Module Grades

Every credit-bearing module is assessed, with the overall result summarised as a grade appearing on the student’s transcript. Grades achieved in some modules also affect progression from one part of a programme to the next, or the final programme result. Modules may include various assessment components, including coursework, class tests and examinations.

Grades are interpreted according to the University’s 20-point common reporting scale, in which the pass-level is 7. Therefore, for every module, whether including a single assessment component or multiple components, an overall grade of 7 must be achieved in order to pass the module and gain the credits.

Where a module includes multiple assessment components, each component is marked separately, converted to the 20-point scale, and these marks combined to yield the overall module grade, according to a formula specified for that module in its module catalogue entry.

The following table gives some examples for a module such as CS1002, for which marks are combined in the ratio 40% coursework to 60% examination.

Coursework Mark Exam Mark Grade
10 15 13
7 15 11.8
4 15 10.6
5 8 6.8 (fail, right to reassessment)
3 15 0 (fail, no right to reassessment)
15 3 0 (fail, no right to reassessment)

The reason for the zero grades in the last two examples is explained in the next section.

See also: the distinction between marks and grades.

Minimum Proportion of Assessment

The minimum proportion of a module’s assessment that must be completed for credit to be awarded is 75%. Therefore, the absolute maximum proportion of a module’s assessment that can be waived, for whatever reason, is 25%.

Compulsory Module Elements

Each module includes various compulsory elements. Failure to comply with these module requirements, except where approved by the appropriate level coordinator, may result in a grade of 0 (failure of the module with no right to reassessment).

Compulsory elements vary from module to module. By default, all modules have the following compulsory element:

  • Achieve an overall minimum mark of 4 in all assessment components (coursework, class tests, exams etc).

All sub-Honours modules have the following compulsory elements:

  • Prepare for, attend and participate in at least 70% of all tutorials.
  • Attend and participate in at least 70% of all exercise classes.
  • Attend and participate in all class tests.

Some modules also specify other compulsory elements including, but not limited to, coursework. It is very important that students check the details for each of their modules, specified on the module pages.

Coursework

General Requirements

Although they are generally encouraged to work in the School labs, students are welcome to work in other environments where appropriate. However, they must ensure that code submissions compile and run on School lab machines, unless otherwise instructed in the coursework specification.

It should also be noted that the School provides a resilient storage service for files stored in students’ home directories. No allowance will be made, or extension request considered, for students losing work due to failure of systems or devices that are not provided by the School.

Coursework Submission

Most coursework is submitted electronically via MMS, the University’s web-based module management system.

It is the student’s responsibility to check that each submission has been successful, indicated by an automated email receipt from MMS, and that the correct piece of coursework has been submitted. Students are strongly advised to re-download their submission and check that it is complete and pertains to the correct assignment. No claims of submission without evidence of a receipt are considered. In the case of a technical problem preventing submission from a laboratory machine, and only in such cases, a student may email their coursework to the appropriate tutor or lecturer as evidence of timely completion. It is then the student’s responsibility to submit the coursework to MMS when feasible, and to request the coordinator to waive the lateness penalty.

All submitted work should include the student’s ID number, but not their name, to facilitate blind marking.

All coursework marks returned via MMS are provisional until endorsed by the official Module Board, which includes the External Examiner.

Coursework Extensions

Extensions to deadlines are only granted in cases where a student’s ability to complete coursework has been significantly affected by extenuating factors such as:

  • failure of necessary software, hardware or services provided by the School
  • significant personal or medical circumstances documented through the absence reporting process
  • significant external commitments

An extension should not be assumed until confirmed by the coordinator, who will decide on a case-by-case basis whether the circumstances justify an extension. Individual lecturers and tutors do not have authority to grant extensions.

Although the School attempts to schedule coursework deadlines to minimise clashes, it is not always possible to avoid them completely. Students are expected to be able to plan ahead and to manage their time effectively; extensions will not be granted due to deadline clashes.

