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School of Physics and Astronomy

9.2 Progression and Degree Classification Regulations (16/17)

9.2.1 General Paper and Professional Skills weighting

In all years, students take 120 credits of course units. (All lecture courses in Physics are 10 credits.) The mark for the year is obtained by combining the marks for all course units taken, weighted by their credit rating, together with the general paper and Professional Skills (where applicable). These, though not credit-weighted, count in the mark for the year as follows. Professional Skills has a weight corresponding to 9 credits. The general paper has the same weight as a 10 credit unit (except for those programmes which do a reduced-length paper where the weight is given in section 2.5). More details about the general paper can be found in section 2.5.

To progress from one year to the next the 120 credits of course units must be successfully completed. In principle, this means that the assessment of each unit is passed at 40%. However up to 40 credits may be allowed with marks between 30% and 39%; this is termed compensation. Further details are given in section 9.2.2. Professional Skills and the general paper, not being credit weighted, do not have to be passed for progression.

9.2.2 Criteria for Progression on the BSc Programme in Years 1 and 2.

A student can progress to the subsequent year of a BSc programme if they have

  • 30% or above in all units and
  • 40% or above in laboratory work and other course units, to a total of at least 80 credits.

A student who does not pass at least 60 credits at 40% at the first attempt, including lab, will normally be withdrawn from the course.

A student who passes at least 60 credits at the first attempt but who does not meet the criteria above will be required to resit in August / September all course units with a mark <30%, and may be required to resit some or all course units with marks between 30% and 39%. This is described as referred assessment. Normally all failed (<40%) core course units will be referred. A student who does not meet the criteria above after referral will normally be withdrawn from the course.

Progression on degree programmes combining Physics with another subject will require satisfactory performance in both subjects: normally each subject should be separately passed and approximately two-thirds of the course units of each subject should be passed. For students on the first year of the Maths and Physics programme, all Maths courses are non-compensatable. Students failing to satisfy these additional requirements may be required to switch to another programme.

Occasionally a student who has failed to obtain all of the credits for the year (after referral where available) may at the examiners' discretion be allowed to progress but required to take extra credits in the subsequent year. This will normally be limited to 10 credits, will not normally apply to core courses, and permission will only be granted when the remaining credits have been passed with not more than 10 credits having been compensated. The corresponding number of extra credits in the subsequent year must then be passed at 40%.

A student who has satisfied the criteria for progression to the second (third) year but does not complete a degree programme is eligible for the award of a Certificate (Diploma) of Higher Education.

9.2.3 Criteria for Progression on the MPhys Programme in Years 1, 2 and 3

For the first year, the criteria are the same as for the BSc programme.

For the second year, for all programmes not involving a year abroad, in addition to the BSc progression criteria, the year average mark obtained at the first attempt must be 55% or above. Students who fail to obtain this mark will usually register for the appropriate BSc programme in their third year. Students who obtain a year average mark of 55% but do not satisfy the credit requirements may be required to resit the failed credits.

Students whose year average marks at first attempt are borderline (53% - 55%) may be permitted to register provisionally for MPhys with a review based on their Semester 5 January exam results. As a guide an average mark of 55% on exams will be expected. If this is not achieved, the student's registration will be changed to BSc.

Physics with Study in Europe students must achieve an average mark in all assessments in semester 3 of at least 55%, and a year average at first attempt of 60% or above. Students who do not achieve 55% in S3 or 60% for the year will have their registration changed from Physics with Study in Europe to Physics. They may make the case for remaining on the Study in Europe programme if their S3 mark is over 53%, if their year mark is over 58%, or if there are mitigating circumstances which may have affected their marks.

Other students who intend to spend their third year abroad will have been given specific targets which are generally higher than these criteria in order to be confirmed on the study abroad year, but as an absolute minimum they must meet the MPhys progression criteria. Failure to do so, or failure to meet the specific targets for their placement, will result in withdrawal of approval for study abroad, and you should bear in mind this possibility when making travel, accommodation or other arrangements.

All students on programmes requiring study abroad in the third year may find that there is a conflict between the timing of the second-year resit exams and the starting date of the third year. In this case students may need to change to another programme which allows them to stay in Manchester, or to interrupt for a year.

