Academic Manual

7 Marking & Moderation 2017-18


Section 7: Marking & Moderation 2017-18

The following regulations apply to all UCL UG and PGT programmes.

The following substantive changes have been made for 2017-18:

  • The regulations on Sampling have been clarified - if there are any discrepancies in the sample, the sample must be extended. Individual student marks must not be changed until all student marks have been checked.
  • The types of second-marking have been clarified.

7.1 Overarching Principles

Principle 25:

Assessment policies and regulations must respect the academic judgement of the internal examiners in relation to a student’s performance against the published marking criteria.

Principle 26:

All assessment processes, including marking, second-marking and moderation, should be conducted anonymously unless the nature of the assessment makes this impossible.

Principle 27:

Marking must be criterion-referenced and students must be made aware of those criteria in advance.

Principle 28:

Marking scales must be transparent and clearly communicated to students in advance of the assessment.

Principle 29:

All programmes must include rigorous second-marking and internal moderation processes which promote consistency and fairness.

Principle 30:

The assessment process for a programme of study must be scrutinised by an External Examiner.

7.2 Responsibilities

1. Markers are responsible for assessing student work against the published marking criteria, assigning each student a mark according to the relevant marking scale and providing students with feedback on their work.
2. Programme Leaders are responsible for the planning and implementation of appropriate marking, second-marking and internal moderation processes on a programme or group of modules.
3. The Faculty Board of Examiners is responsible for ensuring that appropriate marking, second-marking and moderation systems are in place on all programmes and modules within their remit (see Section 13.3 Faculty Boards of Examiners for further details).

7.3 Markers

1. A UCL marker may be an Internal Examiner or an Assistant Internal Examiner.
2. Markers must be formally appointed as Internal Examiners or Assistant Internal Examiners by the Programme Board of Examiners – see Section 13: Boards of Examiners for further details on the appointment process, duties and responsibilities.
Peer Assessment
3. Students may also be asked to assess each other’s work as a valuable tool in enhancing their assessment literacy. Where Peer Assessment is used in summative assessment, the Internal Examiner(s) responsible for the module/ assessment must ensure that there are clear marking criteria, which are discussed with the students in advance, and that all marks awarded by students are subject to some form of second-marking by an Internal Examiner.

7.4 Anonymity

1. All summative assessments should be carried out anonymously unless the nature of assessment makes this impossible.
2.  Where anonymity is not used, programmes must ensure, to the satisfaction of the External Examiner and the Programme Board of Examiners, that there are robust processes in place for second-marking and internal moderation (see below).
3.  There is no requirement for anonymity for formative assessments.
Examinations and Tests
4.  Examinations and tests must be assessed against Candidate Number only.
5. For coursework submissions, wherever possible, first and second markers should assign marks and provide written feedback based on Candidate Number or Student Record Number only.
6. Where coursework assessments include formative submissions, tutorials and/ or in-class feedback, it is recognised that full anonymity will not always be possible or desirable. Where this is the case, and the first marker knows the student, second-marking and moderation must be carried out anonymously.
Dissertations and Research Projects
7. Where dissertations and research projects involve close working between the supervisor and the student it is recognised that full anonymity will not always be possible or desirable. Where the supervisor acts as a marker for the dissertation or report, the assessment must be subject to full, independent and anonymous second-marking.
Giving Feedback
8.  Feedback and an indicative mark based on the first marker’s comments, but prior to second marking, can be given to facilitate prompt feedback. However, students should be aware that the mark is indicative and subject to second-marking, internal moderation and ratification by the Programme Board of Examiners and the External Examiner.

7.5 Marking Criteria

1. For both summative and formative assessment the marking criteria should be designed to help students understand what they are expected to achieve and the knowledge and skills that will be taken into account in awarding marks.
2. For every summative assessment (i.e. assessments whose results count towards progression, classification and/or the award of a degree), at least one of the following must be made available to students in advance of the assessment:
  a) Grade Descriptors explaining the criteria and providing a detailed description of the qualities representative of different mark classes/grades. Where appropriate, grade descriptors can be agreed at departmental/divisional or programme level.
  b) A Marking Scheme explaining how the assessment is scored, i.e. how points are associated with answers to the question set and attributed to parts of the assessment.
3. Where appropriate, the following should also be made available to all markers and second-markers:
  a) Indicative Answers by the question setter that outline the essential material expected to be considered by relevant answers.
  b) Model Answers that show the correct answer to the question as documented by the question setter.
4. Summative assessment must be criterion-referenced i.e. the assessment evaluates the ‘absolute’ quality of a candidate’s work against the marking criteria; the same work will always receive the same mark, irrespective of the performance of other students in the cohort. 
5. Further guidance for best practice in designing marking criteria, including the identification of the key skills and knowledge being tested, is available from UCL Arena.

