University of Exeter Handbook (Physics) Questions/Comments Department (Physics)

Progression and Assessment

Assessment Conventions for Taught Programmes

Programmes of Study Covered

These conventions and procedures apply to:

The Department's Assessment Procedures are governed by the University's:

(as applicable) in addition to the following regulations, which have been approved by the the Faculty of Taught Programmes.

Pass Marks for Modules

The pass mark for modules at NQF levels 4-6 is 40%

The pass mark for modules at NQF level 7 is 50%.


Modules excluded from the standard condonement scheme are specified in Section 5 of the applicable full Programme Specification. In identifying modules to be condoned, (see Consequences of Failure, below) the Department will select the failed modules with the highest marks but give priority to any modules that have no referred assessment available.

Progression and Summative Assessment

Note: Minimum stage average and module mark requirements apply to the marks normally available to the Assessment Progression and Awarding Committee (APAC) for Stage 2 in June; i.e., any hypothetical increase in the mark that may be obtained in a future referred assessment is discounted. A mark obtained after repeat study – for reasons of unsatisfactory academic performance – is also discounted.

Rules Governing Physics Programmes (2019 and later intake years)

Detailed progression requirements are given for each programme in section 7.2 of the applicable:

Note that

  1. Every MPhys programme requires a minimum average of 59.50% at Stage 2 to progress to stage 3 — an MPhys student who accumulates 120 credits in the Stage 2 assessment but fails to achieve a 59.50% average will be required to transfer to a BSc programme for which he/she is qualified.
  2. Programmes involving 'study abroad' and 'professional placements' have their own progression rules linked to the Stage 3 placement year.


An original assessment that is based on both examination and coursework, tests, etc., is considered as a single element for the purpose of referral; i.e., the referred mark is based on the referred examination only, discounting all previous marks. In the event that the mark for a referred assessment is lower than that of the original assessment, the original higher mark will be retained.

Physics Modules with PHY Codes

Referred examinations will only be available in PHY3064, PHYM004 and those other modules for which the original assessment includes an examination component - this information is given in individual module descriptors.


The credit attached to modules will generate the assessment weighting - i.e. a 30-credit module would contribute one-quarter of the total marks for the stage of the programme in which it is taken.

The marks achieved at Stage 1 (for the first 120 credits of a programme) will not count towards classification or award unless the programme in question leads to an undergraduate Certificate. However, marks for NQF level 4 modules may count towards classification or award if part of a longer set of core modules or if such modules are taken at later stages that do count towards classification or award.

The following tables specify how the marks achieved at various stages are combined in order to classify awards. The weightings vary between programmes to ensure that the awards reflect an appropriate balance of academic and practical/project work.

Programme typeStage 1Stage 2Stage 3Stage 4Stage 5
3-Year BSc 0/31/302/3  
4-Year BSc 0/72/71/74/7 
4-Year MPhys0/92/93/94/9 
5-Year MPhys0/102/101/103/104/10

Classification of Undergraduate Degrees

Classification will be based on the student's overall average marks, weighted as described above, at stages 2, 3 and (where appropriate) 4.

The following rules should be applied in descending order, starting at the Pass / Fail threshold, so that fail students are excluded from further consideration.

  1. First Class Honours
  2. Upper Second Class Honours
  3. Lower Second Class Honours
  4. Third Class Honours
  5. Pass / Fail threshold for the programme

Assessment and Feedback Strategies

General Principles

The general principles underpinning assessment and feedback in the Department are:

  1. Assessment and feedback form a fundamental part of the learning and teaching process and are not separate from it.
  2. Assessment and feedback practices should promote effective learning.
  3. Processes and procedures for assessment and feedback should be explicit, valid and reliable and all students receive parity of treatment.
  4. The amount and timing of assessment should enable effective and appropriate measurement of students' achievement of intended learning outcomes.
  5. Assessment and feedback is conducted with rigour and fairness and in a timely manner.
  6. A variety of forms and methods of assessment and feedback should be used, and these should be appropriate to the intended learning outcomes of the programme.
  7. Assessment systems will be designed to discourage, prevent and detect plagiarism.

