Assessment and Examinations
In this section:
1. Principles of Assessment
The University is committed to providing fair, valid and reliable assessment, both formative and summative, and The Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy at
We aim to apply these principles in all of our assessments. One of your responsibilities is to ensure that you make the most of any assessment set. While formative assessments may not 'count' to your degree classification they provide essential feedback for your learning.
A final point to note about assessment is that if you feel something has affected your performance it is your responsibility to let your department know as soon as possible. The formal requirements for notification of illness and other extenuating circumstances are given elsewhere. However you have the responsibility to ensure both the University and department are aware of issues such as dyslexia, visual impairment, hearing impairment, mobility impairment (or other factors) that might influence how you perform in an assessment. Do not assume that if the University is aware of a problem that the department is also. Confidentiality requirements restrict the flow of such information.
At University a great responsibility for learning is placed on the student. No matter how much or how well we 'teach', ultimately your success depends on you learning and understanding the material.
2. Criteria for Assessment
The University has also adopted the institution-wide assessment criteria set out below, which form the framework within which individual departments are expected to publish both Level- and task-specific assessment criteria for each major assessment type:
The institution-wide criteria have been structured in such a way as to indicate a student’s intellectual progression and development at each stage of the learning experience. The levels referred to below relate to the Quality Assurance Agency’s Higher Education Qualifications Framework and broadly equate to the corresponding levels of an undergraduate degree programme as follows:
- Certificate Level (C) = FHEQ Level 4
- Intermediate Level (I) = FHEQ Level 5
- Honours Level (H) = FHEQ Level 6
- Masters (MSc) Level (M) = FHEQ Level 7
To fulfil the requirements for progression at level C, students should be able to demonstrate:
To fulfil the requirements for progression at level I, students should be able to demonstrate:
Students are able to demonstrate the following, with respect to the criteria relevant to their discipline:
Students are able to demonstrate the following, with respect to the criteria relevant to their discipline:
Students are able to demonstrate the following, with respect to the criteria relevant to their discipline:
To the extent that the following criteria apply to their discipline, students demonstrate no, or very limited evidence of:
To fulfil the minimum or threshold requirements at level M, students should be able to demonstrate:
Masters degrees are awarded to students who have demonstrated:
Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:
a. deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences;
b. demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level;
c. continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level;
and will have:
d. the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring:
- the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility;
We put stickers on the front of your exam essays for the use of the markers:
The stickers’ primary use is to provide summary information to the internal moderators and External Examiners. They are not designed as rigid marking schemes and should not be used as such: an essay may display a lot of accurate knowledge and therefore have a tick in the 2i or even 1st box, but if it is not addressing the question then the overall grade will reflect that. Similarly, an error concerning a fundamental concept may outweigh a set of accurate facts.
The stickers are also not designed for feedback to students. Marking essays is a very different thought process to providing constructive feedback. This is why we do that in a tutorial setting.
|Grading Categories (UG - level 2 upwards)||
Grading Categories – broad outlines
3. Use of unfair means in the assessment process
Advice to Students (non invigilated exams)
Remember some key principles: before submitting coursework ask yourself “Is this piece of work all my own?”; never cut and paste someone else’s material into your work (exceptions to this might be properly referenced diagrams); never ask for a copy of someone else’s work; never give copies of your work to someone else (other than appropriate members of University staff). If you are unsure about what is acceptable practice ASK!
For further information, see the University page:
Undergraduate programme students
The University expects its graduates to have acquired certain attributes.. Many of these relate to good academic practice:
Masters (MSc) programme students
The University expects its graduates to meet certain criteria relating to good academic practice. These include:
Throughout your programme of studies at the University you will learn how to develop these skills and attributes. Your assessed work is the main way in which you demonstrate that you have acquired and can apply them. Using unfair means in the assessment process is dishonest and also means that you cannot demonstrate that you have acquired these essential academic skills and attributes. (See the Sheffield Graduate)
|What constitutes unfair means?||
The basic principle underlying the preparation of any piece of academic work is that the work submitted must be your own work.
1. Plagiarism (either intentional or unintentional) is using the ideas or work of another person (including experts and fellow or former students) and submitting them as your own. It is considered dishonest and unprofessional. Plagiarism may take the form of cutting and pasting, taking or closely paraphrasing ideas, passages, sections, sentences, paragraphs, drawings, graphs and other graphical material from books, articles, internet sites or any other source and submitting them for assessment without appropriate acknowledgement.
