the examination.

6.7.2.9    Students shall not bring into examination rooms any unauthorised material.  Invigilators shall enforce these rules. (‘Unauthorised’ material is any material not specified on the examination paper.) Examinations officers shall draw the attention of students to the notice issued by the Academic Registrar and which shall be attached to the examination timetable that to make use of unfair means in any University examination or test, or to assist another student to make use of such unfair means is a University disciplinary offence.

6.7.2.10   The Academic Registrar shall provide Invigilators with a full list of students entitled to attend the examination. Invigilators shall check the names on the list with attendance slips collected. Invigilators shall collect scripts from candidates and deliver them to the appropriate examinations officer, or nominee, together with the list annotated to indicate the person to whom scripts have been delivered. Invigilators shall deliver completed attendance slips to Registry and Governance Services in an envelope the office provides, these attendance slips shall constitute the University record of students’ attendance at examinations.

6.7.2.11   Examinations Officers shall ensure the secure transfer of scripts to examiners for marking.

Revised April 2016

6.7.3       Agreed Learning Needs Adjustments

6.7.3.1    Where a disability is disclosed, students may require adjustments to the University’s current arrangements to meet their learning and other needs. Decisions regarding adjustments to arrangements will be considered by Student Support Services and made according to the individual student’s particular needs.  (See also section 9.5)

6.7.4       Illness

The Academic Registrar shall issue a notice attached to the examination timetable informing students of the following:

6.7.4.1    Students who feel they are unwell during an examination must inform an invigilator who shall annotate the front cover of the script accordingly. If the student is unable to continue the examination because of illness, invigilators shall complete the appropriate report form and submit this to Registry and Governance Services.

Revised April 2010

Revised August 2014  

Academic Misconduct

1        All relevant handbooks and documentation should carry the following standard statement about these policies:

It is generally understood why cheating in examinations is wrong: it is an attempt to gain undeserved credit by presenting the work of another as one’s own. For the University not to treat cheating as an extremely serious offence would be unfair to its students and would jeopardise the standard of its awards. Exactly the same is true of coursework submitted for assessment. Plagiarism is the equivalent of cheating in an examination because it involves the reproduction of another’s work, whether ideas, data or expressions, without due acknowledgement. This is plagiarism, whether the source is printed, electronic or handwritten, whether it is reproduced verbatim or is paraphrased, and whether it is drawn on extensively or in brief.

The University has an agreed policy setting out procedures and penalties for dealing with academic misconduct. This policy can be found on the University's portal. The policy also gives guidance on proper and adequate acknowledgement of source material, but if students are in any doubt at all about the nature of plagiarism, or the means by which to avoid it, students are strongly advised to consult their tutor. Students should clearly understand that it is their responsibility to be sure they understand these matters. Ignorance is not accepted as a defence for plagiarism.

2        Through its academic faculties, the University has a responsibility to take appropriate steps to make students aware of the nature of academic misconduct, particularly during their first year of study, but also periodically thereafter. However, it is the responsibility of students individually to ensure that they sufficiently understand what is involved. The University regards this as an essential part of the learning process and does not accept ignorance as a defence.

3        Dissertations must carry a signed pro–forma statement that the student understands the nature of academic misconduct, is aware of the University’s policy and confirms that what is submitted is all their own work.

4        The following statement should be used by faculties on their assessment submission cover sheets or on the assessment/question paper if a cover sheet is not used:

Work which is submitted for assessment must be your own work. All students should note that the University has a formal policy on academic misconduct which can be found at http://www.stir.ac.uk/academicpolicy/handbook/assessment/#q-8

5        All instances of academic misconduct in exams, class tests and all other assignments will be considered together, and will count cumulatively in the application of the penalties described in section 9.