7.6 Second Marking


Minimum Requirements

1. All modules must be subject to a form of second-marking.
2. All dissertations/ research projects must be subject to full, independent, second-marking. 
3. Faculties or Department/Divisions may determine and publish policies on the appropriate use of different forms of second marking within the disciplinary context over and above UCL’s minimum threshold requirements.
4.  The options for second marking are:

a) Second marking may be Full or Sampled:
    i. Full second-marking: second markers mark or check all assessments.
    ii. Sampled second-marking: Second markers mark or check a sample, based on defined criteria, of the full set of assessments.
  b) Second marking may be Independent or done by Check Marking: 
    i. Independent marking (also known as double marking): Each marker assigns a mark. The two marks are subsequently reconciled to agree the mark for the assessment.
    ii. Check marking: The second marker determines whether the mark awarded by the first marker is appropriate, but does not give a separate mark. The second marker confirms the mark if appropriate, and brings it to the attention of the first marker if not. Check marking will usually only be appropriate for quantitative or multiple-choice assessments in which answers can be scored objectively rather than requiring qualitative judgement on the part of the markers.
  c) Second marking may be Blind or Open:
    i. Blind second-marking: The second marker is not informed of the first marker’s marks and/ or comments.
    ii. Open second-marking: The second marker is informed of the first marker’s marks and comments before commencing and can take these into account.
  d) Second marking may be Live:
    i. Live marking: Where an assessment is conducted ‘live’ (e.g. oral examinations, presentations, exhibitions, laboratory work, marking clinical work with patients, portfolios of work, group work etc.) the assessment should include provisions for second-marking, internal moderation and External Examiner scrutiny of either the full set of assessments or an appropriate sample. This may take the form of having two or more markers present, inviting the External Examiner to observe the event, recording the event or asking students to submit notes, slides and/ or visual material for these purposes.
Parity Meetings
1. Where an assessment includes multiple pairs of markers it is good practice to hold a parity meeting at the start of the marking process where markers can discuss and develop a shared understanding of the marking criteria. This can include comparing marks for a small sample of student work.
2. Parity meetings are particularly important where there is a large number of markers and where there are new markers in a team.



1. Sampling may be used where a large number of students undertakes an assessment. If the second markers agree with the marks for the sampled students, it can be assumed that marking is accurate for the population. However if the second markers disagree with one or more marks, the sample must be extended to check the accuracy of marks for all students in the assessment. Individual student marks must not be changed unless all marks have been checked.
2. Where sampling is used in second-marking, the sample must include the following as a minimum:
  a) All Fails
  b) Mid-class examples for each class (mid-forties, mid-fifties, mid-sixties, Firsts/Distinctions)
  c) Examples of all upper borderlines (39, 49, 59, 69)
  d) The higher of either: at least 10% of assessments, or at least five assessments.
2. The above is based on the standard UCL marking scale; programmes operating an alternate marking scale should adjust as appropriate.
3. Thresholds for the use of sampling versus full second-marking over and above UCL’s threshold standards may be set at Faculty or Departmental/Divisional level.
Extending the Sample
4. Where there is disagreement over a single mark or a group of marks within the sample, markers must not change individual student marks. Instead, the sample must be extended to check and, where necessary, review the marks of all students in the assessment concerned, with particular attention being paid to students with similar marks to those being contested, and to those marks falling close to a classification boundary.
5. Extension of the sample must demonstrate to the External Examiner and the Programme Board of Examiners that marking across the assessment concerned is sound and fair and that no student is advantaged or disadvantaged by being included in the sample (i.e. markers must not only change the marks of students in the sample; all marks must be reviewed).


Reconciliation of Marks

1. All marks must be agreed by the markers. Where there is disagreement, the markers must adopt one of the following:
  a) For mark differences of 10% or more, or which bracket a class boundary, the marks be reconciled through discussion of the marking criteria. Mathematical averaging should not be used.
  b) For mark differences of less than 10%, the mark may be reconciled by discussion of the marking criteria or by mathematical averaging.


Third Markers

1. A third marker may be brought in where a first and second marker are unable to agree on a final mark. The third marker’s role is not to over-ride the two previous markers, but to contribute to resolving the discussion with reference to the marking criteria.
2. Third marking to reconcile disagreements between first and second markers must not be carried out by the External Examiner (see Chapter 6, Section 4: External Examining). However, subsequently bringing third-marked work to the attention of the External Examiner is good practice.


Documentation of Marking

1. Marks and how marks are arrived at must be transparent for Programme and Faculty Boards of Examiners, External Examiners, students, and, if necessary, complaint panels. 
2. The first mark, second mark and the agreed mark must be recorded separately. 
3. Justification for marks awarded must be documented in one of the following forms: 
  a) Examiner’s comments from both the first and, where applicable, second marker. These comments may be identical to the feedback provided to the student.
  b) Model answers and evidence of the scoring of the assessment by the first and, where applicable, second marker.

7.7 Internal Moderation

1 All programmes must have internal moderation systems in place to assure the consistency of marking and the proper application of the marking criteria across markers, students and modules. 
2.  Internal moderation may include, but is not limited to:
  a) Checks to ensure that marking is comparable across marking pairs or teams
  b) Checks to ensure that marking is comparable across different options and electives
3. Where the internal moderation process identifies substantial discrepancies, third-marking of a set of assessments may be required.