12. Marking Criteria and Scales
12.1 Marking criteria are designed to help students know what is expected of them. Marking criteria differ from model answers and more prescriptive marking schemes which assign a fixed proportion of the assessment mark to particular knowledge, understanding and/or skills. Annex 1 provides definitions for: marking criteria, marking scheme and model answer.
12.2 Where there is more than one marker for a particular assessment task, schools should take steps to ensure consistency of marking. Programme specific assessment criteria must be precise enough to ensure consistency of marking across candidates and markers, compatible with a proper exercise of academic judgement on the part of individual markers.
12.3 Markers are encouraged to use pro forma in order to show how they have arrived at their decision. Comments provided on pro forma should help candidates, internal markers and moderators and external examiners to understand why a particular mark has been awarded. Schools should agree, in advance of the assessment, whether internal moderators have access to the pro forma / mark sheets completed by the first marker before or after they mark a candidate’s work.
12.4 Detailed marking criteria for assessed group work, the assessment of class presentations, and self/peer (student) assessment must be established and made available to students and examiners.
12.5 In respect of group work, it is often desirable to award both a group and individual mark, to ensure individuals’ contributions to the task are acknowledged. The weighting of the group and individual mark and how the marks are combined should be set out in the unit specification.
University generic marking criteria
12.6 The common University generic marking criteria, set out in table 1, represent levels of attainment covering levels 4-7 of study. Establishing and applying criteria for assessment at level 8 should be managed by the school that owns the associated programme, in liaison with the faculty and the Academic Director of Graduate Studies.
12.7 The common marking criteria are designed to be used for an individual piece of assessed student work. The descriptors give broad comparability of standards by level of study across all programmes as well as level of performance across the University. They reflect the QAA Framework for Higher Education Qualifications but need to be benchmarked against subject specific criteria at the programme level.
12.8 Faculties, with their constituent schools, must establish appropriately specific and detailed marking criteria which are congruent with the University-level criteria and, if appropriate, the level of study. All forms of programme-specific marking criteria must be approved by the Faculty.
12.9 Assessment must be marked using one of the sanctioned marking scales, as follows:
- 0-100 marking scale
- 0-20 marking scale
A five-point A-E marking scale is only available for programmes in the School of Education. This scale is currently being phased out.
Any mark on the chosen marking scale may be used.
12.10 Schools should utilise the marking scale that is best suited to the form of assessment. This and the marking criteria for the assessment should be established prior to its commencement.
Exceptions to the sanctioned marking scales
12.11 Neither the 0-20 nor 0-100 point scale is applicable to assessments where marks are not awarded; the student either passes or not. Such assessment may be employed, subject to approval by the faculty, when a student is required to demonstrate a minimum standard of competence for reasons related to professional accreditation requirements.
12.12 Highly structured assessments that are scored out of a total number less than 100 may be utilised where each mark can be justified in relation to those marks neighbouring it. In these cases, the mark must be translated onto the 0-100 point scale, mapped against the relevant marking criteria, and students informed of the use of this method in advance of the assessment in the appropriate medium (e.g. on Blackboard).
Reaching the ‘Unit Mark’ (see also Sections 28 and 37)
12.13 Marks gauged on the 0-20 scale should be translated to a point on the 0-100 scale so to calculate the overall unit mark for the purposes of progression and classification (see table 2).
12.14 The 0-20 point scale is a non-linear ordinal scale; for example, a mark on the 0-20 point scale IS NOT equivalent to a percentage arrived at by multiplying the mark by 5. Table 2 provides an equivalence relationship between the scales to enable the aggregation of marks from different assessment events to provide the overall unit mark which will be a percentage. This is illustrated below for a notional unit.
In this example, the MCQ uses all points on the 0-100 scale whereas all the other assessments use the 0-20 point scale.
To achieve the final unit mark each component mark needs to be adjusted as:
|Dissertation (25%)||Unseen written exam (35%)|
|Oral exam (15%)||Total unit mark out of 100|
|Actual score||12 on 0-20 scale||8 on 0-20 scale||57 on 0-100 scale||15 on 0-20 scale|
|Adjusted to 0-100 scale||62/100||48/100||57/100||72/100|
|Final weighted mark||62 x 25 = 1550||48 x 35 = 1680||57 x 25 = 1425||72 x 15 = 1080||5735/100 = 57.35 (57)|
12.15 The overall unit mark must be expressed as a percentage as the University’s degree classification methodology is based on the percentage scale.
