Examinations and degree Assessment


Examinations are normally taken in the Summer Term, although a few may take place outside this time (including GEOL1013 The Earth, which will take place at the end of the module). A timetable for each student should be available by the Easter vacation, and students should remember to take their candidate identifier to each exam. General UCL information can be accessed from the UCL Current Students pages: Examinations and Awards. This includes dates, conduct, procedures concerning deferred examinations and extenuating circumstances.  Advice may also be sought from the Exams Liaison Officer, Susie Rizvi.

7. Progression and Award of Degree

Information on how a student progresses through the programme – what does a student need to complete and pass to be awarded a degree; what are the criteria for condonement (if applicable), what are the consequences of unsatisfactory progress

UCL regulations for Progression and for Consideration of the Award of a Degree can be found in the Academic Manual.

The MAPS Faculty variation applicable to Earth Sciences students is in the Academic Manual Derogations and Variations.

Students should refer to the above for the definitive UCL requirements, but in essence:

Award requirements: A minimum of 11 out of 12 course units must be passed for the award of a BSc degree and 14.5 out of 16 course units for the award of an MSci. Students must also have satisfied the Honours Degree Modern Foreign Language Requirements (see Academic Manual Section 9.3).

Students also need to complete 12 course units to be awarded a BSc, and complete 16 course units to be awarded an MSci. Completion applies to any component representing more than 20% of a module, and any other component specified by the department with a lower weighting. This will be publicised to students. For such a component, the submission of less than 70% of set pieces of coursework will result in the coursework component being deemed incomplete, and the student will receive a mark of zero. An unseen examination component is deemed complete if a student has submitted an answer that can be academically assessed. The mark awarded, however, might be zero. If a candidate makes little or no attempt at the examination, the component and the module as a whole will be deemed ‘incomplete’.

Weighted mean marks from every year count to the final grade of your degree.

The pass mark for years 1 – 3 is 40%, and for Masters-level modules in Year 4 is 50%. Failed components of any modules failed in one year are automatically entered as resits for the following year. In some cases a referral may be offered in the same year if the module has been failed by a narrow margin.

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 BSc)

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.

In summary, candidates within the 1% borderline zone should be subject to the following factors:

· an analysis of the mark distributions for candidates and consideration given to a preponderance of marks of a class, such as half of the marks or the majority of marks, where appropriate;

· a consideration as to whether there is “exit velocity” in the candidates’ performance;

· particular emphasis placed on course units of higher value or those with a significant research element;

· attention to those marks which have a particular significance for the overall classification.

Progression requirements:

Year 1 to 2: Pass a minimum of 3.5 course units out of 4

Year 2 to 3: Pass a minimum of 7 course units out of 8, be complete in year 1 and in addition an MSci student must have a weighted mean of year 1 and 2 of at least 60% and at least a weighted mean of 60% in year 2.

Year 3: Graduate with a BSc - pass a minimum of 11 course units and complete 12.Three course units must be passed at Advanced Level (Level 6).

Year 3 to Year 4: Pass a minimum of 11 course units and attain an overall minimum weighted mean (the BSc result) of 60% or greater and a year 3 weighted mean of 60% or greater. MSci students who fail to meet these criteria will be considered for a BSc degree. Three course units must be passed at Advanced Level (Level 6) for progression or graduation.

Year 4: Graduate with an MSci - pass a minimum of 14.5 course units and complete 16. Three course units must be passed at M-Level (Level 7).

If an MSci student satisfies the course unit requirements and any other Faculty specific requirements but does not satisfy the 60% requirements, but has a weighted mean of 50% or greater the department may make application to the Faculty for continuance on the MSci programme. However, the Faculty is under no obligation to approve the progression. If progression is not permitted the student will be transferred to the corresponding BSc programme.

18. Information on assessment

Students will be assessed on their coursework and fieldwork throughout the year, and by unseen examinations which normally taking place during the third term.

Coursework is assessed using a wide range of methods, including weekly written submission of practical work or problem sheets, on-line quizzes, of by submission of essays or reports through Moodle, on-line quizzes. group or independent work and. Fieldwork assessment may be based on field notebooks, field exercises, or preparation of a map, for example.

