Academic Services

Section C: marking of assessment

Regulations 31 - 37: Moderation, anonymous marking and common marking schemes.

Regulation 31 Moderation and standard-setting

The marking of all components of assessment must be subject to moderation in a way that is appropriate to the discipline, the nature of the assessment, and the credit weighting of the component of assessment. Boards of Examiners can apply standard-setting processes to the marks of assessments, provided that the choice of standard-setting methodology is defensible.

Application of the regulation

31.1 Moderation occurs before External Examiners review the operation of the marking and internal moderation process. Forms of moderation include sampled second marking, double-marking, and checking the operation of computer-based assessment. Any single item of assessment which is equivalent to 40 credits or more must be double marked.

31.2 Moderation may result in recommended mark or grade adjustments (including scaling of marks) and associated changes to feedback for a specific component of assessment. The purpose of any mark or grade adjustments is to ensure final marks for all students more accurately reflect performance against the learning outcomes on the relevant Common Marking Scheme. No changes can be made to marking without the original marker’s knowledge. Where possible, any changes should take place in discussion with the original marker. Mark or grade adjustments may be made before or after the release of provisional marks to students. Where there are concerns about the appropriateness of marks for a whole cohort, any method of adjusting or scaling marks should be applied fairly to all students in the cohort. It is unlikely to be appropriate to adjust the mark for an individual student in isolation. Marks or grades may be adjusted by simple addition or subtraction, multiplication by a factor, or the use of another method of scaling deemed appropriate by the Board of Examiners. Boards of Examiners must keep clear records and publish explanatory information to students about any scaling that has been applied on a cohort basis.

31.3 Records of the operation of the occurrence and the outcome of the moderation processes must be kept. Records must show the rationale for decisions taken, including any decision that marks or grades should not be altered.

31.4 Boards of Examiners are responsible for determining the form of moderation for each component of assessment, and for ensuring the appropriate operation of moderation processes. Course Organisers are responsible for the organisation and supervising of the marking and moderation processes for their courses’ assessments.

31.5 Boards of Examiners are responsible for reviewing marking and moderation arrangements, and the outcomes of students’ assessments, across related courses (for example, Honours level courses in a subject area) in order to ensure that assessment criteria have been applied consistently.

31.6 Standard-setting is the process whereby decisions are made about boundaries or ‘cut-points’ between the marks or grades of candidates. It is separate from any process of retrospectively scaling or adjusting marks, following moderation. Any standard-setting process must aim to ensure that students’ results reflect the learning outcomes they have achieved and that the assessment is fair. Standards can be relative or norm-referenced (taking account the performance of candidates), absolute (defining minimum levels of competence) or a compromise between these two approaches.

31.7 Schools need to state what practice each course uses for internal moderation, and (where relevant) the methods of standard-setting, in the Statement of Assessment (see Regulation 14).

31.8 Resources and publications are available from the Institute for Academic Development:

Institute for Academic Development

Regulation 32 Anonymous marking

Assessed work must be marked anonymously when possible.  Marks and grades must also be anonymised during processing.

Application of the regulation

32.1 Marking work anonymously is an important aspect of fair marking.

32.2 There will be occasions when it is not possible to mark a piece of work anonymously, e.g. a performed piece, an oral presentation, a dissertation or other piece of work where the specialised nature of the topic identifies the student. However, students’ identities should be concealed when marks are presented at the Board of Examiners’ meeting.

32.3 Use of examination numbers in assessment can help maintain anonymity.

Regulation 33 Security of marks

Assessed work, marks and grades must be handled, transported, recorded and stored securely.

Application of the regulation

33.1 The Convener of the Board of Examiners has responsibility for the security of arrangements.  In practice, the operation of this may be delegated to the Teaching Organisation or equivalent.

33.2 Security arrangements must also include sending assessed work and marks and grades to examiners, including External Examiners; marking arrangements for online assessment; and correspondence about marks, which may be by email.

