15. Marking Criteria and Scales

15.1   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. The glossary provides definitions for: marking criteria, marking scheme and model answer.

15.2   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 judgment on the part of individual markers

15.3   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.

15.4   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.

15.5   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 beset out in the unit specification.

University generic marking criteria

15.6   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. A new level-specific University generic marking criteria (UoB only) has been agreed for introduction from 2024/25.

15.7   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.

15.8   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

15.9      Assessment must be marked and returned as an integer using one of the sanctioned marking scales, as follows:

or using a pass/fail marking scheme (see 10.33).

Any mark on the chosen marking scale can be used.

A five-point A-E marking scale is only available for programmes in the School of Education.

Standard setting in marking is permitted in programmes where it is a professional accreditation requirement.

15.10   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.

15.11    Where the averaging of different component marks within an assessment or the outcome of two markers creates an assessment mark with a decimal point, markers should reconcile any significant difference in marks and make a deliberate academic decision as to the exact mark on the scale that should be awarded. Otherwise the mark will be rounded to the nearest integer and returned (if on the 0-20 marking scale, then this should take place before converting to a mark on the 0-100 scale).

Exceptions to the sanctioned marking scales

15.12   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 29 and 37)

15.13   Marks gauged on the 0-20 scale should be translated to a point on the 0-100 scale before entry into the VLE to calculate the overall unit mark for the purposes of progression and classification (see table 2).

15.14   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)

15.15      The overall unit mark must be expressed as a percentage as the University’s degree classification methodology is based on the percentage scale.

15.16      The final programme or taught component mark will be calculated by applying the agreed algorithm to the unit marks (see sections 32 and 39).

 TABLE 1:   Generic Marking Criteria mapped against the three marking scales

 Grade 0 - 20 point scale 0 - 100 point scale

Criteria to be satisfied








  • Work would be worthy of dissemination under appropriate conditions.
  • Mastery of advanced methods and techniques at a level beyond that explicitly taught. 
  • Ability to synthesise and employ in an original way ideas from across the subject. 
  • In group work, there is evidence of an outstanding individual contribution. 
  • Excellent presentation. 
  • Outstanding command of critical analysis and judgement. 







  • Excellent range and depth of attainment of intended learning outcomes. 
  • Mastery of a wide range of methods and techniques. 
  • Evidence of study and originality clearly beyond the bounds of what has been taught.
  • In group work, there is evidence of an excellent individual contribution.
  • Excellent presentation. 
  • Able to display a command of critical analysis and judgement. 







  • Attained all the intended learning outcomes for a unit. 
  • Able to use well a range of methods and techniques to come to conclusions. 
  • Evidence of study, comprehension of synthesis beyond the bounds of what has been explicitly taught.
  • Very good presentation of material.
  • Able to employ critical analysis and judgement. 
  • Where group work is involved there is evidence of a productive individual contribution. 







  • Some limitations in attainment of learning objectives, but has managed to grasp most of them. 
  • Able to use most of the methods and techniques taught. 
  • Evidence of study and comprehension of what has been taught. 
  • Adequate presentation of material.
  • Some grasp of issues and concepts underlying the techniques and material taught. 
  • Where group work is involved, there is evidence of a positive individual contribution. 













  • Limited attainment of intended learning outcomes.
  • Able to use a proportion of the basic methods and techniques taught. 
  • Evidence of study and comprehension of what has been taught, but grasp insecure. 
  • Poorly presented. 
  • Some grasp of the issues and concepts underlying the techniques and material taught but weak and incomplete.
 5  35  
  • Attainment of only a minority of the learning outcomes. 
  • Able to demonstrate a clear but limited use of some of the basic methods and techniques taught. 
  • Weak and incomplete grasp of what has been taught. 
  • Deficient understanding of the issues and concepts underlying the techniques and material taught.
1-4 7-29
  • Attaintment of nearly all the intended learning outcomes deficient.
  • Lack of ability to use at all or the right methods and techniques taught.
  • Inadequately and incoherently presented.
  • Wholly deficient grasp of what has been taught.
  • Lack of understanding of the issues and concepts underlying the techniques and material taught. 
 0  0  0
  • No significant assessable material, absent, or assessment missing a "must pass" component.

 TABLE 2: Relationship between the three marking scales

 0 - 20 point scale A - E scale Equivalent to these fixed points on the 0 - 100 point scale
20 A 100
19 A 94
18 A 89
17 A 83
16 A 78
15 A 72
14 B 68
13 B 65
12 B 62
11 C 58
10 C 55
9 C 52
8 D 48
7 D 45
6 E 42
5 E 35
1-4 E 7-29
0 0 0