Assessment regulations

Assessment should follow standard QMU procedures and regulations, available on the Quality website.

Any programme specific regulations which deviate from QMU regulations must be approved by the validation or review panel or the School Academic Board.

Partner institutions should familiarise themselves with QMU regulations prior to starting delivery of the programme. A meeting with the Collaborative Academic Lead and Academic Administration is recommended, to talk through the assessment process and clarify any areas of doubt. It is important to be clear as to what students need to do to pass each module. Pay particular attention to which assessments are formative (purely to provide feedback to the student) and which are summative (contributing to the final mark).

Collaborative programme leaders are advised to confirm what the regulations say about the consequences of failing modules, so that they can give students accurate advice. Note that if a student fails too many modules at the first attempt they may be required to leave the programme and not given the opportunity to resit.

It is the responsibility of the Collaborative Academic Lead to update the partner institution regarding any changes in University regulations and procedures as they occur. GQE will also circulate changes to central contacts at all partners and will make sure key changes are notified at the Joint Board of Studies.

Setting assessment tasks and writing exam papers

Within the collaborative agreement, arrangements should be made for the setting and approval of assessments. It is normal for the external examiner to be consulted, and in particular the external examiner should see all draft exam papers before they are set. For further information on the role of the external examiner see below. This peer approach allows partner institutions to benefit from the external’s experience of good practice and ensures that assessment is appropriate to the learning outcomes of the module.

In the case of franchise programmes where QMU sets the assessments, the partner institution must be consulted about the timing and appropriateness of assessments in good time. This is the responsibility of the Collaborative Academic Lead.

Extenuating circumstances

Students may not be able to complete the assessment on time for reasons beyond their control such as illness or family problems. QMU may need to see evidence of extenuating circumstances. QMU provides guidance on how to deal with these situations.

If the student only needs a short extension (normally up to three weeks), this may be granted, but consideration should be given as to the timescale for the assignment to be marked and moderated before the exam board. Students should be advised of the exam board dates and it should be made clear that a longer period of extension may mean the mark can’t be confirmed until the next board.

If the student is going to need a longer period of time before completing an assessment component, he or she may need to defer study. Students can defer for up to 12 months. Deferrals should be approved by the Programme Leader and recorded formally at the exam board.

Marking and moderation

As far as is practical, all assessments should be marked anonymously, with students identifying themselves only by matriculation number. This is so students can be reassured there is no personal bias in the marking. Certain types of assessment (e.g. presentations) obviously cannot be marked anonymously.

A sample of student work for each module must be moderated by another marker from the programme team. This means that a second marker will look over the sample of scripts to confirm that marking is consistent and aligns with the criteria set for the assignment.

In this manual, whenever we refer to ‘a sample of assessments’, this is what we mean:

The size of the sample to be moderated must be at least the square root of the total number of students taking the assessment (rounded to the nearest whole number) plus all borderline fails. The sample should include a full range of performance. The minimum size should be six pieces of assessed work but more pieces should be included as necessary to reflect the range of marks. In practice, if there are eight or fewer assessments all of them should be included in the sample.

All Honours projects and Masters dissertations / projects must be anonymously double-marked for the whole cohort. This means that a second marker will read the scripts thoroughly and mark them without knowing the original mark. The two markers must then agree a single, final mark and a single set of feedback comments.

QMU moderation

All franchised and most validated programmes are supported by a process of ongoing moderation. In order to assist partner institutions delivering validated programmes, QMU staff will provide moderation when a new programme starts. These processes enable the University to be sure that marking is fair and reliable and allows for detailed conversations with staff at the partner about how to interpret QMU’s marking requirements.

The procedure should be as set out below:

  • Partner staff undertake first marking and internal moderation
  • QMU staff moderate a sample for each module which is deemed to require it. (Note that individual modules may be exempt – see below). Normally the co-ordinator of the most similar QMU module will moderate the work and the CAL’s role will be to co-ordinate the moderation process.
  • Moderation is NOT second marking. Moderators should look for consistency between markers’ comments, grade given and the marking criteria, as well as consistency between the marking criteria and the learning outcomes of the module.
  • If the QMU staff are happy with the marking, the same sample should be sent on to the external examiner.
  • Written records must be kept for reference. QMU moderators' comments should be passed to the staff at the partner institution and may be reported at the Board of Examiners.
  • If QMU staff identify issues arising from moderation, they must discuss these with the original marker. Only the original marker may agree to change an individual student’s mark, unless QMU staff undertake to re-mark the entire cohort. It is essential to engage in a dialogue with staff at the partner organisation in order to resolve any differences of approach to marking and marking criteria.
  • If the original marker changes a mark within the sample in response to feedback from QMU, the marker should consider whether the same feedback applies to any other mark within the cohort and should make these changes as appropriate. 
  • If it is decided that re-marking is required, where possible this should be done before anything is sent to the external examiner. Once it is complete, a fresh sample should be taken (to make sure all borderline fails are included and a range of grades). The external should see both the original marks and feedback and the QMU marker’s comments. Students should receive a fresh feedback sheet which aligns with the final mark awarded.

