Undergraduate Handbook

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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. Detailed information on the exams process in the department is on the Earth Sciences website.  Advice may also be sought from the Exams Liaison Officer, Susie Rizvi.

6.1: Progression and Award of Degree

UCL Regulations for Progression and for Consideration of the Award of a Degree can be found in the Academic Regulations Appendix 3.

UCL Regulations state that students must take 4 course units per year. Typically this comprises 8 modules each valued at a half course unit.

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 also need to complete 12 course units to be awarded a BSc, and complete 16 course units to be awarded an MSci. Being complete in a module means submitting assessable attempts for all assessment components that are worth more than 20% of the total module mark. 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.

All students entering in or after September 2013 must achieve the following in order to progress automatically to the following year, or to graduate with a classified degree:

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

Year 2 to 3:  Pass a total 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.

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.

Year 4: Graduate with an MSci - pass a minimum of 14.5 course units and complete 16.

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.

All students entering in or before September 2012 must achieve the following in order to progress to the following year, or to graduate with a classified degree:

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

Year 3 to Year 4: Pass a minimum of 11 course units and attain an overall minimum weighted average (the BSc result) of 55%. Three course units must be at Advanced Level.

Year 4: Graduate with an MSci - pass a minimum of 14.5 course units and complete 16. 

6.2: Transfer between BSc and MSci and vice versa

BSc students may opt to transfer to the MSci programme up until the 31st March of their Third Year, providing they are qualified to do so. Students on the MSci programme may currently transfer to the BSc degree up to the last Friday of July of the Third Year.

See Academic Regulations Appendix 3

6.3: Year Weightings

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. 

6.4: Completion of Modules

See Section 2.10 of the Academic Regulations

Completion of a module means that a student has been academically assessed in all of the examined elements relating to that module, including examinations and 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 will normally result in the whole module being deemed incomplete. It will be awarded zero, and must be completed subsequently in order to be able to graduate.  

6.5: Resits

Candidates who fail a module will be automatically entered for a resit for the relevant failed component(s). A resit for a theory examination will take place at the normal examination time (usually May of the following year). Coursework or practical component failure should be discussed with the relevant module organiser in terms of work expected and submission date. This is very important as work must be submitted at the same time, or before, the deadline set for the current students. Penalties regarding late submission apply to resit students as well as to current students.

6.6: Referrals


  • The referral mark band for all courses in Earth Sciences is 30-39%.
  • Referrals will be offered in 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 ora or both. The naure 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. 

6.7: Extenuating Circumstances

It is the responsibility of the student to inform the Undergraduate Tutor, or personal tutor, of any circumstance that may affect examination or coursework performance. Extenuating circumstances that may influence examination performance should be notified to the Undergraduate Tutor as soon as possible using the form available on the web (see Appendix 14 of the Academic Regulations). Retrospective excuses cannot be accepted. If a student is ill, a medical certificate or a letter from the doctor or the Student Health Centre must be obtained. In the case of serious illness during the exam period, the Department may provide special alternative arrangements. The Board of Examiners can make allowance for extenuating circumstances only when a student's difficulties are brought to its attention before the Board meets.

6.8 Honours Classifications

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.  

6.9: Borderline Criteria

Criteria for the Consideration of Undergraduate Borderline cases are given in the UCL Academic Regulations Appendix 17.