6        Examinations and Class Tests

6.1     The Regulations on Examination Procedures state “that to make use of unfair means in any University examination or test, or to assist another student to make use of such unfair means is an academic offence”

6.2     The use of scrap paper within the examination room is not permitted.  Candidates may make any rough notes in the booklets provided by the University in the examination room.  Any other paper, or other such material that may contain notes or prompts of any sort on a candidate’s desk or person, will be identified as unauthorised. Possession of unauthorised material is classed as academic misconduct.

6.3     Unless authorised, possession or use of mobile phones and other electronic devices in the examination room, or during a respite break from an examination room, is strictly prohibited.

Procedures

6.4     If an invigilator suspects irregularity in the conduct of a candidate within, or during a respite break from, the examination room, the invigilator will inform the candidate, remove any possible prohibited material and endorse the candidate’s answer book.  The candidate will be allowed to complete the examination and at the end of the examination the invigilator will inform the candidate that, in accordance with exam regulations, (http://www.stir.ac.uk/registry/studentinformation/exams/examregulations/) a report will be made to the University Examinations Office to include a record of observed usage of prohibited material, and that the student will be called to a meeting at a later date.  Personal electronic equipment should be returned to the candidate at the end of the examination.  In the event that the student refuses to hand over the prohibited material, the student will be asked to leave the examination.  Invigilators should ensure that there is minimal disruption to other examinees.

6.5     The University Examinations Office shall receive a report from the invigilator as soon as possible after the event, and instances of academic misconduct will be recorded on the University’s Academic Misconduct Register.

6.6     In all cases of infringement the student should be invited to attend a meeting with the Chief Examiner and one other member of staff (designated by the dean of faculty).  The student may be accompanied by a person of their choosing.  The purpose of the meeting is to confirm the academic misconduct and the classification of the offence, explain the penalty system, counsel the student about all forms of academic misconduct and identify sources of help e.g. SLS, etc.  It is not the business of the meeting to seek to determine motivation.  An online Academic Misconduct Report Form is available via a link on the portal, this should be completed and submitted online by the Chief Examiner, within one week of the meeting.  Submitting the form attaches it to an e-mail which is sent to the student as a record of the meeting and also to Registry so that the offence can be recorded and the appropriate penalty applied.  Registry will inform both the student and the Division of the final penalty to be applied. All instances should be notified to the relevant board of examiners. 

6.7     The failure of the student to attend this meeting does not prevent the Chief Examiner from taking appropriate action in accordance with this policy.  Where a student has documented good cause for being unable to attend the proposed meeting, but indicates that they wish to attend, a suitable revised meeting date must be arranged.

6.8     See section 9 for classification of offences and table of penalty points.

7        Plagiarism

Definitions

 7.1    To plagiarise is to represent as one’s own the intellectual property of another.   The Online Oxford English Dictionary definition of plagiarism is as follows:

          “the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own”

7.2    Accordingly, the reproduction in a submitted assignment of another’s work without due acknowledgement is plagiarism since the writer is presenting as original work what is in fact copying.  When the assignment is submitted for assessment, plagiarism is the equivalent of cheating in an examination. 

7.3    Such unacknowledged indebtedness is plagiarism whether the source is reproduced word-for-word or is paraphrased.  It is plagiarism whether the passage is brief or extensive, and whether the source is printed, electronic or hand-written.

7.4    Self-plagiarism can arise from a student using his or her own previous work.  Self-plagiarism includes using work that has already been submitted for assessment at this university or for any other academic award and is treated as plagiarism

Due Acknowledgement

7.5    It is not sufficient merely to list a source in an appended bibliography, or in the body of an assignment to express a general indebtedness.  To avoid plagiarism, all sources must be specifically, precisely and accurately referenced in accordance with good academic practice.

7.6    When a source is directly quoted word-for-word, the passage quoted should be placed within quotation marks or indented and the source accurately referenced, in parenthesis, in a footnote, or in an endnote, according to a recognised system.  There must be no ambiguity about where the quotation ends or begins.