2. Submitting bought or commissioned work (for example from internet sites, essay “banks” or “mills”) is an extremely serious form of plagiarism. This may take the form of buying or commissioning either the whole piece of work or part of it and implies a clear intention to deceive the examiners. The University also takes an extremely serious view of any student who sells, offers to sell or passes on their own assessed work to other students
3. Double submission (or self-plagiarism) is resubmitting previously submitted work on one or more occasions (without proper acknowledgement). This may take the form of copying either the whole piece of work or part of it. Normally credit will already have been given for this work.
4. Collusion is where two or more people work together to produce a piece of work, all or part of which is then submitted by each of them as their own individual work. This includes passing on work in any format to another student. Collusion does not occur where students involved in group work are encouraged to work together to produce a single piece of work as part of the assessment process.
The issue of collusion may be unclear in the case of practicals. We encourage, and often require you to work together, either in pairs or small groups for practicals, or as study groups. Small group work is an important part of your experience here. So what is allowable and what isn’t? Working as a group to perform the tasks required in a practical or other set piece of work is fine, as is discussing your results and ideas on the interpretation of data.
What is not allowed is writing parts of the assessed work together, or dividing the work such that different individuals do separate aspects but all submit substantially the same material. For example, if you do an experiment in a group you may all get the same results. You can discuss them together and come up with common ideas about their interpretation. You must not then have one member writing one part of the report, e.g. the methods, another the results, another doing the Excel graphs of the data, etc.
So a group of students sharing the raw data for a piece of work they have done is generally acceptable, but the submitted work must be in each individual’s own words and graphics, reflecting their thoughts and interpretations.
5. Fabrication is submitting work (for example, practical or laboratory work) any part of which is untrue, made up, falsified or fabricated in any way. This is regarded as fraudulent and dishonest.
|How can I avoid the use of unfair means?||
To avoid using unfair means, any work submitted must be your own and must not include the work of any other person, unless it is properly acknowledged and referenced.
As part of your programme of studies you will learn how to reference sources appropriately in order to avoid plagiarism. This is an essential skill that you will need throughout your University career and beyond. You should follow any guidance on the preparation of assessed work given by the academic department setting the assignment.
You are required to declare that all work submitted is entirely your own work. Many departments will ask you to attach a declaration form to all pieces of submitted work (including work submitted online). Your department will inform you how to do this.
If you have any concerns about appropriate academic practices or if you are experiencing any personal difficulties which are affecting your work, you should consult your personal tutor, supervisor or other member of staff involved.
The following websites provide additional information on referencing appropriately and avoiding unfair means:
The Library also has information on reference management software
The English Language Teaching Centre operates a Writing Advisory Service through which students can make individual appointments to discuss a piece of writing. This is available for all students, both native and non-native speakers of English.
|What happens if I use unfair means?||
Any form of unfair means is treated as a serious academic offence and action may be taken under the Discipline Regulations.
For a student registered on a professionally accredited programme of study, action may also be taken under the Fitness to Practise Regulations.
Where unfair means is found to have been used, the University may impose penalties ranging from awarding no grade for the piece of work or failure in a PhD examination through to expulsion from the University in extremely serious cases.
|Detection of Unfair Means||
The University subscribes to a national plagiarism detection service which helps academic staff identify the original source of material submitted by students.
This means that academic staff have access to specialist software that searches a database of reference material gathered from professional publications, student essay websites and other work submitted by students.
It is also a resource which can help tutors and supervisors to advise students on ways of improving their referencing techniques. Your work is likely to be submitted to this service.
4. Examinations and Degree Classifications
|The Form and Timing of Examinations||
All modules and half-modules are examined during the semester in which they are taught, usually at the end of the semester (however some examinations make take place during teaching weeks).
The University Regulations define "examination" as a process of assessment (whether by written examination papers, written or practical assignments, continuous assessment of coursework, or other means) which enables the Examiners to return a grade. You will find that different methods of examination are used in different modules or half-modules.
The method of assessment will always be stated in the information handed out at the beginning of a module or half-module.
|Grades and Credits||
Undergraduate. You will be awarded a whole number grade for each module or half-module on the following 100 point scale.
Work not submitted, or work submitted but deemed to be of no academic merit, or work submitted in respect of which credit is refused or denied may not normally be awarded a grade.
To be awarded credits for a module or half-module you must achieve at least a pass grade that is at least grade 50, in the examination. If you do not achieve at least a pass grade you will not be awarded the credits for that module or half-module and this might affect your academic progress.
