This page explains how University College Birmingham ensures that all work undertaken and examinations sat by our students are considered fairly. It also gives details about how our grades are decided and applied to students' work and examinations.
University College Birmingham places great importance on ensuring that all students have an equal opportunity to do well. There is a number of practices in place to support this.
Academic Integrity and Misconduct
Throughout your programme of study UCB will provide opportunity for you to develop your academic skills. Helping you to study section of this handbook provides details of support available to students in developing academic practice.
Cheating, collusion and plagiarism are types of Academic Misconduct. These are some of the names used for ways in which a student may present as their own, work completed, or written by someone else. Academic Misconduct is taken very seriously by University College Birmingham.
University College Birmingham's Code of Practice on Plagiarism and Academic Misconduct details the process by which matters of Academic Misconduct are investigated and the penalties that may be applied. University College Birmingham's disciplinary procedures relating to assessment offences are shown in the General Student Regulations.
The Guild of Students are available to support students with queries regarding Academic Integrity and Misconduct.
Ensuring that the grades you are awarded are fair
Before assignments are given to students, they are subject to an internal moderation process which ensures they are at an appropriate level, allow students to achieve the learning outcomes and have appropriate grading criteria in place. All assessments are marked in line with these criteria and then grades are checked by a moderator to make sure they are consistent and fairly awarded. This moderating of grades is then also looked at by an external examiner to ensure appropriate grades are awarded. The Assessment and Moderation Cycle shows you the process and considerations lecturers follow when assessing your work. All marks are provisional and may go up or down until the Board of Examiners has been confirmed and published final marks.
Who sits on the Board of Examiners?
Module lecturers, tutors and Year Managers from each course team are the staff who know each student and their work best. They all attend the exam boards at which their students’ work is considered. The relevant Head of Department will also attend the board which is Chaired by the Executive Dean of the School or their nominee.
The Examinations Unit records all decisions made ready to publish. UCB Registry also attend every Board of Examiners. Their role is to ensure that decisions are made in line with our Assessment Regulations and that practices are consistent across all exam boards.
At the Board of Examiners meeting for students due to be awarded, one or more External Examiner will usually participate. External Examiners are experienced professionals, often senior teaching figures from other HE institutions or occasionally senior figures from industry. They are chosen for their expert knowledge of your course’s area of study. Their role is to monitor the quality of teaching and on your course and ensure that it is compatible with national standards. Further information on the role of External Examiners and an External Examiner Guide for Students are available.
HE Generic Grading Criteria/Feedback Sheets
University College Birmingham uses a standard system relating to feedback and grading of assessed work on Higher Education (HE) courses.
The system is designed to:
Clarify and reinforce to students and lecturers the features and expectations of work at a given level on Higher Education courses;
Clarify the features and expectations of work characteristic to a range of marks;
Ensure consistency and transparency in terms of the approach to grading of HE work across the University’s course portfolio;
Foster and promote constructive feedback to students.
The criteria show the generally sought after features of student work at each level of study on HE courses within a range of marks.
The criteria have been benchmarked against national standards.
Please find the HE Generic Grading Criteria below:
The criteria under each category have been written to reflect the change of emphasis that occurs as you progress between levels of study. For certain modules and assessment tasks, specially devised feedback sheets are used. Your lecturer will advise you on the basis by which you are being assessed. Specialist criteria may apply to certain modules due to their specific technical nature.
Grading of Work
Undergraduates - Monitoring Your Progress and Classifications
For Undergraduate students, shortly after you receive assessment feedback from your module lecturer, provisional marks are relayed to the Examinations Unit and updated in the My Results page on the Student Dashboard or U@UCB app. This information will enable you to track your progress on all assessments you have submitted.
Grading Undergraduate Work
All student work is awarded a percentage mark. For undergraduate courses, the pass mark is 40%. Keeping track of the marks you receive will help you to gauge your performance.