Earth Sciences Departmental Policy on coursework

  • Coursework will be given throughout the First and Second terms during scheduled laboratory classes and will often require students to complete it in their own time.
  • Each Moodle page will list major coursework components (those carrying 10% or more of the total marks for the module) and most smaller coursework items, together with the submission deadlines. Note: occasionally module organisers may need to modify smaller components and their deadlines
  • Deadlines for major items of coursework or project work (counting 20% or more of the total marks for a course) are listed under Information for current students.
  • Coursework deadlines will be distributed as evenly as possible throughout the teaching terms although, because students follow different degree programmes, homogeneous coursework loading may not always be achieved.
  • Students should complete and submit all set coursework. Where the coursework component is worth more than 20% of the total module mark, the submission of less than 70% of set pieces of coursework will result in the coursework component being deemed Incomplete, and awarded 0%. (See Section 6.1 above and Section 2.8 of the Academic Manual). Students may not graduate with an Incomplete, and the component should be completed at the earliest opportunity the following year.
  • Coursework should be handed to the staff member in class, brought to a staff-member’s room or submitted to a departmental administrator, as directed. No responsibility will be accepted for coursework left in a staff pigeonhole.

Students are responsible for presenting projects in a respectable and robust way. Major items (e.g. projects) should be handed in to the Academic Administrator. Do not leave them in the mail boxes of individual staff members.

What are the marking criteria and learning outcomes?

General information is given for each module by clicking on the appropriate link from the Undergraduate Module list https://www.ucl.ac.uk/earth-sciences/study/undergraduate/modules/, including aims and outcomes, and assessment outline for an excellent, typical and threshold performance. More detailed information is given on the module Moodle pages.

What marking scale is in use on the programme?

Coursework which is graded will be assigned either a numerical mark, or a letter:

Percentage Mark Letter grade Equivalent to:
90 – 100 A++

First Class

80 – 89 A+
75 – 80 A
70 – 74 A-
67 – 69 B+

Upper Second Class

64 – 66 B
60 – 63 B-
57 – 59 C+

Lower Second Class

54 – 56 C
50 – 53 C-
47 – 49 D+

Third Class

44 – 46 D
40 – 43 D-
Allowed a pass E
F Fail

Equivalence of letter grades used on coursework and percentage marks; note that + and – may not be used by all staff.

How will marks be combined to reach a classification?

Details regarding the relative weightings attached to the mean marks for each year of the degree programme are given in Chapter 8 of the Academic Manual, Derogations and Variations: Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences. In essence:

The relative weightings attached to the mean mark for each of the years of the programme are 1:3:5 for the BSc, and 1:3:5:5 for an MSci programme not involving a year abroad. The relative weightings for the MSci programme with a third year abroad are normally 1:3:2.5:5.

  • In the first year the best four half-course-unit results will be weighted by one, the balance being half-weighted;
  • In the second and third years the best six half-course-unit results will be weighted by one, the balance being half-weighted,
  • In the fourth year all half-course-unit results will be weighted equally.
Vital

Students should complete and submit all set coursework. Where the coursework component is worth more than 20% of the total module mark, the submission of less than 70% of set pieces of coursework will result in the coursework component being deemed Incomplete, and awarded 0%.

What is feedback, and how will students recognise it (questions in lectures, emails etc.)? How and when will students receive feedback on their work and what will it look like?

Feedback can take a variety of forms, for example:

  • orally, in response to questions in the classroom
  • in the form of detailed written comments on individual pieces coursework
  • as a letter grade only on summative assessed work (work designed to test your knowledge and understanding rather than as part of the learning process)
  • as general feedback on Moodle or in the classroom

It is our responsibility to ensure that you receive timely and informative feedback on your questions during scheduled teaching periods, and when returning your submitted work. It is your responsibility to study and act on the feedback provided, so that you can improve and develop your work where appropriate. If you have any queries about your feedback, please ask the member of staff or teaching assistant concerned.