For the third year, the criteria are as follows. A student can progress to the final year of an MPhys programme if they have

· a year average mark of 50% or above and

· an overall mark of 50% or above, and

· 40% or above in laboratory work and other course units, totalling at least 80 credits.

The overall mark is a weighted average of all year marks. The weights are given in section 9.2.5.

Students who have spent their third year in Manchester who do not satisfy these criteria will be considered for a BSc. Students who narrowly fail to meet the criteria for progression to the fourth year will be considered by a process similar to that used for degree classification (see section 9.2.6), to decide on the award of the relevant class of BSc, or progression to year 4.

To continue on the MMath&Phys degree, Mathematics and Physics students must in addition obtain at least 45% year average mark in each subject. Students on other programmes combining Physics with another subject must similarly demonstrate appropriate performance in both subjects.

Students spending the third year abroad are expected to perform satisfactorily on the courses they take there: broadly, the examiners are looking for work of a similar standard as would be required of students remaining in Manchester (which, in their case, is a minimum 50% year average mark). Students who fail to achieve at around this level will return as candidates for the BSc and will follow the usual 3rd year BSc Physics programme.

Physics with Study in Europestudents have three components to their third year assessment:

· A health and safety report, to be completed shortly after arrival (5%)

· A report, to be submitted on their return to Manchester (see section 2.6) (20%)

· Assessments conducted abroad (75%)

Exceptionally, if for good reason performance in the last component is poor, students may have it weighted at 50%. The report is then replaced by examinations in 4 core subjects (typically PHYS30101, 30151, 30141 and 40352), to be taken on return to Manchester, which will contribute 45%. The exam papers will be taken from the preceding three years and the marks on this element will be capped at 75%. This option cannot be used if work and attendance while abroad have been unsatisfactory; in that case students will fail the year and register for a BSc on their return.

9.2.4 Referrals and Resit Examinations

For students who have referred assessment, resit examinations for S1 and S2 course units take place in August and September. There is a re-examination fee.

If a student fails a continuously assessed unit, such as laboratory work, it may be possible to pass the unit by submitting supplementary work; the School reserves the right to charge for the cost incurred. However, if a substantial part of the work has not been successfully completed the student will not be allowed to proceed.

Progression will be subject to meeting the appropriate criteria for the programme after the marks for courses failed in January/June have been replaced by the resit marks. Resit marks are capped at 30%, except where the mark for the first attempt is above 30%. It is the capped resit marks (or the original mark if above 30%) that contribute to the year average mark and therefore to the overall mark for degree classification purposes.

There are no resits for third and fourth year examinations, but there is also no minimum compensatable mark.

9.2.5 Criteria for Honours Degree Classification

In calculating the overall mark for degree classification, performances in all years of study are combined in a weighted average as given below.

The relation between the degree classification and the overall mark is normally as follows:

first class honours

70.0-100%

upper second class honours

60.0-69.9%

lower second class honours

50.0-59.9%

third class honours

40.0-49.9%

Candidates for an honours degree who fail to reach the standard for a third-class honours degree may be awarded an ordinary BSc degree.

The classification criteria are normally the following:

Ordinary degree: A satisfactory work and attendance record, a knowledge of basic physics, and competence in using experimental equipment.

Third class honours degree: The ability to apply knowledge of basic physics to solve straightforward problems and to work effectively in the laboratory.

Lower second class honours degree: An extensive knowledge of physics and the ability to apply this knowledge to solve problems involving several steps of analysis; the ability to tackle laboratory problems with confidence and to seek reliable and accurate solutions.

Upper second class honours degree: An extensive knowledge and sound understanding of physics and the ability to apply this knowledge and understanding to new and unfamiliar problems; the ability to develop and apply strategies for tackling laboratory problems which lead to reliable and accurate solutions.

First class honours degree: An extensive knowledge and deep understanding of physics, and the ability to solve theoretical and laboratory problems which require insight and initiative.

To obtain the overall mark for the award of a degree, the contributions from each year are combined according to the following table.