Marking Strategy

The Department's procedures for marking assessed work are based on University policy. Normally, assessments have detailed mark schemes, prepared as part of the setting procedure. In such cases, check marking (see below) may be replaced by mark checking, q.v.. The following safeguards apply to the assessment of scripts that are not subsequently returned to and/or discussed with the student.

Every examination script and other substantial assignment should be subject to at least one of the following assessment strategies:


In the event that two markers involved in check, or double blind marking, are unable to agree a mark for a piece of work a third academic will be appointed to arbitrate. For modules, such as laboratories, where several markers are involved it is the responsibility of the first named instructor on the module descriptor to brief/train the individual markers and then monitor their marking trends to ensure that students are treated equitably.

Check MarkingA piece of work is marked by one person, the mark and comments are then reviewed by a second marker and a final mark is agreed between the two. 
Double MarkingCan mean 'check marking', 'double blind marking' or 'double open marking' depending on context.Avoid using this ambiguous term.
Double Open MarkingTwo markers jointly assess a piece of work and agree their comments and award final mark. 
Double Blind MarkingTwo markers assess a piece of work and record their comments and marks independently and in ignorance of the views of each other. The markers then confer and jointly agree the final mark.  
ModerationThe process by which marks and comments are checked against marking criteria to ensure that the mark awarded is appropriate. Adjustments to sets of marks arising from moderation should be rare and will normally trigger a review of marking criteria and/or learning outcomes.
Mark CheckingThe process for ensuring that every page of a script has been marked, and that the marks have been correctly processed.Refer to Marking and Checking Examination Scripts for details.
ScalingThe application of a formula to a set of marks in order to rectify anomalies in mark distributions that arise from unanticipated circumstances. Only used in exceptional circumstances.Refer to Mark Scaling Policy and Procedures for details.

Feedback Strategy

The Department supports the University's Assessment and Feedback Strategy as follows:

Students are expected to review and reflect on the feedback and/or solutions and hints provided by the module leader. A student who believes that their mark must be in error, e.g. because they can't reconcile it with their self-evaluation, may use this form:

to request that their exam script is independently reviewed. Completed forms should be returned to Physics Student Services within ten working-days of the results being released. The normal outcome of the review will be a brief written explanation of how the mark awarded was arrived at. Reviews will be conducted by experienced members of staff nominated by the Director of Education. Such a review may result in the mark being confirmed, raised or lowered.

Assessment Procedures

Reporting of Marks

The mark sheets submitted to APACs should record the following information for each candidate:

  1. credit value associated with each module;
  2. mark awarded (expressed as a percentage) for each module;
  3. the credit-weighted average mark for the programme stage as a whole;
  4. the number of credits passed;
  5. the number of credits failed but condoned;
  6. where applicable, the average obtained for previous stages and/or the average for classification purposes.

In addition, the APAC will be provided with relevant summary statistics for modules and programmes.

The student record system will always record the actual numerical marks obtained for modules. Marks for modules that have been raised by the APAC, e.g. to adjust for underperformance in assessment with mitigating circumstances, will carry an indicator to that effect if either: (a) the adjustment increases the module mark by 5% or more, and/or (b) substitute marks have been used. Marks for referred modules, where the pass-mark is the maximum achievable, will also carry an indicator to specify that the mark has been capped at 40% or 50% as applicable.

Role of the External Examiners

The University appoints external examiners to scrutinise and comment upon the papers, marking, procedures and standards of the degree examination. There is a [University] Code of Good Practice for External Examiners. The current external examiners are listed here:

Note: The contacting of external examiners by students regarding any aspect of their programmes of study is prohibited and will be treated as an offence under the University's Disciplinary Procedures. Externals are requested to inform the University's Examinations Office should such an occurrence take place.

On a module-by-module basis, external examiners approve the examination papers, together with the model answers (and/or, where appropriate, other assessment materials). Inspection of samples of marked scripts and continuously assessed work provides a further check of appropriate levels and confirmation of the reliability of the procedures.