Degree classifications, the final grade for your degree overall are as follows:
- First Class Honour - (1st)
- Second Class Honours (Upper Division) (2.1)
- Second Class Honours (Lower Division) (2.2)
- Third Class Honours (3rd) and
You may be more familiar with the shortened name shown in brackets above.
For BA and BSc degrees your final classification is calculated using a combination of the weighted average of your marks at level 5 and level 6, the number of credits achieved and the number of credits achieved at a particular level. The exact combination of these may vary depending on which year you started your degree. Full details can be found in the Academic Regulations Part 2: Assessment, Progression and Award 1.3.1. This document explains whether your final award is classified and if it is, how the final classification is calculated.
In very general terms
- 70% and above equates to 1st class
- 60-69% equates to a 2:1
- 50-59% equates to a 2:2
- 40-49% equates to a 3rd class
- 39% and below is a fail
A foundation degree is unclassified, pass only. However, it may be useful to think in terms of the level you are working at in the following way. Particularly if you intend to top-up to a Bachelor's degree in the future.
In general terms for classified Foundation Degrees
- 70% and above equates to 1st class
- 60-69% equates to a 2:1
- 50-59% equates to a 2:2
- 40-49% equates to a 3rd class
- 39% and below is a fail
You can also use the Grade Calculator to help you manage your performance by working out your weighted average for a level of study or to calculate the marks need to pass a module based on the weighting of the individual assessments. This is not a tool for calculating your final classification, but can be used to monitor your performance and provide an indication of the level that you are working at.
Benefits of the System
University College Birmingham is keen to develop assessment feedback mechanisms to guide you towards a positive learning experience. As such, awareness of the criteria should help you raise your grading profile. Consistent use of the generic grading criteria across your assessments should mean that the level of work that is expected of you should become clearer over time. You will soon become very familiar with the criteria.
You can also use the generic grading criteria to self-reflect on your attainment by reviewing the criteria for higher grades on the sheet against your own performance. Additionally, the generic grading criteria are designed to encourage lecturers to fully consider the attributes of your presented work. Attributes related to both academic and professional features are assessed.
As the grading criteria are written in a common format across each level of study, you should be able to see more clearly how expectations change as you move from one level to the next through your course. For all assessment, you will receive a % mark which will have been subject to internal procedures and remains a provisional mark until the conclusion of the External Examination Board.
‘Levels’ of Work
Students on Higher Education courses are assessed at various ‘levels’ during their course. It is now common practice to refer to ‘level of study’ rather than ‘year of study’. This is because students have various modes of attendance - for example, part-time courses take more years to complete than full-time courses. Some courses include a 48-week work placement and thus take longer to complete.
The various levels of study are shown below:
Level P (Progression): This is foundation year level, i.e. preparing students to enter HE courses at level 4.
Level 4 (Certificate Level): This is generally year one of full-time HE courses.
Level 5 (Foundation/Diploma Level): This is generally the second year of full-time HE courses (or the second/third years of courses which include a 48-week work placement).
Level 6 (Honours Level): This is the final stage of undergraduate degree work. Generally the third year of undergraduate degree courses (or the fourth year of courses that include a 48 week placement).
Note: all assignments that you receive should confirm the ‘level’ of work that applies.
Use of Customised Grading Criteria Specific to Individual Assignments and Assessed Seminars
In addition to the use of generic grading criteria, you may undertake assessments where the lecturers issue additional criteria specific to that assessment. Furthermore, some assessments, for example those of a very practical nature, may specify different criteria. However, what is required of you and the grading criteria applicable should ALWAYS be made clear on the assignment.
Your lecturer may direct you to additional formative support or on-site facilities/services which you may find helpful.
Teamwork and its assessment
Should your assignment require you to work as part of a team, you will receive an individual grade based upon your performance, as well as personalised feedback. The module leader will explain how your individual grade and feedback will be determined.