As stated above, QMU moderation remains ongoing with respect to franchised programme. In the case of validated programmes, QMU moderation will continue until such time as the QMU School Academic Board recommends that this support is no longer required. All decisions relating to the method of managing the moderation process should be discussed between the programme leader at the partner organisation and the CAL.

Material to be supplied

In order to facilitate an efficient moderation process and timely preparation for the Board of Examiners, please note that the following checklist is recommended for sending to partners to explain what is needed. Moderation normally takes place online via the Hub or a secured shared drive.

If not using Grademark

  • Sample of work for each component of assessment. So, if a module included three assessments – a case study, an essay and an exam – there should be a sample of case studies, a sample of essays and a sample of exam scripts. The same students need not be in each sample.
  • For each piece of written work, include a copy of the feedback supplied by the original marker to the student. (There will not normally be feedback on exams.)
  • The size of the sample moderated must be at least the square root of the total number of students (rounded to the nearest whole number) plus all borderline fails. The sample should include a range of performance and the minimum size should be six pieces of assessed work.
  • Complete list of marks, presented in the csv sheet provided by the Collaborations Administration Team. Please give all marks as percentages. For example, if a piece of work was marked as 30 out of 60 this should be recorded as 50%.
  • Copy of the assignment guidelines that were issued to students. This tells the moderator what exactly the students were asked to do. For an exam, supply the exam paper.
  • Copy of the marking criteria used by the marker. This tells the moderator how marks were allocated.

All material should be uploaded to the shared drive folders created by the Collaborations Administration Team.

If using Grademark

  • QMU Module Coordinators select a sample from the Grademark Submission Dropbox
  • The size of the sample moderated must be at least the square root of the total number of students (rounded to the nearest whole number) plus all borderline fails. The sample should include a range of performance and the minimum size should be six pieces of assessed work.
  • Marks should be provided for each individual student within the Grademark Submission Dropbox.
  • Copy of the assignment guidelines that were issued to students. This tells the moderator what exactly the students were asked to do.
  • Copy of the marking criteria is shown on the rubric within Grademark

Number of students on module

Minimum sample size

≤ 42


43 – 56


57 – 72


73 – 90


91 – 110


111 – 132


144 – 156


Feedback to students

As there are various stages and checks in the marking and moderation process, it can take some time to complete. We recommend the following timescales:

Marking and moderation by partner: 20 working days
QMU moderation: 5-10 working days
External examiner confirmation: 5-10 working days
Entry of marks and preparation of exam board papers: 5 working days

Students will want to receive their marks as soon as possible but it can be risky to release marks before the full process is complete, as sometimes marks may change.

Usually it is best to wait until QMU moderation is complete before releasing provisional marks. However, it must be made very clear that the mark isn’t final until it has been ratified by the Board of Examiners. Note that marks for modules at SCQF level nine or above will need to be confirmed by the external examiner. (See External Examiners.)

All agreed marks should be sent to the Academic Administration for entry onto the student records system (SITS). See Boards of Examiners for more detail.

Examination arrangements and submission dates

Dates of exams and assessment deadlines must be set sufficiently in advance of the exam board to allow for marking, moderation by QMU staff (if required) and up to ten working days for the external examiner to view the work. The partner institution should consult the Academic Administration and Collaborative Academic Lead to agree a calendar of assessment dates, exam boards and graduation at the start of the academic year.

Franchised programmes must use the same exam paper as is used for other cohorts taking the same modules. Where there is a significant time difference between QMU and the franchise partner, or modules are delivered on different schedules, it is not practical for students to sit the examination at the same time. Therefore, in order to avoid questions being known in advance to some groups of students, it may be necessary to prepare separate examination papers.

It is normally appropriate to consult module co-ordinators at the partner institution regarding the wording of the question paper. This ensures that examples are not overly specific to Scotland/the UK. It also ensures that there is no mismatch between the topics and the curriculum taught at the partner institution. Draft examination papers should to be sent to partners 4 weeks in advance of the exam date.

The finalised examination paper must be checked and signed off by the paper setter, franchise partner, Head of Division (and External Examiner where appropriate – see below). The paper should be forwarded electronically to the named contact at the franchise partner at least three weeks before the date of the examination. Transfer of draft and final examination papers between QMU and franchise partners must be through a secure process as advised by QMU.

Partner institutions must nominate a member of staff to be the official contact for matters relating to examinations. This person will be responsible for ensuring the security of all examination papers, prior to the examination being held. This person should also ensure that invigilation arrangements meet QMU expectations. See QMU Examination regulations for more detail.

If you have any questions about the operation of the assessment process contact the Collaborations Team in the Academic Administration


Collaborations and Partnership Development

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Collaborations and Partnership Development

Sheila Adamson Partnership Development Manager 0131 474 0000