Progress

Progress is about passing your units and thus passing each year of study, which allows you to continue into the next year of the course. Your main aim should be to pass all your units. If you fail any unit, you will normally not be allowed to continue in your course. A summary is given here, and more details can be found in the faculty handbooks.

To pass a unit or a year of study, you need to get an average mark of at least 40% (Levels 1, 2 and 3) or 50% (Level M, i.e. 4th year or MSc). To pass a year of study, you normally need to pass all the individual units, not just get an average pass mark. Thus passing all your units is necessary to ensure a smooth progression through your degree.

Registering for units

At the end of each year, in May/June, you will be asked to register your choice of units for the following year. This is done on the Engineering Faculty web site. This need not be a final decision, but making an accurate guess helps to avoid timetable clashes.

After two or three weeks of the first term, the registrations will be frozen while your units for the first teaching block (weeks 1 to 12 of the academic year) are checked and approved. A little later, the registrations will be re-opened, but you will only be able to change your unit choices for the second teaching block (weeks 13 to 24). Shortly after the beginning of the second teaching block, your registrations will be permanently frozen for final checking. If you are registered for more units than required, you must decide at this stage which ones you are actually offering for assessment. This confirmation is important for us, so that we can prepare the exam timetable with a minimum of clashes and make other administrative preparations.

You can change your own registrations on the Faculty web site at any time. In exceptional cases, you can get your units changed after the deadlines by seeking approval from your programme director. It is important to keep your registrations up to date because a lot of processes such as coursework submission are driven by this information.

Passing a unit

The unit descriptions specify the weights of coursework and exams. You generally pass a unit and gain the credits for it when you score 40% (non-Level M units) or 50% (Level M units) on the weighted average. However, if you take a unit given by another department or faculty, the rules may be different; you may pass a unit with a lower score, or fail a unit with a higher score because of missing work.

Students who take all aspects of their course seriously generally do well. You should make every effort to hand all pieces of practical work in on time and study in a consistent and conscientious way throughout the year. If you follow this advice, you will pass all your units and make easy progress throughout your university career. If you don't, life can get very complicated for you. For example, an Examination Board can ask you to retake examinations or resubmit coursework, or both, to ensure that you reach a required standard before you progress to the next year, or may ask you to leave the University if you do particularly badly. Resits will mean that you will need to spend a lot of extra time working if you wish to continue your studies. By far the simplest approach is to avoid all these unpleasant possibilities by taking your course seriously from the beginning. Remember: make sure you pass all your units!

If you fail a unit, the failure may be waived, or you may get a second chance. The rules for this are complex, and depend on the type of degree, and which year you entered the university. Details can be found in the relevant sections of the faculty handbooks (the undergraduate handbook, or the taught postgraduate handbook for MSc students). For failed units in the non-final years of an undergraduate degree, or in an MSc, you may be offered a resit, which means you will be asked to retake the exam, and/or redo some or all of the coursework and hand it in for marking. There are no resits in the final year of an undergraduate degree. Resits are in September, or you may have to take the units again part time the following academic year, so that your degree takes a year longer.

September resits allow you to work over the summer, pass a failed unit, and get the credits for it before the next academic year starts in October. It is better to avoid these resits if possible, because even if you pass, the mark you get is discarded and a bare pass mark is carried forward towards your final degree. Also the extra work has to be done on your own without the usual resources and support available, and really messes up your summer.

How Each Year of Study is Assessed

For each year of study, you normally take units totalling 120 credits (UG) or 180 credits (MSc), and you get an overall mark which is the average of the marks for all the units you take during the year, weighted according to the number of credits they are worth. This means that to do well, you need a consistent performance across all your units. Although most decisions are taken by the department, they have to be in accordance with faculty rules, and must be ratified by the faculty board.

Please beware: the exact rules for progression are changing, in order to promote uniformity across the university. The new progression rules apply to students entering form 2011-2 onwards, i.e. first and second year students (and students who end up in the same cohort by taking a year out or repeating a year or doing a supplementary year). The old rules apply to all other students. Also, only an overview is given here. For the exact rules, see faculty or university documentation or talk to a member of staff who knows them.

BSc/BEng/MEng progression

In the years other than your final year, you need to pass 100 credits worth of units, and get at least compensated passes in the remaining 20 credits. The pass mark for each unit is normally 40%. Under the old rules, you can get a compensated pass on a unit if the mark is at least 30%. Under the new rules compensation is intended only for strong students with a blind spot, not weak students - it only applies in the summer and not in the resits, it only applies if there are enough passes and a good enough year average, and the mark must be at least 35%.

Some students may take masters level units before the final year. The pass mark for a masters unit is 50%, the compensation level is 40% (old rules) or 45% (new rules) and the pass mark for the year is the average of the pass marks for the units you have taken (new rules).

If you don't get passes or compensated passes for everything, and you don't fail too badly, you may be allowed resits in September. If you fail badly, e.g. you have more than 60 credits of failures, you may have to retake the units part time the following year. If you fail the year very badly, for example with an average mark of less than 30% (old rules), or less than 40 credits of outright passes (new rules), you may be required to leave, though you may be eligible for a certificate or diploma or BSc/BEng degree (after 3 years of an MEng) based on completed years of study.