UCL Service standards on feedback summarises the timing and nature of feedback which can be expected by students. Furthermore, within Earth Sciences

  • Where the coursework forms a minor component (<10% of the total marks for the course), or is an integral part of the learning process, the assessed coursework should normally be returned to the student within 2 weeks of submission.
  • Assessment of coursework may be carried out either by the appropriate member of staff or by an appropriately-trained teaching postgraduate teaching assistant (PGTA). Where assessed by a PGTA, all such coursework will be moderated by the course organiser and assigned a final mark.
  • In the case of courses comprising 100% coursework, marks may not be given to students prior to the final examination board, and coursework may not be returned to the student afterwards unless required in the following academic year.
  • All coursework should be returned in class or in sealed envelopes addressed personally to each student or from a secure place such as a departmental office.

UCL Standard turnaround time for feedback

UCL Feedback Turnaround Policy

Regular feedback is an essential part of every student’s learning. It is UCL policy that all students receive feedback on summative assessments within one calendar month of the submission deadline. This feedback may take the form of written feedback, individual discussions, group discussions, marker’s answers, model answers or other solutions (although students should note that UCL is generally unable to return examination scripts or comments on the same). Students writing dissertations or research projects should also expect to receive feedback on a draft on at least one occasion.

If, for whatever reason, a department/division cannot ensure that the one calendar month deadline is met then they will tell students when the feedback will be provided - it is expected that the extra time needed should not exceed one week. Where feedback is not provided within the timescale, students should bring the matter to the attention of their Departmental Tutor or Head of Department.

Further information:

For written examinations, a link to the UCL Examination Guide for Candidates on the Examinations and Awards website

Examinations

Students must ensure that they are aware of the regulations governing written examinations detailed in the UCL Examination Guide for Candidates on the Examinations and Awards website. Students should pay particular attention to the regulations around examination irregularities. Students who are suspected of any form of cheating or of breaching the Examination Regulations will be investigated under UCL’s Examination Irregularities and Plagiarism procedures.

Intercollegiate Exams

UCL students taking examinations at other colleges as part of the University of London’s Intercollegiate Scheme must abide by the regulations of the college they are attending. Similarly, students from other colleges taking examinations at UCL are subject to UCL’s regulations for examinations.

Further information:

For coursework submissions, clear information about where and how to submit work, including details of any electronic submission methods and the technical support available

Coursework may need to be submitted in class, to the Departmental Office, or electronically. For example, students may need to upload work through Turnitin on Moodle, and sufficient time should be allowed to do this. Students will be advised by the module organiser or through Moodle. Module organisers should be advised of any difficulties with submission, and the IT Manager may be able to provide some support for computing issues.

Information about penalties for late submissions

Late Submission Penalties

Planning, time-management and the meeting of deadlines are part of the personal and professional skills expected of all graduates. For this reason, UCL expects students to submit all coursework by the published deadline date and time, after which penalties will be applied.

If a student experiences something which prevents them from meeting a deadline that is sudden, unexpected, significantly disruptive and beyond their control, they should submit an Extenuating Circumstances (EC) Form. If the request is accepted, the student may be granted an extension. If the deadline has already passed, the late submission may be condoned i.e. there will be no penalty for submitting late.

Further information:

Information about absence from assessment

Absence from Assessment

Any student who is absent from an assessment will receive a mark of zero unless they obtain authorisation for the absence and formally defer their assessment to a later date by submitting a request for Extenuating Circumstances. Absences from assessment need to meet the criteria for Extenuating Circumstances and be supported by appropriate evidence. If Extenuating Circumstances are not approved, the mark of zero will stand.

In line with UCL’s obligations for students studying under a visa, Tier 4 students must also obtain authorisation for any absence from teaching or assessment activities under the Authorised Absence procedures.

Further information:

Information about word counts and penalties

Word Counts

Assignment briefs will include clear instructions about word counts, the inclusion of footnotes, diagrams, images, tables, figures and bibliographies etc. Students are expected to adhere to the requirements for each assessment. Students exceeding these parameters may receive a reduction in marks.

Further information:

Information about the consequences of failure

Reassessment

The Programme Scheme of Award describes the modules which students must complete and pass in order to achieve their degree. Where a student fails to meet these requirements at the first attempt, and there are no Extenuating Circumstances material to that failure, they may be reassessed on one more occasion only, unless they have been awarded a degree, are eligible for the award of a degree, or have been excluded from UCL on the grounds of academic insufficiency or as a result of misconduct. Students who have passed a module are not permitted to resit or repeat that module.

