29.   Student Progression and Completion - in Modular Programmes

The regulations in this section are based upon a set of summary principles by which modular undergraduate degrees are awarded at the University of Bristol; available at: www.bristol.ac.uk/academic-quality/facultyadvice/policy/principles-award-of-modular-ug-degrees/.

A flow diagram of the options available for the progression of students on an undergraduate modular programme is available at Annex 10.

29.1   For the purposes of awarding credit for an individual unit, the actual mark for each unit is rounded to the nearest integer.

29.2   For the purposes of determining progression from year to year, the actual unit mark is used to calculate the year mark. The result of the calculation of the overall average mark achieved for the year should be rounded to the nearest integer for the purpose of applying 29.12.

29.3   If a student fails to achieve the credit points, but there is evidence that their performance at the time of the assessment is likely to have been affected by extenuating circumstances, the provisions in Section 17 ‘Extenuating Circumstances’, will apply.

29.4   Schools will make suitable arrangements to implement the regulations for the award of credit for students who are studying a programme on a part-time basis such that the students are aware of the arrangements (e.g. the timing and status of any re-sits) and are not disadvantaged by the point in their studies in which their progression is formally considered.

The award of credit for the purposes of progression in undergraduate modular programmes

29.5   Students must achieve the pass mark for the unit (normally a mark of 40 out of 100 at levels 4-6 and 50 out of 100 at level 7) and meet any additional criteria[1], if applicable, to be awarded the associated credit. The criteria for the award of credit points, and an explanation of how the award of credit may be affected by criteria additional to marks in an examination or other formal assessment, must be explicitly described in the relevant unit specification and communicated to the students in advance of the commencement of their study of the unit.

29.6   By reaching a satisfactory standard, students thereby acquire the necessary credit points to progress, except as specified below.

29.7   A student who is not in the final year of their undergraduate programme (see 29.17-20) nor registered at another institution but studying at Bristol, will be permitted a second attempt in a unit to achieve a satisfactory standard to progress (i.e. a re-sit) or to achieve any specified additional criteria, subject to 29.8, where the credit is not achieved at the first attempt.  A re-sit need not be in the same form as the original assessment, as long as it tests the same learning outcomes, does not compromise any competence standards, and applies to the entire cohort of students who are undertaking the re-assessment. A Board of Examiners, at its September meeting, may permit a re-sit to be undertaken in the next year of study as a second or third attempt (see 29.14.2).

A re-sit should normally be completed prior to progression to the following year of study, within the University’s recognised examination periods, except as permitted under 29.14.2.

29.8   In order to be permitted a second attempt (i.e. re-sit) in any failed unit(s), undergraduate students must gain at least 40 credit points for the year of study by achieving the pass mark at the first attempt AND must have satisfied any additional criteria at the time they are considered by a board of examiners, or equivalent. Any such additional criteria must be specified in the programme and/or unit specification.

29.9   A student will not be permitted to undertake the assessment again where they have already fulfilled the criteria for the award of credit points for the unit. As detailed in Section 17, a Board of Examiners must consider the effect of previous extenuating circumstances, if applicable, on its decision-making (e.g. disregarding a unit mark for the purposes of classifying the degree.

29.10   A student must acquire the necessary credit before progressing to the next year of study, except as permitted under 29.15.2.  Where it has not been possible for the relevant board of examiners to consider the student’s formal progress prior to a student commencing an industrial placement or a formal period of study at another institution as required by the programme structure, the Chair of the Faculty Board of Examiners may permit the student to register for the next year of study without the necessary credit, pending and subject to the decision of the board of examiners.

29.11   If a student does not achieve the criteria set out in 29.8, they will be required to withdraw from the programme with an exit award, if appropriate; unless there are validated extenuating circumstances (see Section 17).

29.12   Notwithstanding 29.7, the relevant Board of Examiners will award credit to an undergraduate student to permit progression, despite failure to achieve a pass mark associated with taught unit(s) at the first attempt (i.e. a ‘compensated pass’), provided conditions (a)-(f) are satisfied.

a)     The total of the units failed in the year of study does not exceed 20 credit points.

b)     The relevant unit mark is within the specified range (35-39 out of 100 for level 4-6 units or 45-49 out of 100 for level 7 units) at the first attempt.

c)      The student has a year mark from all the taught units in the year of study of at least 40 out of 100.

d)     The student has not failed a unit that is deemed by the faculty or a professional body as being ‘must pass’ (see Annex 1 for definition).

e)     Fulfils all other requirements for the award of credit, as stated in the programme and/or unit specification, such as:

  • completion of practical work, e.g. field courses, laboratory sessions, language tuition, etc, deemed essential to understanding the academic discipline the student is studying;
  • a combination of coursework and practical work, supplemented by a record of attendance at teaching sessions, e.g. tutorials or laboratory sessions;
  • the acquisition of professional skills and attributes required in disciplines such as education, the health professions or the performing arts.

f)      Satisfactorily completes any additional work deemed necessary, as determined by the relevant Board of Examiners, so as to enable the student to achieve the learning outcomes in the assessment(s) that they had failed.