At the APAC the external examiners may simply confirm that no action is necessary in relation to marks. Alternatively, the external examiners and the Department staff may agree that modifications to marks need to be made. These modifications must be for specific reasons (that will be recorded in the minutes of the APAC). Apart from instances where individual students have mitigating circumstances, a 'good' reason for adjusting marks will essentially amount to a statement that a particular assessment did not turn out as expected (questions harder/easier than they appeared when set, marking harsher/more lenient than suggested by mark schemes, etc.). Particular scrutiny will be applied to any module that, for a given group of students, produces a failure rate much higher/lower than expected for that group of students. Any adjustment of module marks (if there is a good reason) will normally involve a uniform raising/lowering of marks for a given group of students, so as to give an average module mark in line with the overall average for that group of students on other modules taken (subject to the constraint that the adjustment must be made equally to all students taking the module, irrespective of the stage or programme they are in).

Note: The regulations do not permit adjustment of the classification ranges on the overall mark.

The full cycle of external examiners' reports, issues raised with the College and the College response, as signed off by the Dean of the Faculty of Taught Programmes is available for inspection by all students, and is published here:

Prizes and Commendations

The APAC awards annual prizes. The current number, value and criteria for these awards are as follows:

Name of PrizeConditionsAwardProgStage
Bertie Black Prize Awarded to the finalist with the highest final degree score(a). £250 UGFinalist
Newman Prize Awarded to the finalist who submits the most outstanding project in terms of the ingenuity and intuition shown. £125 UGFinalist
Departmental Prizes Awarded to the top three students in each stage, excluding the Black Prize winner, ranked according to that year's stage average weighted marks, provided they have over 70%. (Any student awarded their results in the September Board, who would have qualified had their results been available to the June Board, will receive the appropriate Prize also).12×£25UGAll Stages
Dean's Commendation Students who, in a stage, perform exceptionally at the top end of the first class range (not individual modules)(b) CertificateUGAll Stages
College Commendation Discretionary award, given to students who have made a significant contribution to the College that has not been covered by any other award or commendation. Certificate UGAll Stages


  1. If a CH student would have merited the Bertie Black Prize then a second will be awarded.
  2. The students with the top six stage marks, providing these are over 75%, and any other students with a stage mark over 80%. (Any student awarded their results in the September Board, who would have received an award had their results been available at the June Board, will also receive the appropriate award.)
  3. Students on 'Physics with Study Abroad' and 'Physics with Professional Placement' programmes are not eligible for awards in their placement (Stage 3) year.

CH Mathematics and Physics prizes are awarded by Mathematics. Once their final marks are known, those CH students who would have received an prize according to the above rules will be noted and then, in consultation with Mathematics, they will receive their prize from Maths or Physics, selecting the higher prize should they qualify for prizes in more than one disciplines.

Disclosure of Marks

The University has policy on disclosure of marks. Complete transcripts, including marks for assessed modules at all levels will be sent to undergraduate finalists by the University Examinations Office during the summer vacation following graduation. Provisional marks, which may be subject to future moderation, will be communicated students according to the published schedule:

Consequences of Failure

Discipline APACs do not make recommendations about the consequences of failure for individual students (i.e. whether referral, deferral, repeat study or withdrawal should result). This is the responsibility of the College APAC, which receives recommendations from the discipline's Consequences of Failure meeting, submits recommendations to the Faculty Board. The Department does not normally permit an individual student to repeat the final stage of a programme, or more than one other stage. There is no 'right' to repeat study. In normal circumstances, however, if the student has complied with the Department's Code of Practice for Teaching and Learning and appears to have made a serious attempt to achieve passes in their referred assessment, the recommendations made are as follows:

Other recommendations may be made in cases where there are exceptional mitigating circumstances.

Note: The University does not normally permit modules that have been passed to be retaken. This means that repeat study is full-time only in exceptional circumstances.

Academic Appeals Procedure

A student who thinks that their results are incorrect has a right to appeal. The University Student Academic Appeals page is the definitive guide, and the Students' Guild Academic Support Section and will offer advice and help with the process.

All Stage 1 appeals must to submitted to the CEMPS Student Cases Manger (who receives appeals on behalf of the College Dean) by email to

University of Exeter Handbook (Physics) Questions/Comments Department (Physics)