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The graduation benchmark for final year students

The University has set out a safety net package of measures to ensure that our support is responsive to the impact of Covid-19. Some of those measures will apply to some students facing particularly difficult circumstances, whereas others will apply universally to all students at a particular level of study, including our newly introduced ‘graduation benchmark’.

Why are we introducing a graduation benchmark? 

The Covid-19 pandemic has required us to change how we teach and assess students in Term 3. We know that for many students, this will be first time completing one or more of the new assessment methods we are now using in place of traditional exams. We also acknowledge that the usual support provided by staff ahead of exams, or the alternative online methods we are now using, will look and feel different when delivered online. 

In response, we have decided it is necessary to provide additional reassurance that those students who fully engage in these new assessment methods will not be disadvantaged by our change to using these methods.  

What is the graduation benchmark? 

Put simply, it is a way of ensuring that your degree classification (e.g. first class, upper second class, lower second class) is not impacted by new assessments submitted after the Covid-19 pandemic most seriously impacted the University at the end of Term 2.  

More specifically, the graduation benchmark is a calculation of your degree mark up to the end of Term 2, which we will use to determine a provisional degree classification. We will then calculate your overall average mark and degree classification as usual at the end of the academic year, taking into account the marks from your assessments in Term 3 that are replacing your final year exams. We will use whichever of the two calculations is higher (the graduation benchmark or the usual calculation of all marks) to determine the final classification of your degree. This means that where you are eligible for a graduation benchmark (see Eligibility below), your degree classification cannot now go down based on your Term 3 assessments (i.e. there is ‘no disadvantage). In addition, as part of the safety net policy, the University is suspending the requirement that students need to pass appropriate amounts of credits within or above a degree classification in order to obtain a specific degree classification.  

Please take the time to carefully read and digest the detailed explanation below of how the graduation benchmark will be calculated and who will be eligible to use it.  

Eligibility  

We are putting this new, exceptional mechanism in place to provide reassurance to students who do their best to perform well in Term 3 assessments but are genuinely impacted by the change to different assessment methods at short notice. We will therefore confirm the following before calculating and using your graduation benchmark: 

  • You have passed enough modules to achieve the required amount of credit for your degree. This is a standard requirement for achieving a Warwick degree, which still applies and is detailed here. 
  • You have not been found guilty of cheating or plagiarism in your Term 3 assessments.  

If you meet these two eligibility criteria, we will automatically calculate your graduation benchmark. You do not need to apply for the graduation benchmark to be taken into account.  

How your graduation benchmark will be calculated 

The graduation benchmark will be calculated by determining the weighted average mark of assessments counting towards your degree submitted up to the end of Term 2 (13 March 2020).1 For clarity, this will be determined by considering assessments in previous years where these would normally be considered as part of your final degree calculation.  

For a student on a three-year degree where only the second and third year marks count towards the overall degree classification, the graduation benchmark for the student would be calculated as follows:

graduation benchmark for final year students

*weighted average calculated for work submitted by 13/3/201

[1] These include assessments with initial deadlines before or on 13/3/20 but where deadlines were extended due to (a) the University-wide 2 week extension, (b) an individual student reasonable adjustment or extension, and (c) a student self-certification.

Example 

We will consider a student on a degree where both intermediate marks (Year 2 in this example) and final year marks (Year 3 in this example) are equally weighted in the final degree calculation (weighting of Year 2 = 50% and weighting of Year 3 = 50%).  

The student obtained 58% overall in their intermediate year (Year 2 average) and had undertaken 50% (% of assessment taken in year) of the final year (Year 3) assessments by 13 March 2020 with a weighted average mark of 65%. They didn’t do so well in their Term 3 assessments, and the overall Year 3 mark (including the Term 3 assessments) was 60%.  

The graduation benchmark is then calculated (to 1 decimal place) as:  

graduation benchmark example 1

The ‘normal’ degree calculation using the full marks obtained including the Term 3, Year 3 marks (60%) would be: 

normal benchmark example 1

In this case the graduation benchmark was higher than the actual marks and the exam board use this higher figure to determine the degree classification. 

Example 

We will consider a student on a degree where the years are weighted Year 1 (10%), Year 2 (30%), and Year 3 (60%) in the final degree calculation. The student obtained 64% in Year 1, 68% in Year 2 and has undertaken 33.3% of all Year 3 assessments prior to 13 March 2020 with a weighted average of 76%. They didn’t do so well in their Term 3 assessments, and the overall Year 3 mark (including the Term 3 assessments) was 70%. 

The graduation benchmark is then calculated (to 1 decimal place) as: 

graduation benchmark example 2

The ‘normal’ degree calculation using the full marks obtained including the Term 3, Year 3 marks (60%) would be: 

normal benchmark example 2

In this case the graduation benchmark was higher than the actual marks and the exam board use this higher figure to determine the degree classification. 

Example 

We will consider a student on an Integrated Master’s degree where the years are weighted Year 1 (10%), Year 2 (20%), Year 3 (30%) and Year 4 (40%) in the final degree calculation. The student obtained 64% in Year 1, 68% in Year 2, 76% in Year 3 and has undertaken 33.3% (0.333 of the year) of all Year 4 assessments with a weighted average of 72%. They didn’t do so well in their Term 3 assessments, and the overall Year 4 mark (including the Term 3 assessments) was 66%. 

The graduation benchmark is then calculated (to 1 decimal place) as:

graduation benchmark example 3

The ‘normal’ degree calculation using the full marks obtained including the Term 3, Year 4 mark (66%) would be: 

normal benchmark example 3

In this case the graduation benchmark was higher than the actual marks and the exam board use this higher figure to determine the degree classification. 

When the graduation benchmark will be used 

The exam board will calculate your degree outcome using your actual marks obtained throughout your degree, including marks from assessments taken in Term 3, 2020. If the calculation provides a final degree mark that is higher than your calculated graduation benchmark, your degree will be classified based upon this higher figure. If after all other aspects of the safety net have been considered and it appears that your final degree mark will be lower than your calculated graduation benchmark, the exam board will classify your degree based upon the graduation benchmark figure. This will ensure that your degree classification is based on the higher of the two options. 

Is it possible to know my graduation benchmark now? 

Assessment marks are provisional until they are confirmed by the Exam Board in July, which allows time for our rigorous quality assurance checks to be undertaken and for the marks to be passed between departments for students on joint degrees or taking ‘outside options’. The graduation benchmark will therefore be calculated for the meeting of the Exam Board in July and not before. We will do this automatically at the same time as we calculate your final degree mark in the usual way so that we can use the higher of the two results to classify your degree.    

What will appear on my degree certificate and HEAR?  

Degree certificates simply state your name, your degree and the classification (e.g. First Class). Only the final classification will appear on the certificate, regardless of whether it is based on the usual calculation or the graduation benchmark. 

The actual marks awarded for each module (including Term 3 assessments) will be recorded in your HEAR (Higher Education Achievement Report) along with the final degree classification awarded.