In the final year, there are no resits allowed, but there are also no penalties for failures, except in the main individual project, which you must pass. In exceptional circumstances, e.g. long term illness or severe personal problems, you may be allowed resits or be allowed to retake the year. Such problems must be documented as they arise. See the section on mitigating circumstances in the assessment chapter.

For MEng courses, there are additional requirements to allow you to stay registered on the MEng. Generally speaking, you must get a year average of 50% (old rules) or 55% (new rules) each year. If not, you will be automatically transfered to an equivalent BSc or BEng programme. In the third year, this means you will graduate immediately with a bachelor's degree rather than continuing.

There are various further details concerning these rules. If you are not going abroad, the year average rule in the first year may not apply. There are differences between the old and new rules concerning whether the year average must be at the first attempt or not, whether there is a probationary status in borderline cases, and whether you can return from a bachelor's degree to an MEng degree after getting a good year result. If you need to know the details, you will need to consult a member of staff.

How Your UG Degree is Assessed

Please beware: the exact rules for degree classification are changing, and the new rules apply to students who entered in 2010-1 onwards (and students who end up in the same cohort by taking a year out or repeating a year). Note that this is a year earlier than the new progression rules, and it applies to BSc/BEng finalists this year, but not MEng finalists.

Your class of degree is usually determined by your overall mark. The overall mark is an average of the marks obtained for the individual years of your course, excluding the first year. The contributions of later years is:

Year234
BSc G400, GH45, GG14 25%75%(new rules, was 20/80)
MEng G401, G402, GH4P 10%20%70%(old rules, will be 15/10/75)
MEng G403, GH46, GG1K 10%40%50%(old and new rules)

Your class of degree may be determined by other considerations besides the overal average mark. There are departmental and faculty examiners' meetings at which each case is treated on its merits, following certain guidelines. The main points are given here. If you need more details, contact your tutor or the Examinations Officer.

If you fail any final year units, there is not normally any opportunity for a second attempt. Failed units in the final year have no penalty other than to reduce your overall degree mark, except that you must pass the main project to get an honours degree. Marks are rounded up for borderline purposes, and there are conventions for deciding results in borderline cases. For example, if your degree mark is 69.5 you will normally be awarded a first class degree. A mark above 68.5 (old rules) or 67.5 (new rules) will be treated as borderline, and your degree grade is then determined by "case law" (old rules) or by how many of your marks are at the higher grade (new rules). Also, any illnesses or personal problems which you may have encountered during your course and which have seriously affected your work may be taken into consideration, especially in borderline cases. See the section on mitigating circumstances in the assessment chapter.

Each degree course has an External Examiner from another university. The External Examiner may ask to interview students. Usually, students in the middle of grade bands are chosen, to check standards. Thus the interviews do not normally affect your degree or grade and are not intended to be stressful. Occasionally, however, the External Examiner may ask to interview a borderline student for a specific purpose.

You have the right to appeal against results which you think are incorrect or unfair. You should approach the department in the first place, to get advice about whether an appeal is likely to be successful or about what approach to take, and then you should lodge your appeal with the Engineering Faculty office. As a last resort you can appeal to the Council of the University.

A detailed transcript will be available from the department after you obtain your degree. This gives the results of all your units, including the first year results. Employers will want to see this transcript, so it is in your interests to make sure that you do your best in all of your units, in order to make a good impression.

How Your MSc Degree is Assessed

MSc degrees are assessed according to the Engineering Faculty assessment guidelines.

In brief, there is a taught component of 120 credits, which is handled similarly to the way one year of an undergraduate degree is handled, with some slightly different compensated pass rules, and with the possibility of September resits. That is followed by the main research project of 60 credits. The two marks for the taught component and the project are combined to give a result of MSc with Distinction, or MSc with Merit, or MSc, or Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate.

Academic Prizes

There are some prizes which you may be awarded; these are generally worth a small amount of cash, and they change from time to time. For example, there are two prizes for the best second year students on the G400 and GG14 programmes respectively, there is a prize awarded to those students who produce the best group project on the Software Product Engineering unit in the second year, a prize shared between those students who produce the best group project in the third year of the G403 programme, and prizes awarded to final year students with the best projects in various fields. Also, there are some general Engineering Faculty prizes, for social as well as academic achievement, which the Department may enter you for.

Illness and Personal Problems

Make sure any problems are documented as described in the mitigating circumstances section in the assessment chapter.

Changing degree programme

If you feel you are doing the wrong degree course, it may be possible to change course, or even to change university. You should talk to your tutor first, or find another member of staff to talk to. If you have a genuine need to change programmes, we will give you as much help as possible. Normally, you have to change course at the beginning of a year before too much has happened, or at the end of a year after the exams. Changing course depends on persuading the new department or university to take you, and they may insist that you start from scratch or that you do reasonably well in your exams. You may also have to persuade your local education authority to continue funding you. More details can be found in the section on Undergraduate Programmes.

Changing units

If you feel that you want to change any of your optional units then you need to discuss this with your tutor and/or the programme director. You will normally only be allowed to change units within the first three weeks of the semester in which the units start, and the decision will depend upon the availability of places on the units of your choice.

Examination Boards

Examination boards are usually responsible for the assessment marks recorded for all units on the relevant programmes, and for the final assessment mark recorded leading to your degree classification.