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Policy on remedying failure at PGT level


This Policy only applies to students who first registered on postgraduate taught courses before 1 August 2013. At its meeting on 12 June 2013, the University Senate discontinued the Policy for all students who register on a postgraduate taught course at the University on 1 August 2013 or later, noting that the provisions of this Policy are incorporate in the Requirements for Taught Postgraduate Awards.

The regulations relating to many taught postgraduate degrees within the University require a student to obtain a pass mark (50% or more) in all units of assessment on the programme in order to obtain a degree. Moreover, many modules have only one element of assessment, so that a student who fails one piece of work can technically be denied a degree. The Board of Graduate Studies considered this matter in 2004-05 and decided it did not wish to impose a blanket policy on departments as regards the nature of the remedies to be used in these circumstances. However, the Board did consider that students should have some minimum guarantees that they will have the opportunity to remedy at least some failures on these degrees. The Board also recognised that special considerations would need to apply where a failure arises from either penalties for late submission or from findings of cheating under University Regulations. In the former case, students who have failed due to late submission should not be allowed simply to resubmit the same work in order to achieve a pass mark. As regards cheating, the Board recognised that University regulations on cheating cover a range of practices and that it must be left to the Head of Department, the University Investigating Committee or the Board of Examiners to determine on a case-by-case basis the consequences that should follow where a finding of cheating results in failure.


Each department/Faculty is required to ensure that their regulations and/or examination guidelines relating to taught Masters degrees incorporate the following principles:

1. Students on taught postgraduate degrees should normally be allowed one opportunity to remedy failures in initial assessments in as many modules as equate with at least one-third, and normally no more than one-half, of the total credits awarded in taught moduless on the overall degree (e.g. modules worth at least 40 credits, and no more that 60 credits, on degrees with a total of 120 credits in taught modules). Remedy of fail marks can be by any or a combination of the following methods:

(a) by condoning a fail mark, with or without a requirement that a minimum mark must have been achieved in the initial assessment.

(b) by allowing a fail mark (with or without a requirement that a minimum mark must have been achieved in the initial assessment) to be compensated by a higher mark in another module or an additional module or by an overall average mark in other modules on the degree.

(c) by allowing a student to undertake a further assessment, by way of an examination, re-submission of an assessment, or submission of a new assessment. Where any of these methods is employed, the maximum mark allowed in the further assessment should normally be a bare pass but the Board of Examiners should have the discretion to award a higher mark in exceptional circumstances.

    2. Where the degree involves a dissertation or similar piece of independent project work, students who fail following an initial submission should normally be allowed one opportunity to re-submit.

    3. Where the failure on an initial assessment in a taught module, dissertation or similar piece of independent project work is the result of penalties for late submission, the student should normally not be allowed to revise or resubmit the same assessment in order to remedy that failure but should be required to undertake a new assessment, dissertation or project. Where it is impracticable for the department to allow the student to undertake a new assessment, dissertation or project that has failed due to penalties for late submission, the initial failure should be allowed to stand [and the matter referred to the Board of Examiners for their consideration of all the circumstances relevant to the case.]

    4. Where a failure results from a finding of cheating under University regulations, it should be for the Head of the department (or his or her authorised deputy), the University Investigating Committee or the Board of Examiners to determine whether the student should be allowed to remedy that failure by any of the above methods. University regulations provide Heads or their authorised deputies and Investigating Committees with a clear power to disallow a failure resulting from cheating to be remedied.


    This policy was approved by the Board of Graduate Studies in 2004-05 as paper BGS 30/04-05 (revised).