Students who fail in up to 60 taught credits (2 course units) will be required to Resit in the Late Summer Assessment Period. Students failing 60 or more credits will be required to Repeat the module(s), with tuition, in the following academic year. There are separate provisions for students who fail due to Extenuating Circumstances - the Extenuating Circumstances Panel will determine the nature and timing of the Deferral, which may be offered with or without tuition/ attendance.

Taught Postgraduate students who meet the Condonement Criteria will meet the Progression and Award Requirements and will not be permitted a further attempt.

Further information:
Capping of Reassessment Marks

The marks for modules passed at the second attempt will be capped at the Pass Mark: 40% for modules at levels 4, 5 and 6 and 50% for modules at level 7. Students who defer their first attempt due to Extenuating Circumstances will not have their marks capped. Students deferring their second attempt (i.e. Extenuating Circumstances on a Resit or Repeat) will have their marks capped.

Information about accepted referencing methods on the programme

Students submitting written reports, dissertations or projects will be advised on accepted referencing methods for the module. The UCL Library Guide to References, Citations and Avoiding Plagiarism is a useful source of information.

Information about academic integrity (plagiarism) in the discipline

Students should take careful note to understand what is meant by plagiarism and collusion in their studies, and ensure they understand and can distinguish between what coursework should be undertaken independently; whether peer support and discussion are permissible; and what is group work. Collusion is defined as collaboration by two or more candidates in the production of assessed coursework unless appropriate authorisation from the Course/Module Organiser (s) to do so has been given. Where collusion between two or more students is established, all students concerned will be penalised.

Information about UCL’s examination irregularities and plagiarism procedures

Examination Irregularities and Plagiarism

UCL students are expected to be aware of and adhere to UCL’s referencing and examination requirements as a condition of their enrolment:

  • For examinations, the UCL Examination Guide for Candidates is published annually on the Examinations and Awards website. All candidates for written examinations must ensure they are familiar with the requirements for conduct in examinations set out in this guide.
  • For coursework submissions, students must ensure that they are familiar with the UCL Library Guide to References, Citations and Avoiding Plagiarism which provides detailed guidance about UCL’s referencing and citation requirements. Students should also ensure that they are familiar with the specific referencing requirements of their discipline.

UCL will use plagiarism detection software to scan coursework for evidence of plagiarism against billions of sources worldwide (websites, journals etc. as well as work previously submitted to UCL and other universities). Most departments will require students to submit work electronically via these systems and ask students to declare that submissions are the work of the student alone.

Any student suspected of examination misconduct, plagiarism, self-plagiarism, collusion, falsification or any other form of academic misconduct which is likely to give an unfair advantage to the candidate and/or affect the security of assessment and/ or compromise the academic integrity of UCL will be investigated under the Examination Irregularities and Plagiarism procedures. If misconduct is found, students are likely to be failed for that assignment and/ or module. Serious or repeated offences may lead to failure of the whole year, suspension or even expulsion. A breach of copyright or intellectual property laws may also lead to legal action.

Further information:

Information about Marking, Second-Marking and Moderation

Marking, Second-Marking and Moderation

All work that is submitted for summative assessment is marked by a UCL Internal Examiner or Assistant Internal Examiner. All UCL programmes also include rigorous second-marking and internal moderation processes to ensure that marking is consistent and fair. Second-marking can take a number of different forms depending on the type of assessment, but the overall aim is to ensure that marking is as accurate as possible. Internal moderation also helps UCL to ensure that marking is equitable across different modules, pathways, options and electives.

Information about the External Examiner process and how to access reports via Portico

External Examining at UCL

External Examiners are senior academics or practitioners from other universities who help UCL to monitor the quality of the education we provide to our students. In particular, External Examiners scrutinise the assessment processes on each programme, helping UCL to ensure that all students have been treated fairly, that academic standards have been upheld and that the qualifications awarded are comparable with similar degrees at other UK universities.

Each External Examiner submits an annual report. Faculties and departments are required to reflect on any recommendations and address any issues raised in a formal response. The report and response are discussed with Student Reps at the Staff-Student Consultative Committee, and are scrutinised by faculty, department and institution-level committees. Students can access their External Examiner’s report and departmental response via their Portico account or by contacting their Departmental Administrator in the first instance or Student and Registry Services directly at examiners@ucl.ac.uk.

