13. Feedback and Resits

13.1. Feedback at First Public Examination

Examiners of all First Public Examinations are required to provide candidates who fail the First Public Examination at their initial attempt with as detailed a breakdown of marks as is available for all the failed papers.

13.2. Feedback for taught graduate courses

Education Committee’s policy on feedback for taught graduate courses has three parts. Supervisory bodies are required to:

(a)  ensure written feedback on at least one designated piece of formative assessment, e.g. essay or assignment, during the course of the first term. The purpose of this assessment would be to:

•  provide guidance to those for whom extended pieces of writing are unfamiliar forms of assessment;

•  indicate areas of strength and weakness in relation to the assessment task;

•  provide course members with an indication of the expectations and standards towards which they are working.

(b)  endeavour to provide feedback, via examination boards, on any elements of summative assessment which are undertaken prior to the final term of the course.  This may include Trinity term assessments for 12-month courses. Supervisory bodies may direct boards of examiners to provide feedback in one or more of the following ways:

•  Final marks: the board of examiners must meet in full (the external examiner may be included by teleconference) to confirm and release marks to students via the ARO. In circumstances where final marks cannot be confirmed, e.g. where the examiners consider that scaling may be required, the board may release unconfirmed marks.  Unconfirmed marks should be provided to students by the department or faculty accompanied by the wording: ‘The marks provided are provisional and may be reviewed and amended at the final meeting of the board of examiners.1

•  Written feedback: this may accompany final marks or be provided without marks. Where boards of examiners wish to give written feedback without marks, they are not obliged to meet in full, but the chair is required to approve the feedback on the board’s behalf before it is released to students.

•  When providing feedback for part-time courses, boards may, alternatively, follow the arrangements for provision of feedback established by the Department for Continuing Education.

(c)  implement (via boards of examiners) written feedback according to an agreed divisional template or framework for all PGT dissertations or theses or equivalent of 5,000 words or over.

Supervisors can be provided with copies of written feedback.

The Proctors are aware of the pressure for ‘feedback’ on performance in examinations, particularly at postgraduate taught level where candidates may be thinking of going on to postgraduate research degrees. It is essential that any board of examiners wishing to provide such feedback beyond agreed marks pay careful attention to the requirements of this section and to the relevant parts of Section 11, and if in doubt about any aspect of current policy, consult the Proctors.


1 ‘Unconfirmed’ results will not be released on Student Self Service.


13.3. Resits

The chair must publish a timetable for resit examinations and communicate with candidates in the same way as for other examinations. Chairs must ensure that examiners are available for invigilation, marking and for the meeting of the board of examiners at the appropriate time; this is particularly important for the Long Vacation resit examinations. For resits where only a subset of papers are taken, the chair may nominate a subset of the original examiners to assist, provided that the Head of Examinations and Assessments is notified before the start of the examination (the Head of Examinations and Assessments will notify the Proctors). An external examiner must be included in this subset where they formed part of the original exam board.

All resit examinations must cover the same material as the original examination. If the examination regulations have changed between the date of the original examination and the resit, the resit should reflect what the candidate was originally taught.

A candidate is not permitted to resit an assessment unit that has been passed unless the whole qualification or Examination (or Part of the Examination in the case of multi-part FHS) has been failed, i.e. it is not possible to resit an assessment unit in order to improve the mark.

13.4. Arrangements for resits for postgraduate taught courses

Students are entitled to one resit of any failed element of an examination. Regulations should indicate what arrangements will be in place for resits. For postgraduate taught courses Education Committee’s normal expectation is that any resits will be taken at the time the subject is examined the following year, unless the special regulations permit an alternative practice. However, departments are encouraged to consider alternative (earlier) re-sits or re-submission dates that will enable students who have incurred a fail, or who have had to withdraw from the examination at the end of the course for urgent reasons, to complete the award. These arrangements should be reflected in the regulations and other course information.

Where an assessment unit of an examination has been successfully completed at the first examination, the mark for the successful assessment unit can be carried over to the succeeding year and only the assessment unit or units which have been failed at the first examination re-taken unless otherwise specified by the special regulations for a course. In this context, an ‘assessment unit’ can refer to a single timed examination, a submission, other exercise, or a combination of assessment items.  Where the assessment unit consists of more than one assessment item, for example a submission and a timed examination, if the student passes the submission but fails the timed examination, they are only required to resit the failed assessment item not all the assessment items for the assessment unit.