33.3 Marks or grade information about more than 50 individuals is classified as medium risk information under the University’s policy on taking sensitive information and personal data outside the secure computing environment. Under this policy, if exam scripts, marks or grade information leave University premises or University computing systems then additional security measures, such as encryption or locked cabinets, must be used.

Regulation 34 Legibility and accessibility of assessed work

It is a student’s responsibility to ensure that their submitted assessed work is legible and accessible.

Application of the regulation

34.1 If markers consider a significant proportion of a student’s assessed work to be so illegible that they cannot reach a robust mark they must consult the Convener of the Board of Examiners.

(a) Where the Convener suspects that disability has impaired the student’s ability to write legibly, the Convener, in consultation with the Disability and Learning Support Service (DLSS), can decide whether the work should be marked normally or whether the disability justifies transcription. If transcription is not justified and the work is completely illegible, a zero will be awarded. If it is partially legible then the legible part will be marked.

 (b) Where there are no issues of disability, the Convener should ensure that the legible part of the work is marked normally.  If the work is completely illegible, a zero will be awarded.

All such cases need to be drawn to the attention of the relevant Dean and the External Examiner and feedback needs to be given to the student.

34.2 Schools are responsible for informing students of the format in which assessed work must be submitted, e.g. they may require work to be submitted electronically.

Regulation 35 Common Marking Schemes

The final mark, grade, result and award and classification decision must be expressed using the relevant Common Marking Scheme:

Common Marking Scheme

Application of the regulation

35.1 The University operates the following Common Marking Schemes:

  • CMS1 Undergraduate degree assessment (except BVM&S and MBChB)
  • CMS2 Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery (BVM&S)
  • CMS3 Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB)
  • CMS4 Postgraduate Assessment

35.2 In each Common Marking Scheme, Colleges and Schools may amplify, but not alter, the overall description of grades.

35.3 Where the relevant Board of Studies has approved the operation of assessment for a course on a Pass/Fail basis, Boards of Examiners may award credit for the course without awarding a mark or grade under the Common Marking Scheme. Courses whose assessment operates on a Pass/Fail basis are permitted during the pre-Honours stage of undergraduate Honours programmes, or on non-Honours undergraduate programmes and postgraduate taught programmes. Courses with Pass/Fail assessment may not be offered during the Honours years of a programme unless Academic Policy and Regulations Committee has approved an exemption.

35.4 Boards of Examiners make a statement on how marks are held, and to how many decimal places, during the internal processing of the component marks for a course. Practice within a Board of Examiners needs to be consistent.

Regulation 36 Provisional marks

Students need to be made aware that marks for assessed coursework are provisional and may be modified when considered at the Board of Examiners meeting.

Application of the regulation

36.1 Course handbooks and other sources of advice for students are used to inform students that marks are provisional until agreed by a Board of Examiners.

Regulation 37 Final marks

Boards of Examiners confirm marks as final in the minutes of the Board of Examiners meeting. A Board of Examiners must not revise marks agreed as final by a previous Board of Examiners (except in line with Taught Assessment Regulation 64). 

Application of the regulation

37.1 For undergraduates and postgraduate students, the Board of Examiners agrees marks as final in the year in which they are obtained.

37.2 The Board of Examiners is required to apply any penalty determined by the College Academic Misconduct Officer (CAMO). The Board cannot adjust the penalty or apply any additional penalty for the offence. Following the application of the penalty, if the student has valid Special Circumstances relating to the affected assessment the Board will follow Regulation 43 of the Taught Assessment Regulations.

Further information can be found in the Academic Misconduct Procedure: 

37.3 The Board of Examiners for final year students is responsible for determining the award of degree. The Board of Examiners, in determining final classifications and awards, may exercise discretion by taking into account special circumstances.  See taught assessment regulation 43.

37.4 The Board of Examiners approves a single mark for each component of assessment for which final marks are to be released; marks for components of assessment are not rounded. The final component marks are used by the Board of Examiners when determining the overall result for the course. Rounding is only applied to final course marks (see regulation 63).

37.5 Students are informed of the status of the marks released and are reminded that the Board of Examiners, in determining the final marks or award, may have exercised discretion by taking into account additional relevant information.