Importance of Word Counts and Presentation Timings
Assignment word counts and presentation timings should always be observed. Ignoring a word count increases significantly the risk of your work losing marks because it lacked structure, flow, focus and clarity. Timings must be observed for assessed presentations for the same reasons.
Please note that for written assignments, the following are included in the word count:
- Main headings and sub-headings
- In-text citations
The following are not part of the word count:
- Title page, Contents page, Reference List and Appendices.
- Content in models, graphs, data tables and other exhibited figures or images, including their titles.
Students can access the examiner’s comments from their examination scripts by contacting email@example.com for a Request to Access Examiners' Comments form.
Postgraduates - Monitoring your progress
For postgraduate students shortly after you receive assessment feedback from your module lecturer, provisional marks are relayed to the Examinations Unit and updated in the My Results page on the Student Dashboard or U@UCB app. This information will enable you to track your progress on all assessments you have submitted. Keeping track of the marks you receive will help you to gauge your performance.
Grading postgraduate work and final awards
Grading on these courses is based on a percentage grading system. The mark for a pass at Masters Level is 50%.
Postgraduate awards are made at Pass, Merit or Distinction. This is calculated based on a combination of the weighted average of the taught programme and the number of credits achieved. Full details of the way that this is calculated can be found in 1.3.2 a and b of the Academic Regulations Part 2: Assessment, Progression and Award.
In general terms for postgraduate degrees
- 70%-100% equates to Distinction
- 60%-69% equates to Merit
- 50%-59% equates to Pass
- 49% and below is a fail
Getting your results
Following meetings of the Boards of Examiners, final results of a student’s assessments will be published on the Student Dashboard. This will show, for each module:
- The marks gained for each component of the module,
- The total module mark and
- The number of credits achieved
The decision of the Board of Examiners will also be published at the end of each level of study in the same place (at the end of each semester for PT Foundation Degree students). The decision indicates whether a student:
- Can progress to the next stage of the course,
- Is required to resit assessment,
- Has been offered a first attempt at assessment due to extenuating circumstances,
- Is required to repeat study or
- Whether a student has achieved an award.
Assessment results are posted on UCB Portal at 12pm on the dates of publication.
By clicking on the Decision bar, students can access full details of what to do next.
It is each student’s responsibility to check their own results as soon as possible after publication. Details of publications dates can be found on Canvas. Contact the Examinations Unit with any queries.
The number of credits awarded at each stage of study is very important. Each year of study could generate a maximum of 120 credits. Normally, any student failing a module will be required to repeat or re-sit assessment in order to gain the requisite number of credits before progressing. However, there are some circumstances in which progression may be permitted with only 100, or 110 credits.
For undergraduate programmes and the taught programme for postgraduates, students who have achieved fewer than 60 credits within the level of study, will usually be asked to repeat all failed modules and will not usually be offered a further opportunity to resubmit. There may be exceptions to this on programmes subject to PSRB requirements.
Credit is awarded when the learning outcomes for a module are met. This is usually indicated by achieving a pass mark for the module overall (40% at undergraduate level, 50% at postgraduate level). In some cases it may be possible to achieve a pass mark where at least one component of the module is not passed. In this situation credit may not be awarded. Full details can be found in UCB's Academic Regulations Part 2: Assessment, Progression and Award 1.2.1.
Credit and Undergraduate Awards
For Foundation Degree students an award can be made with 100 credits achieved at Level 4 and 100 credits achieved at Level 5 (this may differ for courses with Must Pass modules). Students should be aware that they must attempt all modules at each level. However, students must achieve a minimum of 200 credits on the Foundation Degree including 100 credits at Level 5 to be considered for admission to the BA or BSc top up year.
For BA or BSc students a minimum of 320 credits must be achieved across the 3 years of the course or 440 credits across 4 years for courses with placement to be considered for an Honours degree. In addition, at least 100 credits must be passed in the final year for a classification to be awarded.