Masters (MSc). The MSc programme is 180 credits.
|Progression from First Level to Second Level||
If you are awarded 120 credits in your Level 1 examinations you will pass the First Level Examination and can proceed to Level 2. If you pass BMS109 but not your optional 10 credit module (i.e. you have 110 credits) it is possible that you will be allowed to proceed to the second level. This is subject to you gaining at least 30 in your option, and no modules being classified as Not Assessed (see below).
Note:progression with less than 120 credits is a dispensation not a right.
a) You must re-sit any module if your grade was less than 30.
b) If you achieve a grade less than 40 in either of the BMS109 summer examinations you will be required to re-take the examination(s) you failed.
c) No student may progress to the next level of study with a module classified as Not Assessed at the end of the year, i.e. a grade (pass or fail) must have been recorded either at the first sitting or after the Resits and Special Sitting period.
Please also note that while Level 1 examinations do not contribute directly to your final degree classification, when we consider the award of degrees to borderline candidates, all relevant information may be used to form a decision – this includes Level 1 performance. Also, your Level 1 grades may be used when we make decisions over the Year Abroad scheme, industrial placements, Level 3 projects etc.
|Progression from Second Level to Third Level||
BSc & MBiomedsci
If you are awarded 120 credits in the second level examinations you will be allowed to proceed to Level 3. It is possible for you proceed to the third level if you are awarded at least 100 credits, but this needs departmental approval and is not automatic.
This means that you may be allowed to fail up to 20 credits at second level and still proceed to the third level, but this will have consequences for your degree classification (see below) and/or your choice of modules/degree course.
You will need to seek advice from your tutor (or the Chairman of the Departmental Examinations Board, Dr. G.J. Cooper) concerning your situation if you are in this position. If you are awarded fewer than 100 credits you will be required to re-take the examinations in the failed modules or half-modules and obtain sufficient credits to satisfy the requirements stated above. Failure in a module or half-module that is a prerequisite for a third level core module or half-module will also mean that you must retake and pass the examination.
Additionally you will need to achieve a mean weighted level 2 grade of 60. Should you not achieve this then you will move to the BSc.
|Progression from Third Level to Fourth Level||
If you are awarded 120 credits in the third level examinations you will be allowed to proceed to Level 4. It is possible for you proceed to the fourth level if you are awarded at least 100 credits, but this needs departmental approval and is not automatic.
This means that you may be allowed to fail up to 20 credits at third level and still proceed to the fourth level, but this will have consequences for your degree classification (see below) and/or your choice of modules/degree course. You will need to seek advice from your tutor (or the Chairman of the Departmental Examinations Board, Dr. G.J. Cooper) concerning your situation if you are in this position. If you are awarded fewer than 100 credits you will be required to re-take the examinations in the failed modules or half-modules and obtain sufficient credits to satisfy the requirements stated above.
Additionally you will need to achieve a mean weighted level 3 semester 1 grade of 65. Should you not achieve this then you will move to the BSc.
No student may progress to the next level of study with a module classified as Not Assessed throughout the year, i.e. a grade (pass or fail) must have been recorded either at the first sitting or after the August Supplementary Examination period (re-sit period).
|Award of a B.Sc. Degree||
To be awarded an Honours B.Sc. degree you must satisfy two conditions:
In very unusual circumstances, it may be possible for a degree to be awarded to a candidate with 180 credits, although this requires the agreement of both the Department and External Examiners. Also, the degree awarded would be a Pass degree and not Honours. Similarly, students who fail their final year but re-take any modules to gain sufficient credits to obtain a degree will only be awarded a Pass degree.
This means, in effect, that you can fail up to 40 credits in the combined second and third levels and still be awarded an Honours degree, provided your weighted average grade is above the pass mark. However, failing a module does have consequences as all the fail grades awarded for modules where credits are not achieved still contribute to your weighted average grade, and all modules taken are listed on your University transcript.
|Award of an MBiomedSci Degree||
To be awarded an Honours MBiomedSc. degree you must satisfy two conditions:
a) You must have been awarded at least 320 credits in your second, third and fourth level examinations
In very unusual circumstances, it may be possible for a degree to be awarded to a candidate with 280 credits, although this requires the agreement of both the Department and External Examiners. Also, the degree awarded would be a Pass degree and not Honours.
Similarly, students who fail their final year but re-take any modules to gain sufficient credits to obtain a degree will only be awarded a Pass degree.
|MSc Grading Criteria and Award levels||
MSc Grading Criteria and Award levels
For level 1 students only
A single, unified method of degree classification applies to all University of Sheffield students.