7.7    The source of any data cited (e.g. figures, tables, charts) should be made explicit.  When ideas, or an argument, are reproduced from a source in a general or paraphrased way, the source must be acknowledged.  When submitted work is dependent upon a lecture or tutorial for its argument, this fact must be acknowledged.

7.8    In the case of group work submitted for assessment, the relevant module information will make clear whether the submission is collective or individual.  In the case of a collective submission, indebtedness to sources must be acknowledged in the usual way, but it is not necessary for work to be attributed to individual members of the group.   In the case of individual submissions resulting from group or collaborative work, it is the responsibility of each individual student to make sure that the submission is his or her own work.  Acknowledgement should be made to the contribution of other members of the group when this is drawn upon. 

Procedures

7.9    All students, both UG and PG, in all years of study for all modules are allowed open access to the university approved plagiarism detection software with multiple submissions on all text based assignments.

7.10   Final copies of all text based assignments must be submitted through the Succeed Assignment Tool by the due date for that assignment.  (assignment papers must specify which assignments must be submitted this way, e.g. number based or programming assignments cannot be submitted.)

7.11   Formal procedures should be instituted against a student where the relevant unacknowledged source can be established or there is evidence from the student’s previous portfolio of work (including assignments and examination scripts) that that work is not the student’s own.  

7.12   The formal procedures requires that the student should be invited to attend a meeting with the Chief Examiner and the module coordinator. The student may be accompanied by a person of their choosing.  The purpose of the meeting is to confirm the occurrence of plagiarism and the classification of the offence, explain the penalty system, counsel the student about all forms of plagiarism and identify sources of help e.g. SLS, etc.  It is not the business of the meeting to seek to determine motivation.  An online Academic Misconduct Report Form is available via a link on the portal, this should be completed and submitted online by the Chief Examiner within one week of the meeting.  Submitting the form attaches it to an e-mail which is sent to the student as a record of the meeting and also to Registry so that the offence can be recorded and the appropriate penalty applied.  Registry will inform both the student and the Division of the final penalty to be applied.

7.13   The failure of the student(s) to attend this meeting does not prevent the Chief Examiner from taking appropriate action in accordance with this policy.  Where a student has documented good cause for being unable to attend the proposed meeting, but indicates that they wish to attend, a suitable revised meeting date must be arranged.

7.14   All instances of proven plagiarism should be notified to the relevant Board of Examiners.

7.15   The same procedure is followed in cases where two or more students submit similar or identical work. However, it is recognised that in such cases, whilst the fact of plagiarism is clear, it may not have been possible to determine culpability prior to the meeting. In such cases, the meeting itself will serve as a forum in which to establish the facts and determine culpability.

8        Penalties 

8.1    The general principle is that the penalty should be appropriate to the scale of the offence.  

8.2    When a first offence occurs for undergraduate students in their first year of study at The University of Stirling, and two or more assessments are submitted simultaneously or in close succession, the student must be counselled about the first offence, have time to take this on board and rectify their poor academic practice in subsequent assessments before a second penalty can be applied. For all other simultaneous offences, students in all other years, both undergraduate and taught postgraduate, these cases should be reported via the link on the portal to Registry, who will determine the penalty to be applied.

8.3    Where it becomes apparent to the Examinations Office that an undergraduate student in their first year of study at Stirling has been penalised for plagiarism on different modules in the same semester, the Examinations Office will inform the Chief Examiner(s) in the relevant division(s) which module the penalty will apply to and the Chief Examiner(s) will report this to the Board of Examiners. The assignment with the later due date will be counted as a second or subsequent offence.  The Examinations Office will inform the student of the decision.  In the event of a coincidence of due dates the relevant Chief Examiners will confer.

8.4    The Examinations Office will refer cases that reach the trigger points, set out in the table of penalties, to the Registry.  A student required to withdraw from registration for a degree will be entitled to any award for which he or she is qualified.  In addition, where applicable, all students must comply with any professional requirements of their programme.