Therefore, it is possible that a BA/BSc student could complete the degree course and pass the dissertation, but only achieve 300 credits and not be awarded an honours degree or classification. By taking resits or repeating study (if required) you give yourself the best opportunity to achieve.
Any undergraduate student with questions about the number of credits they have achieved can contact the Examinations Unit to discuss their situation.
Full details of the credits required to achieve an award can be found in UCB’s Academic Regulations Part 2: Assessment, Progression and Award 1.3 .
Honours Degree Classifications
The following classifications are used to show the overall performance of a student on a BA or BSc course:
- 1st - First Class Honours
- 2.1 - Upper Second Class Honours
- 2.2 - Lower Second Class Honours
- 3rd - Third Class Honours
- Pass - Pass without Honours (unclassified degree)
Foundation Degrees, Foundation Diplomas and Graduate Certificates/Diplomas are not classified and are awarded as a Pass.
How your overall degree classification is calculated
For BA and BSc degrees your final classification is calculated using a combination of the weighted average of your marks at level 5 and level 6, the number of credits achieved and the number of credits achieved at a particular level. The exact combination of these may vary depending on which year you started your degree. Full details can be found in the Academic Regulations Part 2: Assessment, Progression and Award 1.3.1. and in the University’s classification schemes for students enrolling before 2020 and students enrolling in 2020 and onwards. This document explains whether your final award is classified and if it is, how the final classification is calculated.
Classified Foundation Degrees
For students starting the first year of a Foundation Degree in 2020/2021 your final Foundation degree will be awarded as a pass, merit or distinction. The final classification will be calculated based on a weighted average of marks. Full details can be found in the Academic Regulations Part 2: Assessment, Progression and Award 1.3.1. This document explains whether your final award is classified and if it is, how the final classification is calculated.
Credit and Postgraduate Awards
In order to Progress to Dissertation, a postgraduate student must have achieved a mark of 40% or more in all taught modules and have gained at least 80 credits at Level 7 in modules taken as part of the taught component of the course.
Full details of the credits required to achieve an award and the criteria for the awards at Merit and Distinction can be found in UCB’s Academic Regulations Part 2: Assessment, Progression and Award 1.3 .
Any Postgraduate student with questions about the number of credits they have achieved can contact the Examinations Unit to discuss their situation.
Further information on how degree classifications are calculated is available by making an appointment with your Examinations Officer to discuss your grade profile by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .
Your student record, or transcript
On successful completion of a course, all students are awarded a certificate by the relevant awarding body (eg. UCB or University of Birmingham). This is usually provided at or shortly after Graduation. You will also be provided with a formal record of the modules studied and your marks in the form of an Academic Transcript. This will show details of the awarded studied, qualification awarded and classification, where applicable. Academic Transcripts also detail the total mark achieved for each module studied and the number of credits achieved. Your Personal Tutor can provide, on request, a reference which includes information about placements, prizes or other achievements.
The Examinations Unit normally produces one free transcript for each student at the end their level of study/course. For students completing an programme of study a digital copy of your final Academic Transcript will be published through the University College Birmingham's secure document site Verify, while a hard copy will be posted to the student’s permanent home address. Students who do not receive the hard copy of the academic transcript within 16 weeks of the publication of results can contact the Examinations Unit to request a free replacement transcript. After this 16-week period, if we have not heard from you, the assumption will be made that your transcript has been safely delivered to your address. Students enquiring for transcripts after this 16-week period will have to either place their order through Verify for students who graduated in either 2019 or 2020 or contact the Registry for additional copies of lost/new transcripts. If a student wants a replacement transcript for whatever reason, they must request this by writing to the Registry, completing the Transcript Request Form and making payment of £25. through the Online Payments page of the University College Birmingham website.
If a student requires a letter or transcript to confirm academic progress within the academic year and before final results have been published, the student can contact the Examinations Unit to request an interim transcript. Registry may also be able to provide a letter confirming a student’s current status if required. The Academic Registry and the Examinations Unit are based on the Third Floor of The Link building.
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