Linguistics and English Language

Degree classification

How we determine your degree classification

At the University of Edinburgh we use the traditional British degree classification into First, Upper Second, Lower Second and Third Class honours. Degree classes are determined by the Honours Board of Examiners.

Degree classes are based on the marks you have achieved in the honours years of your study, i.e. in the third and fourth year of your degree. First and second-year marks don’t affect your degree class.

Honours assessment's are marked using the University's Common Marking Scheme.

Common Marking Scheme

In LEL, all honours courses are worth 20 credits; the dissertation carries 40 credits and therefore counts as two taught courses. There is no difference in the weighting of third and fourth-year credits – all of the 240 honours credits have the same weight. Here are the basic principles used by our Boards of Examiners to determine your degree class.

1. If the average mark across all your 240 honours credits is 70% or above then you are awarded a First. 60.0—67.99% automatically result in a 2.1 (‘Upper Second’), 50.0—57.99% in a 2.2 (‘Lower Second’), 40.0—47.99% in a Third.

For example

Candidate A (Arthur) has an average mark of 50.1% and Bertha, candidate B, has an average mark of 57.9%. Carla averages 60.0% and Donald has 71.2%. Straightforwardly, Arthur and Bertha get a 2.2, Carla a 2.1 and Donald a First.

2. If your average mark is in the top two percent of a given band, i.e. 68.0—69.99, 58.0—59.99, or 48.0—49.99%, then you are considered a borderline candidate. In such a case we look at where the majority of your honours credits are – that is, what the quality of most of your work was. If half or more of your credits are in the class above the borderline then that higher class will be awarded; but if less than half of your marks are in that higher class then the lower class should be awarded. Borderline regulations are very strict, and average marks are not rounded up (or down).

For example

Xavier, a.k.a. candidate X, has an average mark of 59.5%. But only 100 of his Honours credits are at 60% or better; 140 are below 60%. He should get a 2.2. Yvonne, on the other hand, has an average mark of 58.0%, a lot lower than Xavier’s, but 120 of her 240 Honours credits are at 60% or better. Yvonne gets a 2.1 – only just!

Please bear in mind that this is merely a brief and, to some extent, simplified illustration intended to give you a rough idea. What counts are the University’s Taught Assessment Regulations. On those pages you also find information about how we deal with failed credits (that is, course marks below 40%), as well as information about appeals.

Degree classification