29.13   Students who are permitted to progress as described in 29.12 (i.e. notwithstanding a failed unit mark) will be awarded and carry forward the actual unit mark they achieved at their first attempt (not the unit pass mark) and will only receive the credit for these unit/s upon final completion of the programme for which they are registered (i.e. at graduation).

29.14   If any student fails to achieve the unit pass mark following a re-sit of the unit or units equating to 20 credit points or less, they will be permitted a final opportunity to be re-assessed, either as part of a ‘supplementary year’, in order to obtain the necessary credit points to progress, or, where applicable, as part of the next year of study where the student has been permitted to ‘conditionally progress’.

29.14.1    Students who are placed on a supplementary year will be registered on the unit(s) they have failed. A board of examiners has the discretion to: (i) permit students to undertake a replacement unit listed in their programme structure in lieu of a failed optional or open unit from outside of their honours subject as a third and final attempt, and (ii) require students to register for additional units, appropriate to their programme of study (see section 7 for information on the supplementary year). A student will only be permitted to undertake the supplementary year once for this reason during their programme of study.

29.14.2    Students may be permitted to conditionally progress to the next year of study and make up a credit deficit in identified programmes where they have failed a particular unit or units, provided conditions (a-e) are satisfied. Schools and faculties are not under any obligation to allow conditional progress on their programmes.

a)      The failed unit is not “must-pass”, fundamental to the programme objectives, being discontinued with no available alternative, and/or is a prerequisite for units in the subsequent year.

b)      The total of the failed unit/s does not exceed twenty credit points. 

c)      The student has achieved at least the pass mark for the year. 

d)      The student has not elected to undertake the supplementary year. Where applicable, conditional progression will be automatically applied by a board of examiners; however, a student may elect to instead take the supplementary year by them notifying their home school by the end of the second week of the first teaching block.

e)      The programme specification explicitly sets out where in the structure conditional progression may be employed.

Conditional progression will only be available as a potential outcome from the September Board of Examiners and subsequent to considering whether a failed unit may be compensated for the purposes of progression (see 29.12). Where permitted and the conditions are satisfied, a student will progress into the next year of study and, in addition to the requirements for that year of study, either:

  • Re-take the failed unit/s (units may be undertaken on an exams-only basis where a student has already received and engaged in the teaching of the unit/s) or;
  • Undertake a different unit/s in lieu of the one the student has failed by engaging with the teaching, as outlined in 29.14.1. 

The board of examiners will subsequently consider the award of credit for the outstanding failed unit/s before considering progression from the year of study into which they have conditionally progressed.

Where a student is unable to achieve the credit points for the failed unit on which their conditional progress is based, following three attempts, the board will not be able to consider the other units for the year and the student must withdraw from the university.

29.15   If any student fails to achieve the unit pass mark following a re-sit of the unit or units equating to more than 20 credit points, they will be required to withdraw from the programme, with an exit award, if appropriate.

29.16   For any unit which is passed by re-assessment, the student will receive the awarded mark for the re-assessment, however the unit mark will be capped at the minimum pass mark (40 out of 100 for units at levels 4, 5 and 6, and 50 out of 100 for units at level 7), even if the student achieves a higher mark in the re-assessment. The marks recorded when repeating the whole year or undertaking the supplementary year will also be capped at the minimum pass mark regardless of what marks are actually achieved, unless the student is being permitted to repeat the year or undertake a supplementary year “as for the first time” due to validated extenuating circumstances.

The award of credit in the final year of undergraduate study for the purposes of completion

29.17   Students must achieve the pass mark (normally a mark of 40 out of 100 at levels 4-6 and 50 out of 100 at level 7) and meet any additional criteria, as described in 29.5, if applicable for the unit, to be awarded the associated credit.  By achieving this, students thereby acquire the necessary credit points in their final year to complete the programme of study, except as specified below.

29.18   Re-assessment of units within the final year of undergraduate modular programmes is permitted where a failed unit is deemed to be ‘must-pass’ (e.g. for professional accreditation reasons), in which case the Faculty Board of Examiners will offer the student a final re-assessment opportunity.

29.19   A Faculty Board of Examiners may choose to permit the award of 120 credit points for the final year of undergraduate study on the basis of a pass overall in assessments undertaken in the final year. This may only be enacted in respect of a particular programme or group of programmes, and not in respect of individual students, and not after the event.  A Faculty Board of Examiners may, likewise, choose to award 60 credit points in the final year of undergraduate study for the award of an Ordinary Degree on the basis of a pass overall in assessments from units comprising at least 60 credit points at level 6, or award 120 credit points for a full time year of study (or part time equivalent) in an Undergraduate Certificate or Diploma programme on the basis of a pass overall in the final assessment.