The following example illustrates the method as it applies to a standard, three-year Bachelor’s degree, with no Year Abroad or equivalent, and where modules taken at Level 3 carry twice the weight of those taken at Level 2.
Determination of Degree Classifications
Degrees are classified as follows:
At the end of your programme of study, our current practice is that your degree will be classified on the basis of calculations that take account of both the weighted average of the grades you obtain in modules at Level 2 and above, and the profile of the grades (in practice, in the case of a B.Sc., the degree class of your 18th and 15th rank grades are important).
In the calculations, grades are weighted both according to the credit value of each module (e.g. grades for 20 credit modules are worth twice as much as 10 credit modules in the calculation) and according to the Level at which the module was studied (i.e. your Level 3 grades are counted twice relative to those obtained at Level 2).
For level 2 students and above
A single, unified method of degree classification has applied to all University of Sheffield students who commenced Level 2 of their programme of study in the Session 2006-2007 or later.
The following link provides detailed information on the degree classification system:
It should be noted that regardless of the outcomes of Calculation 1 and 2 above, you must have obtained a sufficient number of credits at Level 2 and above for a degree to be awarded, as detailed in the General Regulations for First Degrees.
If you have submitted evidence of mitigating circumstances (e.g. medical/personal) to your department, these may be taken into account by the Examination Board when recommending the class of degree to be awarded. NOTE: Special circumstances do not automatically increase your degree classification even if you are in a borderline region. In all cases increasing a degree classification when the criteria are not met requires a positive action by the Examination Board.
|Regulations for Higher Degrees by coursework||
Extract from General Regulations for Higher Degrees, Postgraduate Diplomas and Postgraduate Certificates [POSTGRADUATE TAUGHT]
Regulations for Higher Degrees by coursework (or coursework and dissertation)
PROGRAMMES OF STUDY
7. For each higher Degree by coursework (or by coursework and dissertation), the Senate shall on the recommendation of the Board make Regulations providing for one or more programmes of study leading to the award of the Degree.
8. The Regulations for each programme of study shall specify the units required of or available to candidates, and may specify other requirements (which may include requirements assigned no value in terms of credits) to be met by a candidate before successful completion of the programme of study. Where the Regulations for a modular programme of study require a dissertation, the dissertation shall be assigned a value of not more than 90 credits. The availability of units specified in the Regulations for a programme of study is subject to the conditions as to pre-requisites and unacceptable combinations of units published on the authority of the Senate. Where a candidate is required to register for a unit, that registration may only be amended with the permission of the Board, on the recommendation of the Head of Department.
9. A reference in a Regulation to a particular programme of study or unit does not mean that the programme or unit will necessarily be available in any particular session. The availability of any unit may be subject to conditions as to the minimum or maximum size of classes, the availability of accommodation, timetabling restraints, and, where the Regulations for a programme of study contain requirements satisfaction of which depends upon the provision of facilities by another institution or body, the agreement of that institution or body.
10. Where a Regulation enables or requires a candidate to make a choice, the candidate’s choice requires approval. The approval of the Head of the Department responsible for the programme of study is required for the subject of a special topic, special study, dissertation, extended essay or project and, where the Regulations require a candidate to make a choice between units, for the candidate’s choice of units. Where the programme of study is the responsibility of more than one Department, the Heads of those Departments will agree on the procedure for giving such approval and publish it to candidates. Except where these Regulations or the Regulations for a particular programme of study provide otherwise, the choice of a unit as an unrestricted unit within a programme of study requires the approval only of the Head of the Department offering the unit.
RECOGNITION OF CREDITS AND EXAMINATIONS
11. The Board may recognise credits obtained or examinations passed in other institutions as equivalent to credits awarded under the Regulations of this University, provided that
(a) in the case of Degrees wholly awarded by the University, the work attracting the credits has not been and will not be submitted for any other Degree and that a higher Degree may not, without the special permission of the Senate, be awarded to any candidate who has not been awarded at least one-half of the required number of credits under those Regulations;
(b) in the case of jointly awarded Degrees, the work attracting the credits has not been and will not be submitted for any other Degree and that a higher Degree may not, without the special permission of the Senate, be awarded to any candidate who has not been awarded at least one-third of the required number of credits under those Regulations.
“Credits awarded under the Regulations of this University” includes credits obtained in respect of a part of a programme of study which a candidate registered in this University is permitted or required by the Regulations to complete away from the University.
MINIMUM PERIOD OF STUDY
12. The programme of study and research for a Master’s Degree by coursework (or coursework and dissertation) shall be not less than one year for a full-time candidate and not less than two years for a part-time candidate.
