Undergraduate Handbook




Points of Contact

Scheme for the Award of Honours

for students starting on or before September 2012


UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON

FACULTY OF MATHEMATICAL AND PHYSICAL SCIENCES 
DEPARTMENT OF EARTH SCIENCES BOARD OF EXAMINERS

BSc and MSci Degrees in: 
Earth Sciences; Geology; Environmental Geoscience;
Geophysics; Palaeobiology; Planetary Science; 
MSci Earth Sciences (International Programme)

Articles 1-10

Scheme for the Award of Honours 1:

1. This scheme applies to 3-year BSc and 4-year MSci undergraduate degree programmes in Earth Sciences, Geology, Environmental Geoscience, Geophysics, Palaeobiology, Planetary Science, and the 4-year MSci degree programme in Earth Sciences (International Programme), under the jurisdiction of the Department of Earth Sciences Board of Examiners. 

2. All degree programmes normally require students to complete at least 4.0 course units per year. Most courses comprise 0.5 course units; some comprise 1 course unit whilst others comprise 1.5 course units.

3. The minimum number of passed units required to progress from one year of a degree programme to the next shall normally be 3.5, 7 and 11 for years 1, 2 and 3 respectively. 

4. To qualify for a BSc degree a candidate will normally have completed 12 course units and have passed at least 11 course units. To be awarded a BSc Honours degree, a student will have passed at least 3 course units at advanced level. 

5. To qualify for an MSci degree a candidate will normally have completed 16 course units and have passed at least 14.5 course units, of which at least 3 course units shall be at masters level, and shall normally include at least one course unit passed of project work. 

6. Transfer from BSc to MSci may be made up to 31st March of the Third Year of full-time study. Transfer from MSci to BSc may be made up to the Friday of the last week of July in the Third Year of full-time study. 

7. Before entry to the Third Year of an MSci course, a student should normally have passed at least 7 course units and achieved a mean mark of at least 50% for the second year of study. Before entry to the Fourth Year of an MSci course, a student should normally have passed at least 11 course units, with at least three course units at advanced level, and achieved a mean mark of at least 55% for the third year of study. In each case mean marks shall be calculated according to the algorithms in paragraph 10 below. 

8. The pass mark on introductory, first and intermediate and advanced courses is 40%; for masters courses the pass mark is 50% 

9. Individual Earth Sciences courses may be assessed by theory and/or practical examinations, by oral examination or presentation, by coursework or project work, by fieldwork study or in other ways. Details of the assessment specific to each course, together with the relative weightings of the component parts are given in the undergraduate handbook for the current session and on the departmental website. 

10. The mean mark for each year of the degree programmes will be the weighted mean of the percentage marks obtained for courses taken for the first time in a particular year, using zero for any not completed. The mean mark will be computed according to the algorithms:

  • first year: the 4 best half course unit results weighted by 1 plus 4 additional half course unit results weighted by 0.5; 
  • second & third years: for each year, the 6 best half course unit results weighted by 1 plus additional 2 half course unit results weighted by 0.5; 
  • fourth year: all half course unit results weighted equally.

Articles 11-20

Scheme for the Award of Honours 2:

11. The Class of Honours for a BSc degree will be based on a 1-3-5 weighting of mean marks (M) obtained for successive years as computed in paragraph 10 above. 

12. The Class of Honours for an MSci degree will be based on a 1-3-5-5 weighting of mean marks (M) for successive years as computed in paragraph 10 above. 

13. The Class of Honours for an MSci Earth Sciences (International Programme with 3rd year abroad) will be based upon a weighting of 1-3-2.5-5 of mean marks for successive years (M), with average marks computed as in paragraph 10 above. Students registered for the International Programme will be expected to complete the four years of their MSci course. Only in extenuating circumstances and at the discretion of the Department of Earth Sciences Examination Board may a student registered for an MSci International Programme be considered for the award of a BSc degree (not International Programme) after completing three years of study, including the 3rd year abroad. In such a case a weighting of 1-3-2.5 would apply, with average marks computed as in paragraph 10 above.

14. The initial assessment of Honours Class based on M will be considered by the Examiners, who may take note of all information, including performance during the course, achievement in written and practical examinations, performance in any interview, attendance and performance at tutorials, fieldwork and project work, and any special factors such as certified disability or illness, before making the final recommendation of Honours Class.

15. For both BSc and MSci degrees, an initial assessment of Honours Class shall be made using the mean mark M, with reference to the following values:

Mean Mark % Class Awarded
M > 70 First
70 > M > 60 Upper Second
60 > M > 50  Lower Second
50 > M > 40 Third (only possible with B.Sc)

The overall final mean mark M is always rounded to an integer. A candidate with an M of less than 40 normally will not be recommended for an Honours degree. Candidates whose mark M falls within 1% below a class boundary may be considered for raising to the higher class.

16. Notwithstanding paragraph 10 above, the Department of Earth Sciences Board of Examiners may nominate any course that must be included in the average (with weight unity), or that must be passed. If this course unit is not passed, but the candidate otherwise satisfies the requirements for a degree under UCL regulations, the candidate may be considered for a BSc Combined Sciences.

17. Only failed elements of a course may be re-examined. (Passed elements may not be re-entered to try to achieve a higher mark). The mark obtained on a resit shall be used in the year average in which the course was first entered, provided it does not lower any existing mark for the course. 

18. Students who have normally passed at least 2.5, 6 or 10 course units at the end of years 1, 2 and 3 respectively, and who are not in their final year of a degree programme, may be offered a referral (supplementary assessment) on failed modules provided that the mark is within the referral band for that modules in the current session, and provided also that progression could occur on successful completion of the referral.The details of the referral procedure are given in Appendix A below.

19. BSc candidates who have completed at least 11 course units and passed at least 10 course units, with at least two course-units passed at advanced level, but who fail the requirements for an Honours degree, may be considered for a BSc Ordinary degree. 

20. A student who by the end of the programme of study for the MSci fails to satisfy the conditions for an award of an MSci may opt to (a) to re-enter failed course units on not more than one further occasion; or (b) transfer to the BSc degree and be considered for the award of a BSc degree. Passes in any course units, except resits, taken in the final year will be discounted for the purpose of the award. A student opting for (a), who fails to satisfy the conditions for an MSci award after re-sitting failed courses units, will be considered for an award of a BSc under (b).

Appendix A: 

Referral Procedures
  • The referral mark band for all courses in Earth Sciences is 35 - 39%.
  • Referrals will be offered on any course from within the Faculty for which the student has achieved a mark within the referral band for that course in the current session provided that the theory examination mark is within the referral band or higher.
  • The offer of a referral will not be made if the student would not be able to progress even if successful in the referral.
  • The referral will require the student to submit further assessable material to the Board. This may include written work, attendance at an oral or both. The nature of the written work will be determined by the nature of the failed component(s), but will be the same for all students on a course, and agreed by the Board of Examiners and an External Examiner. 
  • If at least two Examiners are satisfied with the student’s performance in the referral, the pass mark for the component(s) the referral was granted on will be given. Otherwise the original failing mark will stand.