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P: Option Courses and Assessment for Individual Students

1. A student's choice of option modules from the lists in the Course Regulations is subject to the approval of the Head of the student's department, and may be subject to departmental rules concerning prerequisites and prohibited combinations of modules. No student shall be permitted to take the same module more than once (Senate 138, 192/77-78).

2. The inclusion of a particular module in the Course Regulations shall not imply that the module is available in any one academic year (Senate 138, 192/77-78).

3. Applicable to Final-Year Students only in the Academic Year 2013/14:

(a) Of the total credit obtainable by a candidate for an undergraduate degree [including MEng, MMath etc] not less than 50% must normally be obtainable from tests which are conducted under examination conditions as laid down by the University's Regulations for the Invigilation of Examinations, except that Departments may request approval from the Board of Undergraduate Studies to permit the required proportion of unseen examination for a degree course to be not less than 35%, on the basis that the proportion of assessed work beyond 50% is accounted for by a substantial piece(s) of work (e.g. a dissertation or project) undertaken on an individual basis (Senate 909a(i)/70-71, 151e(i.1.A)/76-77, 12b(i)/03-04).
(b) Departments are required to submit to the Board of Undergraduate Studies for its consideration any requests for exemption from the 50% Rule for individual students (Senate 151e(i.1.A)/76-77).
(c) In the context of the 50% Rule for Undergraduate Degrees, the Senate has resolved that the definition of an examination should be as follows:
"An examination is a piece of work that contributes to the overall mark for a module or course which is undertaken in a controlled environment under the supervision of either examiners and/or invigilators and within a set time-frame. The product of the examination may be a written script (Written Examination), a performance for example in Theatre Studies (Performance Examination), a laboratory experiment (Laboratory Examination) or an oral conversation or presentation (Oral Examination). A record of examinations or other assessments which between them contribute at least 80% of the module mark must normally be available for scrutiny by a moderator and/or external examiner, which may be in the form of a script, audio-visual recording etc" (Senate minute 116(a)/05-06).

Explanatory Note on a. – c. above:

For all students who started their degree programme before 2013, half of the marks contributing towards an undergraduate degree by credit weight had to come from tests conducted under examination conditions - unless an exemption had been granted, which could take that minimum examined proportion down to 35%.

The 50% rule only applied to undergraduate degrees, and from 2013/14 will no longer apply to new students or intermediate -year students – instead academic departments will be able to determine their own assessment strategies, with appropriate requirements in place regarding the proportions of examined element in a degree programme. In 2013/14 the 50% rule will continue to apply to students in their final year (see a.- c above). From 2014/15 the 50% rule will only apply to part-time students continuing in their final year (ie final 120 CATS) of study if the final year (ie final 120 CATS) commenced before 2014/15.

(d) Degree syllabuses shall not normally be drawn up in such a way which makes it impossible for students to abide by the conditions laid out in paragraph 3a above (Senate 31f/83-84)

4. It shall be the responsibility of the Head of the Department, or the Heads of the relevant Departments in the case of a joint degree course, to ensure that details of the syllabuses and method of testing for the following academic year are published during the summer vacation and made available to students at the beginning of each Autumn Term (Senate 136a(vi)72-73).

5. It shall be the responsibility of Heads of Departments to ensure that students are fully aware of the requirements of paragraph 3a above and the implications for their choice of modules (Senate 151e(i.1.B)/76-77).

6. It shall be the responsibility of Heads of Departments to ensure that the details of the syllabuses and methods of testing, which they shall publish before the beginning of the academic year, contain a clear statement in the case of each individual module of the percentage balance between assessment and written work in that module (Senate 151e(i.1.C)/76-77).

8. The assessment scheme approved for a module shall apply to all students taking the module. Students taking option modules outside their own department shall be examined on those modules according to the conventions of the department setting the examination (Senate 151c/76-77).

9. There are provisions for departments to seek approval to vary Course Regulations for individual students, and for approval to be given for students to take unusual options. Course Regulations cannot be varied arbitrarily. Departments may not permit students to take modules which are outside the Course Regulations except by following the formal approval procedure for this sort of variation. Departments must have procedures for allocating students to modules where some modules are likely to be over-subscribed (Senate 93(d)/07-08)

Heads of Departments have the authority to approve variations to Course Regulations for individual students in respect of optional modules. There will be no need to inform the Academic Registrar, but there can be no relaxation in the agreement under which there is no guarantee to accommodate the unusual option in the teaching timetable or in the examination timetable. If the student's particular combination of modules, as approved by the department, proves to be impossible to schedule in the examinations timetable, the department will be responsible for supervising any special examination arrangements (Senate 30th November, 1988).

Students may only vary their module choice for core modules with the permission of the Chair of the relevant Faculty Undergraduate/Graduate Studies Committee/Sub-Faculty. With the exception of Science students taking a credit overload recognised through the Seymour formula, proposals for an individual student to register for more or fewer credits than is normal for a particular year of study can be approved by the Chair of the relevant Faculty Undergraduate/Graduate Studies Committee/Sub-Facuty only where supported by a compelling case (Senate 93(d)/07-08).

10. For students on degrees for which the course regulations permit them to take credit above the normal load for a year’s study of 120 CATS (or such larger figure as may be specified in the relevant course regulations) and up to the maximum permitted load of 150 CATS, their mean mark, in each year of study, shall be the greater of the following two marks:

(i) The arithmetic mean of the marks for all modules taken, weighted according to their credit weighting;


(ii) The arithmetic mean of the subset of whole modules, weighted according to their crdit weighting, which minimally satisfies the course regulations and results in the highest mark. (AQSC 109(b)/12-13)

11. Where departments permit students to register for more modules than required, and subsequently de-register from some of those modules, students may not de-register from a module after a significant proportion (10%) of the assessment has been undertaken (Senate 93(d)/07-08).

12. Course Regulations stipulate the range of optional modules from which students may choose. If the Course Regulations or the department permit a student to take a module at a lower level than suggested by their year/stage of study (e.g. a final year student taking a level C [first-year] module), the credit rating of the module cannot be altered. If departments believe that the module should not count at its full credit weight, they should not permit students to take that module. The Assessment Conventions Working Group has proposed limits on the amount of credit from a lower level that can be counted towards degree classification decisions (Senate 93(d)07-08).

13. Some modules offer students a choice of assessment methods. Where this is the case, students may not change their chosen assessment method to discount a failure to submit a required piece of assessed work, or change their chosen assessment method after the deadline for a significant proportion (10%) of the module assessment has passed. To ensure equity in the treatment of students and to enable the exam timetable to be constructed efficiently, students may not change their chosen assessment method after the end of the fifth week of the Spring Term, even where this is before the deadline for submitting the first piece of assessed coursework (Senate 93(d)/07-08).

14. Where students take an intercalated year, the assessment is usually not counted towards the degree. There is normally a requirement that the student produces a report or other work based on the intercalated year, and this is assessed. Where the report is not of a passable standard, the student is normally transferred to a variant of the degree without Intercalated Year, and the degree certificate makes no mention of the intercalated year. Details should be included in the Course Regualtions and Course Specifications (Senate 93(d)07-08).

15. Students resitting examinations without residence at the University are entitled to sit an examination paper based upon the module content they studied whilst in residence and, if the module has undergone anything other than very minor modifications in the following year, a separate paper must be set (Senate 30(c)/88-89).