13. The Examiners shall award in respect of each unit or other part of the programme of study a grade expressed as a whole number on the numerical scale set out in Regulation 38 of the General Regulations as to First Degrees, provided that a grade of 50% shall indicate work of a standard to pass.
AWARD OF CREDITS
14. A candidate who satisfies the Examiners in the examination for a unit or other part of a programme of study shall be awarded the credits assigned to that unit or other part.
15. A candidate who has been awarded credits in respect of any unit or other part of the programme of study may not repeat the examination for that unit or other part.
CREDITS REQUIRED FOR A MASTER’S DEGREE OR POSTGRADUATE DIPLOMA OR CERTIFICATE
16. A candidate who is awarded 180 credits shall thereby pass the Examination for a Master’s Degree. Where the Regulations for a Master’s Degree make provision for a related Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate, a candidate who is awarded 120 credits shall be eligible for the award of the Postgraduate Diploma, and a candidate who is awarded 60 credits shall be eligible for the award of the Postgraduate Certificate.
17. The Examiners may in their discretion recommend that a candidate who is awarded not fewer than 165 credits be deemed to have passed the Examination for a Master’s Degree, providing that the candidate has obtained an average grade of not less than 50 and a grade or grades of not less than 40 in the elements of the programme of study in respect of which credits are not awarded, this calculation to include all units.
18. The Examiners may in their discretion recommend that a candidate who is awarded not fewer than 105 credits be deemed to have passed the Examination for a Postgraduate Diploma, providing that the candidate has obtained an average grade of not less than 50 and a grade or grades of not less than 40 in the elements of the programme of study in respect of which credits are not awarded. In the case of a candidate for a Master’s degree who is being considered for the award of a Postgraduate Diploma, calculation of the average grade shall exclude the dissertation grade.
20. Where a programme of study includes a dissertation, the dissertation shall be of a length and be presented in typed form not later than the time prescribed by the Head of Department.
21. A candidate shall state in the dissertation the sources from which the information it contains is derived and the extent to which the candidate has made use of the work of others.
22. A candidate may not submit a dissertation a substantial part of which consists of material which has been submitted for any other Degree or qualification.
23. A candidate who fails to satisfy the Examiners in respect of any unit or other part of the programme of study (including the dissertation if any) and who has not been recommended for the award of a Master’s Degree or a Postgraduate Diploma may (subject to the Regulations for the particular programme of study and to the General Regulations as to the Progress of Students) enter for a subsequent examination in respect of the unit or submit a revised dissertation on one occasion only. A candidate satisfying the Examiners in a subsequent examination or in respect of a revised dissertation will be awarded a bare pass grade in respect of that unit. In the event that the grade achieved following the subsequent examination is lower than that achieved on the first occasion, the higher grade shall be awarded.
The Board may prescribe conditions to be satisfied by the candidate, and in the absence of any other provision, the re-examination or re-submission shall be within one year of the notification of the first result.
TIME-LIMITS AND EXTENSIONS
24. Except with the permission of the Board, or where the Regulations for a particular programme of study provide otherwise
(a) a full-time candidate must complete the programme of study for a Master’s Degree within a period one year greater than the minimum required to complete the programme of study; and
(b) a part-time candidate must complete the programme of study for a Master’s Degree within a period of two years greater than the minimum required to complete the programme of study.
Applicable time-limits for full-time and part-time candidates may, for good reason, be extended by not more than two years by the Board and, in exceptional cases, by a further period by the Senate on the recommendation of the Board. In any case in which the Board refuses to extend or recommend the extension of a time-limit, the Senate shall consider the case (including the views of the Board) and may grant the extension.
DISTINCTIONS AND MERITS
It has agreed to recommend that there be provision in the General Regulations for the award of distinctions where a student obtains a weighted mean grade of at least 69.5 and achieves a grade of 69.5 or better in at least 90 credits, including the dissertation.
The Examiners will retain the discretion not to award a distinction if appropriate, for example where low marks may have been achieved on core modules. The Committee has also agreed to recommend the award of merits for PGT programmes under similar conditions - a weighted mean grade of at least 59.5 and a grade of 59.5 or better in at least 90 credits, including the dissertation. Distinctions and merits would not be awarded for postgraduate diplomas and certificates.
We anticipate awarding a variety of prizes to Level 1 students, which will appear in your HEAR statement.
There are a number of prizes available for students in their FINAL YEAR.
There is a prize for each degree programme and these are awarded at the discretion of the Examinations Board. A list of the prizes available can be found below.