The examiners and exam boards in the Faculty of Natural & Mathematical Sciences employ a mark moderation process in order to ensure that students in the School are fairly judged against the Faculty and College marking criteria.
It is a feature of numerate disciplines’ exams (such as maths, physics and computer science) that the sum of the raw marks for correct results, reasoning, working etc. in an exam paper does not necessarily automatically correspond to the performance of a student when judged on the Faculty’s and College’s marking criteria. For instance, although an undergraduate student might get a mark of 35 for an exam when all the marks are added up, the knowledge demonstrated in the exam to get this mark might not correspond to the overall criteria set down for the 33-39 fail mark band in the undergraduate scheme. Comparing cumulative raw marks to overall criteria is particularly important in numeric disciplines where each individual question is marked on the basis of detailed marking schemes and model answers.
In order to make sure the final mark students receive reflects their level of knowledge and understanding, as set out in the College and Faculty marking criteria, the Assessment Sub-Board (internal and external examiners) can set the raw marks that equate to the boundaries between different grades given in the Faculty marking criteria, including the minimum condoneable mark, the minimum pass mark, the 3/2B boundary, the 2B/2A boundary, and the 2A/First boundary (or the pass/merit boundary and the merit/distinction boundary for postgraduate students). This is done by matching the corresponding levels in the marking criteria with the knowledge and understanding demonstrated in the exam papers. Using these defined points the examiners may then produce a translation when necessary which maps the full range of raw marks to the standard mark scheme given in the marking criteria and gives the final mark for an exam paper. This translation is used to calculate your overall module result, reported on your student record and used for your final award calculation.
The process of checking how the raw marks correspond to points in the marking criteria is undertaken for every exam. It is monitored by the Assessment Sub-Boards and Faculty Assessment Boards in line with standard assessment board procedures, and external examiners ensure it is fair and in keeping with other universities’ standards. The process is applied across a cohort to each module and takes place after (raw) marking once the total raw marks are available; it forms an integral part of the academic judgement by which final marks are determined. Outside of this process, as per the regulations, individual student’s marks cannot be changed unless an error has been identified.