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Durham University

Learning and Teaching Handbook

2.2: Provision of Information for Students

1. Departments should ensure that students are aware of key information through the provision of a student handbook (or handbooks).

Undergraduate handbooks

2. There are detailed Guidelines on undergraduate student handbooks available at Appendix A2.07. These set out the information that should be provided in all undergraduate student handbooks. There is no requirement that departments follow the precise structure given in the Guidelines; only that they should ensure that the information they provide for students cover these headings.

3. In addition to detailing those areas that must be covered by a student handbook, the Guidelines at Appendix A2.07 give the following information:

a. Under a number of headings, useful prompts for information to include in the section in question.

b. For those areas relating to University policy practice (for example academic appeals) generic text that can be used by all departments.

Taught postgraduate handbooks

4. Departments should ensure that students are aware of the following, by including the information in the student handbook

a. The web address for the University Calendar, and the fact that this includes information about assessment procedures and other core and general regulations;

b. The fact that summative coursework submitted late without mitigating circumstances attracts a capped mark and, ultimately, may receive a mark of zero;

c. The seriousness of plagiarism. Students need to be made aware of what plagiarism is, as well as the penalties which it incurs. They should be given guidance about the academic conventions for referencing and citation to help them avoid inadvertent plagiarism. They should also be made aware that plagiarism covers work published in electronic form;

d. The nature of, and penalties for, other forms of malpractice - cheating, use of inadmissible material, collusion and impersonation;

e. The status of work from a placement or year abroad (where appropriate) so that students understand what role the mark may have in their assessment and final degree classification;

f. The criteria by which students will be assessed. One set of criteria may be sufficient to cover all modes of assessment and types of assignment but in some cases different criteria may need to be published - for example to cover essay work, practical work, language work, dissertations, placements. Departments should also consider how they can help students to understand what the criteria mean in practice - for example by using tutorial time to discuss the criteria, and to match them against sample essays which the students might mark themselves and then discuss;

g. Arrangements for feedback on work and the time scale for the return of formative work and of summative coursework;

h. Information about the requirements for a dissertation or major project including:

i. the expected format and presentation of the piece of work including correct referencing;

ii. arrangements for the submission of the work;

iii. the assignment, role and involvement of the supervisor, including the number of meetings to be expected between the supervisor and the student;

iv. criteria for assessment/grade descriptors;

v. arrangements for the approval of the topic of the piece of work;

vi. a reminder about the University's policy on plagiarism.