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.

Marking scales

12.9      Assessment must be marked using one of the sanctioned marking scales, as follows:

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