12.16 The final programme or taught component mark will be calculated by applying the agreed algorithm to the unit marks (see Section 31 and Section 39).
TABLE 1: Generic Marking Criteria mapped against the three marking scales
TABLE 2: Relationship between the three marking scales
Things you need to know about studying with the School of Economics.
What we expect of you
We expect our students to be proactive in their studies. Check your university email account regularly - it’s how we will communicate with you.
Lecture notes and handouts are all published online and can be accessed via course LEARN pages.
The University is moving to electronic submission of assignments, you should follow assignment submission instructions on the relevant course LEARN page.
At some point in your studies you will have a clash of deadlines - plan ahead for these and make sure you manage your time effectively. This is just one of the valuable life skills that studying with us will give you and multiple deadlines in a short space of time is not an acceptable reason to ask for extensions. Further guidance on extensions can be found in the Economics Programme Handbook, which is available on course LEARN pages.
Be aware that class attendance is compulsory, and will be monitored to ensure you are engaging with your studies to a satisfactory level. Some courses require homework submission in tutorials which count towards the course mark, whilst others have a penalty system for absences. So you should read course documentation carefully to ensure you are familiar with the requirements.
The normal workload for students is 120 credits per year. Taking more than the normal workload of 120 credits is very challenging and not advisable for weaker students. Your Personal Tutor can approve you taking additional courses. (This applies to years 1 - 2 only). Additional credits are only permitted in year 3 when making up a credit shortfall from years 1 and/or 2. Senior honour students are not permitted to take additional credits over 120.
Joining a course after the start of teaching is possible (up to the end of week 2 in the relevant semester) - from week three onwards it requires permission from the Course Organiser.
Changing a course
A course can be cancelled up to the end of week 5, after which time you will be marked as withdrawn (WD) and this will remain on your record.
(There are exceptions to this rule e.g. Research in Management is a seeded course for 3rd year students on Economics and Accounting, but is only required if you write a Management Dissertation. Students make the decision about which dissertation to write long after the deadline for cancelling a course has passed but Registry can remove this course without it showing on their record.)
Pass marks and progression
You have to get 40% or higher to pass most courses at Edinburgh, but bear in mind that sometimes just a pass isn’t good enough. For example: you can only apply to study abroad in 3rd year if you attain at least 50% in all your Year 1 courses and you won’t be admitted into Economics Honours unless you get 50% or higher at the first attempt in Economics 2, plus 40% in Statistical Methods for Economics, and pass all your other courses (for those on joint degree programmes there will be similar requirements in the other subject).
A normal academic year is 120 credits (a one semester course is normally 20 credits and a full year course 40 credits). The minimum number of credits for progression is:
- 80 credit points by the end of Year 1
- 200 credit points by the end of Year 2
- 360 credit points by the end of Year 3
- 480 credit points by the end of Year 4
There are two things to be aware of here - although the rules say you could progress into third year with only 200 credits, the requirement to be admitted to Honours in Economics is that you pass all your courses so you could be refused entry if you only have 200 credit points. Even if you have mitigating circumstances and are allowed to progress into Junior Honours with only 200 credits you CANNOT go into Senior Honours unless you have 360 credits, no matter how strong your mitigating circumstances are. So if you have failed a 10 credit course in year 2 and you don’t make up those missing 10 credits by the end of year 3 you will have to repeat year 3 on a part-time basis to make up the credits. We have seen this happen - be warned!
The required courses for each year of your degree programme will be added to your record when the academic year rolls over (this is called seeding). This is an automatic process and does not mean that you have progressed into the next year if your academic record indicates otherwise.
There are resits for non-honours courses but not for honours courses (unless you are doing the BA (HSS) - the ordinary degree).
If you fail an honours course but have achieved an average of 40% or higher for the year, the Exam Board can recommend that you be awarded the credits on aggregate for that course. This means that you will have the required number of credits and can progress to Senior Honours or you can graduate if you are already in 4th year, but the fail mark will count towards your degree classification.
If your average mark falls below the required 40% you will not be awarded the credits - this means that you cannot continue with the MA (Hons) and will have to transfer to the ordinary (non-honours) degree of BA (HSS). This degree requires 360 credits - 60 of which must be at honours level (level 9 or 10) and is an unclassified degree.
If you leave university at any time before the end of your degree you could qualify for the Undergraduate Diploma of Higher Education if you have 240 credits and the Undergraduate Certificate of Higher Education if you have 120 credits from this university. Further conditions apply; please check the Undergraduate Regulations.