29.20   If a student does not obtain the necessary credit points in units that contribute to the final programme mark and/or degree classification, the degree may not be awarded and the student will receive a lower award, as determined by the University’s credit framework (see Section 3), unless the failure is due to certified illness or other validated extenuating circumstances, as detailed in Section 17 and the associated ‘Guidance on making awards to students who are unable to complete all the necessary assessment’ (Annex 9).

Additional requirements for progression within an Integrated Masters Degree

The requirements for progression within Integrated Masters degrees have been revised for 2014/15. Where a higher progression requirement is being applied, this requirement will only apply to students who have newly registered on the programme from 2014/15. Existing students will continue to be subject to the regulations that were in place in the academic year in which they first registered on the programme.

29.21   Students studying on Integrated Masters degrees will have the same progression requirements as students on other modular degree programmes at the end of the first year.

29.22   At the end of the second year of study, students on an integrated masters degree are required to achieve a year mark of 60 or more out of one hundred if their programme has been designated an ‘advanced study’ type or 50 or more out of one hundred if their programme has been designated as a ‘professional’ type of programme (see 23.21). 

29.23   Students who do not qualify for progression on an integrated masters degree at the end of the second year will be automatically transferred onto an equivalent bachelors degree provided that they meet the progression requirements for that programme.

29.24   At the end of the third-year students on an integrated masters degree are required to achieve a year mark of 50 or more out of 100.

29.25   When a third-year student does not qualify for progression on an integrated masters programme at the end of the third year, the Faculty Board of Examiners may award an Ordinary Degree or an equivalent Honours degree (on the basis of the mark achieved at the first attempt if a re-sit of a unit was required) where the student has successfully met all the criteria, as described in the programme specification.

29.26   In order to progress within five-year Integrated Masters programme, students must achieve a year mark of 50 or more out of 100 in years 2, 3, and 4 in order to progress. Those students who are awarded 120 credit points for the year but do not achieve a year mark of 50 or more out of 100: will either be automatically transferred onto an equivalent Bachelors Honours degree or, following completion of Year 4, the Faculty Board of Examiners may award an Ordinary Degree or an equivalent Honours degree (on the basis of the mark achieved at the first attempt if a re-sit of a unit was required) where the student has successfully met all the criteria, as described in the programme specification.

29.27   Where a student is permitted to transfer onto the final year of an integrated masters programme, the school must be satisfied that they are capable of performing at the standard required for the integrated masters degree by having satisfied the same requirements for progression that are in place for integrated masters programmes.  

29.28   Students on integrated masters degree programmes without a year abroad or in industry who wish to withdraw during their fourth year of study (fifth year for the five-year MEng programmes) should be considered by boards of examiners for the award of a bachelors honours degree in the usual manner.

29.29   Students who wish to withdraw from an integrated masters degree programme following the completion of the penultimate year of study and exit with a classified bachelors honours degree must inform their home school no later than the day prior to the meeting of the relevant faculty board of examiners where the Integrated Masters degree would otherwise have been awarded.

Progression within a Bachelors Honours Degree to undertake the Study Abroad or Year in Industry

29.30   In order to progress within an Honours Bachelors degree programme to the ‘Study Abroad’, ‘Study in Continental Europe’ or ‘Study in Industry’ year, students must satisfy any additional criteria (which may include a higher threshold for the year mark or a specified mark in a particular unit or units) as required by a specific programme in order to ensure that students are well equipped for this period. The location of the document that sets out the additional criteria must be publicised to students at the outset of their studies.

Progression within an Integrated Masters Degree to undertake the Study Abroad or Year in Industry

29.31   In order to progress, within an Integrated Masters programme, onto the “Study Abroad” or “Year in Industry”, students must achieve at least a year mark of 50 or more out of 100 in Year 1 and/or in Year 2 and must satisfy any additional criteria (which may include a higher threshold for the year mark or a specified mark in a particular unit or units) as required by a specific programme in order to ensure that students are well equipped for the year abroad or in industry. The location of the additional criteria must be publicised to students at the outset of their studies. Those students who are awarded 120 credit points for the year but do not achieve a year mark of 50 or more out of 100 and any additional other criteria will be automatically transferred onto the equivalent Bachelors Honours degree.  

29.32   Students who wish to withdraw during the year following the year abroad or in industry will not normally be eligible for a Bachelors Honours degree as an exit award.  Faculty boards of examiners may exceptionally award the appropriate Bachelors Honours degree to such students, where “exceptionally” shall mean:

  1. the student has completed the third year of study satisfactorily and successfully taken any required assessments;
  2. the student is incapable of continuing their studies owing to documented, severe extenuating circumstances;
  3. the boards of examiners have sufficient confidence in the third-year results that they can satisfactorily award a classified degree; 
  4. the student has achieved the prescribed programme intended learning outcomes for the award. 

[1] Additional criteria may include: reaching a satisfactory standard in the completion of a report, other form of written work, or practical work which is deemed essential to understanding the academic discipline the student is studying; a sufficient record of attendance at teaching sessions; or, the acquisition of professional skills.