19. Extenuating Circumstances and Reasonable Adjustments

Information about Reasonable Adjustments

Reasonable Adjustments

UCL will make Reasonable Adjustments to learning, teaching and assessment to ensure that students with a disability are not put at a disadvantage. UCL also provides Reasonable Adjustments for students who might not consider themselves to have a ‘disability’ but who nevertheless would benefit from additional support due to an ongoing medical or mental health condition. It is the responsibility of the student to request Reasonable Adjustments, and students are encouraged to make a request as early as possible.

Further information:

Information about Special Examination Arrangements

Special Examination Arrangements

Special Examination Arrangements (SEAs) are adjustments to central or departmental written examinations which can be made as a Reasonable Adjustment for students with a disability or longer-term condition or as a form of mitigation for students with shorter-term medical Extenuating Circumstances. This may include, but is not limited to extra time, a separate room, rest breaks and specialist equipment. Students must make an application to use the special examination facilities.

Further information:

Information about when, where and how to submit a claim for Extenuating Circumstances

Illness and other Extenuating Circumstances

UCL recognises that some students can experience serious difficulties and personal problems which affect their ability to complete an assessment such as a sudden, serious illness or the death of a close relative. Students need to make sure that they notify UCL of any circumstances which are unexpected, significantly disruptive and beyond their control, and which might have a significant impact on their performance at assessment. UCL can then put in place alternative arrangements, such as an extension or a deferral of assessment to a later date. The Extenuating Circumstances Panel will determine the nature and timing of the deferral, which may be offered with or without tuition/ attendance.

Longer-term conditions

The Extenuating Circumstances regulations are designed to cover unexpected emergencies; they are not always the best way to help students who might have a longer-term medical or mental health condition or a disability. Although there may be times when it is necessary for such students to use the EC regulations, students should make sure they are aware of, and take advantage of, all the other support mechanisms provided by UCL such as:

Further information:

Information on fitness to study

Support to Study Policy and Fitness to Study Procedure

Students with physical or mental health concerns are encouraged to make contact with the available support services as early as possible so that UCL can put in place reasonable adjustments to support them throughout their studies. However there may be occasions when a student’s physical or mental health, wellbeing or behaviour is having a detrimental effect on their ability to meet the requirements of their programme, or is impacting on the wellbeing, rights, safety and security of other students and staff. In such cases UCL may need to take action under the Fitness to Study Procedure.

Further Information:
Key Contact in the department

For further information please contact either the Undergraduate Tutor, your Personal Tutor or the Academic Administrator.

20. Changes to Registration Status

Information on how to change, interrupt or withdraw from a programme

Changes to Registration

Students wishing to make changes to their registration status should first discuss their plans with their Personal Tutor or Supervisor who can explain the options available and help students to make the right decision. Students should also ensure that they read the relevant sections of the UCL Academic Manual before making any requests to change their academic record.

Applications must be made in advance of the effective date of change.

Changing modules

If a student wishes to make changes to their individual modules, an application must be made by the Departmental Tutor to the Examinations Office, via the Faculty Office. The deadline for changes to modules during the session is 15 December. Any student wishing to make a change after this date must be referred to the relevant Faculty Tutor.

Further information:

Changing programme

If a student wishes to transfer from one UCL degree programme to another, they must make a formal application. The deadline for change of degree programme during the academic session is 31 October each year. Students should log in to their Portico account and complete the online application under the 'C2RS Home' menu. Students are strongly advised to discuss their plan with the departments involved before requesting a change of programme on Portico.

Further information:

Interruption of studies

If a student requires a temporary break from their studies and plans to resume their programme at a future date, they must apply for a formal Interruption of Study.

Further information:

Withdrawing from a programme

If a student wishes to leave their degree programme prior to completing their final examinations they must apply for a formal withdrawal from their studies. Once withdrawn, the student cannot return to the programme at a later date. Applications must be made in advance of the effective date of change. Students should log in to their Portico account and complete the online application under the 'C2RS Home' menu.

Further information:
Key contacts in the department

Please contact William Burgess - Undergraduate Tutor, Susie Rizvi - Academic Administrator or your Personal Tutor.