Working Out Your Degree Classification- video transcript

Full transcript of the "Working Out Your Degree Classification" video.

Ever wondered how we work out your final degree classification? Some would have you believe it’s the most complex process imaginable, but whilst the process might seem a little complicated from a distance, it’s certainly not as confusing as you might think.

The first thing to remember is that your first year grades do not count towards your final degree classification, so from this point onwards, we’ll only be taking about the grades you received at Levels 2 and 3.
We’re going to be looking at three types of degree in this video. First, we’ll look at the type the majority of you will be studying – a degree comprising of 10 credit modules, or modules with credit values that are multiples of 10. After we’ve done this, we’ll look at courses that include 5, 15 and 25 credit modules, followed by courses with an integrated masters. The process is pretty much the same for all of these scenarios, bar a couple of key differences. But more on that later.

Your degree classification is determined by a four-stage process.

Here are some typical module results obtained in Level 2 and Level 3 of an undergraduate Bachelor’s degree.

Stage 1 – Creating a “Grade Profile”

So, in Stage 1 your grades are weighted in order to create your “Grade Profile.” This allows us to take different module values and module levels into account. To do this, we need to convert all the modules into elements worth 10 credits each. So, any module worth 20 credits becomes two elements of ten credits. As it’s worth double the amount of a 10 credit module, it is therefore counted twice. Similarly, a module worth 60 credits carries six times the weight of a 10 credit module, so it becomes six elements of ten credits each, and is counted six times.

Once we have created modules of ten credits each, the module grades are then weighted according to their level. Modules taken at Level 3 are worthtwice as much as those taken at Level 2, and so are counted twice. This gives a total of 36 grades, which together make up your final weighted “grade profile” [emphasise the phrase ‘grade profile’].

Stage 2 – Calculating the weighted average grade

Now that we have our grade profile of 36 grades, we can move on to Stage 2 – calculating the weighted average grade. This part is much simpler. All you have to do is add up the 36 grades and divide them by 36 – in our example this gives us an answer of 65.4.

Our weighted average grade can then be converted into a preliminary degree classification by referring to a standard table used across the University [display table]. The preliminary degree classification for our example is a 2.1, as 65.4 is greater than 59.5 but less than 68. You’ll notice that some weighted average grades fall into borderline categories, but in this case, the first preliminary classification is a straight 2.1.

Stage 3 - Calculating the distribution of the weighted grades

With our first preliminary classification calculated, we can proceed to Stage 3 – calculating the distribution of the weighted grades.

This is done by ranking the grades from 1 to 36, with the highest grade achieved positioned at number 1 and the lowest at 36. The middle grade (the 18th) is taken and used to calculate a second preliminary degree classification using a second standard University table. In our example, the 18th grade is 65 - this indicates a 2.1 classification, as the grade is greater than 59.5 but less than 69.5.

Before the second preliminary classification can be confirmed, however, it’s necessary to check whether it falls into a borderline range. In order to do this, the 15th ranked grade is also looked at, to see if it falls into the same category as the 18th. In this case it is higher than the 18th but, at 68, it’s not high enough to fall into the first category, so the second preliminary classification remains a 2.1. However, if the 15th ranked grade had been more than 69.5, then the second preliminary classification would have been the borderline range between a First and a 2.1.

In short, if your 15th and the 18th ranked grades are both equivalent to a 2.1, then your second preliminary degree classification will be a 2.1. If, however the 18th grade is equivalent to a 2.1 but the 15th is equivalent to a First, then your second preliminary degree classification would be a borderline first.

So, by the end of stage 3 we have two preliminary classifications: one that is based on the weighted average grade, and a second that is based on the middle weighted grade, when distributed from highest to lowest. We consider both these approaches to make sure that your academic performance is analysed as fairly and comprehensively as possible.

Stage 4 – Determining the final degree classification

The final stage is then to compare these two classifications, to determine the final degree classification.

When comparing these two classifications there are three main scenarios:

Scenario 1

Both preliminary classifications are the same: In this instance, the final degree classification will be the same as both of the preliminary classifications. In our example, the first and second preliminary classifications both worked out as a 2.1, so this student would receive a 2.1.

Scenario 2

One preliminary classification indicates a particular class of degree, whilst the other indicates a borderline range between that class and the one above or below: In this case, you will be awarded the classification in which you are most firmly situated. For example, if the first preliminary classification indicated a 2.1, but the second indicated that you were on the borderline between a 2.1 or a First, or a 2.1 and a 2.2, then, in both scenarios you would receive a 2.1 as your overall classification.

Scenario 3

The two preliminary classifications recommend different degree classes OR the two preliminary classifications are both borderline: in either of these situations you will become a borderline candidate. The final class of your degree will then be decided by an exam board. Exam boards will normally award the classificationthat the average weighted grade for your final year [emphasise ‘final year’] modules falls into [display table]

Degrees that include 5 credit modules

If your degree includes any 5-credit modules, the process of working out your final degree classification is pretty much the same as what we’ve discussed already, but with a couple of key differences.
The first difference is that, when creating your grade profile in Stage 1, instead of converting all your modules into elements of 10 credits each, you convert all your modules into elements worth 5 credits each.
So, for example, a grade of 73 for a 20-credit module would be expressed as:

  • Credit value: 5 5 5 5
  • Grade obtained 73 73 73 73

Whilst a grade of 64 for a 15 credit module would be expressed as:

  • Credit value: 5 5 5
  • Grade obtained: 64 64 64

To work out your weighted average grade for Stage 1, the calculation is the same. Just add all the grades together and divide by how many there is – there should be 72 grades for a typical 3-year Bachelors degree.

The other key difference is found when we get to Stage 3 – as we have 72 ranked grades rather than 36, we have to use the 36th and 30th ranked grades to work out the second preliminary classification. The 36th grade is your middle grade, and the 30th grade is used to check whether or not your second preliminary classification falls into a borderline range.

Integrated Masters courses

If you are a student on an Integrated Masters course rather than a 3-year Bachelors degree, again, exactly the same principles apply, except that you will have 60 weighted grades rather than 36: 12 for Level 2, and 24 for both Level 3 and Level 4, because both of these years count for double the weight of Level 2.

When working out the weighted average grade to determine the first preliminary degree classification, all of the weighted grades would be added together and divided by 60.

When working out the distribution of your grades to calculate your second preliminary degree classification, we would look at the 30th grade to find the middle ranked grade, and the 25th grade to see whether or not your second preliminary classification falls into a borderline range.

And there you have it – that’s how the University works out final degree classifications.

If you are interested in finding out even more about how final degree classifications are determined, you can find a full formal explanation of the regulations by going to www.sheffield.ac.uk/calendar and consulting the General Regulations for First Degrees.