Credit Allocation and Conversion of Grades

This page sets out guidelines and provides examples of good practice for Boards of Examiners.

It sets out separately the requirements for incoming and outgoing undergraduate students and, within these groups, how the results of students coming from and going to Europe/North America should be handled. It was approved by the Senatus Academicus on 10 June 1998.

Transfer of Credit and Conversion of Grades for Incoming Students

This applies to incoming students on:

  • Student exchange programmes (such as SOCRATES or the North American Exchange Programme)
  • Independent non-graduating students (generally from Europe or the USA)

European Students

The Senate has approved a University-wide conversion scale based on ECTS principles as set out below:

Equivalent Edinburgh Edinburgh grades Average % of successful candidates normally achieving the grade ECTS Grade
70-100 A 10% A
65-69 B 25% B
60-64 B 30% C
50-59 C 25% D
40-49 D 10% E
35-39 E   FX
30-34 E   F
20-29 F   F
10-19 G   F
0-9 H   F

It is recognised that final decisions as to the award of credit and the conversion of grades for incoming students rests with the students’ home university and therefore any ECTS grade suggested by the University of Edinburgh forms only a part of the information which will be provided to the home university to assist it in the process of deciding what grade/credit should be awarded to the student. The other information which the home university will receive, is: -

  • The class sheet
  • The Edinburgh mark

From this range of information the home university ought to be able to assess its students’ performance at the University of Edinburgh.

International students (mainly from USA)

Incoming students from North America receive, at the end of their study period, a class sheet and a transcript - the latter suggesting possible US equivalents of Edinburgh marks. It is agreed that this provides sufficient information to enable home universities to decide on the credit they wished to allocate and the grade(s) they wish to award to their students who studied at the University of Edinburgh.

Transfer of Credit and Conversion of Grades for Outgoing Students

This applies mainly to Edinburgh students who are participating on:

  • SOCRATES exchange programmes
  • North American exchange programmes
  • independent study abroad programmes

Students from these groups return to the University of Edinburgh with a series of courses and grades that have to be turned into something that makes sense in the Edinburgh system. It has been agreed that the University should not impose a strict set of rules and regulations on Schools/Boards of Examiners, but it should provide guidance, options and examples of good practice. It is recommended that returning students should pass through a two way process. Firstly if the student has successfully completed the approved courses at the host university the sending School should certify to the College that the student is able to continue to the next year of the course and then secondly, the School should then convert marks for its own purposes, if appropriate.

SOCRATES exchange students

  1. If the Partner University has adopted ECTS then the ECTS scale in 8.2.2 above should be used (at least as a guideline) and the host university’s ECTS grade should be converted into an Edinburgh grade by reversing the table shown.
  2. If ECTS is not used then Schools should either devise their own scales with their partner institutions or award credit only for the courses successfully completed abroad – i.e. the first part of the two way process described above.

North American Exchange students

  1. The International Office has prepared some guidance notes for Schools on the number and level of courses that it would be appropriate for Edinburgh exchange students to select at the various partner universities.
  2. It is agreed that the scale which is printed at the back of the University of Edinburgh’s current transcript for visiting undergraduate students should be used as a guide for Schools wishing to convert US marks into Edinburgh equivalents. The scale is set out below:
US Grades Edinburgh Grades Interpretation of grades Honours Class Edinburgh mark
A (A+) A An excellent performance 1st 70-100
A- B A very good performance 2:1 65-69
B+ B A very good performance 2:1 60-64
B C A good performance 2:2 55-59
B- C A good performance 2:2 50-54
C D A satisfactory performance 3rd 40-49
F E A marginal fail Fail 30-39
F F A clear fail Fail 20-29
F G A bad fail Fail 10-19
F H A bad fail Fail 0-9
  1. It is recognised that some institutions provide comprehensive information about a student’s performance on their transcripts including the total number of students enrolled in the course, the average grade awarded in the course and the percentage of students receiving grades clearly defined in bands. Where this information is provided it clearly presents a much more accurate picture of the student’s performance than a simple reversal of the “US equivalence” scale.
  2. It is agreed that Boards of Examiners should transfer credit and convert grades for students returning from a North American Exchange Programme in the following way:
  • Where detailed information is provided on the host university’s transcript of a student’s performance within a course, then this information should be used to convert the student’s North American grade into an Edinburgh equivalent.
  • Where a simple transcript is provided, then Examination Boards should use the US equivalent scale (detailed above) to convert a US grade into an Edinburgh equivalent.
  • Alternatively students can be awarded credit only, for the work successfully undertaken at the host university.

Independent study programmes

It is recognised that an increasing number of students are now organising their own study abroad programmes. It has been agreed that the University will not attempt to recommend how Schools/Boards of Examiners might cope with the marks/grades students receive at host universities since the variation between institutions would be too great to do this. It is considered, however, that in order to maintain quality control Schools should not approve a programme unless they are fully satisfied of the content and level of the student’s academic programme at the host university, the assessment involved and the transfer of credits and grades. Schools should address the following questions before considering and approving an independent study programme:

  1. Will the study programme benefit the student?
  2. Is there sufficient information about the courses the student will complete at the host university?
  3. How will the work successfully completed be converted into Edinburgh grades or will credit only be offered?
  4. What information will the student be required to submit on return from the study programme – e.g. a transcript, all assessed work?

Advice to Outgoing Edinburgh Students

It is agreed that all Schools MUST provide outgoing students with a statement of the School’s policy on how the student’s study abroad programme will be assessed on return so that both the School and the student have a clear understanding before the outset of the study period of:

  • how the work will be credited towards the Edinburgh degree;
  • how the marks/grades achieved at the host university will be converted into Edinburgh equivalents; and
  • whether the student will be required to carry out any additional work because s/he has missed components that are vital to the Edinburgh degree.