Lateness Penalties

The normal deadline for coursework submission is 9:00:00pm on the specified date. Except where explicit permission is obtained from the appropriate coordinator, late submission of coursework is automatically penalised by MMS, in line with University policy on coursework penalties. In all cases, including group work, students are individually responsible for timely submission of their work. For team projects, each team member is individually responsible for timely submission of their copy of the report.

Unless explicitly indicated otherwise in coursework specifications, the penalty scheme used for all modules in the School is:

Scheme B: 1 mark per 8-hour period, or part thereof

‘Part thereof’ means one second or more after rounding. For example, work initially given a mark of 15, submitted at 11.55pm with a deadline of 9pm, is penalised by 1 mark, and so earns a mark of 14 instead. Further examples are given in the policy document.

Every day of the week counts towards any late penalty, including weekends and holidays. Coordinators do not waive penalties for hours, minutes or seconds lateness that may result from minor adversities. Relying on the mechanical impartiality of MMS is the only policy that is indisputably fair to all.

MMS records the time that an upload is completed, not when it is initiated. Students need to allow for this when uploading coursework with large files. They should also be aware that if a revised version of an earlier submission is initiated just before the deadline, and completes after the deadline, the lateness penalty will be applied despite the earlier version. This cannot be reversed, as the earlier version has by then been erased from the system. Caution should therefore be exercised in submitting minor corrections near the deadline.

MMS has a maximum file size limit of 600MB. Where it is necessary to submit larger files, students should make prior arrangements with the relevant coordinator for an alternative submission mechanism.

As noted above, it is the student’s responsibility to verify that they have submitted the correct piece of work to the correct MMS slot. In cases where such an error only comes to light some days after submission, a lateness penalty will normally be applied corresponding to the time/date that the correct version was eventually submitted. Nonetheless, cases where there exists strong evidence that the work was actually completed on time will be considered by the relevant coordinator.

Normally the level of evidence required would be a not-easily-forgeable record of the work’s existence on a university server at the claimed time. File timestamps would not meet this standard, while presence in a storage server snapshot would. For this reason, even apart from the other obvious benefits of version control, students are strongly encouraged to adopt the use of the School’s Mercurial service for routine coursework development. Although the Mercurial timestamps themselves can be easily tampered with, a student’s Mercurial repository located on the School storage server will automatically be captured in the regular file system snapshots.

In cases where such evidence is accepted by the coordinator, a minimum lateness penalty of 3 marks will nonetheless be applied.

Word Limits

The specification for an essay, report or dissertation may include:

  • no word limit, or
  • an advisory word limit, or
  • a compulsory word limit

A word limit indicates the level of detail required. If you write too much in an attempt to make your point, then you have not focussed your argument sufficiently. This might mean you are giving too much detail, too many examples or trying to cover too many points. You may be able to get across the same content in fewer words by careful editing. Conversely, if your document is well below the word limit then consider whether you have given enough detail. Writing a coherent argument within the limit specified is an important academic skill.

Where an advisory word limit is specified, the grade awarded may be affected by significant deviations from the limit. Where a compulsory word limit is specified, failure to adhere to the limit is penalised according to the University policy on coursework penalties.

Writing Guidance

See the guidance on essay and report writing.

Exams

Exams are held at the end of each semester and organised centrally. Past papers are available from the School exam archive.

See also University advice on stress and absence from exams.

Exam Mapping Tables

The School publishes two default mappings from exam percentage marks to the 20-point scale, one for Sub-Honours and one for Honours and Masters. The marks from the mapping process are reviewed at the module board, where any unusual distributions of marks are discussed. If considered appropriate by the board, and agreed by the External Examiner, the mapping used for a particular exam may be adjusted. In such cases the revised mappings are published after results have been reported:

Feedback on Exam Performance

Students have the right to feedback on exam performance. You may view your exam script under staff supervision (consult the relevant lecturer), or obtain a photocopy for a fee (ask at the School office). The time limit for such requests is the end of Week 3 of the semester that follows the examination diet.