BSc

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

All Programmes

10%

30%

60%

MPhys & MMath&Phys

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

All Programmes except Year 3 abroad

6%

19%

37.5%

37.5%

All Programmes with Year 3 Abroad

8%

23%

23%

46%

An MPhys or MMath&Phys candidate will be awarded a first, upper or lower second class degree if they have

· an overall mark in the appropriate range (see above) and

· 40% or above in final year course units totalling at least 80 credits, including

project work.

A BSc candidate will be awarded a first, upper or lower second class BSc degree if they have

  • an overall mark in the appropriate range (see above) and
  • 40% or above in individual final year course units totalling at least 80 credits, including laboratory work and BSc dissertation.

A BSc candidate will be awarded a third class degree if they have

  • an overall mark in the range 40.0-49.9% and
  • 40% or above in individual final year course units totalling at least 60 credits, including laboratory work and BSc dissertation.

Any honours degree candidate who has 40% or above in final year course units totalling 60 credits (including laboratory, dissertation or project work as relevant), but less than 80 credits, will be awarded a class of degree one lower than indicated by their overall mark (e.g. 60.0-69.9%, but with only 60 or 70 credits passed at 40% in final year, is awarded a lower second).

The requirement to pass certain units e.g. Laboratory work does not apply to those students whose programme does not require these units to be taken.

Third class master's degrees are not awarded. A student who does not satisfy the criteria for the award of a second class MPhys or MMath&Phys will be awarded a BSc on the basis of their marks in the first three years.

Students who have been admitted directly to the second or third year of a programme will not have year average marks for all years, and hence the table above for combining the year average marks is modified. Those years which they have done contribute in the same proportion as for other students on the same programme, but the absolute values of the weights are increased to total 100%. For a student admitted to the second year of a BSc programme, for instance, the 2nd and 3rd years will contribute 33.3% and 66.7% respectively.

9.2.6 Consideration of candidates at borderlines

A student may be considered for the next higher class of degree than determined by section 9.2.5 above. The "boundary zone" is up to 2% below the lower bound for each degree class listed in section 9.2.5, except that the third class boundary zone is up to 3% below (i.e 37.0% -39.9%). The examiners consider marginal cases as follows:

For a student who obtains an overall mark in the boundary zone for a class and obtains the required number of credits for the final year with a mark not less than 40.0%, or for a student whose degree class has been reduced because of insufficient credits passed at 40%, as specified in section 9.2.5 there will be a process in up to four stages:

Stage 1(algorithmic mark distribution):

Students in

· year 3 (BSc classification, or progression to year 4): if they have gained marks for 80 or more credits in year 3 at or above the level required;

· year 4 (MPhys or MMath&Phys classification): if they have gained marks for 75 or more credits in year 4 at or above the level required; then they will be awarded that class. If not, proceed to stage 2.

Stage 2 (criterion-based mark review)

If they have obtained

· 70 credits for the year at or above the level required, and

· marks for final year project work, or dissertation, at or above the level required, and

· a year average mark which is higher than the overall mark, then the external examiners have agreed that they will be recommended to be awarded that class. If not, proceed to stage 3.

Stage 3 (review of assessed work)

The external examiners will review exam scripts, project reports etc. If they find evidence of the student's performance according to the relevant class descriptor given in section 9.2.5, they may recommend to the exam board to award that class. If not, proceed to stage 4.

Stage 4(viva voce examination)

The external examiners will interview the student, and if they find evidence of the student's performance according to the relevant class descriptor given in section 9.2.5, they may recommend to the exam board to award that class.

A similar procedure will be applied to students who narrowly fail to satisfy the criteria (section 9.2.3) for progression to the fourth year of MPhys or MMath&Phys. Therefore, as noted above in section 9.1, all third and fourth year students may be called for an interview, and the dates of the interview will be notified in advance. Failure to attend when invited for interview is likely to result in a recommendation for the lower class of degree, or for non-progression, as appropriate.

9.2.7 Criteria for Award of the Ordinary Degree

Third Year students who fail to satisfy the criteria for an honours degree will be awarded an ordinary degree if they have 40% or above in third year course units totalling at least 60 credits.

The ordinary degree is only awarded with the titles "Physics", and "Mathematics and Physics".