8.5    Students on 10 penalty points who subsequently fail the module as a result of the plagiarism, would be permitted to resubmit the plagiarised assessment.  The module mark would be capped at 40 (UG) and 50 (PG).

8.6    Normally an UG student may be permitted to repeat or substitute a module which has been failed because of a penalty for plagiarism, if that failure precludes the student from graduating.  There will be fee implications.

8.7    Normally a PG student may be permitted to resubmit their dissertation which has been failed because of a penalty for plagiarism (up to a maximum of 15 penalty points).  The resubmission would be on the existing topic and the mark would be capped at 50.  In such circumstances the student would be required to pay the standard resubmission fee.

8.8    In a case where two or more students submit similar or identical work and culpability cannot be established, the penalty shall be applied equally to both students.

8.9    A current offence does not justify re-consideration of work already graded on the same or any other modules.

8.10  Where the overall module mark is X, details of the plagiarism offence will still be recorded in the central register.

8.11   All decisions relating to academic misconduct are communicated to the student by Student Administration via the student’s university e-mail account.

8.12   See section 9 for classification of offences and table of penalty points.

9        Academic Misconduct - Classification of Offence and Penalty Points

9.1     In all cases, academic judgment will be used in determining the nature of the offence. However, to inform consistency the examples below are given for guidance. They are not intended to be an exhaustive list, but rather are indicative of the nature and impact of the offence;

9.2     Minor : 5 Points

Assignments

where an assignment contains short passages without due acknowledgement, e.g. from an internet source, published material or another student’s submission; material referenced but quotation marks not used, poor referencing, etc.

Examinations & Class Tests

found with phone on person (but switched off) in the exam hall; students communicating during an exam, etc.

9.3     Major : 10 Points

Assignments

where an assignment contains significant sections without due acknowledgement e.g. from an internet source, published material or another student's submission; student reused substantial part of a previously submitted assignment; students submitting similar assignments, etc. 

Examinations & Class Tests

found in possession of, or accessing, any unauthorised material (irrespective of whether or not any of the material matches any of the questions)containing formulae/notes, calculator instructions, etc; found in possession of unauthorised resources (e.g. calculator or dictionary) in the exam hall; discussing the exam outside exam hall during comfort break; found with or accessing notes or unauthorised material during a comfort break; students completing on-line test as a group, etc; found with phone on person, switched on and being used.

Other

submitting false claim/documentation when seeking a concession from the University (e.g. deferred exam application, coursework extension, requesting that extenuating circumstances be taken into account); fabricating/falsifying communication from the university or another body, etc.

9.4     Gross : 20 Points

Assignments

using work which is not the student’s own, i.e. bought or borrowed; majority of piece of work is taken from other published/grey materials, the internet, or another student’s submission without due acknowledgement; circumventing Turnitin; fabricating/falsifying research data in assignment/dissertation/thesis, etc. 

Examinations & Class Tests

Using technology to source answers during an exam/class test; found in possession of significant unauthorised material in the exam hall or during a comfort break; found with an additional, completed, exam answer booklet, etc. 

9.5     Penalty Points Accumulation Scale

 Total Points

Penalty

5

No change to grade but student is strongly advised and encouraged to undertake the educational process and seek support to ensure they understand what plagiarism/exam/class test regulations are.

10

Downgrade assignment/examination/class test by 10 marks e.g. 46 to 36. Where application of this penalty results in the module being failed reassessment is permitted and module mark capped at 40 (UG) and 50 (PG)

 15

Fail module, mark of 0, no opportunity for reassessment

 20

Fail module, grade of FZ (Academic Misconduct) and unable to graduate with Honours or Masters

25

Required to withdraw from programme

 10    Exceptional Cases

Any exceptional cases not covered by this policy should be referred to the Academic Panel for consideration.

Approved by Academic Council, 8 June 2005

Revised May 2015

Revised April 2016

 

Last updated September 2015

 

Little Book of Academic Misconduct

Little Book of Plagiarism

 

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