Exam Borderlines Policy

Information about Exam Borderlines Policy

Teaching Committee

2018-04-11 (updated from 2016-02-10)

The School of Informatics has agreed a policy across all Boards of Examiners on the treatment of student marks at borderlines. This follows dissemination and open discussion, including contributions from student representatives. The policy is in line with the University Taught Assessment Regulations which set the following constraints:

  • Boards of Examiners must consider all students with borderline marks;
  • Borderline marks are defined as marks from two percentage points below the class or grade boundary up to the boundary itself;
  • Boards of Examiners must publish in advance the factors that will be taken into account for borderline decisions.

To “consider” a student’s case does not mean automatic promotion: simply that the Board should take note of it and act where appropriate. This may include taking account of where within the borderline a mark lies. When students are promoted at a borderline their marks are unchanged but the outcome may alter: passing a course, progression between years, award of a degree, or classification of that degree.


Factors Taken into Account for Borderline Decisions

Boards must base their judgement of borderline decisions on these factors only.

For Course and Programme Borderlines

•              Direction of the Special Circumstances Committee

For Course Borderlines
  • Where a borderline decision for a course or course component has a disproportionate impact on a programme-level decision.
  • Exceptionally, where assessment of part or the whole of a course is considered less reliable.
For Programme Borderlines (Progression or Award and Classification of Degree)
  • A student’s individual profile of performance This may include consideration of the following.
  • Strong performance in courses at a higher level.
  • Strong performance in higher Honours years.
  • Where a student has taken a year abroad, consider whether the distribution of levels of their reduced collection of courses puts them at a disadvantage.
  • Where a student has performed well in courses identified as generally low-scoring.
  • For MSc only, not UG4/5: The quality of a student’s project.

Relevant Borderlines

Course pass mark: 40 for Undergraduate Degree or Postgraduate Diploma; 50 for Postgraduate Masters

Progression: 40 or 50

Degree classification: 40 (3rd class, diploma), 50 (2.2, MSc), 60 (2.1, merit), 70 (1st class, distinction)

Range of the Borderline Region

Sometimes marks are returned to the University and reported to students as whole-number percentages. Where a fractional mark has been rounded, that integer is the number considered by the Board. For example, if a student’s course mark was originally 37.75, but was rounded up to 38 for reporting purposes, it is still considered within the borderline region for passing the course.

This consideration of only integer marks is specific to Informatics, has been agreed with College, and avoids the situation where a student is given a whole-number mark that is inconsistent with the Board’s decision.


From Session 2022/23

CSE Approach to Borderline Classifications (as agreed by CLTC December 2019)

The overall proportion of credits in the higher class will be calculated using the same weighting that is used to calculate the overall average mark in the degree. The higher degree will be awarded where the greater proportion of marks falls into the higher class (e.g. 50% or above). In practice, this should be interpreted as follows:

  1. Borderline classification is based on the proportion of credits with marks at a class above that indicated by the mean mark. This proportion is derived from a weighted average across all Honours years.  
  2. For degrees with two honours years (with the exceptions in Biological Sciences and Chemistry outlined in Taught Assessment Regulation 55), the proportion of credits in each honours year are weighted equally.  
  3. For IM degrees with three honours years (with the exceptions in Biological Sciences,  Chemistry and GeoSciences outlined in Taught Assessment Regulation 55) the proportion of credits for the three honours years are weighted respectively 20, 40, 40 (in percentage terms).  
  4. Where 50% or more of the credits are in a class above that indicated by the mean mark, the class above that indicated by the mean mark must be awarded.  
  5. Where more than 50% of the credits are in or below the class indicated by the mean mark, the class indicated by the mean mark must be awarded.