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Durham University

Learning and Teaching Handbook

6.3.7: Discretion of Boards of Examiners

1. Marking conventions and schemes are for the guidance of the Board of Examiners which retains the right to exercise discretion if it considers it right to do so in the proper discharge of its duties, (for example, in taking account of significant adverse circumstances in respect of an individual student's performance and/or academic factors).

2. Any guidelines detailing the procedures for the disclosure of marks should not impair the ability of the Boards of Examiners, up to the point where confirmed marks are disclosed, to exercise discretion in the case of individual students where the performance of a student is affected by illness or other good cause.

3. Once confirmed by the Board of Examiners marks on assessments contributing towards degree classification should not be altered to reflect the degree class awarded (this includes the award of a merit or distinction for taught postgraduate programmes) or progression decisions. This includes cases where Examiners have used discretion concerning serious adverse circumstances that may have affected a student's performance.

4. Boards of Examiners should not attempt to define rules for the operation of discretion, since discretion is particular to the circumstances of the student concerned. Boards of Examiners should, however, ensure an equitable approach to the operation of discretion and minute the reasons why discretion has (or has not) been exercised in any given case.

5. The conditions under which discretion must be considered, and the criteria for considering discretion, are available from the following webpages:

  • Operation of Discretion: Undergraduate Boards of Examiners
  • Operation of Discretion: Postgraduate Boards of Examiners