Postgraduate Safety Net Policy

Assessment arrangements for Postgraduate Taught (PGT) Programmes

In response to the disruption caused by Covid-19, the University has made a number of changes to the assessment arrangements for our postgraduate taught students. These include amendments to the progression, award and classification regulations and the introduction of a Safety Net Policy. This document provides a summary of these changes with some Frequently Asked Questions.

Designing a Safety Net for our postgraduate programmes is complex because our students are studying full-time and part-time, both on campus and by distance/flexible learning, so disruption has happened at different stages of their studies and sometimes at different times because of where they are located. We have therefore designed the Safety Net to be as flexible as possible whilst maintaining the academic integrity of your award. It will apply to all students who still had outstanding assessments when COVID-19 disrupted their studies.

Safety Net Policy for PGT Programmes

What is the PGT Safety Net Policy?

The PGT Safety Net applies to postgraduate taught programmes affected by Covid-19. This includes full-time and part-time programmes studied on campus or by distance or flexible learning. Its aim is to ensure that, as far as possible, students do not suffer disadvantage due to the Covid-19 pandemic and achieve at least the award they were on track for before the disruption. It uses marks already achieved from taught modules to calculate a 'benchmark' credit weighted average (CWA) year mark for the 2019/20 academic year.

The design of the Safety Net means that if your results improve then you will receive the full benefit of the improvement, but if assessments for your taught modules during the period affected by Covid-19 do not go as well as you hoped, because of disruption to your studies, you will not be disadvantaged.

Does it apply to all programmes?

The policy applies to all students whose studies were still ongoing at the time of the pandemic but not to any programmes where all assessments for modules submitted already prior to the outbreak. Whilst the policy will apply to most programmes, there may be some exceptions where external professional accreditations requirements apply. Where this is the case, your School will advise you.

How do I access the Safety Net?

To access the Safety Net, students are required to have taken all of their remaining taught module assessments and achieve a pass mark in each module from this period (please see Senate Regulation 6, paras 6.31-6.39 for information on the thresholds relating to the number of failed credits at 40-49% permitted for award).

Will the Safety Net apply if I have failed modules?

If you have failed modules during the period affected by Covid-19, you can still access the safety net if you pass the modules following reassessment. We have also amended the progression requirements for this year to allow student to progress and retake up to 90 credits as shown in the table about progression regulations at the end of this document.

What is the benchmark?

We will calculate a benchmark credit weighted average (CWA) for all eligible students and provide this for all Boards of Examiners. We do not provide benchmark calculations to individual students. For the taught modules, the safety net applies at the level of the CWA for module assessment before Covid-19 and in the case of some part-time and distance/flexible learning students, post-Covid-19. The benchmark calculation for individual students will vary. It is dependent on the stage, mode and type of studies (i.e. whether you are studying full-time or part-time, on campus or distance/flexible learning programmes).

The Benchmark CWA is the level below which students’ CWA for the taught component cannot fall for the purposes of the postgraduate degree classification calculation only (including any interim award).

The benchmark for campus-based programmes

For campus-based programmes, we will calculate a Benchmark CWA for all students based on marks achieved in the first semester of this year wherever possible, including marks from the first year of study for part-time students in their second year. Where there are insufficient completed modules to do this, in-module elements from modules spanning semesters one and two may also be included.

The benchmark for distance-learning programmes

For distance/flexible learning programmes a Benchmark CWA will be calculated based on the modules undertaken prior to the University’s response to COVID-19 (and post-COVID-19 where relevant).

How will the benchmark be calculated?

Once assessments affected by Covid-19 have been marked the credit-weighted average (CWA) for the taught component will be calculated, referred to as the Initial CWA.

  • If the Initial CWA is lower than the Benchmark CWA then the Benchmark CWA will be used in the postgraduate degree classification calculation.
  • If the Initial CWA is higher than the Benchmark CWA, then the Initial CWA will be used in the postgraduate degree classification.

The application of the Safety Net at CWA level means that students’ individual module marks will not change only the degree classification will be affected. Marks that fall below the Benchmark CWA will not be adjusted, but the actual mark obtained will appear on students’ transcripts.

Can I ask for a separate benchmark calculated for me?

The benchmark calculation must apply to the whole cohort on each specific programme, so this is not possible. The relevant Board of Examiners will have details of benchmark calculations for all students at the appropriate time to inform their award and classification decisions. We will not be providing individual benchmarks to students.

Projects and Dissertations

Is my project or dissertation in the Safety Net Calculation?

The benchmark CWA only applies to the taught modules. However, for students whose project or dissertation has been disrupted by Covid-19 the threshold mark required from the dissertation/project for merit and distinction classifications has been reduced by 3% as demonstrated in the table below for a programme with 120 taught credits and a 60 credit dissertation.

Award Performance Failed credit

Master's Degree with merit

A dissertation/project mark of at least 60% 57% (grade C) and

Either:

  1. an overall credit-weighted average mark of at least 60%
    or
  2. at least 60 credits at 60% or above from the taught modules, (grade B)

No more than 15 credits with a mark of less than 50%, grade ‘D’ and no mark < 40%, grade ‘F’

Master’s Degree with Distinction

A dissertation/project mark of at least 70% 67% (grade B) and

Either:

  1. an overall credit-weighted average mark of at least 70%
    or
  2. at least 60 credits at 70% or above from the taught modules, (grade A)

No credits with a mark of less than 50%, grades ‘D’ or ‘F’

Mitigating circumstances

Can I apply for mitigating circumstances if my studies are impacted significantly by Covid-19?

You may submit a claim for mitigating circumstances in the normal way but we have suspended the need to provide evidence to support claims in the current situation. If you find that you are not in a position to study you can consider applying for a suspension of studies, you may find this of particular help if you are a distance-learning student. If you think suspension may be the best option for you, you should discuss options with your School, or where appropriate, the Distance Learning Hub. Colleagues will be able to provide further advice and guidance about when a suspension may be the best course of actions and the implications associated with it.

Amended progression regulations

Number of taught module credits failed Progression rules

Up to 30 credits

A student will proceed to, or continue with, the dissertation or research project and is entitled to re-sit failed modules, up to the maximum credit value set out in paragraph 6.24 at the earliest opportunity.

31 - 45 credits

A student will proceed to, or continue with, the dissertation or research project and is entitled to re-sit failed modules, up to the maximum credit value set out in paragraph 6.24 at the earliest opportunity.

If, after reassessment, a student has more than 30 credits of failed modules, they will not be allowed to continue work on the dissertation or research project and shall be considered at the next meeting of the Board of Examiners.

46 – 60 90 credits

A student will not proceed to, or continue with, the dissertation or research project but is entitled to re-sit failed modules, up to the maximum credit value set out in paragraph 6.24, at the earliest opportunity.

If, after reassessment, a student has 30 credits or less of failed modules, they will be allowed to progress to, or continue with, the dissertation or research project.

If, after reassessment, a student has more than 30 credits of failed modules, they will not be allowed to progress to, or continue with, the dissertation or research project and shall be considered at the next meeting of the Board of Examiners.

More than 60 90 credits

A student will not proceed to, or continue with, the dissertation or research project, but is entitled to re-sit failed modules, up to the maximum credit value set out in paragraph 6.24, in order to meet the requirements for an intermediate award where the relevant programme specification makes provision for such an award.

Where there is no provision for an intermediate award, or where the number of credits failed is such that the student cannot redeem a sufficient number to meet the requirements for an intermediate award, a Board of Examiners shall consider the student’s performance and shall withdraw him/her for academic failure.