Details of the PGT Education Safeguard

Principles of the Education Safeguard 

The PGT Safeguard is designed to protect individual students and their degree outcomes by ensuring that: 

  • You are supported to manage your personal circumstances through expanded self-certification of mitigating circumstances and the uncapping of re-sits
  • Campus-based students have the option to defer assessments.
  • The imperative of supporting our students is balanced with the requirement on the University to maintain overall academic standards, as it would not be in the interests of students for their qualifications to be perceived to be of lower value due to the circumstances of this year 
  • No groups of students are disproportionately disadvantaged or advantaged by the combination of new and existing measures.

Education Safeguard measures 

We have built our Education Safeguard for 2020/21 to include a wide range of mechanisms that will support students in different ways, reflecting the different and complex ways the conditions caused by the pandemic have impacted on your studies. Every student faces a different set of circumstances and challenges and we have developed a package of support to cover a broad set of needs.  

The 2020/21 Education Safeguard will consist of the following measures:  

  1. Reducing the Evidence Requirements for Mitigating Circumstances. “Self-certification” (a reduction of evidence requirements for health-related mitigating claims) has been extended for the remainder of the 2020/21 academic year. Self-certification can provide access to a deadline extension or to deferral of an assessment to help support students experiencing significant challenges engaging with their studies during a particular period. You can apply for Mitigating Circumstances to be considered via MyStudentRecord (login required) and full details of the mitigating circumstances policy are available online.
  2. Uncapping of Reassessment. Wherever possible and permitted by PSRB requirements, students will be granted an uncapped reassessment of any failed module. This uncapped reassessment attempt is in addition to any further uncapped reassessment attempts (“sits”) granted through the mitigating circumstances process. A very small minority of modules, e.g. where there may be non-repeatable assessments, could be exempt from this policy: your  school will provide advice on this.
    The maximum number of attempts that a student can make at an assessment at Master's level is 2 and under the Safeguard these will both be uncapped.  Further attempts can only be granted where there are accepted mitigating circumstances. 
  3. An Option to Defer Assessments for campus-based students. For students who may be facing very significant challenges and feel unable to engage with their studies effectively, we have provided more options to defer your assessments to later in 2021. If you choose to defer your May assessments you can take them in August 2021, along with any other re-assessments you may be due to take from the first semester. If you choose to defer your assessments, you should be aware that this will mean that the decision regarding your progression to your dissertation/project, where relevant, may be delayed. If you have too many credits that are not yet passed you may not be able to proceed to your dissertation/project until you have completed and passed your assessments in August. You should discuss your options with your School to ensure that you are aware of the impact of deferral on your studies before making your decision. The option to defer assessment attempts will apply automatically to all students, unless there is a professional accreditation requirement that prevents this. Your School will advise you of any limitations.
  4. An option to suspend your studies: If your circumstances mean that you are unable to study effectively for a significant period of time you may wish to consider a suspense of studies.  Please speak to your school or the DL Hub if you wish to explore this option. 


The circumstances of the pandemic have affected everyone in different ways and students may feel that their performance in their degrees has been impacted. In addition to the measures for individual students set out above the University will also consider the impact of the pandemic when it comes to your final degree classification.  

The normal progression requirements set out in Senate Regulation 6 will apply this year. These require that students pass a certain number of credits before they are able to proceed with their project or dissertation. It is important that you pass enough credits at this point as undertaking a large number of assessments for taught modules whilst also doing a project or dissertation could jeopardise your overall success. If you have either failed or deferred more than 45 credits of assessment you will need to pass your taught modules before you can proceed to your dissertation. 

Award and classification 

To ensure that your overall degree continues to maintain its academic standards the threshold requirements to be awarded a Master's degree will remain in place. Beyond this core threshold for the award of your degree, the University will revise the criteria it uses to award a Merit or Distinction in light of the impact of the pandemic on your ability to work to your full potential.    

If you undertook a one-year taught postgraduate programme starting in September 2020 (either campus based or distance learning), the following measures will apply: 

  • The credit weighted average across the programme that is required for the award of a Merit will be reduced to 59%, and for a Distinction this will be reduced to 69%. 
  • The mark required in the project or dissertation to achieve a Merit award will be reduced to 57% and for a Distinction will be reduced to 67%. 

For a degree with a typical structure of 120 taught credits and a 60 credit project or dissertation, this would mean:  

Award  Performance  Failed credit 
Master's degree  A dissertation/project mark of at least 50% (grade C) and either:
  • an overall credit-weighted average mark of at least 50%, or
  • at least 90 credits at 50% or above from the taught modules (grade C).
No more than 30 credits with a mark of less than 50%, and no mark or less than 40%. 
Master's degree with Merit 

A dissertation/project mark of at least 57% and either:

  • an overall credit-weighted mark of at least 59%, or
  • 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%, and no mark of less than 40%.
Master's degree with Distinction 

A dissertation/project mark of at least 67% and either:

  • an overall credit-weighted average mark of at least 69%, or
  • at least 60 credits at 70% or above from the taught modules (grade A).
No credits with a mark of less than 50%.

Students undertaking a one-year degree starting in September 2020 have been affected throughout their studies. Students who started their degrees either before the 2020/21 academic year or started in January 2021 will see a greater or lesser proportion of their studies affected by the circumstances of this year, and some students may already have benefitted from the PGT Safety Net that was in place for students in 2019/20. 

The University will ensure that each group is treated equitably with reference to how much of their studies has been affected by the pandemic and whether they benefitted from the Safety Net in 2019/20.  Please see examples of the Safeguard for how this may apply to your studies.