The purpose of viewing an exam script is to see where you made mistakes and to learn from them so that you gain insight into how you may improve your exam technique or specific knowledge for a module. It is not an opportunity for negotiation on the marks awarded. If a student notices that marks have been added up incorrectly, or that marks have been transferred incorrectly to the front of the script, or that some portion of the script has not been marked, they can bring this to the attention of the member of staff who is monitoring the viewing. There is a well-defined appeals policy, but this specifically excludes appeals on the grounds of disagreement with an academic judgement. Students are not allowed to write on the exam script, take notes or take photographs of the exam script.

Absence From Exams

See under Absence.

Illegible Exam Scripts

It is your responsibility to ensure that your handwritten answers provided in examination scripts are legible and can be read by the markers. If a script cannot be read by the marker then this could result in a delay in confirming your module grade. You may be charged for a transcription service and could be required to return to the School in order to transcribe the script. If you have already left St Andrews then you will have to bear the costs of any return travel to the University. See further details.

Academic Adjustments

The University recognises that some students may experience extenuating personal circumstances affecting academic performance. In order for these to be taken into account, they must be reported as soon as possible, as detailed under Absence. In addition, note that:

“The following are NOT considered valid grounds for requesting a review of an academic decision and appeals based on such reasons will be rejected: … the retrospective reporting of extenuating personal circumstances that might have been reasonably made known at the time” (Reproduced from Policy on Student Academic Appeals)

There are various academic adjustments that may be made to compensate for legitimate circumstances affecting students’ studies. Such adjustments can only be authorised by the appropriate coordinator or the Director of Teaching.

Extensions

An extension is a straightforward adjustment to a coursework deadline for an affected student.

Deferred Assessments

See University policy on deferred assessments.

Waived Assessments

In rare cases the requirement to complete a particular assessment may be waived entirely. The maximum proportion of the overall credit for a module that can be waived is 25%.

‘S’ Coding

‘S’ Coding is the method the University uses to recognise that special circumstances have affected performance in the modules concerned. ‘S’ coding may only be applied to Honours or taught postgraduate modules, except for taught postgraduate project or dissertation modules which are excluded. ‘S’ coding may only be applied with the explicit consent of the student and with the approval of the School. The final decision to ‘S’ code a module grade rests with the School. You should be aware that a maximum of 25% of the overall Honours credits required or 50% of the taught element of a postgraduate award may be ‘S’ coded.

If you feel that most or all of the work of a module has been adversely affected by personal circumstances during your final junior and senior Honours years or during the taught modules of a taught postgraduate programme, you should contact the Director of Teaching indicating the circumstances of the difficulty experienced. This may relate to ongoing illness, close family bereavement or other significant personal difficulties.

You must bring this information to the attention of the School as soon as possible, as there are a number of ways to deal with such situations, ‘S’ coding being the final option. It may be possible (and it is viewed as preferable) to arrange deferred assessments or extended submission dates rather than applying ‘S’ to the entire module. However it should be noted that if such arrangements are made (extensions or deferred assessments etc.), it is unlikely that you will also be entitled to have the module ‘S’ coded.

Further information:

Reassessment

For modules including assessment by exam, a student failing the module with a grade of at least 4, and fulfilling all compulsory elements, has the right to reassessment by exam at the next resit diet. There is no opportunity for reassessment of coursework. The final reassessment grade is calculated from the resit exam mark and the original coursework mark, using the same algorithm as for the initial assessment. For Honours and Masters modules, grades achieved at reassessment are capped at 7.

For modules assessed solely by continuous assessment and/or class tests, a student failing the module has no right to reassessment.

A Masters student failing any module is no longer eligible for an MSc degree, or to take the dissertation module. They may still wish to be reassessed in order to gain credits towards the Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma.

Reassessment for 3000-level modules taken within a General Science programme is handled in the same way as for Honours modules.

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Last Published: 11 Apr 2018.